Category Archives: motivation

Advent Calendar Nos. 467 – 469 + 471

Advent Calendar

I have almost finished my challenge, in fact it will be finished on 20th December.  That will mean that I will have tried 500 different beers in 353 days (taking into account that I didn’t start until 2nd January).

With it being the festive season, various beer shops have been offering beer advent calendars.  I got mine from Veux-tu une bière?  Who were happy to customise it to not include anything that I have already tasted this year.  This means that I have under my tree a new beer for each day up to Christmas Eve.  Needless to say, as I would with a traditional sweat filled advent calendar I will be finishing it early. 

Oh the joy of waking up, grabbing out a surprise beer and dreaming of it all day in work until I get home to drink it!

Nos. 467 – 469 + 471

At the time of writing it is 5th December and I have tasted the first five of these beers, however I’m only going to write about four of them for the minute as I am currently enjoying my Dominus Vobiscum Triple from Microbrasserie Charlevoix.

No. 467 – Vrooden Dunkel
2017-12-02 - 467 - Vrooden Dunkel poured _500beers
I’ve seen Vrooden beers around a lot lately but have never been tempted to try one.  I regret that.  Their Dunkel is a really good brown ale.  The aroma is a little grainy and hoppy, while also carrying a little hint of caramel.  It is very smooth in the mouth.  A very nicely balanced brown ale, bordering on red.  It’s got a little hoppy hit but tastes a little creamy.  It’s a great beer that I would recommend to newcomers to brown ales.  7/11.

No. 468 – Shelton Saison Sure Houblonnée
2017-12-03 - 468 - Shelton Saison Sure Houblonnée poured _500beers
One of the reasons I got the advent calendar was to get beers I would not choose by myself.  This is one of those beers.  I’ve mentioned before that I don’t necessarily like sour beers so finding an accessible sour beer is always good.  This is quite a good beer all in all.  It is sour, with strong hints of grapefruit and a tropical lilt to it.  It is in no way overwhelming however and was easy enough to drink.  It felt a little closer to an IPA with accented sourness rather than a sour beer (if that makes sense).  5/11.

No. 469 – Malstrom IXPL des Prairies
2017-12-03 - 469 - Malstrom IXPL des Prairies poured _500beers
This is an odd beer.  I would have expected it to taste less bitter than an IPA and lighter than a decent lager.  It tastes like a particularly bitter IPA and the cumulative effect of drinking it made if feel like a double IPA.  Nice if you like hops and hoppy bitterness.  4/11.

No. 471 – L’Espace Public Kolschlaga
2017-12-05 - 471 - L'Espace Public Kolschlaga poured _500beers
I’ve had a few beers at L’Espace Public (I like that bar a lot) but have not written any of them up yet, thanks to a mixture of laziness and badly typed notes.  They were all pretty good though.  This one is also fine.  Funnily enough it tastes more how I would have imagined Malstrom’s India Extra Pale Lager to taste.  It’s quite light, tastes of grain and cereal, and has a very subtle hoppy undertone to it which is quite good.  It doesn’t have much life and has a medium texture, definitely not a light beer.  I’d drink it again – maybe in Summer.  4/11.

So that’s 4 beers down from my advent calendar, another update on that in a few days.

 

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Brussels & Belgian Beers, No. 407 – Orval

Brussels & Belgian Beers, No. 407 – Orval

I’ve noticed in one or two bars around town a selection of imported beers at very high prices, some of which I recall tasting back home and during my trips to Europe.  I’ve never bothered to buy one as I’d rather savour it at my own leisure.  However, I did notice a decent selection available at the SAQ for very reasonable prices.  Hence Orval.

This got me thinking about the perception of European beers and more specifically Belgian beers to someone from the British Isles and how they compare to the beers I’ve tried from Quebec so far.

Belgian Beers

Drinking more often than not for several years in Belfast meant that I had a particular taste for Carlsberg and was used to it’s effects.  It’s not strong, but tastes fine and several can get you quite drunk.  I also had a perception of Belgian beers as being very strong, something that you would buy to get smashed quickly.  I went to Brussels for a few days and not long after arriving decided to try a few over dinner.  Having already had a pint or two of Guinness before a stroll around La Grande Place, I was already in a good mood.*  I tried the two beers, that both came in lovely chalices and were presented with the bottle – how classy – and thought that they were fine, particularly the Chimay.  On exiting the restaurant, it hit me that I was quite drunk.  I immediately had an appreciation of these ‘stronger’ Belgian beers.

Those two beers weigh in at a nice 7% each, which after ten months of trying beers in Quebec seems normal to me.  In fact, it turns out that 7% is the average of my favourite beers so far.  My preferences generally range from about 6% – 9%, with some exceptions.  This seems to show that Quebec microbrewery has changed my tastes to what I would have considered very European tastes.  The explanation and the reasoning may not be clear, but with 4 or 5% beers being what I would have considered normal and good five years ago I’ve come to appreciate stronger beers and consider 7% the new normal.

No. 407 – Orval

2017-10-22 - 407 - Orval poured _500beers

So, as I said, I picked this up from the SAQ in an attempt to find some non-Quebec beers for comparison’s sake.  As you can see, it’s very frothy, and bubbly and the beer itself is a cloudy orangey yellow.  The aroma was interesting.  It promised to be malty thick beer, but there was also a hint of brettanomyces that suggested leather, but it was much more subtle than Dieu du Ciel’s Dernière Volonté.  This comes through at little in the flavour but it’s not distracting from a fine malty beer with a hoppy fizz on the tongue.  It’s quite good!

I’m giving it 6/11 for being good, for the price, for being accurate, for being a little unique, for drink-again-ability and for recommend-ability.

So that’s that.  Next…

*good mood meaning tipsy when I use it.

A day in the life

A day in the life

5am – wake up, hit snooze, repeat every 15 minutes until…

7.15am – wake up, get up, shower and have breakfast – lots of milk to balance out the acidity of the night before’s beer…

8.15am – blue line, orange line, green line…

9.10am – work, while pondering whether or not to take a long lunch and go in search of beers…

11.55am – go in search of beers, a little trip to Maltehops on Wellington in Verdun – picked up a Trefle Noir, a Bilboquet and something I’ve not heard of before…

12.45pm – work…

6.05pm – leg it to the bar for a micro-brewery evening…

7.00pm – take the following uselessly blurry picture of the beer menu…
2017-10-25 - Et Oh _500beers

7.10pm – No. 409 – EtOh’s Robust Brown Ale
2017-10-25 - 409 - Et Oh Robust Brown Ale _500beers

After trying a few times to take a picture of the beer without somebody putting their middle finger in the way I finally tasted this.  It’s ok, I didn’t really get any caramel or toffee from it, rather a little warmth hinting at a scotch ale.  When I say a little I mean a little.   It was a fine beer with a strong deep bitterness to it but it lacked that sweetness that I like in a brown ale, before the bitterness.  However, it will get a pretty good 6/11.

7.40ish pm – No. 410 – EtOh’s Ale Rousse Fumé
2017-10-25 - 410 - Et Oh Ale Rousse Fumé _500beers

The picture doesn’t really do it justice, it wasn’t as muddy as it seems here.  This was actually going to be my first choice but the waiter came over when I wasn’t really paying attention so I order the beer that I could remember best.  The aroma was a mixture of pumpkin, cinnamon and something else a little strange.  To taste, it was like a light red ale, not much toffee or sweetness but a nicely balanced smokey flavour.  I’ve had smoked beers in the past that have lingered for days but this was just right.  I liked this one as well, it’s also going to get a 6/11 – well worth trying.

8.20pm – leave the bar in search of pizza…

8.30pm – find pizza and get home asap…

9pm – eat pizza while writing up the day!

I’ve been to EtOh in the past a few times and never had a really good beer there, so this evening was somewhat better than expected to the extent that I may go back to try some more.

One-upmanship, lists, photography and education…

One-upmanship, photography and education,
or how I learned to stop worrying and love beer…

One-upmanship

With blurry memories of a pub crawl that may have gotten out of hand in December 2016 and suggestions of alcoholism in mind, I was looking for something to do for the new year.  In truth, I had cut down a lot on beer in 2016, but was still prone to the odd ill-advised heavy drinking session once every couple of months.  I had also cut down on going out as often – I used to love a good brunch, a couple of beers and a football* match at the weekend to relieve stress from work.  I decided to address these two issues by coming up with a resolution that would help me rebuild my tolerance to beer and that would also allow me to get out more and rebuild a social life that I had left behind for various reasons.

On a less psychological level, I was also starting to get tired of drinking Harp, Guinness and the occasional red ale and so decided to search for a new favourite beer.

And so, 365 beers in a year began!

Upon researching this challenge, I found that quite a lot of people seem to do it each year.  This was a little annoying so I started considering ways to make it more challenging.  What about a leap year of beer?  Drinking one beer more would be the very definition of one-upmanship, but the next leap year isn’t until 2020.  So I thought screw it, I’ll do 500 different beers in a year.

Lists and photography

 It began quite simply by trying a beer, making a note of it in my phone and giving it a mark out of ten.  Then I ended up buying a little note book to keep a list of the beers – on the insistence of a friend, who seemed genuinely concerned that I may mistakenly try the same beer twice.

From then it developed into taking a picture of each beer as proof – thought a picture can only prove that I have been in the presence of the beer, not that I drank it.  You will just have to take my word for it that I’ve tasted all these beers.  Having said that, it has been difficult, but also fun trying to find different ways to take pictures of beer and make them look a little different.  The early pictures, most of which will be put online before the end of the year, are all similar – grainy and badly lit.  I got a new phone in February and since then the pictures have been of a better quality.  The featured image above, is from a small reflection that I found in a picture of beer number 250 – La Corriveau.

The logical next step was to start this blog to keep a record of the year.  Now I have a spreadsheet with information on all the beers I’ve tasted so far and several folders of pictures of beer and beer memorabilia to write about and post.

Capture

Education

All this may seem a little odd, however, I have learned quite a lot from this experience.  Here are a few thoughts…

I’ve a better knowledge and appreciation of the different types of beers.

I’ve a better knowledge of my own preferences and why I prefer them.

I’ve discovered many different bars that I would never have gone to before.

In researching the beers, I’ve learned a lot about the local craft beer culture and also how beer is made.

I’ve learned quite a bit of technical French vocabulary.

I’ve also learned a bit about Québécois and Canadian culture and folklore.

And most importantly I’ve found out how to say no after one beer (it’s rare but it happens now).

Hopefully, this has provided a little insight into the reasoning behind trying to drink 500 different types of beer in a single year.  If not, feel free to leave a comment.

*proper football, the sort that involves kicking a ball with your foot unless you’re the goalkeeper