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Vancouver Island Hermannator 2012

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BC’s original cellaring beer is back for another year. Sure, VIB tends to push out a main production line of beers that bounces between awful (Sea Dog) and… okay? I guess? (Double Decker), they have always managed to release a single edition of a solidly awesome Ice Bock, and that Ice Bock is Hermannator.

This year mark’s the 25th such release. Yup, long before most of today’s batch of beer geeks were even born, a brewmaster on the island named Herman looked at the pale insipid mess that was local beer, said “Fuck it” and made a freaking Ice Bock. For context, this would be the beer-equivalent of whipping out an iPhone in 1989. I’m surprised he wasn’t burnt at the stake as a witch.

Hermannator is a beer built for the cellar, but each year has its own personality. While 2010 is still drinking strong today, 2011 gave up the ghost a few months ago. So where does 2012 find us? Let’s just say VIB’s recent expansion into craft beer (think Flying Tanker and Iron Plow) has paid some dividends. The 2012 Hermannator is a solid Ice Bock that is enjoyable now, but will cellar well for years to come.

The beer pours black with virtually no carbonation. This is a great beer to drink in front of non-beer geeks, as you can invariably spark some discussion when you explain that, yes, this is actually a lager. Nose is virtually non-existant, but will likely develop with some time.

How does it taste? How about great? Palate is dense sweet fruits of the sort that spell cellaring potential. Think raisins, cherries, dates, and plums, all minced together with a big double fist punch of boooooooooooze. Yup, you definitely notice the 9.5% on this puppy. Maybe not straight away, but after a half glass you develop the sort of boozey warmth that makes the rain outside seem less import, maybe even cheerful.

All is not perfect, though, as I’ve detected some subtle variations even in the few bottles I’ve sampled so far. One was fruitier, while the next had a more noticeable hops character. Considering that they were from the same six pack, the blend was likely identical, so that’s not it. Frankly, I’m at a loss to explain this difference, but I have to mention it in the sense of thoroughness.

Don’t trust me on this, though, Hermannator is widely available, and attractively priced for a beer of such quality. Buy a six pack and try it yourself, then put a few down as a low cost intro to cellaring.

Coles notes:

Brewery Vancouver Island Brewery
From Victoria, BC
Name Hermannator
Style Ice Bock
SOA Now Silver
SOA Potential Gold. Yes, Gold. There, I said it.
Drink Now through 2015, maybe longer.
Risk of Chuck buying it all like he does for Singularity Zero. They made a fucktonne of this.
Availability Widespread LRS & LDB
Cost $13.50-$16.00 per 6x341ml pack
Similar Beers None.
Chuck says Buy a few flats and pull one out every month or so to see how it goes.

If only the rest of VIB’s beers were this good.

Written by chuck

November 3rd, 2012 at 3:45 pm

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November Beer of the Month

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Usually, when I pick a Beer of the Month, I consider all the beers on the market right now, and try to find something that’s interesting, good, or preferrably both.

I look at the current list of seasonals (conveniently kept up to date on the right), then I think over what beers I’ve had that were unique, and then I consider if this beer represents a departure from the norm for the brewery in question (this is why last month VIB was selected for Iron Plow, for instance).

This month, though, I’m throwing all that out the window and selecting a regular lineup ale that is very possibly the worst, most un-interesting beer, made by the brewery in question*. And instead of picking it for any of those reasons, I’m picking it because it has a swell logo. Take that, rigorous selection process that maintains any semblence of journalistic integrity I might have! Yeah!

Don’t you just want to kiss the glass? No?

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m picking Parallel 49’s Old Boy because it really, really, really should be the official beer of Movember. If anyone else out there has a better candidate please let me know, perhaps maybe something actually MADE with moustaches? An Imperial Moustache Ale (imperial for the style of moustache and not because of the alcohol)? A Walrus Wheat? Pencil Porter?

* It turns out that the worst beer made by Parallel 49 is still quite a decent ale.

Written by chuck

November 1st, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Whistler Valley Trail Chestnut Ale

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I am very rarely surprised by beers. I’ve tasted hundreds, if not thousands, of beers, ranging from simple swill to divine amber liquid. If you can name a BC beer, then I’ve probably had it. Unless, of course, you name one of the more recent beers to be produced by Whistler Brewing (a shadow brand of Kamloops-based Northam Brewing).

The reason is simple. I don’t want to generalize here, but every beer Whistler Brewing has ever made is simply awful. And the public tends to agree with me… except this one. People seem to like it. People whose beer opinions I respect like it (well, people whose beer opinions I will actually read seem to like it).

Not being willing to ever completely write off a brewery, I decided to have a go and see what the fuss is all about. My thoughts? Wow. This beer has definitely made an impression on me. Sure, this brewery has a solid reputation for making awful beer, but to go out and make this beer takes talent.

Folks, this beer is–quite simply–one of the worst beers I have ever had. Top ten, if not better. It’s a thin, barely perceptible pale ale that’s had a fucktonne of hazelnut extract dumped in it, and then a few bittering hops thrown in randomly because, well, why not? (Note: I know what the label says; the aroma is 100% hazelnut)

The nose is HAZELNUTS punching you in the face, not the rich toasty roasted chestnuts promised by the label. Instead, imagine you did a headstand and your friendly Starbucks barista double-pumped your nostrils full of hazelnut syrup (or, hey, walnut, because once you have that many chemicals in something it’s not about the flavour). This beer has all the subtlety and grace of Mike Tyson on a PCP binge, and tastes just as chemically.

Balancing out that massive syrupy hit is… I’m teasing you here, there’s nothing balancing that wall of sweetness out. A pale bit of hops finishes the taste, but this more serves to seriously underline the awfulness of what you just swallowed rather than to cut the sweetness by any appreciable amount.

Did it get any better with my fifth sip? No idea. Drain pour.

Coles notes:

Brewery Whistler Brewing
From Whistler, BC
Name Valley Trail
Style Nut Ale
SOA Now No seal awarded
SOA Potential No seal awarded
Drink Never; don’t even look at it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Minutes until you no longer taste the artificial flavour 20 and counting
Availability Widespread LRS & LDB
Cost $5.75-7.00 per 650ml bottle
Similar Beers OK Spring Pale Ale with a triple pump of hazelnut syrup.
Chuck says Ugh. I want to untaste this.

Written by chuck

October 30th, 2012 at 8:07 pm

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