All posts by bottlebybottle

I drink so you don't have to. Whether or not you choose to is another story.

What Can You Buy There #9: Cerveza Dolina Pilsen

Ok, so this is cool:

The front of the bottle is scratch-off, and the back of the bottle also has a scratch-off strip that gives you more information about the skull. The brewers were inspired by archaeological digs near Burgos, their home base.

As far as packaging goes, Cerveza Dolina has won me over.

Now, the taste? It’s definitely tending more German than most Spanish beers, which (if you’re getting the commercial stuff) tends to be more like Budweiser. (As an aside, I have to say…if you go to a halfway decent-looking bar and ask for a beer, you’re probably going to get something that is of good quality and taste, even if it’s been mass produced. But I digress.)

Even though the label says pilsen, this isn’t a pilsner–it’s really more in the kölsch line. (Heck, their own Web page for this beer is titled Kölsch.) The colour is a lovely darker gold, there’s carbonation–but not a lot–, and the taste is softly bitter and spicy and earthy. I say softly because nothing really lingers with this beer, but with this style, you’d not want it to. I just wish I had warmer weather to better appreciate its virtues.

Now: can we all go back and appreciate that label again? Because that’s a really neat label.

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What Can You Buy There #8: Bidassoa Brother Shamus Brut IPA.

I went back to Más que cervezas, and mined the Spanish section, where I found this beauty.

And I do mean beauty. Brother Shamus ale

The Brother Shamus from Bidassoa Basque Brewery is a brut IPA, the new style with illusions of champagne.

Most of what I’ve had in this style has met some of the profile of champagne–the dryness, the bubbles–, but the end product doesn’t satisfy, because the brewers have gone too far and the beer ends up overly biting and disagreeable. I wish there were a stronger brut IPA movement, to counteract the hazing of all our IPAs (please stop hazing all our IPAs), but I’ve largely been disappointed with what I’ve had.

The Brother Shamus is nothing like any of the brut IPAs I’ve had before. They’ve managed to pull the beer back from the brink, and retain some sweetness. While there’s definitely a drying note at the last, the front end is floral, citrusy (specifically, lemony), and tropical. It’s even a bit syrupy…almost as if they made the beer extra sweet to anticipate the consumption of sugars that happens to make a regular IPA a brut IPA.

Whatever they did, I’m a fan.

What Can You Buy There #7: Cerveza Madriz – “La Gata Orgullosa”

I’m currently in Madrid, and as I was wandering around, I came across a lovely store called Más Que Cervezas (More Than Beers) disturbingly close to my apartment. While there, the clerks and I joked about Belgian beers invading the Canada section on their shelves, one of them tried to sell me on the beer from his hometown, so I picked up two beers to try: one Belgian and one local to Madrid.

La Gata Orgullosa by Cerveza Madriz has an…aggressive pour.

La Gata Orgvllosa ale

It was described to me in the store as a blonde ale, which I’m willing to buy…but a dark blond.

I wish I could find more information out about this particular beer, but I’ll have to make do with what I have…eyes, nose, and taste buds. Eyes you’ve already heard about. Nose: it is beer. I wish i could be more specific than that. It smells like beer with a slight caramel overlay. 

Taste: It’s not unpleasant. It tastes a little bit like homebrew. And I’m not saying that to slight homebrew. But there’s sometimes where you’re having homebrew, and you think, “This isn’t bad, but a bit more polish and practice and this could be really tasty.” Well, this is like that. The front end is competently beery, if perhaps a bit watery and the back end drags some grains across my palate. If both parts were smoother, I’d be a happy camper. As it is, it’s not terrible, but I’d not reach for another if I had a choice.

What Can You Buy There #6: Kulshan Blood Orange Gose

Kulshan Gose ale

(Ed. note: after a weekend of travel, I couldn’t make the Monday theme happen. I’ll catch it on Wednesday!)

Like all good residents of BC, we stopped at the Trader Joes in Bellingham on our way back from our last trip to the States. While we were there, and in recompense for putting up with all the other shoppers at Trader Joes on a Sunday morning (why weren’t they at brunch, like sensible people?), I was allowed to pick up a six-pack of Kulshan Blood Orange Gose.

And…it’s entirely pleasant! Which sounds like I’m damning with faint praise, but no. It’s got a nice nose, a good gose front end, and a pleasantly fruity back note. I don’t know that my nose or palate picks up “blood orange,” as opposed to a general sense of fruitiness. But it’s remarkably light and crisp, and something that makes the warmer days of spring more enjoyable.

 

What Can You Buy There #5: Brassneck Sticks & Stones Rye Saison

I’ve got to get out more when I’m in Vancouver. I tend to visit the same three or four breweries time and again because they make really good beer and, well, I’m a creature of habit.

Brassneck SaisonSo I hope you’ll pardon me for repeating a visit to Brassneck, as I was literally driving by. With an empty growler. Purely by coincidence.

*ahem*

Brassneck tends to have a saison or two on tap all the time, so they’ve got a good sense of how saisons work. The Sticks & Stones is no exception. It’s a lovely color, with a good head. The taste is spicy (cloves, pepper), a bit fruity (banana?), herbaceous and grassy, and then earthy. The latter two flavors coming from the rye, perhaps. There’s a syrupy mid-note, with more of the earthy rye on the backend, including  a faint and agreeable drying note.

I’ll try new things in new places. Next time.

What Can You Buy There #4: Backcountry Everything Is Awesome Coffee Brown

(Fuz here)

First off: No. Everything is not awesome. And I’m not just talking about the political tire fire down south.

I came to Backcountry for my first beer in a week (shakes tiny fist at the state of my health), and…I wasn’t deeply unhappy with what I picked. But I wasn’t happy either, and it’s easy to explain why.

Backcountry BrownI had high hopes. Backcountry has great beer names, and this is no exception; I’m half sold on the name alone. And the beer smells toasty and malty–exactly what I’d like in a brown ale.

The mouthfeel is round and rich. The front end even has some subtle hints of berry from the coffee. There’s also some licorice, which is a bit odd, because that isn’t traditionally part of the style.

The richness in the beer, however comes across as booziness, which is weird in a 6.3% brown ale, and far too much for this style of beer. Also, the back end is bitter-far more bitter than I was expecting it to be.

I’ve been a big fan of their stouts, porters, and brown ales before, so I expect this is just a bit off. It’s not a bad effort, but it’s not their best effort.

What Can You Buy There #3: 33 Brewing Experiment; Brett Pale Ale with Apricot

(Ed. note: I hit publish on this yesterday, but it’s supposed to be up today. Enjoy!)

Hello! It’s Fuz again. Our host has asked me to contribute to this blog every now and then, something I’m happy to do.

The original remit of this series was to expose readers to things I can find in my local liquor shop, but I’m gladly breaking the pattern for this entry.

One of my favourite breweries in Vancouver, 33 Acres, has opened up an experimental brewery (33 Experiment) right next door to their current shop. They share a wall, but customers can’t simply pass through from one to the other. 33 Acres has their main line-up dialed in; this new space allows them to try new things. And boy, have they taken advantage of this freedom.

It’s a strategy I wish more breweries could pursue: lock in a few key styles, ensure a constant supply of those styles, then use another space to make new things. In this way, you satisfy your regulars (who come in for X, and want X, and expect you to have X), while welcoming in those wanderers who come for something new.

img_1634I ventured there with two friends the other night to kill some time and try a flight.

(Pictured from top left-bottom left): The Hazy Pilsner (meh), the Belgian Table Biere (decent), and the Brett Pale Ale with Apricot.

(Pictured from top right-bottom right): Sea Salt IPA (surprisingly good), and the Dry Hopped Brett IPA (decent).

While I was very impressed with the Sea Salt IPA, I chose to get a growler fill of the Brett Pale Ale with Apricot. On tap, I found it pleasantly yet aggressively funky, with the barnyard hay coming through in a winning fashion, and the fruitiness of the apricot rounding out the flavour notes and providing a nice sweetness. While one of my party was less convinced (she did not appreciate tasting notes that involved the word “manure”), the rest of us thought it a real winner.

img_1638

The beer even holds up after a couple of days in the growler. If the funk is less, it’s still there, and the drying and sweet elements come through. Also, it photographs well.