Monday Beer Club #32

Today we were given a “Hazy Flight”, as you can clearly see from the picture. The primary objective was to identify if the beer had been dry hopped (yes or no). Wes explained that dry hopping gives the beer a certain “powdery character” – he said he really didn’t have any other way to describe it. The second objective was to rank the beers in terms of alcohol content (ABV%). Seems easy enough, right???

Number 1: This beer was … wait for it … hazy with a slightly white tint to the haze. I got citrus, peaches, nectarines and orange on the nose. It tasted of nectarine, stone fruits, and lemon, with a very light bitterness. I thought I could detect the “powdery” mouthfeel so I guessed this was dry hopped. I guessed this had the lowest ABV. I was right on both counts. This beer was My Stupid Heart which is a pale ale with far more taste than it has any right to have at 3.2% ABV. A perfect beer for responsible drinking on the patio on a hot summer day.

Number 2: This beer was golden yellow with a light haze. I tasted caramel and peach, and thought I detected hints of phenols. I didn’t get any hint of powder, so I guessed this wasn’t dry hopped. I thought it was relatively high in alcohol, so I put it second from the top. My first guess was correct (not dry hopped) but the second guess was wrong. This was Kashmir which is a Norwegian Pale Ale with 4.5% ABV. By the way, I was wrong about the phenols, but this is brewed with a distinctive yeast strain that creates a somewhat similar taste. So, close…

Number 3: This beer had a light yellow haze. The nose was bright with notes of orange and peach. It tasted of orange, peach and stone fruit with a full mouthfeel and mild bitterness. I definitely got the powdery taste, so I guessed this one was also dry hopped. I thought this was relatively high alcohol so I guessed it had the highest ABV%. I was correct about dry hopping (it was) and close on the alcohol. It was the second highest, but the top two were very close. This was Walkin’ On Sunshine, one of the regular beers at Brew Revolution.

Number 4: This beer had a light yellow haze. The nose was also very bright with lots of nectarine. I tasted stone and tropical fruit with a lovely full mouthfeel. I guessed this was dry hopped, but I thought it had the least dry hopping. I also guessed it was a bit lighter in terms of alcohol, and guessed it had the second lowest ABV%. I was right on the dry hopping (it was) but completely misjudged the degree of dry hopping. This beer had the highest dry hopping, and was in fact the only one that still had “hop burn”. Not sure how I missed that. And it also had the highest ABV. Oh well.

I managed to correctly identify all the dry hopped beers (by a whisker) but was so-so on the alcohol estimation. As always, I clearly need more practice.

Monday Beer Club #31

It’s been five weeks since our last tasting session. There are several new items on the menu so we told Wes to “surprise us” and we would first try to identify the beer style, and then see if we could match the beer to the items on the menu. Three of the beers in the flight were on the menu, and one was from the tank, just to make it a bit more interesting.

Number 1: This beer was crystal clear light yellow with a lacy white head. I thought I detected a note of matchstick on the nose. The taste was clean and crisp with mild bitterness and a hint of sweet. Very easy drinking – perfect for summer. We thought this was a lager, and guessed Lola. We were wrong on both counts. It was Haus of the Rye-sing Sun, a golden ale. But to be fair, even though this is an ale, it has been brewed to taste like a lager, so in a way this doesn’t mean we got it wrong … it means they did a great job.

Number 2: This beer was hazy and light yellow with a lacy white head. We got notes of citrus, lemon, and grapefruit on the nose. The taste had a moderately bitter aftertaste of grapefruit and lemon. I thought this was a fairly light beer, perfect for the patio. We thought it was a session IPA, though it also reminded us of a radler. We guessed this was Live Session and we nailed it.

Number 3: This beer had a very light haze and was golden yellow. It almost had a creamy mouthfeel, and I thought I tasted hints of caramel and phenols. We were completely stumped by this beer and took a few wild guesses about the style – cream ale, blonde ale, or perhaps a Belgian blonde ale. And we suspected it was the mystery beer from the tank, and not on the menu yet. We were correct about it not being on the menu, but not even close about the style. This is Space Cowboy, an American IPA at 7% ABV. Fun fact: sometimes you learn more from your mistakes than from your successes. As I was describing what I was tasting, Wes kept saying “I think I can explain that”. The “creamy mouthfeel” was because this beer wasn’t fully carbonated yet, and low carbonation can make a beer seem creamier. And the “phenols” I thought I tasted, were from the high alcohol content (7%), which can sometimes taste a bit like phenols. Something to keep in mind in the future.

Number 4: This beer was clear and brown, with a lacy cream coloured head. (All the beers today had lovely lacy heads.) We got caramel and dried fruit on the nose. The taste was smooth with malts and a bit of sweetness – almost reminded me of hazelnut. We thought the style was dunkel, and we guessed Renegades of Dunk. Wrong! So very wrong. This was Beez Nutz, a brown ale with honey. When we did a side-by-side comparison, it was obvious. The Beez Nutz was fuller, smoother, richer, and sweeter. Not at all like Renegades of Dunk. Once again, learning from our mistakes.

It’s a good thing we like learning from our mistakes, because we had lots of opportunities today. We had one correct guess out of four. Definitely need more practice.

Monday Beer Club #22

Another from the archives. This tasting was on November 24, 2022 which technically was a Thursday, but for the purpose of Monday Beer Club, Monday is a state of mind. This tasting was a mystery flight where the only themes were “popular beers” and a “perfect colour progression” for the flight.

Number 1: This beer was golden amber with a notes of honey and dried fruit on the nose. The taste was clean and crisp, with just a hint of sweetness. John looked like he was in heaven … “this is exactly what I like”. We couldn’t reach consensus on what this was, but my guess was A Taste of Honey … and I was right.

Number 2: This beer was slightly darker, with a hint of reddish-brown. We struggled to identify the nose on this beer, but the taste was smooth with “all kinds of fruit”. We guessed this was Mad Saison … and we were wrong. It was one from the vault – Gourdie. A terrible guess but a wonderful beer that is aging wonderfully.

Number 3: This beer was a hazy dark brown in the glass, with a spicy nose. The taste reminded me of leather, spice, and applesauce muffins. I was pretty sure that I recognized this beer as Stay Warm, and I was correct. I have a number of these aging in my cellar, and I think it will be very interesting to see how it develops with age.

Number 4: This beer was clear and black. It tasted of vanilla, hazelnut and “coffee crisp”. We guessed this was These Hazel Eyes … and we were right.

One of our better scores, but at the same time I am all too aware that we need to keep honing our palates. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Monday Beer Club #30

We’ve had tastings in the past where we’ve tried to understand the difference between a lager and an ale. We usually had two of each, and tried to spot the differences, typically focusing on the esters that come from ale yeast. For this tasting, we took a slightly different approach. All four beers were lagers, though not all the same type of lager, so we couldn’t look for the differences. Instead, we had to look for what all the beers had in common, and we were told to “focus on what is not there”. And then try to spot the things that say “this is a lager”. Sounds easy, right??? Wrong!

Number 1: This beer was yellow and very clear. I detected notes of straw, hay, and a certain earthiness. I also thought I got a hint of matchsticks (sulphur) which is common with lagers. The taste was fairly neutral with a moderate bitter aftertaste, and the “matchstick” taste often found in lagers. This beer was pilsner from Rorschach Brewing Co.

Number 2: This beer was gold with caramel, grapefruit and orange on the nose. We tasted caramel and dried apricot and I thought it wasn’t as bitter as number 1, but Wes suggested that the bitterness was probably about the same, but it was somewhat masked by the sweetness, giving it a lower perceived bitterness. This beer was also a pilsner from Grain and Grit Brewing.

Number 3: This beer was yellow and brilliantly clear. On the nose, we detected sweet, hay, apples, and matchstick (again). The taste was very light with low bitterness and hints of apple and peach. It almost had a bit of a cider character. This was Brew Revolution’s Luck Be A Lager, which is a light lager. (All the others were pilsner, which is also a type of lager.)

Number 4: This beer showed a hint of red/rust in the glass, with metallic, fruit and raspberries on the nose. We struggled to put a name to the taste, but eventually settled on “wet cardboard”. This was also a pilsner, but the conclusion was that it was off, because it was oxidized. Although it wasn’t the intention, this tasting allowed us to experience one of the flaws (oxidization) that can occur with beer, so it was a useful lesson.

I was hoping to end with a conclusion about how to identify a lager vs. a light ale. Part of the answer is what you don’t taste – the dried fruit and esters of many ales, or the heavy use of hops in an IPA. Unfortunately, the styles and flavours overlap to some extent, and some of the things you do taste are seen in other styles as well. But I think I came away with a better idea of what to look for – low bitterness, not too many hops, light refreshing taste, and perhaps a hint of “matchstick”. I also came away with an appreciation of just how much I still have to learn.

Monday Beer Club #29

We tried something different this week. Three of the beers in the flight were on the menu and one wasn’t on the menu … yet. (It was a BR beer that was tapped, but not yet listed.) Our task was to spot the beer that was not on the menu – and then try to identify the ones that were on the menu.

Number 1: This beer was very light in colour, almost white, and very hazy. We detected citrus and grapefruit on the nose. The taste had grapefruit, pineapple, and peach, with a bit of hop burn that suggested lots of dry hopping. This beer was fairly light and clean. I thought it was fairly low alcohol. We guessed this was Live Session, but we were wrong. This was the beer that isn’t on the menu yet – a Pale Ale at about 3.5% ABV. So we had the flavours about right, even if we missed that it wasn’t on the menu. We’ll give ourselves half marks.

Number 2: This beer was yellow with a light haze. The aroma reminded me of lemon pie. It tasted like citrus, grapefruit, and resin, bit a lingering bitterness. We guessed that this wasn’t on the menu (obviously incorrect) and that it was an American IPA (a lot closer). Turns out this was Live Session Vol.6. which is an IPA, so maybe half marks again?

Number 3: This beer was a very hazy yellow, with just a hint of orange. The nose was brimming with tropical fruits, and the taste was the same … pineapple, peach, orange and tropical fruits. I noted a bit of hop burn (suggesting dry hopping) and I thought it had high alcohol. I guessed California Sunset which is a New England / Hazy IPA at 6.9% ABV – so we get full marks on that one – maybe even a few bonus points, which we need.

Number 4: This beer was somewhat hazy with a brownish yellow colour. We noted spices and orange on the nose, and it tasted of orange, spices and coriander. It had a clean crisp finish – Mike described it as a “gentle beer” in the best possible way. We guessed Lost Frequency and … we were completely wrong. This was Walkin’ on Sunshine. No points for this one.

Seems we had a lot of the tastes correctly identified, we just weren’t that good at connecting the dots to identify the beer. I’ll give us a passing grade (barely) and make a note to keep practising.

Monday Beer Club #21

From the archives – this tasting was on 21 Nov 2022. The theme for this tasting was “Don’t be afraid of the dark” with four very dark beers with very different flavours. But in spite of the differences, they all share one dominant flavour, and our job was to identify that flavour.

Number 1: This beer was black, with chocolate, coffee and smoke on the nose. It tasted of coffee (espresso) and smoke. We guessed this beer was Who Wears Schwartz Schwartz, and we were correct.

Number 2: This beer was black with a hint of red, and very clear. The taste was smooth and sweet, with hints of vanilla, cream, and spice. A lovely beer. We guessed this was Gourdie, and we were wrong. It was in fact Renegades of Dunk, a Roasted Hazelnut Dunkel brewed for Nita Beer’s annual beer calendar.

Number 3: This beer was dark brown and clear, with a nose of brown sugar. It tasted of gingerbread, Christmas cake, apple muffins, spices (and everything nice). We guessed this was Stay Warm, Brew Revolution’s winter warmer, and we were right again.

Number 4: This beer was black with hints of coffee on the nose and rich coffee and vanilla taste. A wonderful winter beer. We guessed this was a Hazelnut lager (wrong) or Hapi Siren coffee porter, and we were correct.

Monday Beer Club #28

Believe it or not, spring is quickly approaching. I say “believe it or not” because we still have several feet of snow in the yard, but I remain cautiously optimistic nonetheless. And that is why this week’s tasting highlighted “spring flavours”. As always, our challenge was to describe the flavour profile for each beer, and then identify the beer from the menu.

Number 1: (far left) This beer was yellow with a touch of amber. It was clear, with just the slightest hint of haziness. We could smell hops on the nose, with earthy straw and peach. The taste had an initial spicy sweetness that segues to a lingering mild bitterness. We guessed this was Lost Frequency – Belgian Ale … and we were right. We were seriously tempted to quit while we were ahead, but there was more beer to taste, and more mistakes to make.

Number 2: This beer was amber in colour and crystal clear. The nose was sweet, with hints of caramel. The taste had an initial fruitiness with a clean lingering aftertaste. We almost guessed this was Lost Frequency, but that was already taken, so we guessed Taste of Honey … and we were right again (even if it was on our second attempt).

Number 3: This beer was yellow and crystal clear. The nose had an earthy, silage character, and Jim thought he detected a hint of sulphur. The taste was smooth and herbaceous with medium bitter aftertaste. We guessed this was Lola, and … we were right again. Honest to God, we should have declared victory at this point, but of course we didn’t. Because … of course…

Number 4: This beer was light brown, and again, crystal clear. The nose was fruity, and I thought I could detect hints of phenol. The taste reminded me of caramel and dried fruit with a lovely balancing bitterness. This one had us stumped. On our first pass we had guessed this was Taste of Honey, but when we learned that our second beer was Taste of Honey … we gave up. The answer was Haus of the Rye-sing Sun.

With rather generous grading, I’m going to give us 75% on this test. But of course, more practice (or practise) is needed…

Monday Beer Club #27

Today we were treated to a “random spring mix” of interesting beers. Our task was to identify the beer and match it to an item on the Brew Revolution menu.

Number 1: (far left) This beer was a lovely copper colour and very clear, with caramel notes on the nose. The taste had caramel with a balancing bitterness. We thought we could detect a hint of smoke. The consensus was this would be a perfect smooth “house beer” for any time of the year. Our first guess was Vienna, and since it was the right answer, I’m not going to bother listing our second … and third guesses.

Number 2: This beer is yellow and fairly clear, with a faint haze. We detected silage and … lager notes on the nose. The taste was smooth and easy drinking without any dominant tastes – the everything was smooth and balanced. We guessed this one was Kashmir, and … we were wrong. It was Lola. So much for our winning streak.

Number 3: This beer was hazy with a pleasing straw colour. We detected pineapple and peach on the nose, and tropical fruits in the taste. This beer was dry hopped, with a mild hop burn. We guessed this was Walking on Sunshine and … we were right.

Number 4: This beer was mahogany colour and moderately clear. The nose was “sweet” and the taste had molasses, coffee and brown sugar. We guessed that this was either Oats n’Hose (wrong) or Stay Warm (correct).

If you are a little generous, you could give us a score of 75%, which isn’t bad at all. But still lots of room for more practice.

Notes from March 6, 2023 tasting.

Monday Beer Club #20

Today’s tasting includes two distinct styles. Our objectives were:

  1. Match the beers that were the same style.
  2. Identify each of the two styles, and
  3. Identify each beer. We were warned that one of the beers was not from Brew Revolution, so the objective was to identify which beer wasn’t from BR, and to identify the other three.

How difficult could it be? (Hint: it can be very difficult at our skill level, but we will press on anyway.)

Number 1: (far left) This beer was pale yellow and very clear. The nose was earthy, herbaceous with a hint of straw. The taste was clean with a mild bitterness in the aftertaste. We had no idea what this beer was, so we took a pass. It was Kashmir, which is an American Pale Ale. I get this one wrong every time.

Number 2: This beer is straw coloured, with a hint of amber. The nose was perfumed with hints of nectarine and peach, which we attributed to the hops. We also tasted nectarine and peach with very little bitterness. I guessed a NEIPA style, even though it had no haze, and that it wasn’t from Brew Revolution … or perhaps it might have been Summer Nights (which in retrospect was a terrible guess, since it isn’t a NEIPA). We also guessed that it was the same style as the first beer. Turns out this beer wasn’t from Brew Revolution – it was Ridge Rock American Pale Ale. Which also tells you that the style was “Pale Ale”. At least we were correct about it being the same style as the first beer.

Number 3: This beer was light amber with hopes, peach and fruit on the nose. The taste was sour, and fruity. We guessed this was a sour, and specifically, Lady in Red. We nailed this one, though technically it is a fruited sour. We’ll take it.

Number 4: This beer was burgundy colour and cloudy. The nose reminded us of candy and cream soda. The taste was sour (though not as much as the third beer) with raspberry and stone fruit. We guessed it was a sour, (so the same style as the third beer) but couldn’t identify the specific beer. Turns out it was Blueberry Beret, but we were correct that it was the same style as number 3.

As usual, some hits and some misses, and with two being sours it isn’t that surprising that we matched the styles. But we’ll take what we can.

On a side note, I’m working my way through a backlog of tasting notes – this tasting was from November 7, 2022. I’ll try to keep more up to date going forward.

Advent Beer Calendar – Dec 21-24

And now for the final blind tasting from the Nita Brewery Calendar – 2022.

Dec 21: (far left) This beer was straw coloured with a light haze. We got notes of silage and citrus on the nose, and Wes detected “wet hop” aromas. The taste was neutral with hints of floral and honey – likely a simple malt, with perhaps some wheat. We guessed a Wet Hopped Pale Ale, or perhaps a Honey Lager with low alcohol.

And the answer is: Skeleton Park Brewery 100 Mile Cream Ale with5.2% ABV. Not our best guess.

Dec 22: This beer was a clear golden colour. We got stone fruit and citrus on the nose. The taste was mild with hints of stone fruit and a mild lingering bitterness. We thought it was probably dry hopped. We guessed a dry hopped lager (Jim) or a dry hopped pale ale (Wes, Nate).

And the answer is:┬áVimy Brewing Company Vimy East Coast Pale Ale. We’ll take that as a near miss (at least for Wes and Nate).

Dec 23: This beer was yellow with hazy sediment. The nose showed peach and citrus while the taste was sweet and resinous. The mouthfeel was smooth with some bitterness. We guessed this was a Hazy NEIPA or American IPA.

And the answer is: Eastbound Brewing Company Revealed Constellations, which is a Session IPA at 4.4% ABV. Another close call.

Dec 24: This beer was clear with a hint of gold. We got caramel and floral notes on the nose. The taste was very mild and smooth with a slightly sweet aftertaste. We guessed this was a Helles Lager.

And the answer is: Nita Beer Company Nita Lite, which is a “Lighter Lager” style.

And that brings us to the end of our bling beer calendar tastings for this year. But not to the end of our beer tasting. And to celebrate that thought, we had a bonus beer (thank you Stu) which was a Barrel Aged Urbock, only available at the Creemore Brewery.