All posts by swimminginbeer

How to taste beer, sort of

How to taste beer, sort of

I’ve previously mentioned that I am no connoisseur of beer and that I do not wish to be. 

But…

I watched a video on beer tasting and now I’m an expert.

I’m joking of course.  But I have become a little bit more interested in the tasting process and started to educate myself as a way to spot more differences in beers and to help me write about them and express myself better.  I’ve also learned some new words recently and found out how to play with colours in black and white pictures.  This all means that the posts from now on may be read a little better and also appear a little more varied.  Or not…

2017-08-20 - 292 - Dieu du Ciel Brise-Vent arty _500beers

No. 292 – Dieu du Ciel Brise-vent!

I didn’t know what to expect from this beer as I have no idea what sea buckthorn is.  So I continued in ignorance (that’s how I generally do things), and applied my new tasting methods.  This involves rather simply only pouring a couple of ounces into the glass, swirling it a lot to allow it to breathe and release the flavours, sniffing it a lot then drinking it slowly.  It’s not much but it seems to have made a difference as I found a lot more in this beer than I have with many others.  That could just of course be the magic of sea buckthorn.

2017-08-20 - 292 - Dieu du Ciel Brise-Vent poured _500beers

It’s a cloudy yellow colour with a bubbly fizzy head, as you can see, and on the nose, after extensive sniffing I got that it was sour.  Seriously, after all the build up, after watching serious people tasting beers and getting so much from the aroma alone, I got one word.  Though, I have had the cold, so that’s maybe somewhat forgivable.

Fortunately, on tasting I was able to glean a lot more from this beer.  It had a little sourness in it and was quite refreshing on first taste.  It felt more like a wine however.  The first thing I noticed was tannins hitting the back of my mouth like a red wine.  I haven’t noticed this in a beer before.  I then began to notice that the initial hit felt very much like a white wine.  I could feel the grapey-ness of a sauvignon blanc (something I am familiar with).  There was an acidity in this beer that also distinctly felt like a wine.  From the aroma, I had been expecting a berliner weisse style beer – a sort that I don’t really like, but from the taste I got a wine hybrid.

2017-08-20 - 292 - Dieu du Ciel Brise-Vent desc. _500beers

On googling sea buckthorn I saw that tannins are indeed present in sea buckthorn oil which possibly explains where I got that from, but the sense of drinking a white wine still bemuses me.  I’ll have to track down another beer made with sea buckthorn to compare.

This gets 7/11 for being good, for the price, for accuracy (the French description above does mention tannins and dryness), for having something different, for drink-again-ability, for recommend-ability and for the fact that I would go out of my way to try this again.

Something tells me this would go well with something spicy, Chinese, Thai or Vietnamese perhaps.

This beer was an experience, which was exactly the point of trying 500 different beers in a year.

Benelux (Sherbrooke and Wellington)

Benelux (Sherbrooke and Wellington)

Until a couple of Fridays ago, I’d been in Benelux on Sherbrooke twice in my life.  The first was in 2009 and involved cocktails (from what I recall), the second was almost three years ago for the first of many micro-brewery tour meet ups that I have gone to over the last few years.  So this was an untapped source of new beers.  I have now visited both the locations, the other being on Wellington in Verdun.  I definitely prefer the feel of the bar on Sherbrooke and would recommend it over the other…

No. 275 – Le Beat (Sherbrooke)
2017-08-04 - 275 - Benelux Le Beat _500beers

This is a standard black IPA, hops in the aroma and a little hoppy to taste.  The bitterness really comes through in the warm aftertaste.  Not much else to say on this one!  It gets a standard 5/11, for being good, worth the price, accurate, for drink-again-ability and for recommend-ability.

No. 293 – Troy (Wellington)
2017-08-20 - 293 - Benelux Troy _500beers

This one’s a little deceptive.  It’s pitched as a dry stout but doesn’t look like one, the picture was taken just after it was poured and the head and already disappeared.  The colour as well was also quite light.  I thought it was a little bland at first but it grew on me a bit.  There’s a nice chocolate/caramel character to this beer which seems to coat the mouth and make the drink more pleasurable which each gulp.  It’s getting 6/11 for being good, worth the price, accurate (this is a bit of a stretch, but they’re my marks so…), for having something a little unique, for drink-again-ability and for recommend-ability.

No. 294 – Prélude (Wellington)
2017-08-20 - 294 - Benelux Prélude _500beers

This is a very bright blonde ale that was surprisingly good.  It has a nice maltyness that coats the mouth and a little hit of bitterness from the hops.  It’s a nice balance.  I didn’t pick up on much else flavour wise, but this was a refreshing pint indeed.  I’m giving it 5.5/11 for being good, accurate, worth the price, for drink-again-ability and for recommend-ability.  The extra 0.5 of a Yes is for luck.

So, I’ve had three beers from Benelux and while there has been nothing outstanding as yet, they do have some decent beers and I will go back before the end of the year.  At least, I’ll go back to the Sherbrooke location.

Nos. 282 and 283 at Arcade MTL

Nos. 282 and 283 at Arcade MTL

I recently visited Arcade MTL on Saint Denis with low expectations about which beers I would find there.  I was expecting the standard bar fare but found a pretty decent selection of beers from Le Trou de Diable.  The games are free on Sunday’s so I spent a bit of time playing a few games while tasting two new beers…

2017-08-13 - Arcade Bar 2 _500beers _mtl

No. 282 – Le Trou de Diable La Saison du Tracteur

2017-08-13 - 282 - Le Trou de Diable La Saison du Tracteur _500beers

This is a strange blonde ale.  On tasting it, it was refreshing but full-bodied and the taste was quite confusing.  It seemed like they’d just put every berry or fruit imaginable in it and hoped for the best (or hopped for the best if you will…).  It was indeed quite hoppy and the flavour a little overwhelming, according to my vague notes.  On looking at the webpage for the beer, that strange flavour was passion fruit.  I’ve given this one 6/11 for being good, for the price, for accuracy (given retrospectively), for having something a little different, for drink-again-ability and for recommend-ability.

No. 283 – Le Trou de Diable La Morsure

2017-08-13 - 283 - Le Trou de Diable La Morsure _500beers

Warning – I didn’t know the word ‘morsure’ so I decided to look it up.  If you are also curious, do not do a google image search on it.

Anyway, this was sold by the bottle at the bar and was a little expensive ($10).  It is however a decent IPA.  Good, full-bodied, hoppy a little bitter.  I don’t think that I would pay $10 for it again but I won’t hold that against it too much.  It’s a 5/11 for being good, for being accurate, and for drink-again-ability and recommend-ability.  I’m being generous here and giving it the extra yes for the price, because I know that I can get it for less at the Métro.

So this was a fun couple of hours in the bar and a couple more decent beers from Le Trou de Diable.  If you like arcade games and beer, I’d recommend it.

 

 

 

 

3 more from Dieu du Ciel


3 more from Dieu du Ciel

In July, I decided to start economising a little while keeping up the drinking challenge, so I ended up buying a lot of individual bottles from Dieu du Ciel at roughly $2.50 each.  Here are a few more…

No. 215 – Équinoxe du Printemps

This is a real treat.  It looks great, a lovely deep red/brown colour when poured with a creamy light brown head.  I didn’t think that the aroma was that impressive, just like a regular scotch ale, however, to taste this was excellent.  It’s a little creamy but full-bodied and the taste of maple comes through very nicely.  It is warm and a little sweet on the tongue and the warmth of the aftertaste remains for a long time like any good scotch ale.  This one’s getting 10/11 – it’s good, very good in fact, it’s definitely worth the price, it has an accurate description and the perfect balance of maple and scotch ale added that little something different.  I will definitely drink it again and I would recommend it.  I would fight a bear a block or two out of my way for this beer, which is worth Yeses (check out the ratings here)

No. 219 – Pénombre

This is a black IPA – a type of beer I’d never heard of but am growing fonder of as the year goes on.  The beer smells like an IPA, very hoppy but not fruity.  Instead, on tasting there are hints of light chocolate and more of a porter type feel to the beer.  It has a nice balance between hoppyness and bitterness and is definitely worth trying.  It gets 6/11 for being good, worth the price, accurate, for drink-again-ability, recommend-ability and for the fact that I would go out of my way to pick up a bottle.

No. 266 – Isseki Nicho

This imperial stout looks great, see how frothy and coffee-like the head is in the picture above.  I actually tried this one with some espresso biscuits and they matched very nicely indeed.  Other than the strong coffee aroma and taste, there was nothing extra special about this one.  It’s difficult to describe considering that I’ve tasted so many strong coffee-like stouts, but this one seemed to be missing something.  Maybe it was because it looked so good on pouring and it didn’t live up to the anticipation.  In any case, it’s another 6/11 for being good, worth the price, accurate, for drink-again-ability, recommend-ability and one for the appearance (it’s a little unique).

Another three good beers from Dieu du Ciel, more to come soon.

 

Nos. 230 – 232 – The pursuit of hoppyness – 3 from Dieu du Ciel

Nos. 230 – 232 – The pursuit of hoppyness – 3 from Dieu du Ciel

And so, playing catch up with the posts begins. 

I’ve had 19 beers from Dieu du Ciel, with two more in the fridge but I’ve only written about nine.  The majority of them have been stouts or scotch ales, but here are three decent lighter beers…

No. 230 – Saison du Parc

I was going to write about this one on its own and call it the pursuit of hoppyness, hence the title.  However, I found quite a few results on google for this so perhaps it’s not so original.  In any case, this is a hopped up seasonal ale with a very frothy head and strong yellow colour.  It smells strongly of hops and tastes strongly of hops, unsurprisingly.  I got a hint of lemon in this one, but the taste seemed to be overwhelmed a little by the hoppyness.  It gets 4/11 for not being bad, for the price, for the description and for recommend-ability.  If you like hoppy lighter beers, give this a go.

No. 231 – Sentinelle

Not too much to say about this one but it was surprisingly good.  It really reminded me of drinking a lager back home, which seems to fall in line with the description – malty with a little hoppy bitterness.  It was refreshing and would be a good match for drinking in the park with some food, unlike the Saison du Parc.  It gets a good 5/11, for being good, for the price, for the description for drink-again-ability and for recommend-ability.

No. 232 – P’tit Blanc

Easily the best of the three beers here.  A light wheat beer with added juniper berries and lime.  The aroma is very pleasing, very fruity, what I assume to be juniper coming through well.  To taste, it is very refreshing and the taste remains in the mouth for a long time.  There is a delicious sting of bitterness in the taste, which again, I assume comes from the juniper and lime.  Very nice indeed and a decent 6/11 – for being good, for the price, for the description, for having something a little different, for drink-again-ability and for recommend-ability.

The next three beers I post about will be Équinox du Printemps, Pénombre and Isseki Nicho – a scotch ale, a black IPA and an imperial stout.  One of these is a contender for the best beer so far…

Pub Crawls, Nos. 203 – 205

Pub Crawls, Nos. 203 – 205

Two tips for going on a pub crawl…

1. Don’t organise the pub crawl.
2. Don’t drink beer before the pub crawl starts.

Towards the end of June I organised a pub crawl for Québec’s national holiday, the St Jean-Baptiste.  The emphasis was on hitting as many micro-breweries as possible.  This was the perfect opportunity to try a few beers I hadn’t already tasted.  The problem is that although I know I tried about 6 or 7 new beers, at some point I just stopped caring and so don’t have notes or pictures for some of the beers.  Here are some notes on the beers I had at the beginning of the crawl and made notes on.  My thoughts on the other beers I tasted that evening are lost to the ages…

No. 203 – Les Trois Brasseurs Brown Ale

2017-06-24 - 203 - Trois Brasseurs Brown Ale _500beers

I ended up at Les Trois Brasseurs on rue St. Denis for a pint and a burger an hour or so before the pub crawl was due to begin.  I used to frequent three of their several locations regularly but so far this year I’ve only been to this one on this occasion.  I will be back as they have another 5 or 6 beers to try and whatever seasonal beers they come up with.  This pint was a surprise.  A dark thick muddy looking brown ale with a thick creamy head and aroma of chocolate.  To taste, it is more like a porter rather than a brown ale but there are strong caramel and toffee flavours here that you would expect in a really good brown ale.  This is another one of those beers that seems to go between categories and as such is a very good beer.  An easy 7/11 for being good, for the price, for accuracy, for having something different, for drink-again-ability, recommend-ability and for the fact that I would go out of my way for it.

No. 204 – Le Bilboquet’s NelliganAcco

2017-06-24 - 204 - Le Bilboquet Nelligan _500beers
We went to St. Houblon on rue St. Denis early in the pub crawl, that is where these beers were consumed.  It’ a pretty good bar that I would recommend.

According to my research this is a dunkelweizen which should have hints of banana along with the usual toffee flavour.  I didn’t pick up on this at the time, instead to me it was just a pretty good bittersweet brown ale – this may have been due to having a few beers before hand.  It was also a muddy colour like the Trois Brasseurs Brown Ale so perhaps in my mind a linked the two beers.  It gets a 6/11 for being good, worth the price, accurate, for drink-again-ability and recommend-ability and I would go out of my way for it.

No. 205 – Brasseurs Illimités’ Simple Malt Double Mango IPA

2017-06-24 - 205 - Brasseurs Illimités - Simple Malt Double Mango IPA _500beers

After having a few darker beers, I decided to go for something completely different so I asked the bar tender to pick something at random.  He came back with this Double Mango IPA.  This was a pretty good choice.  The fruity mango flavour was very refreshing and the hoppyness provided a nice contrast to the darker maltier beers I had already tried.  It didn’t find either the mango or the hops overwhelming at the time, which is a bonus as I’ve only just developed a taste for hoppier beers in the last month or so.  I gave it 5/11 for being good, worth the price, accurate, for drink-again-ability and for recommend-ability.

It was this Double Mango IPA that encouraged me to start my drinking at the Laval Beer Festival in July at the Brasseurs Illimités stall.  They have some very good beers indeed.

 

A selection from Brasseurs de Montréal

A selection from Brasseurs de Montréal

2017-07-23 - Brasseurs de Montreal bottlecap _500beers

A few quick notes for a few beers I tried in July. 

No. 246 – La Québécoise Rebelle

I had this a couple of hours after tasting twelve different beers at the Laval beer festival (here and here) earlier in July.  It’s not generally a good idea to try beer tasting when already quite drunk, but I wasn’t too badly off at this stage so I thought ‘why not?’  I don’t have any notes on this, but from memory it was a decent amber ale.  I gave it the standard 5/11 for being ok, for the price, accuracy, drink-again-ability and recommend-ability.

No. 248 – La Montréalaise Griffintown

I tried this light blonde ale at home a few days after the Rebelle and it got me thinking that maybe the Rebelle deserves another tasting – but I don’t think I’ll bother as it may only get one more Yes, which still wouldn’t put it up there with the best beers.  This is a pretty good blonde ale that made me think more of a lager than a blonde.  I have no notes on this one either except for the score – 6/11, for being good, worth the price, accurate, for drink-again-ability, recommend-ability and an extra Yes for going a block out my way if the mood so took me!

No. 249 – L’Orientale Chi

This is the real treat of the selection.  I’ve been flirting more and more with spicy and sour beers recently and I think that this was the first one that I actually really liked.  The aroma reminded me of green tea – but there are strong hints of ginger and some fruits in there too.   It was very fizzy on the tongue and the spiciness came through in the taste nicely.  Everything about the taste was just right.  It was not too spicy.  It had just enough of a hint of green tea.  It had just the right fizz to be refreshing.  It gets a 7/11 for being good, worth the price, accurate, different, for drink-again-ability, for recommend-ability and for the fact that I would possibly go out of my way to find a bottle.

No. 252 – L’Anglaise London Ruby

This was a little disappointing, I’m always wary of light red ales.  And rightly so in this case.  It had a good aroma to it but the taste, although an obvious red ale, was a little bland.  It made me think of having a watered down beer in a bar.  It gets 3/11, for not being bad, for being cheap enough and for the description (just about).

4 beers down, 154 beers more to post about…