Sunday, December 24, 2017

2017 Advent Beer 24: Pōhjala’s Jōuluöö

Safely ensconced once more at home, but having just finished opening presents, I am now unwilling to leave the recliner, hence another iPad-driven phone-driven copied-and-pasted-on-the-darned-PC post.

Today’s unpronounceable beer comes all the way from Estonia, and is a chocolate-vanilla oak-aged Porter, weighing in at a respectable 8% ABV. Decanted into a stout glass, there is the ubiquitous coffee aroma but also hits of chocolate. A solid, dark, sweet, strong beer would be a great way for this year's calendar to stick the landing, but if nothing else, at least the label is pretty. Pōhjala's entry last year was awfully good, and this one is almost tailor-made for my palate, so my hopes are actually getting a little high here...

Once released into its natural environment (i.e. my mouth) the coffee taste is quickly pushed aside by the cocoa flavour and a surprisingly distinct vanilla component. Jōuluöö's mouthfeel is smooth and robust, resulting in a beer that is the perfect capper to another great advent calendar! Now to figure out how to pronounce it so I can ask store staff if they have it...

Saturday, December 23, 2017

2017 Advent Beer 23: DuClaw's Sweet Baby Java

After a sumptuous turkey dinner, there wasn't much room for today's decidedly desserty beer, and there is still sticky toffee cake yet to come! But I am committed to my course, and have made the effort.

Last year's Sweet Baby Jesus was one of my faves, and this year we get the sequel: Sweet Baby Java - a peanut butter chocolate espresso stout. Now, I like all those things, but how will they work together in a beer?

Pretty darned well, it turns out!

The peanut butter and coffee can be smelled even before the glass is filled with blackety black stout topped with coffee-coloured head.

The coffee is he most assertive flavour, with the chocolate and peanut butter in close pursuit. It's a little sweet, but the bitter nuttiness balances it out pretty well.  A great way to round out a meal as well as a family gathering.

Friday, December 22, 2017

2017 Advent Beer 22: Bridge Brewing's Santa's Sac

Hopefullly this emailed blog updates correctly, as I am currently kickin' it at my sister-in-law's place in Rocky Mountain House, and my go-to blogging app has bitten the dust.

Beerwise, I have to say: not a fan of the name or the label, but the contents are all right! Strong, sweet and fruity, with traces of spice and a bright sparkling mouthfeel.

Would I buy it again?  Mmmmmaybe.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

2017 Advent Beer 21:La Debauche Saison

It's the winter solstice today - the longest night of the year. A dark day calls for dark beers, to my mind at least, so at my team's Christmas dinner tonight I tried two from Lacombe's Blindman Brewing: their Triphammer robust porter and Ichorous Imperial stout, and they were both splendid.

Their darkness stands in stark contrast to the hazy golden yellow of tonight's saison from La Debauche in France. It is quite frothy, building to an almost stereotypical head. Scents are mild, which is not that unusual for a saison; a bit of yeast, a hint of mustiness, some floral notes.

Fairly crisp for a 7% ABV beer, and very smooth, with a bitter finish that could make this a decent quencher (as dangerous a notion as that might be). There's traces of spice, like coriander, but all in all, a fairly unremarkable beer. On the other hand though, the pretty, semi-gothy label is a nice fit for the longest night of the year.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Observing a Quarter-Century

When I show people a picture of Audrey for the first time, they are often surprised at just how good-looking she is and how youthful in appearance. If I stopped to think about it, I would probably be a bit offended at the many variations of "that's your wife?" (or alternatively "that's your wife?" or even "that's your wife?") but the truth of it is that I am tickled (and a little bit gratified, perhaps) by their consternation and certainly just as mystified as they are.

Yes, I'm sure many folk picture a dark day when I galloped into her simple farming village and slung Audrey across the back of my steed, the earth blackening in my hoofprints as we rode away. In truth though, we had become friends in college, and that affection grew into something more. I had to sell her on the idea of becoming a couple because of her fear of damaging that friendship, but I did, and a quarter-century, two children and a mortgage later, here we are - still friends even when we aren't at our friendliest.

It feels a strange thing to commemorate, especially given the number of friends and acquaintances we have who have seen their relationships dissolve or break over the past few years. Reaching a milestone like 25 years yesterday feels a lot less like "Yeah!" [punches fist in air in slo-mo] and much more along the lines of "Whew!" [wipes sweat from brow], if you know what I mean.

December '92 was kind of a rough month for getting married, honestly, but there were a number of people in the bridal party still in school, and we had to wait for their final exams. It's made celebrating anniversaries tricky at times too, given the sheer number of visits, visitors, Christmas parties and concerts and the like. I had given up on the idea of a major party or some such a long while ago, and besides, the whole notion felt a bit self-aggrandizing to be honest.

Apparently no one told this to my sister Tara, who, unbeknownst to us, had not only started collecting stories and photos from our friends an families and assembled them into a lovely commemorative book...

...she had also arranged a number of them to be present after church this past Sunday when the book and a large cake were presented to us.

As much as we both hate to see a fuss made about us, it was a lovely gesture, and it was wonderful to be surrounded by so many well-wishers. If you made it into the book, thank you so much; those words mean an awful lot to us.

There were other gifts as well, a lovely heart shaped silver ornament and an Irish 'Make Up Bell' among them.

Tuesday morning, the day of our actual anniversary, there were 25 tulips on the table, and a pair of silver claddagh earrings for Audrey that I appear to be unable to photograph myself.

She presented me with a Tibetan singing bowl, something I've wanted for a very long time, even if it isn't silver; I don't wear much in the way of jewelry, so the gifting angle is far tougher for her, frankly. It didn't matter much to me though, as the real gift was having my bride to myself for almost 24 hours.

Both of us being lovers of history, we've longed for a chance to stay in one of Edmonton's most historic buildings, the Hotel MacDonald, and I decided to pull out all the stops for this momentous occasion. 

We had exotic cocktails in the Confederation Room, then a three course meal in the Harvest Room. Audrey had hay-smoked chicken while I enjoyed a rack of lamb so tender that a six-week-old baby could have eaten it. The service at these establishments is almost always a pleasure, and the staff even surprised us with a joyfully decorated plate and two glasses of sparkling wine at the end of our repast.

We explored the hotel itself a bit, checking out the amenities and meeting rooms, admiring the pictures and various artefacts from the establishment's 102 year history. While looking for a working ice machine, I found a room with the crest of Lord Strathcona's Horse, a connection I have yet to research but found intriguing.

The room we had was lovely and spacious, with an oblique view of the river and the Edmonton Queen, iced in for the season, and we enjoyed icewine & brandy before retiring.

The next day, we slept in and almost missed the breakfast that came with our rooms as part of a promotion, but the staff made certain to have us fed before the lunch crowd came in and displaced us. After checking out, we left our bag at the desk area so we could check out one of the city's newest attractions: the funicular.

Part of a larger project called Mechanized River Valley Access, a funicular is essentially an elevator designed to go up and down slopes. This one, and its accompanying steps, will make it much easier for everyone to get to our wonderful river valley, especially those with impaired mobility. Plus 'funicular' is objectively a very fun word to say - just try it.

Currently the descent is a bit anticlimactic, as there is not much at the bottom of the funicular aside from the bridge going above Grierson Hill Road and the lookout they've built overlooking the North Saskatchewan. The lookout is a nice viewpoint though, and contains an elevator that will take riders right to the city's vaunted trail system.

For low-minded folk like myself, it is also quite entertaining to tell someone (say, your wife of 25 years), that you are looking forward to doing something fun with them that begins with the letters F and U, before exclaiming "Funicular!"

When we were first married, we lived within walking distance of Whyte Avenue, so it felt appropriate to return there today and get the last of our Christmas shopping done, explore some shops you would never find in a mall, snap a cheeky photo in front of a seasonally decorated window:

Still full from our late breakfast, we nonetheless finished our excursion with ridiculously overdone milkshakes at RE:GRUB (yes, that garnish is in fact a legitimate slice of cheesecake).

Spending a couple of days in extravagance feels a bit hedonistic and almost irresponsible in some ways, but of all the things I am grateful for in my life, and there are many (family and friends in particular), Audrey is foremost among them, and with good reason. Taking some time to observe the miracle of a person so special choosing to spend over half of her life married to me seems the very least I can do, and I hope this tiny bit of pampering makes her feel the way I do almost every day when I wake up next to her.

Our marriage vows had us promising to be each other's best friends, lovers, and parents to our children. 25 years later, that's still the case, and why not? We started out as friends, after all.

2017 Advent Beer 20: Loncium's Gingerbread Man

I suppose we owe the linkage between the winter holidays and ginger to the ubiquitous gingerbread house, but those big soft ginger cookies are my preferred method of ingestion. Perhaps this Gingerbread Man beer from Privatbrauerei Loncium in Austria.

It's a deep dark reddish-brown, with aromas of ginger but also coffee and something else - cloves maybe? There's some sweetness too, perhaps partially due to the 6.3% ABV.

There is ginger up front, as promised, followed by coffee bitterness, that clovishness again and some nuittiness as well. Not a great beer for meal pairing, but as a liquid dessert or an evening beer shared with a visitor, it is decidedly distinct and quite decent! This Gingerbread Man is well worth catching.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

2017 Advent Beer 19: Sound Brewing's Baltic Porter

Imagine, if you can, my surprise at discovering that Baltic porters, unlike their British forebears, are lagers and not ales! Apparently brewers in the Baltic states liked the idea of the porter, but only had access to lager yeasts. They brewed them longer and stronger, ending up with what is essentially a lagered version of the Imperial stout.

You can smell the roasted malts and coffee right away, and this beer pours a very dark black, despite being not nearly as thick as stouts tend to be.

The coffee and malt lead the way, but there are traces of smoke and licorice in the finish which are, in a word, delightful. The mouthfeel is a bit think but only in comparing it to beers of similar opacity, which may not be entirely fair. Not as sweet as many RIS's, this Baltic Porter is a bit of a warmer too, at 7.3% ABV. A tremendous beer from Washington state, overall.

A tasty beer that comes with a lesson about brewing; hard to ask for more, really!

Monday, December 18, 2017

2017 Advent Beer 18: TicketyBrew's Salted Caramel Coffee Stout

Although they may not be graphically enticing, I have always enjoyed TicketyBrew's strip-style labels, coiling around the bottle like a set of tickets. This English brewer has presented me with a poorly timed beer for nighttime consumption, containing Peruvian coffee as it does. Having a milk stout base as it does, though (with lactose and lactose sugar, coffee does seem like a natural pairing.

The coffee scent is immediately apparent, but the live yeast used gives it sour tang as well. It took a full ten minutes to pour the bottle, however, as even my gentlest pour resulted in overzealous head production.

The first sips are overwhelmingly coffee, with a slightly sharp, kind of sour aftertaste.  As the beer warms, however, more of the milky and sweet aspects come through. In the final sips, there is a hint of the salted caramel as well, confirming that I would have been better off letting this beer warm in my hand for 20-30 minutes before tasting.

Still not a bad beer, provided it lets me get to sleep within an hour or so...

A Visual Feast, and More - The Last Jedi, Reviewed

It's extremely likely that you have already made your mind up as to if (probably yes) and when (sooner the better, but who needs those crowds?) you are going to see the latest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi (episode VIII if you are keeping track that way). Let me give you two (spoiler-free) reasons as to why you definitely should see it, and sooner rather than later.

The first is that director Rian Johnson has nailed the tone of Star Wars in a way unequalled since the first film in 1977. All the antecedents are there: the fairy tale, the family drama, the western, the war movie, and the samurai epic. He adds nuance to the tragedy of Kylo Ren and brings Luke Skywalker back into the fold, but in a very counter-intuitive way, a way that Mark Hamill took exception to, but to which he has committed in a visible and fulfilling way.

After the weight and predeterminism of all the prequels (including the excellent Rogue One), and the way that The Force Awakens evoked so much of the original film, I cannot fully express just how delightful it felt to be exploring new ground in The Last Jedi. There are new worlds to visit, new creatures to marvel at, and a couple of well-thought-out twists that bring a much needed sense of unpredictability and awe to the franchise. 

And humour! After far too long an absence, someone has finally remembered that humour was a key reason for the success of the original trilogy, and emulated it here without undermining the gravitas of a rebellion fighting for its very existence. My advice on this basis is to avoid spoilers and revealed jokes alike, and see it as soon as you are able.

The second reason is that The Last Jedi is the most visually striking Star Wars movie to date. Ever. And, yes: that includes the original.

You might think this is due to the ever-increasing abilities of visual effects artists, but it doesn't; it is the manner in which those effects are used. From a squadron of battered landspeeders kicking up red plumes as they traverse salt flats, to the iridescence of ice foxes retreating from an  advancing army, Rian has reinstilled the sense of childlike wonder that every fan of this universe longs to experience. He even manages to include the best destruction of a capital ship in a space battle ever, and you will recognize it when you see it.

I went into The Force Awakens with a sense of apprehension, having avoided seeing the third prequel for almost a decade. I left The Last Jedi with an ever-building sense of hope; a hope that  we could perhaps end up with a second trilogy to approach the resonance and impact of the original. 

As it happens, Johnson is not available to helm the final chapter of this latest trilogy, but he has been given the keys to the kingdom in that he will be the boss of a brand new trilogy after J.J. Abrams wraps up this one in 2019. I'm looking forward to that in a way I could not have anticipated even a few days ago. For the time being, I am hoping Abrams can meet the bar which has been set very high now by Johnson, and then stick the landing as well.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

2017 Advent Beer 17: Big Sky Brewing Co.'s Power Wagon Wheat Wine

A lot of brewers are making big ABV beers today, but not all doublestrength brews are created equal, by any measure. There is a wide range of styles for the lovers of big beer to choose from, from crisp and bitter double IPAs to rich malty Imperial stouts, but one of the oldest in the infamous barleywine, which gets name dropped by no less a worthy than Xenophon himself in his tale Anabasis. (Why, yes - the same work that inspired Walter Hill's street gang classic, The Warriors - go to the front of the class!)

Power Wagon is different though, making up more than half its grain bill through three different varieties of wheat. Wheat ales make for some of the smoothest drinking, but sometimes at the expense of a robust flavour, which is why you so often see them augmented with citrus flavour or spices like coriander. I imagine there is a risk of having a high-test wheat beer turn out to have a mediciney flavour. Can Power Wagon dodge this bullet? We'll see...

It pours a pale, cloudy golden yellow with a hint of orange in there, and fruit and pine in the nose. 

The first sip brings the anticipated wheaty smoothness, and the grainy taste of wheat prevalent. There is a following sweetness, not unlike honey, and tinges of fruit. Even the fruit leans towards the sweet side - think oranges and maybe...mangoes? as opposed to grapefruit or lemon. But then the hops arrive to calm things down, reducing the sweetness and introducing a mildly piney bitterness that doesn't make your face want to cave in. Smoother and a bit sweeter than most barleywines. Some of the complexity undoubtedly comes from this special edition being barrel aged.

As the beer warms, both the sweetness and hoppiness appear to intensify, but perhaps that is just the 9.7% ABV talking.

All in all, Power Wagon is a wonderful departure from many other winter warmers, adopting a sweeter, breadier stance than many of its fellows. If this was an experiment, I would certainly consider it a success, and also a bit of a privilege - normally Power Wagon is only available as draft. I'm pretty sure I will be keeping a weather eye open for this one on tap at my local growler bars.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

2017 Advent Beer:16: Wold Top's Ditto Doppelbock

Christmas is a frantic time, which is why tonight's beer was paired with a hastily consumed bag of Mary Brown's chicken instead of being savoured afterwards and reflected upon in an appropriate manner. As a result, there is not a lot for me to share with you about this beer from Yorkshire.

I can tell you that at 7% ABV, Ditto is a fairly big bock, and like the song says, I like big bocks and I cannot lie. It is a crisp, malty and strong beer with a sweet finish that belies its strength. Dark, with a lot of character.

And it pairs well with fried chicken.

Friday, December 15, 2017

2017 Advent Beer 15: Crazy Mountain's 2017 Bridge Street Holiday Ale

Crazy Mountain Brewing Company of Denver Colorado brings us the calendar's prettiest label thus far; a rustic painting of a covered bridge in Vail, draped with snow and festooned with Christmas lights. Elsewhere on the label they describe the bottle's contents as an ale brewed with maple syrup and spices.

The spices are in evidence shortly after pouring: hints of clove and ginger waft up from the glass, which in itself is quite pleasant to look at, filled as it is with a deep amber.

Clove and ginger sort of break down the front door on this one, leaving very little space for the maple sweetness to assert itself. There is an almost floral quality to the beer; not unpleasant, but certainly unexpected.

All in all, a neat experiment, but not a strong contender compared to other winter ales that have arrived via this calendar.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

2017 Advent Beer 14: White Pony Brewing's Dark Signs

Apologies for the rushed post, but I have company arriving in 20 minutes and don't want to do the blog at 11:00 again. Hardly ideal conditions, but we press on regardless!

Another unusually multinational brew, Dark Signs is a dark winter ale brewed in Belgium for White Pony Brewing, based in Italy. Since this self-described 'extra-strong ale' rocks out at a whopping 11.9%, I have to wonder if there is perhaps an Italian law to prevent beers and wines becoming mixed up?  (The Untappd beer app has it reading as 13.1% for some reason.

Dark Signs certainly smells like a Belgian beer, at any rate: the sweet tang of the heavy alcohol presence is joined by notes of toffee and caramel, and a hint of apple, at least to me. There is a bit of yeasty mustiness as well, and the bottle states that champagne yeasts are in play here as well.

Remarkably smooth for such a high-test beer, the tastes present as sweet first, then malty, then the other characteristics come sifting through. The toffee and caramel notes are pronounced, the apple less so. It is a most festive taste, an ideal tipple to share by a fire with a visitor from afar. And it truly extra strong - I can't dispute the possibility it is actually 13.1%. This is definitely a beer I will keep an eye out for after Xmas!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

2017 Advent Beer 13: The Duck Rabbit's Wee Heavy Scotch-Style Ale

We now enter the second half of the Craft Beer Advent Calendar with high hopes tinged with apprehension after last night's unfortunately yeasty encounter. Today's beer comes all the way from Farmville, North Carolina, and a brewery which takes its appellation from a classic optical illusion, not just a classic exchange between Daffy and Bugs. The addition of a tam o'shanter to the label conveys both a sense of whimsy and cultural appreciation for this Scotch ale.

A lovely dark coppery-red in my mug, the sweet, malty aroma presages what is to come: a rich, malty beer, with lively carbonation, and a sweetness brought on by the 8% ABV. There is a hint of caramel in there as well, and the big alcohol taste is neither sharp nor hot, although there is definitely a discernible warming effect!

A great midwinter's beer, for certain!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

2017 Advent Beer 12: Nickel Brook's Half Bastard Stout

It was only after photographing the label and noticing the pseudo-cyrillic lettering that I finally twigged to the fact that this is a sequel of sorts to 2013's brilliant Bolshevik Bastard. BB was one of my favourite beers from that calendar and I came across it afterwards a couple of times as well.

Half Bastard is an attempt to keep the characteristics of a Russian Imperial Stout but with a much lower ABV, 4.5%. As RISs are one of my favourite styles, this strikes me as a potentially worthwhile effort. I say 'potentially' because in some ways that high ABV is a feature of Imperial Stouts, not a detriment. But regardless, like the man in this criminally underwatched video (made here in Alberta!) says: I like stouts; that's what I'm about.

On to the beer though; another foamy bugger, this one, that takes a while to pour. Some coffee and a bit of chocolate come through on the nose, along with a hint of something tangy...hops maybe? Only a sip will tell!

First impression is not good, sad to say - the coffee bitterness is followed by a sour flavour I was not expecting. Further sips and a bit of online research leads me to believe this beer is 'infected'. Sigh. This is not to say the beer is undrinkable, lambics and other sour beers are intentionally infected by wild yeast all the time. But in my case at least, it this one unfinishable Half Bastard.

Still, should I come across this one again, (preferably in a can, as apparently bottling can be the cause of infection), my faith in Nickel Brook, and my deep and abiding love for stouts, are sufficient enough to justify another attempt.

Monday, December 11, 2017

2017 Advent Beer 11: De Molen's Dasher & Dancer

Dutch Brewers De Molen are frequent contributors to the Craft Beer Advent Calendar - unless I miss my count, Dasher & Dancer will be their 5th appearance.

Their labels aren't particularly captivating, but as someone who may or may not have an allergy to one or more specific types of hops, I appreciate the detail with which they list their ingredients.

The label also attempts to identify what style of beer is contained within, and Dasher & Dancer is characterized as "Red Ale - ish". With dry hops listed as an ingredient though, the prudent drinker should be prepared for something more along the lines of an American Amber than, say, an Irish Red Ale.

Said hops make a floral, almost pungent appearance immediately after opening, but but one really notices upon decanting is the aggressive and persistent head-building. Despite angling along the side of the glass, I had to abort the pour at about the 40% mark and slurp furiously at the foam in order to prevent a containment issue (plus, spilled beer is alcohol abuse).

Even after letting the glass settle for a bit, emptying the remainder proved to be a two-stage process, and it still left a full, textured head that would not have appeared out of place in a root beer float.

Once able to get some sips in, the charms of the style become apparent. The dry hops are sharp and biting, but the maltiness still carries through. Traces of lemon follow up in the finish, but there is an almost grainy texture to the mouthfeel - not unpleasant, but unexpected. Honestly, Dasher & Dancer has an earthy tang that reminds me of a roggenbier made with rye as much as any red ale, but it is still a crisp and tasty brew. Score one more for De Molen!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Dance Dad: Performance Vs. Competition

Glory's dance school performed at the Festival of Trees last Sunday while Audrey and Fenya were assisting the choir in church. This left me in my familiar role as logistic/morale officer, something I enjoy doing way more at a performance than a feis.

The scheduling at a dance competition will be familiar to anyone who has a child in track or swimming or other similar sports; long periods of waiting punctuated by a flurry of events far too close to each other in terms of time, sometimes overlapping, and often at opposite ends of the venue.

For a performance, though, once I have Glory in the building, and with a clear destination in mind ("Same place as last year?" "Yep."), she is more than capable enough on her own. This frees me up to stake out a good sightline in the audience area, creeping ever forwards after each successive preceding act in my quest to ensconce myself in the coveted front row.

Arriving 40 minutes early meant I accomplished my goal after a mere three performances. Sadly, this also gave me front row to largely unattended toddlers meandering onto the staging, draping themselves on the monitors and so forth.

Small matter! Once the dancers from Scoil Rince Mahoney took the stage, I was captivated. Any of the dances Glory was involved in (including a complicated 12-hand arrangement of her instructor's own creation) gave me an opportunity to refamiliarize myself with my camcorder; my apologies for the out-of-focus shots!

The finale brought the entire contingent on stage at one time, and the stomps at the end of the number were startling, even above the music. It was a good showing for the troupe, and I think their instructor Lori was pretty happy overall.

The next feis is in January, and there is a lot of practice between now and then, but I know Glory enjoys the liberty of performing without being judged every once in a while (typically Christmas and St. Patrick's Day), just as much as I know I enjoy watching her!

2017 Advent Beer 10: Le Grimoire Shamans

Today'a advent offering brings us yet another fruity beer, but our first one from La Belle Province. Le Grimoire, out of Granby, QC, brings us a wheat beer flavoured with apple and cinnamon. Fruit flavours are often paired with wheat, but oranges and lemons are far more common. I'm a big fan of most stuff that tastes like apple pie, though, including (but not limited to) apple pie, so let's give this a shot.

Shamans pours a very light and pale straw colour, with a bit of haze to it, but without much of the cloudiness I expect from a witbier. It gives off the promised aromas of apples and even a bit of the cinnamon, but also some tangy yeasts and a bit of sourness.

It's a bit sweeter than anticipated in the mouth, and the apple loses some of the anticipated crispness of the flavour, in favour of something akin perhaps to a Jolly Rancher. It is smooth in the mouth, but some of the sour tang remains, but still not reminiscent of Granny Smith or McIntosh apples. The cinnamon comes mostly in the finish and brings some much needed spice to the party.

Not unpleasant, but I think I would be more akin to try Shamans again if I found it on tao somewhere.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

2017 Advent Beer 9: 8 Wired's Palate Trip

If an American IPA isn't bitter, is it still an IPA? It's like some kind of Zen koan.

Despite the fact that there is normally no fruit in them, the hops often impart a citrus-y quality to IPAs and double IPAs, bringing tastes like lemon, grapefruit, orange or persimmon to the party. New Zealand's 8 Wired Brewing Co. has taken an American-style IPA (more hops and more alcohol, 6.5% ABV to be precise) and made it sour, without expressing precisely how they have accomplished this. Which is just as well, because I probably wouldn't understand it anyhow.

Being a fan of sour in general, I can see the appeal of sour beers (when they are done ON PURPOSE that is...) and have been known to enjoy the occasional Cowbell Kettle Sour from Wildrose. A sour IPA though? It borders on the intimidating.

It ours a hazy golden yellow, with a fringey head of foam, and tart, fruity aromas are discernible the moment the cap is loosed. Once decanted, you can detect the grapefruit and almost a berry sweetness in the nose. Was yeast a factor in the souring? Maybe.

A sip presents a strong sour kick, but not overpowering. The hops are still detectable, but more in the nose than on the palate. The extreme bitterness has its edges rounded off by the sour. Tart, refreshing and quenching, this beer would be tremendous with a plate of hot wings, or as the antidote to a hot summer day. It is perplexing in its fashion though, and worthy of the name Palate Trip!

Friday, December 8, 2017

2017 Advent Beer 8: Clown Shoes' Advent Party Crasher

Today's offering is a well-timed American Imperial Stout. Now, Imperial Stouts are my favourite style overall, although they are typically Russian. Like most styles with American in the name, the primary differentiator is the addition of hops. And at the end of a particularly trying week, the 10% ABV is a real mood lifter.

Advent Party Crasher pours a deliriously opaque chocolate brown that borders on black - no light can penetrate it. A finger of caramel-coloured head tops the presentation, and notes of chocolate and coffee waft up from it.

The coffee and chocolate come through in the taste as well, and there is a degree of crispness from the hops, but it is balanced out by the high alcohol sweetness. It is delightfully smooth, and there is a hint of smokiness in the finish. Solid stuff!