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Dead Frog Fearless IPA

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Dead Frog Brewing is perhaps best known for crafting horrible fruit/beer combinations that should never have existed outside of the mind of a madman–and a madman who can’t brew particularly good beer, at that. I’m talking about their Mandarin Orange Amber and Pepper Lime Lager, specifically, but there are plenty of other examples out there.

Or perhaps they’re better known for starring on The Big Decision, a Dragon’s Den spin-off that focuses on small businesses facing bankruptcy.

Either way, their reputation precedes them, and that reputation is not exactly stellar. But, could there be hope? I had completely written off this brewery, and wasn’t expecting much when I took a sample of their new IPA at the BC Beer Awards. Tasting that made me loudly proclaim “THEY’RE NOT DEAD YET!”

Is their most recently bottled IPA release as good as the massively hopped IPA I had at the BC Beer Awards? Nope. It’s better.

Fearless is a huge, Cascadian-style IPA. Massive hops and tropical fruit aromas dominate the nose, but a smoother malty body backs it up. It’s as well balanced as Cascadian IPAs get (aka so heavy to the Hops side of the scale the bottle almost falls over).

This beer is such a great IPA, in fact, that I am wondering how it would stack up against the reigning big boys of BC Hop Madness. How does it taste when Fat Tug, Red Racer and Switchback are all in the room? I’ll be doing a blinded IPA tasting in the near future, and will definitely inform y’all of the results.

Until then, go out and buy this great beer from Dead Frog. Please do it. They need the money.

Coles notes:

Brewery Dead Frog
From Aldergrove, BC
Name Fearless
Style Cascadian IPA
SOA Now Bronze
SOA Potential n/a. Not a cellaring beer.
Drink Now. Please.
Number of good beers they’d have to brew to make me forget Pepper Lime Around 200.
Availability Widely available at LDB and LRS
Cost $4.99-7.00 per 650ml bottle.
Similar Beers Driftwood Fat Tug, Central City Red Racer IPA, Lighthouse Switchback
Chuck says It goes down fast and good. If we buy enough maybe they’ll make more.

See? Breweries with bad track records CAN produce good beer.

Written by chuck

November 18th, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Posted in Beers

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Parallel 49 Ugly Sweater

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For those that need a primer, a Milk Stout is much like a regular stout, but in addition to fermenting all those lovely malt-derived sugars (maltose) we also get the lazy, good-for-nothing, cows to pitch in and contribute something for a change. That something is lactose, and yes, Milk Stout is effectively raw milk… but mixed with beer… okay, maybe I’m not adequately selling it here…

Believe it or not, all that milk really IS a good thing. Milk Stouts have the richest, creamiest body you could possibly imagine, and brewers exploit that to float very strong, heavy flavours on top of that creamy body. Southern Tier makes a fantastic Crème Brûlée Milk Stout, each sip of which requires solid concentration to consume, and a bottle of which is a solid winter’s evening project.

All of this creates a problem for Ugly Sweater. You see, if it’s in a six pack from Parallel 49 it’s meant to be a sessionable beer, aka something you can quaff 3 or 4 of without thinking twice. The choice of a Milk Stout as a session ale is confusing at best, and definitely worrisome.

But you know what? They pulled it off. Galldernit if those guys over on Triumph street are managing to not only not screw up unlikely beer combinations, but to actually make them delicious. Pumpkin in a Märzen? Golden. Caramel in a Scotch Ale? Solid. And a Milk Stout as a session beer? Done.

The trick is that this beer is not so much a stout as it is a solid porter, and rather than using the lactose to build a massive sweet chocolatey body on top of which to build a skyscraper of flavour, they’ve dialed it down to just a nice creamy mouthfeel with a hint of cocoa.

Serving temperature matters with this guy. You’re looking for about 50F (10C), which means leaving it outside in the day around now should be just about right. At that temperature, you should definitely pick out the chocolate, but also some coffee, toffee and definitely a little bitter bit from the hops. Before you know it, though, your glass will be empty and you’ll be reaching for another.

UPDATE: Dave Shea, who actually–you know–brews beer, corrects me: milk stouts just contain lactose, not fermented lactose. In fact, lactose is added specifically because it doesn’t ferment, which is the source of all that creamy goodness… mmm… creamy goodness… anyone else thirsty?

Coles notes:

Brewery Parallel 49
From Vancouver, BC
Name Ugly Sweater
Style Milk Stout
SOA Now Bronze
SOA Potential n/a. Not a cellaring beer.
Drink Now. In sixes.
Preferred attire for drinking Oddly enough, a smoking jacket.
Availability Widely available at LRS & some LDB
Cost $12.25-16.00 per 6x341ml bottle.
Similar Beers None in BC
Chuck says Buy a six pack. Drink it. Buy a six pack. Drink it. Buy a six pack…

I’m running out of Bronze medals.

Written by chuck

November 16th, 2012 at 3:46 pm

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Plan B Idiot Rock

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Some of you might have never heard of Plan B Brewing. They’re a newish micro-brewery bringing craft beer to the locals of Smithers, BC. Now that’s what I call fighting the good fight. It’s a great story, and you can just imagine all the anecdotes about these guys convincing bar and hotel owners to take a chance with local beer in the middle of a region of the province firmly in the grasp of the big macros.

So when the intrepid owners of Brewery Creek decided to bring in a crate of Plan B Brewing for BC Beer Month I was excited to finally get my hands on a sample of the Good Work that owner/brewer Mark Gillis is doing way up yonder. Add to that the fact that these bottles having some pretty neat graphics and I was down right excited to pop one open and have a go.

Okay, the colour’s about right for an IPA, but I don’t care about that. And the nose is… huh… uninteresting, I guess. But it’s all about the flavour, right? So here goes.

I’d like to think I’ve developed a semi-decent palate when it comes to beer. I can generally pick out off flavours, and I now count myself amoungst that obnoxious segment of beer geeks who can tell you what region of the world the hops came from. But there is something… not quite right… about this beer. Some off flavour that I haven’t encountered yet.

Leave it to Dave Shea (he of local homebrewing award fame) to put his BCJP-in-training finger on it: Chlorides. This beer is stacked to the rafters with chlorides. Go to MEC, pick up some water purification/chlorine tablets, and then cram them in your next IPA to get a very very good approximation of what this beer tastes like.

Is this flavour on purpose? I would hope not, but there seems to be enough commentary online to rule out a single bad batch. I mean, they get Lighthouse Switchback up at the Smithers LDB, so we know they have a great IPA to set the bar by. How do you set out to brew an IPA and wind up with this? Or more importantly, wind up with this and then shrug your shoulders and say “Fuck it, it’ll do” then transfer it over to the bottling line?

I won’t bother continuing the tasting notes on this guy, because frankly there is no getting past that giant wall of chemicals that simply shouldn’t be there. All chance of this beer impressing me disappeared the second I found a commonality between it and the stuff I clean my toilet with.

Sorry, Mark, I wanted to like this just for the romance, but Try Harder. I guess I should have listened to my internal Spidy-Sense when the clerk at Brewery Creek described it as “Not bad for a first try.”

Drain pour.

Coles notes:

Brewery Plan B Brewing
From Smithers, BC
Name Idiot Rock
Style American IPA
SOA Now No seal awarded
SOA Potential No seal awarded
Drink Not now, but give them a second chance in a year or so.
Best non-beer use Disinfecting your brew kit.
Availability Brewery Creek LRS
Cost $7.00 per 650ml bottle? (I can’t remember)
Similar Beers Any IPA with a chlorine tablet in it.
Chuck says Ugh. I tried to wash the flavour out with Hermannator but couldn’t. Think about that for a second.

Written by chuck

November 13th, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Posted in Beers