No. 1 – Bass

No. 1 – Bass

It seems a little weird writing about a beer that I tasted way back on 2nd January but the idea was to post something about each beer before the end of the year so I’m now playing catch up. 

I tried this beer on a normal night out to celebrate the new year with a few friends and it was in fact during the hangover of that evening that I decided to try five hundred different beers in a single year.  I hadn’t started taking pictures or making detailed notes at that stage, so here is a picture of a pint of Bass I had last night (7th November) and a few vintage beermats that I found when I was back in Northern Ireland in May (more of these to follow in my reviews for Guinness, Smithwicks and Harp)… 

 2017-11-06 - 1 - Bass _500beers

It’s a nice amber colour with a frothy, cloudy head that seemed to disappear quickly.  To taste, it is a little light.  Like an amber ale somewhat, with a little malty sweetness initially and followed up by a light hoppy bitter bite at the end.  In January, I initially gave it 6/10, before my rating system developed.  After re-tasting it last night I put it down to a 5/11.  It’s pretty good, and if you are into English style pale ales, I would recommend it, as it is quite a popular drink back home.  It just lacks something special that so many other beers I’ve tried have had this year.

Here’s a quite old beermat, from back when beermats were a little more fun…

 

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Lightside/Darkside – Chambly Beer Festival, part two

Lightside/Darkside – Chambly Beer Festival, part two

When is a beer not a beer?  When it’s a wine, or a spirit of some sort.

I have had a discussion with a few people about at what point a beer becomes too alcoholic to be considered a beer and the general consensus is about 12% (no professional opinions or science checked here – just drunken reasoning).  I’ve had a few scotch ales with high percentages and the results have been mixed – some are good whilst others are simply overwhelming.  I have also tried a low alcohol beer in this challenge so that I can compare the taste, so it makes sense to at least try something really strong at some point.  Enter Brasseurs du Monde’s Titanium…

Darkside

No. 324 – Brasseurs du Monde Titanium

At 11.9%, this is the strongest beer that I have tried this year, though I was surprised when I looked back to see an 11.75% beer that had a more than decent mark.  This stood out as it was strong but seemed have retained the characteristics of a normal porter or stout.  There was a very strong coffee and milk chocolate aroma, and the froth was gorgeous.  To taste it was delightful too – frothyness turned to a great coffee chocolate creaminess.  It’s a shame I haven’t seen it anywhere since.  I’d fight a bear for this, maybe even two bears.  9/11.

No. 317 – Le Naufrageur Raccoon

Moving down 1.9% to a decent black IPA – a sort of beer that I was unaware of when I started this challenge but have started to seek out more and more.  This was smells hoppy as you would expect and has a hint of chocolate in it.  To taste, it is a well balanced porter with an extra bitter hoppy finish.  It’s good, and I would drink it again so it’s getting a 7/11.

No. 321 – Les 3 Mousquetaires Dopplebock

Moving down another 1.4% to a fine Dopplebock style beer.  No real notes on this one unfortunately except that the molasses in the description definitely comes through.  It was creamy and felt great to drink.  Another 7/11, and another style of beer I’ve started to hunt down more and more.

No. 325 – Brasseurs du Monde Clara

This is the smallest sample of beer that I have had this year, I think, however I tried it at the Laval Beer Festival in 2016, so it counts.  It seemed somewhat muddy in appearance, let’s say cloudy perhaps and the flavour was difficult to pin down, somewhat fruity is the best I can do.  Auto-correct and interference from others when typing notes on my phone have really left me with no other notes.  The mark stands however – 6/11.

And so, that was Chambly, my third beer festival of the year but favourite.  I can’t wait until next year, when I can go there and not have to take photos and notes!

Edit – I forgot all about this one.

No. 318 – Benelux’s Armada

2017-09-02 - 318 - Benelux Armada _500beers

It’s a brown ale, hints of a brown ale are there but it wasn’t great.  3/11

Lightside/Darkside – Chambly Beer Festival, part one

Lightside/Darkside – Chambly Beer Festival, part one

It seems like a couple of months since I was strolling around Chambly tasting beers in the sun and indeed it was.  It has taken me almost two months to get around to writing up a few notes on the eleven beers I tried that day at the beer festival with memory fading, however a few of the beers really stood out…

Lightside

No. 315 – Les 2 Frères Charles Henri Blanche
2017-09-02 - 315 - Les 2 Frères Charles Henri Blanche _500beers
It started with a blanche.  After having walked from a car park quite far from the site of the festival I was rather parched and so a light refreshing beer was in order.  This is a very bubbly white beer, with a strong fruity aroma and was the perfect starter. It is not as heavy as some white beers tend to be, as you can see in the picture it is a lighter more transparent colour. It is very refreshing and hints of citrus come through subtly in the flavour. Well worth a try – 7/11.

Nos. 316 and 319 – Le Trefle Noir El Sicimo and Z’Aleda (A link to the cask)

I chose Le Trefle Noir’s El Sicimo after the Charles Henri Blanche to take a step up in bitterness.  It was however a little disappointing.  It looks decent, and has a strong aroma – I got pineapple from it.  Taste-wise though it was a little overwhelmingly bitter and a little heavy in the throat afterwards.  It’s getting 3.5, which is difficult as the only other Trefle Noir beer to get such a low mark was their Gosebuster – which is a style of beer that I just don’t like that much.

While waiting for El Sicimo I noticed that Z’Aleda would be available at 3pm.  Being somewhat of a geek about A Link to the Past, I had to try this.  I regret that now.  It was actually a joint venture with Lagabière and Le Memphré if my notes do not deceive me.  The aroma is good, with a nice hint of pineapple.  The taste was unfortunately quite bland, a little hoppy but the promise of the aroma was sadly lacking.  2/11.

No. 320. Brasseurs Illimités Simple Malt Thorador
2017-09-02 - 320 - Brasseurs Illimités Simple Malt Thorador _500beers

Not too many notes on this one!  What I did write on the day…
‘Nice beer, it’s malty at first then the hops come through with a deep bitterness.  It’s somewhat layered – probably worth trying by the bottle.’  I gave it 5/11, I may revisit it in January when I do the beer-off.

Nos. 322 and 323 – Dieu du Ciel’s Immoralité and Genèse
2017-09-02 - Dieu du Ciel _500beers

I was looking forward to Dieu du Ciel as I was looking to pick up a glass but they didn’t have any for sale!

In any case, both these beers got a decent 5/11.

Immoralité was a nice imperial IPA with a fruity aroma and decent flavour, I didn’t think it was anything special though.  This is possibly another beer to revisit as I’ve taken to Imperial IPAs over the last two or so weeks.

Genèse is an apricot tripel.  It’s definitely tripel and it definitely has some apricot in the aroma but it didn’t come through to strongly in the taste.  Decent but I’m not sure I would bother to retry it.  My favourite apricot beer is the St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale.

So that’s the lightside of Chambly sorted, a really good white beer found and a couple of other decent 5/11s.  Unsurprisingly, if you’ve read anything I’ve written so far, the darkside gets better marks.  Next time, some porter, some black IPA, some dopplebock and a brown ale.

 

How to and how not to hand model + 2 from La Succarsale

How to and how not to hand model
+ 2 from La Succarsale

There are times when it is just not possible to easily take a picture of a beer.  Times when it is necessary to request aid from a friend who will help you document your year of alcoholism.  This post is a thank you to everyone who has held a beer while I try to take a decent picture (see the list of names below – thank you all*).  It is also a friendly middle finger to those who try to hinder me at every opportunity (you know who you are).

How to and how not to hand model

Good hand modelling is not difficult.  The important thing is to hold the beer so that you can see any logos and so that your hand does not cover too much of the beer.  Examples…

It is also possible to get some interesting pictures and effects with effective hand modelling.  Examples…

However, people are also tempted to hand model or interfere in other less useful ways.  Examples…

2 from La Succarsale

What good fortune that a friend who has just moved back to Montreal has moved less than thirty seconds from a micro-brewery!

No. 416 – La Succarsale 1814 Porter
2017-10-28 - 416 - La Succarsale 1814 Porter _500beers

A fine porter with a warm milk chocolate aroma.  It does not quite follow up on this promise, but it is a decent porter that I would recommend.  Oddly refreshing after a twenty minute walk at full speed.  6/11

No. 417 – La Succarsale Vienna Lager
2017-10-28 - 417 - La Succarsale Vienna Lager _500beers

Somewhat dark looking for a lager, it felt more like a standard blond ale.  I should have started with this rather than the porter as it was a good beer that I found refreshing.  It won’t be high up in the reckoning of the best beer at the end of the year, but I would definitely recommend giving it a go if you are in the area and fancy something refreshing.  5/11

I have had one other beer at La Succarsale and will probably try one or two more before the end of the year – it’s a promising place, no bad beers yet.

*In alphabetical order for convenience, it’s no comment on your skills as a model…
Alice, Charlotte, David, Declan, Elspeth, Éric, Jess, Jordan, Moussa, Rachid, Sophie

 

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.

No. 412 – Le Bilboquet’s Saint Barnabé Sud

No. 412 – Le Bilboquet’s Saint Barnabé Sud

I have in mind a little day trip to Saint Hyacinthe before the end of the year.  An opportunity to get out of Montreal for a morning, walk around and take photos of a new place.  Then I shall go to Le Bilboquet’s bar and have a nice new beer.  In the meantime, here is there strawberry beer…

2017-10-27 - 412 - Le Bilboquet Saint Barnabé Sud poured _500beers

It’s a healthy dark golden orange colour with a little hint of rouge and the aroma is of sweet strawberries.  The head is bubbly and tastes lovely.  It’s creamy, a little malty and froths nicely with a little bitter fizz at the end.  The strawberry is perfectly balanced, at no point did I think that this beer was too sweet or that I wasn’t tasting enough of it.  This is a really good beer and even the last gulp was creamy, malty and a little strawberryey.

Yes, it’s good.
Yes, it’s worth the price.
Yes, it’s accurate.
Yes, it’s a little different or unique.
Yes, I’d drink it again.
Yes, I’d recommend it.
Yes, I’d go out of my way for it.
Yes, I’d go out in a snowstorm or a heatwave for it.

8/11

I haven’t had a bad beer from Le Bilboquet.  I will try to do a summary of the other beers I’ve tasted from them soon (La Champêtre, Peau d’Ours, La Corriveau Impérial, L’Archange, MacKroken Flower and Geminus).

 

No. 411 – À l’Abri de la Tempête Bot’A Ouelle

No. 411 – À l’Abri de la Tempête Bot’A Ouelle

Getting into a routine of trying a beer and writing about it before I forget – it’s just a shame that I’ve over two hundred to write about with only a selection of notes and blurry memories…

2017-10-26 - A l'Abri de la Tempete Bot'A Ouelle poured _500beers

Yesterday, I decided to buy a beer from a new microbrewery, along with one from Le Trefle Noir and one from Le Bilboquet – tried and tested breweries with some fine beers. 

I chose À l’Abri de la Tempête pretty much because it was cheap.  It was a good choice.

This is a really good beer.  It looks great in the glass, a golden yellow with a fine fizzy bubbly head that froths in the mouth and the aroma has a certain je ne sais quoi.  It’s malty and smells like it will present a strong bitter taste.  There is a hint of lemon that comes through as well oddly enough.  Upon checking other reviews, I noticed that other fruits were mentioned, but I didn’t really get those.  In any case, it was an enticing aroma.

2017-10-26 - A l'Abri de la Tempete Bot'A Ouelle desc. _500beers

For an 8% beer, this sure does not taste feel strong.  In fact, it tastes great.  It was light, almost fluffy and the maltyness created a fine creamy texture in the front of the mouth.  There was only a little hoppy bitterness that came through, which to me was great – I prefer malt to hops.  The taste is all front of the mouth and doesn’t really linger long afterwards.  I get the impression I could drink several of these easily without getting tired of the texture and taste.

Yes, it’s good.
Yes, it’s well worth the price.
Yes, it’s accurate.
Yes, I’d drink it again.
Yes, I’d recommend it.
Yes, I’d go out of my way for it.
Yes, I’d go out in a snowstorm or a heatwave for it.
And Yes, I would fight a bear for it – I’d punch it right on the snout!

A very good 8/11.

I can’t wait to try their other beers.