Tag Archives: Lifestyle

Update + No. 439 – How not to pour beer

Update

I didn’t have a decent picture for the feature image so here’s a picture of what we can look forward to for the next few months.

Anyway, as of this moment I have tried 448 different beers this year.  That’s 448 different beers in 325 days, or 1.78 beers per day – feel free to see the list to see what they are.  Of them, 18 have been good enough to fight a bear for and 4 have been good enough to go out of my way to fight a bear for! 

Capture

It is also perfectly clear at this point that I will not have time to write everything up before the end of the year.  So in that case, I’ve decided to leave the beer-off until February (where I will retry some of the best beers in order to find the best beer) and focus on tidying up the write-ups over December and January. 

No. 439 – Tsingtao, or how not to pour beer

2017-11-17 - 439 - Tsingtao 1 _500beers

I can sometimes be fussy about pouring beers.  This has been the case more so this year as I have had to take pictures of each different beer.  I had two bottles of Tsingtao at a Japanese restaurant a few evenings ago as I was curious to taste it again.  The last time I had it, I believe, was with breakfast after a massive drinking session in Manchester (the English one) and I don’t remember much about.  I asked the waitress if I could pour it myself but she insisted on pouring it.  I watched on in horror.  I tried to resist the urge to tell her to tip the bottle up a bit more or to move the glass to less of an angle as it was clear that no head would appear otherwise.  I restricted myself to a single gesture – hinting that quickly tipping what remained in the bottle would save this poor beer’s dignity.  Alas, no.  As the picture suggests, the beer had no head, even though it still possessed some life.

The beer itself was a reasonably smooth lager, but was nothing special, I’ve had better recently.  The experience of watching it being poured may have influenced my overall experience and the score as it’s only getting 3/11 and I don’t think I’ll ever drink it again.

I feel better having written that down – free online therapy!

 

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Free Beer!

Free Beer!

To date, I’ve had three gluten free beers and one alcohol free beer that have counted towards this challenge.  I’m still waiting for my free gluten and free alcohol…

No. 53 – Bières Nouvelle France’s La Messagère au Millet

2017-02-09 - 53 - La Messagère Millet _500beers

I personally have no problem with gluten and am one of those people who doesn’t understand why anybody would avoid it if they didn’t have to.  Having a friend who can’t really take gluten gave me an urge to try a few gluten free beers throughout the year to see how they compare.  The first was way back in February.  I had bought a six pack of this for my gluten free friend and she only took a couple of them, so it was up to me to finish them off.  To be honest, I’ve no notes on this but from memory it was a good blonde ale with a little sweetness to it.  Very fizzy, as you can see by the picture and worth a go.  I gave it 6/11 at the time, which I would like to revise but I’m not going to because at this late stage in the year I just won’t have time.

No. 335 – Krombacher Alcohol Free Pilsner

2017-09-09 - 335 - Krombacher Pilsner NA _500beers

After much debate, it was decided that an alcohol free beer would still count.  The reasons being that it is made by the same process (this was decided without any checking, but seems possible) and because it is just low alcohol beer, not truly alcohol free.  Besides, I’d tried everything else Brutopia had to offer that day.

This is my favourite alcohol free beer – it is smoother than others I’ve tried and a little like a beer and lemonade shandy.  It’s better than quite a few proper beers I’ve tried this year.  It gets a 4/11 for being drinkable, ok for the price, a little different and I would recommend it for non-drinkers or drivers.  I doubt that I’ll drink it again though.

No. 343 – Glutenburg Blonde

2017-09-11 - 343 - Glutenburg Blonde _500beers

Back to gluten free.  Another one I tried because I had been through all of Brutopia’s other beers at that point.  It’s definitely a blonde ale, but it has a little sweetness to it, like the Messagère Blonde above.  Maybe that’s a feature of gluten free beers.  I gave this one 4/11 for being fine, for tasting like a blonde, being worth the price and one for recommend-ability.  I won’t be drinking this again.  I’d drink the Messagère ahead of this I think.

No. 426 – Glutenburg Rousse

20171108 - 428 - Glutenburg Rousse _500beers

This was cheap, so I bought it.  It smells quite nice, like a sweeter red ale – very promising indeed.  To taste though, it’s fine – like a red ale without that little hoppy fizz that you get sometimes.  There’s no aftertaste, no little bitter hit to it.  On the plus side it was somewhat refreshing.  I give this one 4/11 as well.  It’s not something that I would drink again but it’s not bad either, just a little bland.

So that’s a few brief notes on gluten free and alcohol free beers.  I don’t think I’ll try any more this year but they had interesting tastes.

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…

 

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.

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.