Monday Beer Club – Meeting #10

We continue the quest to figure out what the heck I’m tasting when I think I’m tasting “bitterness” as measured on the IBU scale. You may recall that the current working hypothesis is that I’m confusing IBUs (which comes from isomerized acids from hops added during the boil) with alpha acids (also from hops, but added later in the process). I know – tldr – look it up if you are interested. Today’s objective is to once again try to put the beers in order of increasing bitterness, but to take the alpha acids out of the equation, none of these beers have been dry hopped. So here goes…

Monday Beer Club Agenda

Number 1: (far left) This beer is very dark with aromas of campfire smoke. The smoke comes through on the taste as well. The taste was surprisingly light given the dark colour. The light bitterness took a while to emerge on the upper palate. I guessed this was the 2nd most bitter, but it was actually the 3rd. So, close…

I guessed this beer was Who Wears Schwartz Schwartz and I was correct … first guess.

Number 2: This beer was very clear with a reddish brown colour and dried fruit on the nose. I tasted caramel and dried fruit with a very pleasant and smooth mouthfeel. There was almost no bitterness on the aftertaste, although I thought I could taste bitterness near the front of my mouth just as I swallowed. Because of that immediate bitterness, I guessed this was the 3rd most bitter, but in fact it was the least bitter.

I tried to guess this beer, but after several wrong attempts I gave up. Turned out it was Beez Nutz. I get that one wrong every time.

Number 3: This beer was black as ebony with light caramel on the nose. The taste had definite smokiness, but not nearly as much as the first beer. I noted a definite bitterness at the front of my palate and at the back. I guessed this beer was the most bitter, and I nailed it.

I didn’t do quite as well guessing which beer it was, but on my third try I correctly guessed it was Smoke on the Porter.

Number 4: This beer was a lovely brown with a hint of red. The initial taste was noticeably sweeter, but it had a lovely balanced aftertaste. There was very little bitterness in the aftertaste, and it took forever to appear. I guessed this was the least bitter the it as actually 2nd – so reasonably close.

When it came to guessing the actual beer, completely missed – it was 10 Track Commandments. For some reason I thought a Saison beer was darker.

Conclusion: One of these beers was significantly more bitter than the others (39 IBU) and I got that. The other three were fairly close (21-25-28 IBU) and my guesses were not bad, other than Beez Nutz which clearly tripped me up. Need more practice…

Monday Beer Club – Meeting #9

I’ve realized that I’m terrible at identifying bitterness in beer … as least the bitterness as measured by IBU (International Bitterness Units). Depending on when hops are added to a beer they can impart more or less IBUs. For example, dry hopping, where hops are added after the boil, and perhaps even after fermentation, adds lots of hop flavour, but virtually no IBUs. We think (perhaps) that I am tasting the hop alpha acids and confusing that flavour with IBU bitterness. Maybe. Perhaps. But who really knows. So, we are trying to explore, with four beers with different IBU ratings. Our objective is to but the beers in order, from least-to-most IBUs. As always, this isn’t as easy as it sounds.

The Agenda for today’s meeting.

Number 1: (far left) This beer was cloudy yellow. The nose reminded us of pineapple juice and the taste was a full rich “juicy” mouthfeel that faded to a clear bitter aftertaste. At least we thought it was bitter. I rated this the 3rd most bitter of the flight. I was wrong of course, but close … it was 2nd most bitter It’s a NEIPA so it did have significant dry hopping, which may explain what we were tasting.

In case you’re wondering, this beer is “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” which I highly recommend.

Number 2: Lightly cloudy with a hint of peach colour, and we also got stone fruit on the nose. This beer didn’t have as much mouthfeel as the first one, and definitely more bitterness. The taste was cleaner and more astringent on the tongue. We rated this the most bitter, and … we were right.

This beer is Live Session Vol 4.

Number 3: This beer was cloudy and the colour of pink grapefruit. We could taste peach with moderate sweetness initially, but with a clean aftertaste. We rated this as the 2nd most bitter, but it was actually the least bitter, but again, a NEIPA style, so lots of dry hopping.

This beer is Walkin’ on Sunshine, a Brew Revolution classic.

Number 4: This beer is clear with a hint of amber colour. We detected a bit of earthiness in the aroma. The taste had a light sweetness … almost like caramel or honey. It had a lovely balances taste that maintains that balance as the flavour fades away – very nice. We rated this beer the least bitter, but it was actually the 3rd most bitter.

This beer is Kashmir, a Norwegian Pale Ale, or perhaps an American Pale Ale? Either way, it’s very tasty.

So, we got one right, one very wrong, and two were close. Clearly we need more practice…

Monday Beer Club – Meeting #8.5

Monday is as much a state of mind as it is a day of the week. So I figure it’s fine for Monday Beer Club to meet on a Tuesday. And since we’re stretching the boundaries today, we also met at a “guest brewery” – Sawdust City in Gravenhurst Ontario. Here is the agenda for today’s meeting.

My request to the bartender was simple – include Juicin’ in the flight. All the beers had a similar profile – hazy with lots of hop character. There were 18 beers on tap, but by eliminating some of the obvious ones (e.g., it’s pretty clear it doesn’t include a stout) we narrowed it down to 6-8 possible candidates. Should be easy to figure out which is which, right? Wrong!

Number 1: (far left) This beer was brimming with pineapple and tropical fruits with very little hop bitterness.

Our guess: Limberlost Wild IPA. And the answer was Gnarnia Lil’ IPA. Not off to a good start here…

Number 2: Very little bitterness & lots of hazy body. I thought I got hints of stone fruit here.

Our guess: Everyday Magic. And the answer was Juicin’. This was very disappointing because we know how Juicin’ tastes … or we thought we did. Hmmmmm

Number 3: Medium mouthfeel with a lot of tropical fruit and not too much bitterness.

Our guess: Our initial instinct was to guess Juicin’, but once we realized that was the second beer, we changed our guess to Everyday Magic. And finally, we were right … with a little help. As an aside, this beer has higher IBU than the first two, but I just couldn’t taste it. I need to keep working on this it seems.

Number 4: This beer was a bit sharper, but didn’t taste too alcoholic. I almost thought this could be a session beer. (Hint: boy was I wrong there…)

Our guess: Our first guess was Gnarnia Lil IPA but that was the first beer, so we changed our guess to Limberlost Wild IPA. And the answer was … Lone Pine West Coast IPA. Whoa boy, was I wrong. High alcohol and high IBUs and I’m thinking a session beer. Seriously? Need … more … practice.

Number 5: (far right) I was getting a bit of funkiness and a mild sour taste. Pleasant and refreshing – this beer was distinctly different than the other 4.

Our guess: At this point we had ruled out a number of options, and with only a few hints we guessed Limberlost Wild IPA … and we were right. With our hit rate today, we accepted, giving us the stellar score of … 40%. Sheesh.

Monday Beer Club – Meeting #8

All the beers in today’s flight included the same “mystery ingredient”. That was all we were told, and we were asked to try to guess the ingredient. We had no idea what it might be. And when I say we had no idea, I mean we didn’t have a clue … in so many ways.

It was a warm day on the patio, and here was the lineup.

Number 1: (far left) Very clear, with just a hint of amber. The nose reminded us on apple juice an pear juice. The taste was light and fruity, with a hint of sweet and bitterness.

Our guess: …. not a clue. And the answer was, Haus of the Rye-sing Sun.

Number 2: This one was moderately cloudy in the glass with the colour of straw. We got peach, stone fruits, citrus and “caramel-icity” (whatever that is) on the nose. The taste was rich and full, but it quickly faded leaving a clean light aftertaste.

Our guess: …. still not a clue. And the answer was Kashmir.

Number 3: Very hazy in the glass with the colour of ripe mango. The nose and the taste both reminded us of lime with a fairly strong bitter aftertaste. All of today’s beers were refreshing, but this was the best. John’s take was “best on the beach”.

Our guess: With a few hints we eventually guessed “Live Session‘ and finally we got one right. We’ll take it because we need all the help we can get.

Number 4: (far right) This beer was very hazy and the colour of pink grapefruit. One sip and it was clear this was a sour. It had a clean refreshing aftertaste, but you have to like sours if you drink this. John’s take was “pucker factor of ten”. Not for everyone’s taste, but if you enjoy sours you’ll love this one.

Our guess: Radio Guava.

And the mystery ingredient? Turns out it was wheat, which typically gives beer a hazy appearance. So much still to learn…

Monday Beer Club – Meeting #7

What is the difference between an ale and a lager? The technical answer is “different yeast” but that doesn’t really help much when you raise a glass in the pub. So this week, we asked Wes to give us a brief tutorial. He said we should look for esters in an ale. We said “what’s an ester”. He said “oh boy”… Not really. He said to look for flavours of dried fruit, raisin, spices (e.g., cloves) and apple. A lager can be a little trickier, since the essence of a good lager is a clean crisp taste, so I think the idea is to look for a clean crisp taste, without any hints of esters. Should be pretty straightforward, right? Wrong.

Here was the lineup for the tasting.

Many people think that the difference between a ale and a lager is colour – lagers are pale and clear, while ales are dark. Wrong again. On the left we have one ale and one lager, and it’s the same on the right. But enough talk – time to demonstrate how little we know.

Number 1: (far left) The nose had hints of citrus, and something that we couldn’t put a name to. I know – not exactly helpful. But the taste was clean and crisp with a mild bitterness that grew sharper over time.

Our guess: Lager. And the answer is … Jump In the Lime, which is in fact a lager. And that smell we couldn’t put a name to was the lime rind. Obvious in hindsight, but then it usually is.

Number 2: We got spice (cloves, allspice) and raisins on the nose. The taste was soft and round with raisins, apples, spices and a fruity aftertaste that lingered until it was overtaken by a slight bitterness – perhaps bitter almond?

Our guess: It seemed pretty clear to us that this was an ale – it hit all the right notes.We went further and guessed that it was Haus of the Rye-sing Sun. We were right on both counts. Alas, our winning streak was about to end.

Number 3: The nose reminded us of bacon cooking over a smoky campfire. There was more smoke on the taste, though it was surprisingly clean after we swallowed.

Our guess: Lager, and we thought it was Who Wears Schwartz Schwartz. We were wrong on both counts – it was Smoke On the Porter, which is an ale.

Number 4: (far right) We got hints of dried fruit (cherries?) and raisins on the nose, along with smoke. The taste reminded us of smoke (again) dried cherries, and spice. It had a full round mouthfeel that coated the mouth.

Our guess: Ale. We were wrong. It was Who Wears Schwartz Schwartz. I have no idea where we were getting the spice and dried cherries from.

And once again, we are batting 500.

Monday Beer Club – Meeting #6

The Agenda

You have probably noticed that the items on today’s agenda all look similar. This was intentional. The idea is to keep you from jumping to conclusions based on colour, and instead focus on the nose and taste. We were instructed to look for esters (characteristic of ales), hops (indicates dry hopping), and alcohol (how strong the beer is) and then let that guide our selections. I love the idea in theory. Let’s see how we do in practice.

Number 1: (far left) The nose was fairly light with hints of brown sugar and dried fruit. The esters (brown sugar and dried fruit flavours) came through stronger on the taste with an initial sweetness that was replaced by a mild bitter aftertaste that grew stronger over time. This didn’t taste like a high alcohol beer, making it a great session beer.

Our guess: Mind Your Table Manners (Belgian Table Bier). And the answer is … Mind Your Table Manners. Excellent!

Number 2: The nose was very light, with just the tiniest hint of caramel. The taste was smooth with a slight sweetness and subtle esters. There was very little bitterness and a sweetness fades quickly leaving a pleasant, balanced aftertaste.

Our guess: Beez Nutz. And the answer is … Rebel Rebel. Oh dear. Moving right along…

Number 3: Again, the nose was very light with hints of caramel, dried fruit, and hops. The taste was stronger with more hop bitterness and caramel, which faded to leave a mild bitter aftertaste.

Our guess: Rebel Rebel. By the time we got to marking, we knew this had to be wrong because the second beer was Rebel Rebel, but we had to stick with our official guess. The answer was … Keep Ya Head Up which is a dry-hopped amber ale. Of course, when I want back and looked at my notes, there it was … “hops on the nose” but I got sidetracked with the caramel and bitterness. Next time.

Number 4: (far right) Again, the nose was hard to place, but the taste was smooth, rich, and sweet. The mouthfeel was rich, coating your mouth with tasty goodness. The alcohol was pretty obvious and it balanced the sweetness – this is a perfect after dinner beer.

Our guess: King Harvest (a Belgian Dubbel). And the answer is … King Harvest. This is a favourite, so I’m relieved that I got it right.

That’s it for now. See you Monday at 4:00.

Monday Beer Club – Meeting # 5

The Agenda

The agenda for today’s meeting was unanimously approved. The topic is … beer.

Number 1: (far left) This beer is straw coloured (SRM 3-4) with a light haze. The nose is subtle with hints of lemon and pineapple. The taste is light with minimal hop bitterness that is only apparent in the back of the mouth. This is a light and refreshing beer, perfect for warm spring days on the patio. Let’s hope we get some of those soon.

Our guess: Live Session. And the answer is … Kashmir. Ohhh boy. We are not off to a good start today.

Number 2: We rated this beer as SRM 15. It was very clear with the colour of a typical English ale The esters (typical of ales) were readily apparent with aromas of caramel and dried fruit. Caramel and nuttiness were also clear in the taste, though the sweetness faded quickly leaving a clean mouthfeel with a mild bitterness that slowly emerged as the caramel and dried fruit flavours faded. Lovely.

Our guess: 1. Rebel Rebel, and 2. Beez Nutz. And the answer is … Rebel Rebel. We will take it as a win, though we were soundly chastised for guessing Beez Nutz, since that beer is much darker and sweeter. Clearly more practice is needed.

Number 3: This one was a bit lighter, with SRM 10. It had obvious sour fruit notes on the nose and these were even more pronounced in the taste. It had a long balanced aftertaste, making it a very refreshing quaff.

Our guess: Pear Necessities. Bullseye! This was a bit of a gimme, but we need all the help we can get.

Number 4: This beer was very dark, at SRM 35. We detected fruity notes on the nose but the taste was smokey and effervescent. The taste was surprisingly clean (given the colour) leaving a pleasant smokey bitterness on the upper palate.

Our guess: 1. Who Wears Schwartz Schwartz. 2. 10 Track Commandments. And the answer is … Black Magic Woman. Damn! Damn, damn, damn. I noted the “fruity notes” on the nose, which screams “IPA” and then I ignored it. Note to self: when you detect fruity notes, think hops, and when you think hops, think IPA. No doubt about it – more practice is required.

Soooo … we continue with a barely passing grade of 50%.

Monday Beer Club – Meeting # 4

The proposed agenda for today’s meeting was approved, without modification. The theme for today’s meeting was … beer.

Number 1: (far right) This beer was the colour of pale straw (SRM 2) with a light haze. the nose showed definite notes of citrus … grapefruit and lemon. The taste was light, smooth, and refreshing.

Jane’s take: Goes down easy.

Our guess: 1. Live Session Vol III or 2. Kashmir. And the answer was (drum roll…) Live Session Vol III. (Batting 1000 for now. This won’t last for long.)

Number 2: The colour of dark straw, we rated this beer as SRM 3 1/2. The nose was very light, with perhaps hints of lemon pie. It was very effervescent, with hints of lime and a light sweetness, but virtually no bitterness on the aftertaste. Very drinkable.

Jane’s take: the Prosecco of beer.

Our guess: 1. Lola, or 2. Kashmir. And the answer was … Walking on Sunshine. Now that was embarrassing. We’re down to 50% now.

Number 3: At SRM 10, this beer was much darker than the first two. There were hints of caramel and honey on the nose, while the taste was quite sweet, with honey notes. The balance was excellent, with no lingering bitterness at all.

Jane’s take: I could chug this.

Our guess: Beez Nutz. We were so confident on this one, that we didn’t even bother with a second guess. And, of course, we were completely wrong. It was … Rebel Rebel. And now, we are down to 25%. Sheesh.

Number 4: This beer was darker still, with an orange-red tint (SRM 17). We got maple, molasses, caramel, and port on the nose, which followed through in the taste. It was like sipping a fine port wine, coating your mouth with a pleasant warmth that faded gracefully and slowly, retaining perfect balance all the while. Lovely.

Jane’s take: I liked it the best. A sipping beer.

Our guess: 1. King Harvest, or 2. Stay Warm. And the answer is … King Harvest. We are taking that as a win, and giving ourselves a passing grade of 50%.

Believe me, it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

The Monday Beer Club won’t be meeting next week, but see you all again in two week’s time.

Monday Beer Club – Meeting #3

At Monday Beer Club, the focus is on the beer, as it should be.

We had a simple request today. Pour a flight that will help us understand the difference between an ale and a lager. This is what we got.

Beer # 1 (first on the right): This beer was fairly clear, and the colour of straw ( SRM 3). The aroma was … well … like beer. The taste was clean, with a light hop bitterness and an aftertaste that fades very quickly leaving just the faintest hint of sweetness. We also noted hints of melon.

Our guess: Kashmir. Answer: Haus of the Rye-sing Sun. Well that was embarrassing. I told you it wasn’t as easy as it looks. Though to be fair, Wes told us it had been brewed to taste like a lager, so we’ll give ourselves 10% marks because … I’m making up the marks.

Beer # 2 (2nd from the right): This beer was crystal clear and a pale gold colour (SRM 4) in the glass. It had a full mouthfeel and a lingering sweet aftertaste, with hints of cinnamon and caramelized sugar.

Our guess: 1. Haus of the Rye-sing Sun, or 2. Keep Ya Head Up. Answer: Wrong, and wrong. This was Lola. We seem to get this one wrong every time.

Beer # 3: Deep amber and very clear in the glass, this beer had a definite smell of smoke. The taste was equally smoky, with a passing “sourdough” taste as you swallow. It had a surprisingly clean aftertaste that faded very quickly.

Our guess: Who Wears Schwartz Schwartz. Answer: Yes! Bingo. Finally. Thank God.

Beer #4: Deep amber brown and cherry wood in the glass, this beer had definite notes of dried fruits and caramel on the nose. The taste had … “a whole lot going on in there”. We struggled to find a better way to concisely describe it, but failed. We did note pepper, lemon rind, sweet potato and alcohol in the taste. Like we said – a whole lot going on in there.

Our guess: 1. Beez Nutz, 2. Keep Ya Head Up. 3. Stay Warm. Answer: Beez Nutz. We are counting this as a direct hit, even though we had to take three guesses. That gives us 50%, which is a passing grade. Like I said, it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Note that the only lager in this flight was the very dark Schwartz bier. Goes to show you just how much we have to learn.

See you next Monday at 4:00.

Monday Beer Club – Meeting #1

Stu West perfectly captured the Monday Beer Club (MBC) motto:

I know what I like, and one of the things I like is beer. I’m in.

The rules are simple. We go to a local brew pub (Brew Revolution) at 4:00 PM on Monday (Duh) and order a flight of locally brewed beer. Our input to the bartender about the type of beer we want is … nothing. Absolutely nothing. The flight will be a complete mystery, and the challenge is to see if we can figure out the beers in the flight. It’s harder than it sounds.

The first thing you’ll notice is that there doesn’t appear to be any logic in the order of the beers. That’s because … there isn’t any logic in the order of the beers. If they put the beers in the order that they thought we should taste them, it would give us a hint, and that isn’t the point of MBC.

We started with the 2nd beer from the handle (on the right). This beer is a pale yellow with a hint of fogginess. The nose is citrus with a bit of grass. the taste has definite citrus notes with mild hop bitterness that continues to build after you swallow, but leaves a clean aftertaste. We decided this would be a perfect beer to drink on the patio on a hot summer day.

Our guess: Kashmir (1st guess) or Live Session (2nd guess). Answer: Live Session – so we were close…

Next: 4th from the right: This beer was crystal clear, with a honey/amber hue. The nose was light with a hint of malt. It reminded me of an English bitter. The taste had a bit of a caramel aftertaste with a bit of balancing bitterness. It wasn’t too alcoholic, and left a pleasant mild bitter aftertaste. We decided it was perfect for a late winter rainy day, which is exactly what we saw outside.

Our guess: We were not at all sure about this one, suggesting Beez Nutz, Haus of the Rye-sing Sun, or Keep Ya Head Up. We were confused and it showed. Turns out we were even more confused than we thought – ti was Lola, an “Oslo Lager”. (I told you this was harder than it sounds…P)

Number 3: closest to the handle, on the far right: This beer was a beautiful clear mahogany (SRM 15) colour with a hint of malt and grapefruit on the nose. The initial taste is fairly mild with the malt and hops in balance, but the immediately fades, leaving a pronounced grapefruit and pine resin flavour. You can also taste a lingering caramel aftertaste with a bit of alcohol.

Our guess: Drop It Like It’s Hopped (West Coast IPA). Nailed it – finally!

We finished with the 3rd beer from the handle: This beer was black. Very black. The nose suggested campfire smoke, and the taste confirmed this, though the taste was surprisingly light given the dark colour. It was very crushable, and not too alcoholic.

Our guess: Who Wears Schwartz Schwartz. Another direct hit.

Final score: two direct hits, one near miss, and one “what the hell were you aiming at”. At the end of the day, a definite success. There will be more meetings of the Monday Beer Club.