Tag Archive: Canada


Noble Pig - Mocha Porter

Noble Pig: Mocha Porter (Canada: Porter: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Black, massive frothy cinnamon to brown frothed head. Ruby red at edges of the body.

Nose: Bitter coffee. Milky chocolate. Smooth. Light roasted notes as it warms.

Body: Smooth. Roasted hazelnut backing and low hop bitterness. Light cream cheese and chives. Bitter back. Milky coffee.

Finish: Milky coffee. Low roasted character. Light cream. Bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: I’m sensing a trend in Canadian beers so far. They don’t push against your expectations, but they do deliver on very well crafted examples of existing styles with well balanced flavours.

I base this insight on about four days drinking. I may turn out to be wrong. Let it never be said that the English are afraid to make wide sweeping assumptions from ignorance. Wait, what do you mean no one ever said that anyway? Huh.

This is a creamy coffee heavy porter, very smooth up front, but has a delicate use of hop roughness to roast it up a bit at the back end. It is a good balance, and one I respect as heavy dark beers can get sticky and oppressively hopped very quickly, but here it just complements the roasted nut character used as a backing. I’ve seen great smooth porters in my time, and far more rarely good hopped porters, but rarely something that mixes the two.

While it doesn’t break boundaries, this really pushes the strength of the porter style over its stronger stout cousin – despite the big flavours it still slides down so easily. The most noticeable flavours are from where it pushes the coffee – smooth and milky, yet still with bitterness to show it isn’t afraid of some bite to back it up.

A seriously well balanced porter, and one that shows a bit of hops in your porters doesn’t hurt and can in fact help. Very nice for that and for a decent flavour as well.

Background: Tried at the Noble Pig Brewpub in Kamloops – was a bit of a walk from the hotel, up a freaking hill no less, but wasn’t too bad considering I basically grew up on one big hill. Again, really friendly staff, and they had awesome mac and cheese with pulled pork. It was a lovely goopy, probably terrible for me mess of taste joy. I hadn’t seen many darker beers yet on the trip so decided to grab the porter. After this I was wandering back when I saw a coffee store with a hardcore punk gig going on in it, so I joined in. of course. Canada is cool.

Grizzly Paw Rundlestone Session Ale

Grizzly Paw: Rundlestone Session Ale (Canada: Session IPA: 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Grain yellow. Thin ripe banana skin touched head that leaves suds. Clear body with no evident carbonation.

Nose: Prickly bitter hops, lightly done. Kiwi and lemon sherbet. Very crisp.

Body: Good clean bitterness. Dry malt back. Mild caramel and soft lemon. Soft toffee and lime notes.

Finish: Fudge. Hop air. Chocolate notes. Kew lime pie. Light bitterness.

Conclusion: Ok, first if I can get out of the way my ever evident pedantic and over opinionated nature. Session beers should be below 4% in my ever so humble opinion – I have given a lot of ground in this fight over the years in the fact of abv increases all around, but still I think for the perfect session beer it holds true. However, with that said, this is sessionable as hell.

It keeps the body fresh and crisp the entire way through – lager like in feel but with a real high quality crisp bitterness. It just slips down – and, even better, as seems to be common so far in Canada, the carbonation – while present – is minimal so you don’t get bloated. For that last point your experience may vary depending on where you drink it, but at the brewpub it used just enough to keep it crisp.

The trick seems to be that while it has a whole mound of flavour, it keeps it soft. The fruitiness and sweetness is gently applied, as if dragged across your tongue on a velvet cloth. Metaphorically. If it was literal that would be horrible.

It reminds me of a ramped up version of “How To Disappear Completely“, despite being a far lighter coloured beer, and the extra weight of abv really overcomes what I found to be the few weak points in that beer. The toffee and fudge notes are soft but solid enough that the feel feels like it has weight rather than feeling empty at the core. The fruitiness feels akin to a good pale ale, but without as much hop kick.

If this had been below 4% I would have called it the perfect session beer. As is it is a damn good session beer.

Background: Had to work hard to get this one, I first hit the Grizzy Paw Brew Pub on a Sunday. Which turned out to be the Sunday on a three day weekend. It was insane busy and I ended up having to give up. The next day, thankfully I managed to grab some beer and poutine. By the way their poutine was the best I had in Canada, very nice indeed. This has an IBU of 28, and I was amused that despite being called a “Session” beer, it was only 0.5% abv lower than the vast majority of their range. A lot of Canadian beers seem fairly tightly clustered around the 5% abv. Ratebeer seems not to like this beer, odd, ah well, also they call it a golden ale – possibly, but session IPA seemed closer for me so I went with that.

Banff Ave Highline Magazine Naked Nut Brown Ale

Banff Ave Brewing: Highline Magazine Naked Nut Brown Ale (Canada: Brown Ale: 4.8% ABV)

Visual: Deep brown with a thin off white head that leaves lace.

Nose: Cashew nuts and brown sugar. Malt chocolate. Nutella and Belgian chocolate.

Body: Hazelnuts. Low level bitterness. Lightly chalky texture. Milky coffee. Malt chocolate.

Finish: Lightly earthy. Hazelnuts and a very light burnt wood touch. Nutella. Brown sugar touch.

Conclusion: Brown ales from around the world unite! I find brown ales interesting (a phrases very little said) as there is such a big difference between the UK real ale interpretation of the style, and the USA craft interpretation – and yet they are still very noticeable the same style.

This definitely is geared more towards the American interpretation than the sometimes just lightly sour and refreshing UK take – however that sweetness is reined in, giving room for a far more nutty and roasted character than most.

The nose is the sweetest part of it, with real full on Nutella and hints of brown sugar. It entices you in, but if the entire beer had been like that it would have been off-puttingly sickly sweet.

The body then smartly takes it towards a much more roasted way, with the slight chalk texture giving it a nice rough edged feel in the mouth. Here the beer makes itself known as much by feel as it does by taste, roasted and kicking – but backed by the malt chocolate and milky coffee – the sweet Nutella is there but taken down a notch to make it manageable.

The finish keeps the roasted, but brings back up the sweetness, slowly revealing itself as the roasted character fades out. It treads a fine line between the two characteristics to round it off nicely.

Overall this is a really balanced brown ale. Able to push heavier sweet notes and then pull back from it when it needs to. A very sessionale brown, for the abv, and very enjoyable.

Background: Ok, a quick google tells me Highline Magazine is a Canadian magazine. Apart from that I’m not sure what the relevance is. Drunk at the Brewpub in Banff while hiding from the sun, again. The beer there is dispensed straight from the beer tanks, which is kind of as fresh as you can get. Which is cool. Also this is 12 IBU – The Canadian craft beer scene seems all about telling you info about the beer, including IBU, which is also cool. Banff Ave also have an absolutely brilliant Ella hopped Double IPA, like one of my favourite beers level good. I didn’t have a chance to head back to do tasting notes, but if you are around check it out. It is awesome. Also thanks to the staff in general for being awesome, and also for letting me into the brew area to take some photos.

Banff Ave Brewing Equipment

Earls Rhino Pale

Kamloops Brewing: Earl’s Rhino Pale Ale (Canada: American Pale Ale: 5% ABV)

Visual: Clear amber to gold. Thin ambered head, but not much carbonation in the main body.

Nose: Peach. Crushed biscuits. Cream. Dried apricot.

Body: Peach. Light hop tingle. Custard cream biscuits. Vanilla. Slightly muggy hops.

Finish: Light popcorn feel hops. Light lemon air and a very light earthy touch. Light greenery. Toffee.

Conclusion: Ok, time to run straight up against the expectations of style descriptions. This is described as a pale ale, and for a lot of the elements I can see that, but it has a fuller, thicker body than I would expect from an APA – without that dry attenuation. Is this then a rare example of an EPA? Well it doesn’t feel like that either, with a bigger hop character than an EPA. It doesn’t push into IPA territory either, despite the bigger base, the fruitiness is there, yes, but the actual hop kick is pretty low.

Odd, but I guess best just look at what we actually have then – it really isn’t very complex, but it does go down very easily. The flow of the beer is just bright peach fruit and in that it is akin to American IPAs – so that part is generally good. The hops however, possibly due to the thicker base, actually feel quite muggy – which hurts a beer that could do with a fresher feel. The crushed digestive sweetness buffets it a bit, and protects the beer from the worst excesses by rounding the flavour off, so it doesn’t hurt it as much as it otherwise would.

Where this flaw shows most is in the finish, as there it is quite dry, with less compensating sweetness so you end up with a real muggy character over time, hurting the easy drinking character which is its primary characteristic.

However, while it isn’t a great beer I’m not going to be too down on it, possibly because I’m on holiday, but also because it does balance a nice mouthfeel with the peach hop flavours – while not complex it is a solid enough mix, for all its flaws.

A fair robust beer then, nowhere near top of the hop, but enjoyable enough for what it is.

Background: I’d seen Earl’s Kitchen and Bar turn up a few times around Canada, so when I found out they had their own beer line I decided to go out on a limb and do some research. According to ratebeer this is made by Kamloops brewing, though they list it as an amber ale. Despite my noted being unsure with exactly where the beer style lies I will go with their description and say APA as it seems in the right ballpark to me, despite the oddities. When in doubt I tend to go with brewers description and rate it as that. This was drunk while in Banff and hiding from the sun in the Earl’s Kitchen and Bar. It was hot. Very hot.

Tree Mellow Moon Pineapple Hefeweizen

Tree: Mellow Moon: Pineapple Hefeweizen (Canada: Fruit Hefeweizen: 5% ABV)

Visual: Hazy banana to apricot. Thin white head.

Nose: Pineapple. Light peach. Banana and cloves.

Body: Wheaty. Banana and cloves. Fresh tart notes. Apricot. Pineapple. Vanilla sweetness. Blueberry as it warms.

Finish: Dry feel but still light pineapple freshness. Cloves. Vanilla and light blueberry.

Conclusion: I have often found it difficult finding a good hefeweizen outside of Germany. Other places seem to be able to make good beers, but they often don’t quite feel like they match the style – pushing too big hops or too sweet base, and they lose the natural balance that I love in the best examples of the style. The balance that make them just so very drinkable.

This, with the extra of infused pineapple, had me nervous but intrigued. I love odd twists, but wondered if it would further move it away from the elements I love in a good weisse. I shouldn’t have worried, they have got the balance on this spot on.

Initially I was actually disappointed instead in how little the pineapple was shown – it was just limited to the aroma, but did finally show itself as the beer warmed. What this did was allow a lovely crisp wheaty hefeweizen to establish itself first – showing lots of banana and cloves, all used to good and just slightly dry affect.

Though good as just a well made hefe, it is the pineapple that is added as it warms that gives it the lovely summer thirst quenching character. Even better it lets the contrasting flavours mesh to create the almost hallucinatory flavours I love so much – in this case a light blueberry like note.

While it is predominantly quite traditional in how it approaches the base, there are still some, mild, calls to the sweeter interpretations, here using a subtle vanilla. It seems, used very carefully that extra sweetness can enhance rather than hurt the style.

Overall this is a very impressive first beer of the trip, and a great mix of hefe and fruit. Definitely check it out if you get the chance.

Background: First beer of the Canada trip! Hefeweizen and fruit infused beers both seem popular during the hot Canada summer, so this seemed an appropriate first one to sample. Drunk at Beer Revolution craft beer and pizza bar. By the way, not only are their staff awesome and friendly as hell – their pizza is fucking amazing. Seriously. Try it. Notes will be a tad shorter for these notes than usual as I was spending time chatting a lot with other people in the bar during the holiday. Not my greatest photo, still getting used to using new camera out in the field as it where.

Dieu Du Ciel Bourbon Aged Peche Mortel

Dieu Du Ciel: Peche Mortel: Reserve Speciale 2013: Viellie 12 mois en fut De Bourbon (Canada: Imperial Stout: 9.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Brown medium sized head, similar to the colour of chocolate milkshake.

Nose: Bitter coffee. Fudge. Bitter cocoa dust. Very rounded in all elements. Chocolate cake and sponge. Roasted nuts.

Body: Oatmeal flapjack. Massive rounded coffee. Raisins. Vanilla toffee. Frothy texture. Rye bourbon. Shredded wheat. Sharp orange liquore.

Finish: Bitter Belgian chocolate and chocolate sponge. Bitter coffee beans. Vanilla fudge. Vanilla spirit air – bourbon style. Sharpe orange crème centres.

Conclusion: Ok, this is a beer balanced on a knife edge. I very much enjoyed Peche Mortel, but this, oh this just adds that little edge to it. It still has that booming bitter coffee, but more rounded and refined. The time in the oak gives it much more complexity in both chocolate and coffee, giving additional layers of sweetness and bitterness to both. It is that accentuation of the pre existing characteristics that pushes that part up there with Beer Geek Brunch Weasel for massive complexity to coffee expression. You can take your time even with just the aroma, feeling the fudge come out, and the coffee progressing through the aromas.

The body is buoyed by the spirit elements, an almost shredded wheat bourbon roughness, combined with vanilla sweet spirit rises up, prickling through the strong main body. This is the knife edge, the element the beer balances on. At times the perfect balancing of flavours makes it one of the all time greats, at others it rises just a tad too spirity. In both it merges all those elements before with what is an almost sharp orange liquore sub note that adds another layer of intrigue. The mix of spirit is seen even in the texture, a mix of frothy smooth and spirit needle prickles.

So, it varies, at its best it is truly up there with the best – bringing everything Peche Mortel did, but more rounded, backed by subtle extra notes and showing the full complexity of the coffee. At its worst, and this is comparative worst, not absolute – it is still very good – it is very bourbon heavy, almost like the stout is backing the bourbon rather than the other way around. Not a bad thing, but not a patch on the other way around.

Because it has that variance, even in a single bottle, it is not quite an all time great, but it has those moments where it does reach it with mad genius. This is an excellent beer. Give it a try – the standard Peche Mortel is more consistant, but this has occasional moments of absolute greatness.

Background: It has a gold band! Yay! Yep, that is the only difference is a gold label indicating it is Viellie 12 mois en fut De Bourbon – or as I put it, 12 months in Bourbon oak. I picked this up from Brewdog Bristol after the Dieu Du Ciel meet the brewers event. I had also had standard Peche Mortel on tap then, very nice.

Dieu Du Ciel Alchemist Moralité
Dieu Du Ciel: Alchemist: Moralité (Canada: IPA: 7% ABV)

Visual: Hazy orange gold. Hash of a white head.

Nose: Grapefruit. Tart apple. Apricot. Slightly overripe fruit. Slightly sherbety. Zesty orange.

Body: Tart apple. Pink grapefruit. Pineapple. Sour. Dried apricot. Vanilla pods. Sugared apple pie and pastry. Custard and toffee malt notes.

Finish: Salt touch. Musky bitterness. Pineapple and pink grapefruit. Vanilla. Lightly dusty. Tart apples.

Conclusion: Collaborators, a term that use to call to mind the, often rightfully, looked down upon groups that aided the invaders in a war for personal benefit. Now calls to mind the awesome people who bring us these beers. I call that progress.

This, while being an IPA, seems very unusual to me. The mass of tart hops actually manages to give it an almost sour yeast,highly hopped, pale ale taste to me, That sounds like a bad thing. It is not, it is, in fact, a good thing. The malt doesn’t seem heavily present, it has more of a malt feel than a taste – it is slightly dry, which is what calls to mind the pale ale over the IPA, but the tartness means it rapidly goes from that to refreshing as hell.

It just shimmers with flavour, while you can feel the malt base, the bitterness from the hops is more an outline, a prickle which marks the lines within which the mass of flavour will be coloured in. This entire base outline gives the impression of one kind of beer, the flavour is an entire different thing – I don’t know if it is the hops, the yeast, or what, but it just packs in tart apples, apricot, pineapple, grapefruit. The flavours are ones you can get from hops, but with a tartness that, well , sparkles (and not in a shitty vampire style), and calls to mind the more wild yeast beers.

I’m guessing that there is something done with a funky yeast character, as something is giving just that bit of grip to the tartness, all together becoming just a sublime beer – and one I wish I could drink without collapsing from that 7% abv weight. Yep, pretty much its flaw is I can’t session it. That is all.

Background: Yes that photo is of a beer partially drunk. The bar was busy so I didn’t think I would find a place to set down and review up, but moments later a table opened up – so I quickly got on the job. This was drunk at the Dieu Du Ciel: Meet the Brewers event, while waiting for the brewers to turn up. A great event and a great time.
Meet The Brewers Dieu Du Ciel

Peche Mortel

Dieu Du Ciel: Péché Mortel (Canada: Imperial Stout: 9.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Large creamy brown froth head.

Nose: Bitter coffee granules. Bitter chocolate. Dry roasted peanuts.

Body: Rich coffee. Sweet chocolate front; bitter chocolate back. Fudge. Apricot. Frothy. A custard touch.

Finish: Oatmeal. Bitter coffee beans. Slight condensed cream. Rich and rounded. Kiwi touch. Very roasted character with lots of bitterness.

Conclusion: How to get across the character of this beer? From the notes above it looks pretty much like a standard new age Imperial Stout doesn’t it? That is because it very hard in those notes to get across how immense the level of coffee is. Like Beer Geek Brunch Weasel the coffee has numerous layers to its character which I had to resort to pitifully summing up above as “Rich coffee” and “Bitter coffee beans”. I need to learn to be a better wordsmith.

The coffee is very bitter, however the beer uses smooth chocolate and fudge at the sides to keep the intensity in a manageable range. It also uses the texture to similar effect, the frothy nature a good contrast to allow the coffee to have its moments of power without making the overall beer too one note to drink happily.

The intensity has reinforcing elements as well, with a rough roasted character backing it up. That and the coffee are the two elements that last, and you find them still present long after each sip. These enduring elements allow an unbroken continuity of beer consciousness throughout the whole experience. From the first moment you start drinking you will not find a second that you are not aware of the beers complexities until long after you have finished the last drop.

Outside of the coffee it has few divergent notes from your expectations, it is more stripped down and focused on coffee than most beers at this level of quality, however it makes up for that by really pushing the coffee quality through the roof. It does better than Speedway Stout in the bitter coffee stout stakes, but the crown still goes to Beer Geek Brunch Weasel. However to lose to that beer is no great flaw, this, much more intense beer, is the harsh edge of the complex coffee Imperial Stout range and a lovely beer.

Background: This is a big one, Dieu Du Ciel have been impressing me since I first got my hands on some of their beer earlier this year, and this is probably their highest reputation beer, being their entry into Rate Beers top 50 beers in the world. Even more than that, just as I was about to drink it I had a quick twitter conversation with Independent Spirit, who also raved about it. Expectations were high. This beer, the name of which means “Mortal Sin” was made with fair trade coffee and drunk while listening to a bit of Dethklok.

Blanche Du Paradis

Dieu Du Ciel: Blanche Du Paradis (Canada: Belgium Wit: 5% ABV)

Visual: Light grain to yellow. Yellow white head.

Nose: Funky Belgian yeast. Slightly tart. Lemon. Coriander. Banana sweets.

Body: Big amounts of banana and yeast. Cream. Apricot. Lemon curd. Meringue. Coriander. Banana milkshake.

Finish: Carrot and coriander. Funky yeast, Dry. Milk. Meringue and lemon curd. Banoffee milkshake. Wheaty hop character.

Conclusion: Throw away your hoegaardens boys and girls, this is full on wit with no compromises. Lots of that funky yeast character and lots of fruity esters with it. In fact the normally prominent spices are very light behind it, merely giving enough for a tingle to work in the place of other beers hop characters.

Despite the full on yeasty style, the finish is actually delicate enough to nigh instantly invite further sipping in a session style. There is no lasting harshness or anything to put you off continuing the beer. Though don’t be mistaken, if you do manage to hang on and not take the next sip then the light banana, lemon curd and meringue elements that hang around are far from boring, and definitely last.

There is almost a banoffee milkshake character to the backbone of the beer (and please don’t tell me if there is, in fact, no such thing as banoffee milkshake, let me have my dreams), it is again a low element behind the massive funky yestiness , so never gets sickly, but is a delicious note to back up the main character.

For criticisms, well I would put Mikkellers “Not Just Another Wit” ahead of it for sheer enormity of flavour, however that is a much heavier beer, so they are barely even in the same style for comparisons. One is a beer to relax and take your time with, while this is just slightly too strong to be a perfect session beer.

So frankly an awesome, nearly sessionable, Belgian wit and far from the over sweet and watered down mainstream efforts you too often find. Lovely flavour, lovely feel and perfect use of yeast. Spot on.

Background: Canadian craft beer! Woo! I’ve been keeping an eye on PEI Beer Guy’s blog for a while, and bemoaned my inability to find some of the tasty sounding beers over here. Then I found this on tap at Brewdog Bristol. So I drank it. I had been told beforehand that this was very much an old style Belgium wit so was very much looking forward to it.

(EDIT: Recently had in bottle, so decided to add an image of the nice bottle art)

Bottle

Canadian Club Whisky: (Canada: Blended: No Age Statement: 40% ABV)

Visual: Deep honeyed amber.

Viscosity: fast medium streaks.

Nose: Metallic, liquid silver. Quite light notes but you feel the alcohol bite. Tiniest hint of wood.

Body: Warm syrup, quicksilver; It benefits from a long nursing to get rid of the harsh edges. Honeyed notes.

Finish: Vanilla. More metallic tang; burnt wood at end. Alcohol air but nor harsh.

Conclusion: Not too complex and the metallic feel make it an acquired taste. Definitely benefits from a nursing to take off the worst elements. Still not one I would overly recommend, but some seem to take to its unusual edge with delight.

Not my scene, but by all means take a look if it sounds like yours.

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