Category Archives: Bars

Back Home 1 – Belfast Pub Crawl

Back Home 1 – Belfast Pub Crawl

A giant fish and a slanty clock – I miss Belfast!

I went back home in May for a week or so and profited from the trip by trying sixteen beers I haven’t seen in Montreal.  I’ll post about the several beers I tried at home and in a couple of bars in Antrim at some point, but first here are a few beers I tried on a mini pub crawl in Belfast on a perfect Saturday afternoon in May…

Number 153 – Whitewater Brewery’s Belfast Black
2017-05-20 - 153 - Whitewater Brewing Co. Belfast Black 2 _500beers _belfast

The drinking started at McHugh’s bar and as usual I started with a stout.  Whitewater Brewery, not to be confused with Whitewater Brewing Co. (a Canadian brewery), have made a really great stout here.  It’s got a creamy light head that fizzles on the tongue and has mild hints of coffee.  The creaminess coats the mouth and the flavour builds with each gulp, it’s just like a good Guinness.  It gets a solid 8/11 for being good, worth the price, accurate, having something different (in this case surprising – I didn’t expect it to be that good), for drink-again-ability and recommend-ability and I would go out of my way for it in a snowstorm or heatwave.  Indeed, I travelled 3000 miles for it.

Number 154 – Clonmel 1650 Pale Ale
2017-05-20 - 154 - Clonmel 1650 _500beers _belfast

Also at McHugh’s, this is a beer that like several others that I noticed around the bars of Antrim seems to have appeared everything over the four years that I’ve been in Canada.  I’ve confirmed that it is definitely a pale ale/lager though it was very light.  I got a hint of apple from the beer and it felt a bit more like a cider in that it was very fizzy, like lemonade almost.  I originally gave it 1.5/11, but I’m going to round that up to 2/11, I remember it not being great, but I’ve tried a few appley beers since and I may have been overly harsh on this one.

Number 154 – Stella 4
2017-05-20 - 155 - Stella 4.2 _500beers _belfast

The final beer at McHugh’s was Stella 4, which is definitely different from Stella Artois, I think.  Well that’s what the advertising campaign said when it first was released.  It’s supposed to be a lighter, smoother, slightly more classy lager than the regular Stella Artois.  I’m not going to bother researching but I think the 4 is for 4%.  It is a fine lager and gets a 5/11 in any case.

Numbers 155 and 156 – Smithwick’s Blonde Ale and Pale Ale

The next bar I went to was the Cloth Ear, I place I had been to on a few occasions in the past, mostly to take advantage of happy hour prices on work nights out.  Here, I found that they had other varieties of Smithwick’s.  I drink Smithwick’s red ale regularly, and tried it earlier this year but am still to write about it – it is a good beer.  The blonde ale and the pale ale were both also quite good beers.  The blonde was quite malty and had a thicker texture than a lot of the other blondes I’ve tasted, it also had a hint of caramel, hinting at the taste of the red ale.  It gets a good 6/11.  The pale ale was a little more hoppy, but light and refreshing.  It gets 5/11.

Number 157 – Franciscan Well Chieftain IPA
2017-05-20 - 158 Franciscan Well Chieftan _500beers _belfast

I had this pint at the Harp Bar and after that it started to get blurry.  Looking at the Franciscan Well webpage, this seems to be an IPA, but it seemed much more like a blonde ale – again with hints of caramel to it.  It was however also quite fruity, which was very good indeed.  I gave it 7/11 for being good, worth the price, accuracy, for being a little different, for drink-again-ability and recommend-ability and I would go out of my way for it.

The pub crawl continued on to the Duke of York bar, a bar that I don’t know and finally the Crown bar before I got the bus home.  I don’t remember getting the bus home though.  I tried at least one other beer I hadn’t tasted before but didn’t make notes so it is lost to history!

More to follow in my next post.

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Brutopia – great place for a leaving party

Brutopia – great place for a leaving party

I realised at the weekend that even though there is a list of the beers I’ve had so far it is still difficult to find that information quickly.  So, to resolve this I need to do more posts and have a few more summary pages for the microbreweries I drink from the most.  This first post along this theme focuses on several trips I have made to Brutopia this year with reviews ranging from minimalist to slightly less minimalist…

2017-08-25 - Brutopia beer list _500beers

So far at Brutopia I have tried their…
Scotch Ale, Raspberry White, Extra Blonde, Honey Brown, Korova Milk Stout, Honey Beer, IPA, APA, Cherry Wheat, Nut Brown, Oatmeal Stout and Speculaas Pumpkin Ale.

No. 17 – Brutopia’s Scotch Ale
2017-01-15 - 17 - Brutopia Scotch Ale _500beers

I enjoyed this one cold and wintery day back in January, even though the winter wasn’t particularly bad, it was still necessary to warm up with a good Scotch Ale once in a while.  I have no notes on this unfortunately, just the rating 6/11 – which means it is worth trying and something that I am curious to try again this winter.

No. 93 – Brutopia’s Extra Blonde
2017-03-26 - 93 - Brutopia Extra Blonde _500beers
I tried this one in March, again I don’t have any notes, but I do recall that it was a decent blonde beer.  I had given it a 5/11, which tells me that it is worth trying but nothing too special.

Nos. 164 – 166 – Brutopia’s Honey Brown, Korova Milk Stout and Honey Beer

I tried these beers the day after I got back from my trip back home to Northern Ireland at a leaving party for a friend.  T’was a good evening, and the beers were fine.

These all get a 6/11, I’ve mentioned before that the Honey Brown and Nut Brown were pretty much the first microbrewery beers that I ever tried.   The Milk Stout was particularly good, not too thick but creamy and somewhat Guinness like.

No. 301 – 303 – Brutopia’s IPA, APA and Cherry Wheat

I tried these towards the end of August, at another friend’s leaving do – I also made some notes…

My overall impression of the IPA was that it is quite malty for an IPA, I got a hint of caramel from it, but the hoppyness comes through in the aftertaste and builds with each sup – 6/11.  The APA didn’t really come across as a pale ale, more of a blonde, but it was fine – 5/11.  Finally, the Cherry Wheat, the real treat of the night.  This smells of sweets, of amaretto and of Battenberg cake.  It’s almost a little too sweet smelling.  To taste it has an instant hit of marzipan.  The other people I was with thought it was a bit odd, but I quite liked this.  Maybe it would be difficult to drink several pints of it but definitely for a one-off this is a good beer.  I gave it 6/11 initially, but I’m upgrading it to 7/11 now.

No. 334 – Brutopia’s Nut Brown
2017-09-09 - 334 - Brutopia Nut Brown _500beers
I stumbled into Brutopia on a pub crawl recently and tried this (this is the time I referred to above where I couldn’t figure out what I’d already tried – made more difficult by my level of drunkenness at the time).  This gets 6/11, a pretty good beer, very good if you like that style.

Nos. 341 and 342 – Brutopia’s Oatmeal Stout and Speculaas Pumpkin Ale

And so, I went to Brutopia last night for another friend’s leaving do…

The oatmeal stout had a thick head that looked like oatmeal cereal but which disappeared in a few seconds.  It’s a thick stout, with light hints of roasted coffee and a deep aftertaste which is oddly refreshing.  It’s getting a 6.5/11.

The pumpkin ale, has a nice aroma, cinnamon and possibly pumpkin (I don’t really know what pumpkin smells like).  The beer itself is quite good, with most of the flavour coming in the aftertaste and building with each drink.  Definitely the best pumpkin ale I’ve had this year (for the other, click here).  It gets 7/11.

So that’s Brutopia so far, a mixture of decent beers and a couple of strong seasonal beers with something different.

 

3 From Les Trois Brasseurs

3 From Les Trois Brasseurs

A quick mention for Les Trois Brasseurs, or the Three Brewers if you’re in Ottawa.

I visited their St. Catherine/Crescent location on Saturday after a day at the Chambly Beer Festival (write up to follow).  It’s s place I’ve been to on a few occasions in the past and always liked somewhat.  This year so far, I had only visited the St. Denis location and tried their brown ale, so an opportunity to try others was hard to resist…

Nos. 326 – 328 – Les Trois Brasseurs Stout, Amber and Blonde

None of these live up to the Brown Ale that I tried earlier in the year at the St. Denis location, but having said that, they’re not bad.

The stout has a creamy thick head and is in effect very much a Guinness style beer.  It’s pretty good if that’s what you’re after and I’m giving it a 6/11.  If I really fancied this type of beer (a standard stout without those extra coffee flavours), I would probably just go and grab a good Guinness somewhere.

The Amber and the Blonde ale were both a little disappointing.  Appearance wise they are not that different, which tells you more about the potential flavour of the amber ale than the blonde.  It was a little weak, fine for drinking with a meal in that the flavours will not overwhelm anything, but only enough to get a 4/11.  The blonde was a decent blonde ale, but lacked anything special that would give it a higher than average mark.  Again, it’s probably fine for accompanying a meal, it’s not going to be overwhelming but if you’re just out to enjoy good beer, it won’t sate your thirst.  Also a 4/11.

That’s four from Les Trois Brasseurs to date.  It’s a fine place, but not special for tasting beers, which is disappointing on consideration of the Brown Ale.  If I find myself there again this year trying a new beer it will be opportunism rather than choice.

Nos. 176 – 181 – Vices & Versa

Nos. 176 – 181 – Vices & Versa

After having written about Birra, it makes sense to look at a few beers I tried in another bar in little Italy with a great selection of beers.  I tried these in early June, therefore I don’t have too much to write (a good thing from time to time), but I recall a couple of them being somewhat special…

No. 176 – Dieu du Ciel Gaélique

2017-06-07 - 176 - Dieu du Ciel Gaelique Cream Ale _500beers

It has become something of a ritual to start with a cream ale or a stout over the last few months.  This one in particular was a very good choice.  It is a finely balanced sweet fruity cream ale with an aftertaste that brought memories of drinking dandelion and burdock lemonade many, many years ago.  This therefore is not only a good beer but one that also evokes memories for me – indeed I recall at the time having to text my mum to ask what the drink my dad used to buy was as I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  It gets an 8/11 for being good, accurate, worth the price, having something special, for drink-again-ability, recommend-ability and I would go out of my way for it, and go out in a snowstorm or a heat-wave.

No. 177 – Brasserie Dunham Berliner Mango Weisse

2017-06-07 - 177 - Dunham Berliner Mango Weisse _500beers

So that was a really good start, what could possibly go wrong?

I’m not generally a fan of sour beers in this style but over the course of the summer I’ve had one or two which have been good.  This one was not.  Maybe it was a bad pint – but it was overwhelmingly sour and finishing it was a chore.  I’m generously giving it 2.5/11 for accuracy, being different and for the fact that I would recommend it, to someone I don’t like.

No. 178 – Le Trou du Diable Maiden Shawi

2017-06-07 - 178 - Le Trou de Diable Maiden Shawi _500beers

And back to good beers again…

This is a pretty good brown ale of a standard I’ve come to expect from Le Trou du Diable recently, having tried several more of their beers at home.  It has a toasty aroma with caramel coming through strongly and this is reflected nicely in the flavour.  The picture doesn’t do it justice as it looks gorgeous too.  An easy 6/11 for being good, accurate, worth the price, I’d drink it again, recommend it and I’d go out of my way for it.

No. 179 – Les 3 Mousquetaires Blonde Helles

2017-06-07 - 179 - Les 3 Mousquetaires Blonde Hellos _500beers

My notes for this and the next one total four words.  This one is a ‘fine blonde,’ and I’m going to leave it at that – 4/11.

No. 180 – Microbrasserie Charlevoix Kläss Lager

2017-06-07 - 180 - Microbrasserie Charlevois Klass _500beers

And this one is a ‘great lager.’

Lager seems to be difficult for north Americans to get right – either that or my European sensibilities were already warped before I got here.  In any case, I drank lager almost exclusively for seven or eight years and am still searching for a really good one that is worthy of being in my top twenty beers at the end of this year.  This one is so far one of the best.  I’m giving it 6.5/11 for being good, accurate, worth the price, for drink-again-ability, for recommend-ability, I’d go out of my way for a pint or five and I’m giving it 0.5 for luck.

No. 181 – Pit Caribou La Gaspésienne Porter

2017-06-07 - 181 - Pit Caribou La Gaspésienne _500beers

I asked the server to surprise me with this one so it took me a while to figure out exactly what beer it was and from which microbrewery.  I’m pretty confident that this is the correct information, though the beer seems a little too stouty to be a porter.  It’s a very creamy, almost milky porter with a nice aftertaste.  From memory, it felt like a porter except for the head.  Maybe it’s one of those really good hybrids, the best of both worlds.  It gets a 7/11 for being good, accurate, worth the price, for drink-again-ability, recommend-ability, I’d go out of my way for it and I’d go out in a snowstorm for it.

So four really good beers out of six, a pretty good return for an evening out.  I’d recommend Vices & Versa, you could almost do a mini pub crawl on St. Laurent with it and Birra!

Birra, part 2

Birra, part 2

One beer last night turned into five.  Fortunately, there were a few good discoveries…

No. 308 – Dieu du Ciel Déesse Nocturne

2017-08-30 - 308 - Dieu du Ciel Déesse Nocturne _500beers

As you can tell by the picture, the head on this one was immense.  It was thick, like a roasted mousse – which is meant to sound like a good thing.  Taste-wise, this is the closest stout to Guinness that I have tasted from Dieu du Ciel, also a good thing.  There is more emphasis on roasted coffee in this and I found it maybe a little too rich.  It is however a fine stout.  It gets a solid 7/11 for being good, well worth the price, accurate, for drink-again-ability and for recommend-ability.  It gets another two yeses for the fact that I would go out of my way for it and go out in a snowstorm.

No. 309 – Birra Camilla

2017-08-30 - 309 - Birra Camilla _500beers

This is a bitter blonde with an aroma that seems like a blonde ale and a taste that brings out peanuts.  I was surprised on tasting this to get a reasonably strong taste of peanuts, or at least peanut butter, which is something different.  It’s a refreshing blonde ale with a little extra bitterness and a unique twist.  This also gets a 7/11, I may be being generous here, but it had a certain je ne sais quoi.  It’s good, worth the price, accurate, a little different, I’d drink it again and recommend it and I would go out of my way for a pint of it.

No. 310 – Birra Dupont et Dupond Dubble

2017-08-30 - 310 - Birra Dupont et Dupond Dubble

This was the real treat of the night, a dubble with a deep rich sweetness.  I got a hint of berries in the aroma, which was very good.  The picture doesn’t really do the beer justice as I had to use the flash but it looks really good too.  It had a lovely texture, was easy to drink and quite refreshing.  I nice bittersweet aftertaste rounded off this delightful beer.  I’m giving it 7.5/11 as it was better than the previous two beers but I’m not sure that I would fight a bear for it.

No. 311 – La Succarsale Peach White

2017-08-30 - 311 - La Succarsale Peach White _500beers

This one looks peachy and the aroma is quite fruity with a little peach coming through.  It’s like a good white beer with a little peach twist in the taste.  It’s nicely balanced, kind of like drinking a fruit lollipop (or popsicle for north Americans I believe) and therefore somewhat refreshing.  It’s not to sweet or fruity either so I could easily have a few of these in a row in the right circumstances.  I’m giving it a 7/11 – it’s good, worth the price, accurate, a little different, I’d drink it again and recommend trying it and I may just go a little out of my way to try it again.

No. 312 – Birra Bob

2017-08-30 - 312 - Birra Bob _500beers

This was the final drink of the evening, which perhaps explains my lack of notes.  It’s an American Pale Ale, with a nice malty texture and a hoppy finish.  I don’t remember anything special about this, but it was a good APA.  A definite 5/11.

And so that is Birra.  I’ll maybe head back later in the year to check out there more Autumnal selection of beers.  But in between times, I’ll be catching up on writing up all of the other beers I’ve tried.

Birra, part 1

Birra, part 1

I’ve now been to Birra on two occasions, once way back in April as the weather was starting to become good again and last night for one quick beer after work.  I had five…

This first post covers the four beers I tried on my first visit.  Unsurprisingly, I can’t remember too many details but I think the ratings I gave them were fair.

No. 127 – Birra’s Anne

2017-04-25 - 127 - Anne Rousse de Seigle _Birra _500beers
This was a nicely balanced red ale with a little sweetness and hints of fruit leading to a nice mildly bitter finish.  An easy 6/11.

No. 128 – Birra’s Eve

2017-04-25 - 128 - Eve Dunkelweisen _Birra _500beers
This dunkelweissen style beer looked really good, a glowing brown with an appealing aroma.  It tasted quite light and had a nice mix of a little sweetness at the front of the mouth leading to a nice bitter sting at the end.  Similar to Anne, but not as good.  It gets a 5/11.

No. 129 – Saint Luke Lager

2017-04-25 - 129 - Saint Luke _Birra _500beers
It was a little difficult tracking down exactly what this beer is, I think it’s from the brewery Saint Luke not far from Montréal, rather than being a Birra beer.  In any case I’m not too fused about finding out more.  This was just a decent lager style beer with nothing special about it.  I gave it 4/11.

No. 130 – Microbrasserie du Lac St.Jean Rang 4 Stout

2017-04-25 - 130 - Rang 4 _Birra _500beers

The word that sprung to mind on trying this first was Mocha.  It had a nice chocolatey coffee aroma, but the beer itself was little light on these flavours.  Another decent stout but a little lighter than I prefer.  I gave it 6/11.

This was a decent evening with some promising beers and the bar is in a pretty nice location not too far from De Castelnau metro.  I would recommend giving it a go.

 

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.