Ice Breaker Winter Ale

We picked up a party pack of Stanley Park Brewery brews.  The very next day, I went and bought a 6 pack of the Ice Breaker winter ale, because oh my god it is so good.  I might have a new favourite…

I really love the rich malty not at all hoppy styles of beers, so I typically gravitate toward the porters and stouts and then get disappointed when I get hit in the face with a mouthful of bitter hops. This one, though, is right up my alley.  Very rich and silky malt, and not at all bitter.  But not only that… on the label it says “Cherry and Dark Chocolate Specialty Ale”.  Normally when a beer review says things like “notes of cherry and dark chocolate” or something about noses I will scoff and be like “yep, tastes like beer”, but this one… I can taste the chocolate!  I TASTE IT!

I don’t taste any cherry yet though.  Maybe I just need to drink more of them!  Experiment commenced…

Game of Thrones: Fire and Blood Red Ale

A Game of Thrones beer?!?  It would make more sense if it were, like, mulled wine or something… but okay sure I’ll buy it.

First up – this is a big bottle of 7% beer.  750ml of dragon-imbued ale, man.  The bottle claims it is brewed with chilies which is… worrisome?  But I was assuming this beer will be mostly gimmick and wasn’t really expecting more than cheap beer in a fancy marketing label that raises the price 800%.

We immediately proved our beer-snob incompetence by being unable to open it.  It’s got one of those fancy cork tops with the screw-down whatsits.  My husband started confidently untwisting things so I left him to it, but we ended up with a corked bottle we still didn’t know how to open.  I was reaching for the wine de-corker when he managed to pop it.  It exploded like a champagne bottle and immediately spewed foam all over.  He said “I could have popped that out right away but I was trying to avoid doing exactly this.”

It’s good when beer has a “head” right?!??  Hoooolllyyy fuck was this hard to pour due to the foaming.  And it was a persistent head, too.  It just would not move out of the way to make room for more liquid.  We finally got the thing poured and started drinking.

It’s… not awful?  I was seriously expecting a shitty gimmick beer but this is pretty good.  A bit too hops-y for me but not disgustingly so.  Probably exactly the kind of hops most people want in beer.  It’s not bitter or gross, and it has a nice fermented, slightly flowery taste.  Nice texture, too.  If there are chilies in here I have not encountered a speck of one, though.

It was also requested that I report on whether it is “epic” or not.  … Nope not really.  Sweet dragon label, though.  Okay I guess spewing foam across the kitchen was pretty epic, though, I will give it that.

A-, probably would not buy again but do not regret purchase.

Budweiser

You know, I’ve heard all the jokes comparing American beer to water, but I always sort of figured that referred to alcohol content or something.

Budweiser was on sale today so we shrugged and picked up a big case of it.

This is literally beer flavoured water.  I mean, as far as cheap beer goes it’s not bad, but, damn.

How do they remove all the flavour while retaining the alcohol?  I bet there are useful applications for that…

Whistler Chestnut Ale

Holy shit.

It’s so good.

It might be a bit too sweet but… I’m going to finish this bottle and if I have anything else to add I will, but it might be that this is all that needs to be said.

It’s good.  I love Whistler Brewing.

[edit] Okay I have more details now.  It’s still really good, but I will add that it becomes overpowering quite quickly.  It starts out crisp and clean and refreshing with a strong vanilla flavour, and then it hits you with an awesome nutty chestnut flavour, but the strength of the flavours starts to undermine the refreshingness after awhile.  It probably is a bit too sweet, too.

Still amazingly good though.

Chiptole Beer

I buy pretty much everything made by Whistler brewing.  They have me solidly in their pocket, I guess.  I have also liked all of them except for the Lost Lake IPA but that’s only because I hate IPA.  My initial reaction to their Chipotle beer was ” CHIPOTLE beer???  wtf.  … well I guess I’m buying that.”

On the back it says “initial mellow and malty, then giving way to warm and spicy.”  My reaction is “This is a really crisp and refreshing beer.  It tastes exactly like beer.”  I have not yet noticed any warm or spicy flavours.  Not even a smoky one.  Just beer, with a bit too much hops in it.  It’s Whistler so it’s good beer, but ultimately kind of disappointing.

Maybe all the chipotle is in the half of the bottle my husband took.  It didn’t SAY “shake well” but maybe…

Dead Frog Summer Pack

Last year I bought several of the Dead Frog summer pack.  I don’t even know if I can explain what I enjoyed about it… they were just so refreshing when it was hot.  In particular, the lemon pepper flavour was amazing on a hot day; and if you’re like me you probably read that and went “lemon pepper beer what the fuck” but we tried it and it was amazing!

So when we saw this year’s summer pack I was like “ooh!” and we brought it home.  No lemon pepper, and in fact the only flavour I think I recognized was the nut brown ale.  When I opened the box, there was a little slip saying something about how they’ve redesigned all their beers and now they come in brown bottles instead of clear glass because it means it will be fresher and they’re doing a total makeover to make Dead Frog better.  Whatever, I don’t really care about what colour the bottle is.

Unfortunately, it apparently also meant they changed all the recipes, too.  Because the entire summer pack was absolutely disgusting.  Incredibly disappointing.

The refreshing taste of last year’s pack was gone, and every single beer was packed full of harsh hops.  It wasn’t just hops, though.  They were just bitter and gross.  I think I opened a pale ale, which is something I’m not a fan of in the first place because of all the hops, and I got maybe four sips into it and just put it back in the fridge.  I dumped it out the next day because no one else would finish it for me.  I dumped a beer down the sink because no one would drink it.  That has literally never happened to us before.  Even the nut brown ale, which I thought I remembered liking, was really bitter and gross.  It was drinkable, but I wouldn’t say enjoyable.  It wasn’t worth the 150 calories it cost to drink it.

Summer is almost over already (also depressing) but I certainly won’t be buying any more Dead Frog if this is what the “new Dead Frog” is going to produce.

Betty’s Vodka Iced Tea (Peach)

It’s been hot and I’ve been on an iced tea kick lately, including plenty of Twisted Tea (which is great for authentic tea taste, by the way).  We went on a hunt for the elusive new Pacific Kolsch by the local brewery (also great, by the way) which has been sold out all over, but appears to be back in stock, since the store we went to had a whole shelf of it.  While waiting at the register, I picked up a 6 pack of Peach Betty’s Vodka Iced Tea (leaving shit lying by the register really works, people!).

It’s super carbonated (the can says “light carbonated”.  My ass.), which I normally don’t like so much, but it gives it a really “sparkly” feel.  The tea taste is decent, and it’s super peach flavoured.  Probably skipping right past into “cheap overly flavoured” territory, but it tastes really good tonight for whatever reason.  It’s kind of like drinking “Fuzzy Peach” candy, and I love fuzzy peach candy!

And my husband hates peach, so it means he isn’t stealing any of them from me.  Thumbs up!

D.O. Ale Classic brown Ale

This is a brown ale from “Old Yale Brewing” from Chilliwack.  It was on the rack of 650ml bottles that changes every couple of weeks, and they’re usually interesting to try.  I also like brown ale!  It seemed like a safe bet.

Unfortunately for this ale, all I can taste is hops.  Not the nasty bitter “ear wax” flavoured hops; it’s the flowery kind of hops.  I don’t often come across this flowery flavour (probably because I avoid hops-y beer) but I vividly remember someone taking a sip of beer at a beer tasting party and saying “UGH it tastes like potpourri!” and everyone kind of recoiled in horror, then tasted it and went “huh… yeah, you’re right!”  I usually only taste this in really high alcohol content beer, because it easily hides the extreme boozy taste, but this stuff is only 5%.  It’s ALMOST good.  The texture is super creamy and there’s a wonderful nutty flavour buried in there, but then WHAM.  Flowery hops.  And they don’t meld at all with the nutty flavours, as far as I’m concerned.  Ugh. Unfortunate.

Winter Treacle Porter

After the fantastic success of the Irish Whiskey Cask Beer, I saw Winter Treacle Porter by Innis and Gunn and thought “Hmm, I should try it.”  I’m certain I’ve tried some of their other offerings before, but I can’t remember being overly impressed.

Like the whiskey cask beer, this beer is also 7.4% alcohol.  Unlike the whiskey cask beer, you notice.  My first sip kind of felt like taking a sup of straight rum.  It was just so… boozy.  The actual beer flavour started to improve about halfway through the bottle (more alcohol will make everything better with time, right??!) but I was still never really impressed.  It’s certainly a better option than most of the cheap “WOOO GET DRUNK FAST!!!” type beers you usually find north of 7%, but I wouldn’t get it again.

Lost Lake Unfiltered IPA

Another Whistler brew popped up so we had to try it.  It’s another one of the big 650ml bottles.

I’m not generally a fan of IPA, because I’m not really a fan of hops.  I had even more trepidation when I read the label and it said “bold and hoppy”.  Nnngh… but it’s Whistler so I’ll try it.

The label proceeds to say “fruity notes of grapefruit” but what they clearly meant to say was “our best impression of unsweetened grapefruit juice”.  The beer even has a cloudy look that makes it seem like it could be grapefruit juice.  This works in my favour because I actually like grapefruit juice.  That said, it’s kind of meh.  If you like lots of hops it’s probably above average, but I continue to rate IPA low on my list.

Innis and Gunn Irish Whiskey Cask Beer

The St Patty’s Day beer is popping up on the shelves and we decided to try this one tonight.  It’s a scottish beer, except it’s brewed in Irish whiskey casks so that qualifies it for St Patrick.  Innis and Gunn has all sorts of offerings at the local store but I’ve never been overly taken in by any of them.  They were all good, but nothing that made me rush back and buy more next time.

Holy shit this beer.  This is a dark beer.  It looks dark but then you drink it and it’s like “woah.  That’s some malt.”  The ingredients actually say “Contains barley malt.” and nothing else.  It doesn’t even list water and I actually believe it.  I’ve heard people refer to some dark beer as something you can “chew on” and this is thick and full enough that I understand where that saying comes from.  My husband compared it to Guinness, then said “actually it might be better than Guinness.”  They should be along shortly to beat the shit out of him.

Also it is 7.4% alcohol and doesn’t taste like shit!

There are signatures on the outside of the bottle, and a seal indicating that it won gold at the international beer challenge.  I am sort of regretting only picking up two bottles…

Canterbury

PWB-Canterbury-3551-157x300This is one that I bet not many have seen, which makes it a perfect candidate for an entry on my blog.

Canterbury is a beer produced by the local brewery, probably less than 10km from where I am sitting right now.  They proudly advertise how it is brewed with “fresh spring water”, but given the brewery’s location smack on the banks of the river, I often wonder…

Canterbury is apparently Canada’s first Dark Mild.  That’s what the can says, anyway.  What I can tell you is that it’s got a delicious malty flavour without any overpowering “ear wax” hops taste that I find a lot of “dark” beers try to go for.  I like malt and I dislike strong hops, which means I like this beer.

Additionally, since it’s locally produced, there are two major benefits:  It’s cheap, because there are no real shipping costs involved (and also rah rah support local business and whatnot), and it’s always fresh.  We’ve had the occasional “off” batch of imported beer and it’s always unfortunate.  Canterbury is always crisp and fresh and we haven’t run into a bad batch yet.

Don’t get me wrong… it’s a cheap beer, and there are better options out there if you’re looking for quality.  I’m not terribly crazy over the other brands produced by the local place either (although the honey lager is decent, and there are probably others I haven’t tried yet), but Canterbury is definitely my default “grab something quick” choice from the local shops.

Banana Bread Beer

bananabeerBANANA BEER!!!  Must try.

This is “Wells Banana Bread Beer – Beer brewed with bananas.”

You will never guess what it tastes like.  Go on, guess.

It totally has overtones of banana in it!  I know!

Seriously though, it’s pretty good, assuming you like bananas.  My husband claimed he couldn’t really taste them but something must be wrong with him, because they’re pretty clear to me.  The rest of the beer is pretty average though, so without the gimmick it’s nothing special. I’m not entirely certain I like the hops flavour mingling with banana, either.  I don’t think I would drink more than one or two of them, but it’s a fun thing to try.

Chocolate Orange Beer

whistler chocolate orangeThis beer is another one we grabbed over the holidays, so it’s quite a belated entry… but I was reminded of it and its awesomeness and decided to mention it.

Everyone seems to come out with bizarre “holiday” flavours over the holidays (as opposed to other times, I guess…).  Everything from nutcracker ales to cardigan sweater???  I remember last year Whistler came out with a hazelnut one and it was amazing… but when we went back to grab seconds it was gone.  This year there was Chocolate Orange and it was a similar deal.  You get one shot at trying this stuff before the masses overrun the stock, it seems.

I was skeptical because I’m not a huge fan of orange flavours.  I love oranges, and orange juice, but when things are flagged as orange flavoured they usually have a disgusting distinctive “fake orange” taste that I just don’t like.  I hate hate hate orange peel, and I think that’s what they attempt to emulate, so maybe that’s it.  Or when they’re not emulating they’re straight up throwing peel into things, so the “fake” orange flavour is real orange peel, and it’s disgusting.

Confession time:  I do not like Terry’s Chocolate Oranges.  I know this will be horrifying to some, but it’s true.  Why would you ruin good chocolate with orange peel?  Why?  I suppose a lot of people say the same thing about mint, but mint chocolate is amazing so they are simply wrong.  So a beer based on chocolate oranges… I dunno, man.  But it’s Whistler and I seriously don’t think I have tried a single thing they have made that wouldn’t rank at the top of my favourites.

And then I tried it.

I’m not sure what was going on, here, but I did not taste chocolate oranges.  Maybe if you really stretched it, you could claim it was chocolate oranges.  What I tasted was caramel.  I don’t mean the caramel that people talk about when they go all beer tasting snob and noses and finishes and whatever else… I mean straight out of the center of a caramilk bar caramel.  And it was rich and creamy too so it was basically like drinking straight caramel.

It was fucking delicious.

Honestly it was a bit too sweet.  I can’t really handle butterscotch flavours for long because of how sweet they are, and this was stepping right over that line.  I don’t think I could drink too many of them in a row, but that single 650ml bottle was amazing the whole time it lasted.  And now it is gone :(.  Farewell, delicious caramel beer.

Crabbies Spiced Orange Ginger Beer

CrabbiesOrangeGingerBeerAnother one of those “What the hell is that… we should probably try it” impulse grabs at the liquor store.  We only picked up one bottle and I only took two sips, so it’s not exactly an in-depth review (because clearly I put so much thought into these things), but I will say “Not as bad as I expected”.  It tastes pretty much exactly like ginger beer with orange.  So they succeeded on that front.  I don’t think I could drink a whole lot of it but it wasn’t unpleasant, so it has that going for it!  If you like ginger beer you’d probably like it.

Phillips Slipstream Cream Ale

2012_phillipscrea-8-120x179

You know, I’m not actually sure I’ve had anything from Phillips before, besides the Longboat Chocolate Porter which I love.  I went to the beer store expecting to pick up some Whistler brands, but then they were out of them… so I decided to give this one a go!  The top of the box has a little visual slider indicating the flavour, and it was 3/4 of the way over towards malt (but more importantly, far away from hops) so I grabbed it.  Also there is a biker on the front.  That might be important!

First impressions: Definitely malty and very “dark” in exactly the way I like it.  The beer itself is really rich and smooth, and I probably would, in fact, describe it as creamy.  The bottle says it is “as smooth as a pedal stroke”, but clearly these people do not try to ride a bicycle in PG.

Other than that, I’m not seeing anything too special about it.  I don’t think I’ll be searching it out in the future, but it’s not helping that I was in the mood for a crisp refreshing Whistler-style beer.  Sometimes I’m in the mood for a rich malty beer so I might hunt it down again.

Longboat Chocolate Porter

longboat chocolate

Longboat Chocolate Porter from the Phillips brewing company is one of my favourites, so I must give it props.  I have tried so many “chocolate” beers now, and none of them come close to being as chocolatey as this one right here.  I see on the ingredients that cocoa powder is directly listed, which could have something to do with the genuine chocolate hit.  It’s probably not the “best” beer, but it’s oh so chocolatey… and comes in a 750ml bottle to boot!

Then it becomes a toss-up… which do I like more: chocolate beer, or vanilla beer (in the form of Lion’s Winter Ale from Granville Island).  Can’t… decide…

Chocolate Mint Beer

deadfrogmintI picked this up at some point over the holidays, before I had a blog, so this is a belated entry.  My train of thought when seeing this was “Chocolate Mint beer?  … well, I like chocolate beer.  I like chocolate mint.  How bad can it be???  I should try this.”  I really liked the Dead Frog summer pack and they like to try weird flavours (Lemon Pepper beer may sound weird, but on a hot summer day it was our favourite of the pack) so I’ve had decent experiences with the brewery before.  Plus, I rather like their brown ale when it’s not infused with chocolate mint, so it’s got a decent base to work from, right?

When I got to the checkout, the cashier scanned the bottle and then said “…Chocolate Mint????” which solidified my decision to try it.

Of course, then the other cashier looked over and said “Oh, yeah, that’s been there for awhile now.”  It is probably worth noting that there were lots of bottles and no gaps where any bottles had been removed.  Ominous?

So here it is: Dead Frog Beermaster Series Chocolate Mint Brown Ale.  It comes in one of those bigger bottles, although I think it was 650ml rather than the 750ml that the Longboat Chocolate Porter comes in.

The first sip was promising in that it was a bit chocolatey, and then was minty, which could be quite refreshing!  Unfortunately it was then followed by a big hit of hops.  The hops basically washed out any other possibility, which means all you got was a vaguely minty bitter flavour.  My husband tried a sip and said “ugh, it tastes like medicine.”

I’m not a big fan of hops on the best of days, and the beer didn’t have nearly as much malt as I was hoping from a brown ale.  It was very disappointing and it was somewhat unfortunate that I had to drink a whole 650ml of it… would not buy again.