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La Fin Du Monde

July 28, 2009

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The End Of/Best In The World

Anthony Says:


La Fin 1Quebec pretty much puts the rest of Anglo-Canada to shame when it comes to joie de vivre. Breathtaking landscapes, incredible food, stunning women (and men?), chic and disarmingly European cities; it is little wonder that Quebec is called “la belle province”. Perhaps not surprisingly, Canada’s bastion of Gallic charms is also North America’s answer to Belgium when it comes to beer. And with little doubt, the undisputed champion of Quebec brewing is Chambly based Unibroue. Helmed by Belgian-born brewmaster Gino Vantieghem, Unibroue produces some of the best continental-style ales outside of Europe. I learned this much a few summers back, when I was introduced to a beer called “La Fin Du Monde” while attending a French program in Montreal.


To be honest, I remember initially purchasing this beer in part because of its intriguing name, meaning “end of the world” for our non-francophone readers, but primarily because of its incredible packaging. While ultimately it is quality that counts, I’m of the mindset that an interesting bottle design can make a good beer that much better. In this regard, you can’t really ask for more than this. The corked champagne-style bomber, the ominous image of a topographic Quebec shrouded in darkness, and incredible typography all make for one of the most aesthetically pleasing beer-bottles I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I’ve started a collection of these at home.


Moving onto the actual review. Like most Belgian tripels, La Fin Du Monde initially pours pale golden with a thick billowing head. As this is a beer brewed “on lees”, meaning only partially filtered, there is a higher concentration of proteins and yeast. This becomes apparent in the almost impenetrable cloudiness of the beer, and the noticeably darker color where the yeast settles in the bottom quarter of the glass.


Freshly poured, the nose of La Fin Du Monde is near overwhelming. There is an almost bock-like aroma of candied fruit and bananas, but this is offset by spicy hints of cardamom, nutmeg and cloves. A distinct yeastiness adds a bread-like vanilla scent that ties everything together nicely. Quite honestly, you could spend a good ten minutes just smelling this beer without getting bored.


As for taste, an initially sweet, candied malt flavor is perfectly balanced by lightly tart citrus and hops. Adding robustness to the flavor profile is a touch of spicy nutmeg that leaves a lingering peppery sensation on the palette. This nicely complements the alcohol warmth imparted by a 9% alcohol content. And once again, the palpable presence of powdered yeast seems to flatten out and tie together all these disparate flavors perfectly. A bubbly champagne mouthfeel is offset by a pleasantly smooth yeastiness, and the aftertaste is surprisingly dry.


Wow. While a cynic might say a fancy bottle is meant to mask a poor-quality beer, La Fin Du Monde is every bit as good as it looks. This is extremely high quality stuff and it is almost hard to believe that it boasts a mighty 9% alcohol content. According to Unibroue, this beer is named after the belief of the European explorers that they had reached the end of the world upon discovering America. In seems fitting, then, that La Fin Du Monde is a truly world-class beer.

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Gatlin Says:


La Fin 2Much as with Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA, I have very little to say editorially and will likely find this review difficult. La Fin Du Monde is one of the craft brews I first fell in love with and a brew that all Canadians should be proud of: it is the world leader for its style.


Technical Rundown:

  • Container: 750 ml brown glass bomber, with cork and cage
  • Alcohol: 9% by volume, 7.20% by weight
  • Color: 10 SRM
  • Bitterness: 35 IBU

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Off the pour emerged a classic Unibroue monster head: foamy with big and small pearly bubbles. A considerable amount of lacing was left on the glass as the head settled to a very thin film. The body was a semi-cloudy, dark, straw yellow with an excellent champagne like carbonation.


The nose was extremely complex. A number of spicy yeast notes, including coriander and nutmeg, are discernible. Amongst very mild fruit scents, like pear and apple, a slight citrus aroma can also be detected. Overlaying all the smells was a complex herbal smell combined with a touch of winter green.


With a spicy yeastiness upfront, the taste was very similar to the nose. The mouth feel was nicely crisp and displayed champagne like tartness and dryness. An herbal taste with wintergreen also came through.


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La Fin 3
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Some Final Thoughts


Anthony Thinks:

Pros
  • Exceptional quality
  • Superb tastes and aromas
  • Great bottle design!

Cons

  • Bomber bottle unwieldy- not always available in standard sized beer bottles
  • A little on the strong side
  • Almost too drinkable?

f

5 stars. Between the incredible flavors, terrific scents and awesome bottle design, La Fin Du Monde is the complete sensory and aesthetic experience. I’d say this brew could be a little much for a less expirenced beer drinker, if only it weren’t so damn drinkable. Well done, Unibroue


Gatlin Thinks:

Pros:

  • Complex aromas and flavors
  • Outstandingly crisp- no hint of the 9% alcohol content
  • Amazing quality

Cons:

  • Can be overwhelming for unseasoned beer drinkers
  • 9% alcohol content can sneak-up on you

f

La Fin du Monde is a 5 star triple and as far as I know the best in the world- even better than the trappist triples. Belgian ale lovers absolutely must buy this beer. Anyone looking for a complement to a robust pork dinner may also enjoy goblet or two


So, What’s On Your Mind?

Old Milwaukee Lager

July 20, 2009

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A Mediocre Classic

Anthony Says:


OM - can

Ah. Old Milwaukee. The spirit of the mid-west encapsulated in a can. The beer our fathers drank and their forefathers before them. The beer that soot laden coal miners and sweat sodden railway workers would reach for upon returning home after a grueling day of work. The preferred brew of the people who built America- there once was a day when Old Milwaukee was synonymous with beer. It is, after all, “a beer with history”. Or so the purveyors of this discount staple would have you believe. I’m not exactly sure about the standards that defined a good beer in 1849- when Old Milwaukee was apparently first brewed- but I can venture a guess that tastes have advanced slightly since Zachary Taylor occupied the White House and Alaska was still known as “Russian America”.


Old Milwaukee pours an uninspiring straw yellow with a limp lip of foam that dissipates rapidly. It looks rather like watery apple juice once settled. The nose is, without doubt, the worst quality of this beer: a faint aroma of raw sewage overlain with heavy corn sweetness. Mouthfeel really doesn’t merit discussion, and dominated by flavors of sweet corn adjunct, there wasn’t all that much redeeming in the taste either. To be certain, however, a cloying chemical after burn persists well after you’ve finished drinking one of these- perhaps as an alarming reminder of the laboratory concoction you’ve just deposited in your body.


I’d like to say something good about this beer, but probably the only thing that comes to mind is that it is cheap and won’t kill you (at least not immediately). It is drinkable, so it passes. Nevertheless, I couldn’t imagine a scenario in which I’d recommend drinking one. Old Milwaukee might be better off left to the annals of American history.

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Gatlin Says:


OM - full

From what I’ve seen down at the liquor store, this beer is very popular with a certain crowd. Call them what you want, but at least they are not reaching for the Canadian sherry. May God have mercy on those who must drink this terrible garbage water.


Technical Rundown:

  • Container: 475 ml aluminum can
  • Alcohol: 5% by volume
  • Color: 2.4 SRM
  • Bitterness: 12 IBU


This beer generated a medium white head off the pour that faded extremely quickly to a very small ring. No lacing was visible. The body was a light, straw yellow with little to no visible carbonation. The smell of this beer was uber-displeasing. Hints of what only can be described as manure and urine are noticeable right off the bat. In the background lurks a sweet adjunct smell and a very subtle apple aroma. The taste is sweet corn upfront with a subtle tinge of perming solution. An overall chemical like flavour is omnipresent. The horrid tastes and smells of this beer make it virtually unpalatable.

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Vintage 80’s commercial footage. We appreciate the shout-out at 0:11!

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Some Final Thoughts


Anthony Thinks:

Pros
  • Cheap
  • Can double as paint stripper in a pinch
  • Apart from awful adjunct aftertaste, no really offensive flavors

Cons

  • Objectionable smell
  • Industrial aftertaste
  • Would be better in smaller cans

f

2 stars. American heritage and hipster cache aside, it is tough to validate drinking Old Milwaukee. While I’d give it another go in bottled form, I can’t foresee myself trying the canned variety again in the future


Gatlin Thinks:

Pros:

  • Dirt cheap
  • An American icon

Cons:

  • Taste and smell are both horrendous
  • Room temperature before you can finish a tall boy…..making the tastes all the more awful

f

Old Milwaukee is a 2 star cheap beer. This would literally have to be the best beer available at a time when drinking a beer was an absolute must


So, What’s On Your Mind?

Schlitz Genuine Gold

July 17, 2009

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A Scholid Budget Beer

Anthony Says:


Schlitz - Can

For reasons still unclear to me, the name of this beer conjures up images of some sort of industrial solvent or motor oil. “Schlitz” sounds like a substance you’d apply to your brake pad to improve lubrication. It just doesn’t seem like something that would make for a pleasant drink. And to be certain, I’m sure there are many people who would agree with that assertion even after having tried it. Needless to say, I was slightly apprehensive before cracking open my first Schlitz in an untold number of years. Much to my surprise, however, I found myself quite satisfied with this iconic buck-a-beer.


Having poured a flat, headless shade of sickly yellow, I’m not going to try and pretend like Schlitz is an aesthetically pleasing beer. The nose is perhaps equally as off-putting: a barely detectable corn adjunct aroma mixed with pear and chlorinated water. When raising the glass to my lips, I was beginning to seriously question whether the money I’d spent on this six-pack could have been better invested in a hoagie or perhaps a couple taquitos. Nevertheless, the first sip of this beer was a pleaser: slightly sweet, but with a subtle bite of hops and a crisp smooth mouthfeel. A light chemical astringency is the only reminder of the cheap adjuncts that are typically added to beers of this price range.


Between the name, appearance and smell of this beer, I’d have expected the harsh adjunct flavors distinctive of mass-produced discount brews. All things considered, however, Schlitz is mild, relatively easy drinking and really quite refreshing. Served cold, this could be a nice budget session beer for the cottage or a buddy’s barbecue.

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Gatlin Says:


Schlitz - full

Americans reading this review might be surprised to learn that the Schlitz available in Ontario is actually brewed by Sleemans and not Pabst. The gold colored can is exclusive to Canada- as opposed to the traditional white. This was my first time trying this beer and I have to say that it wasn’t that bad. While I don’t usually buy cheap beers, this one would be up for consideration if I had to.


Technical Rundown:

Container: 341 mL aluminum can

Alcohol: 4.6 % by volume

Color: 3.4 SRM

Bitterness: 13.2 IBU


This beer produced practically no head off the pour. What little head that was produced faded very quickly leaving a completely flaccid liquid surface. The body is very light and straw yellow in color. Moderate carbonation was visible.


The nose was just as light as the color. A very faint apple aroma is detectable, followed by a lightly acidic maltiness. Surprisingly, the adjuncts are not strongly discernible in the smell.


Very little taste is apparent, even when you roll the liquid around for a few moments. A slight corn or rice adjunct flavour is noticeable. A very mild, somewhat bitter finish is rather cleansing. Perhaps the utter tastelessness of this beer makes it drinkable.


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Schlitz - half
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Some Final Thoughts


Anthony Thinks:

Pros
  • Mild flavors
  • Fairly light presence of adjuncts
  • Refreshing

Cons

  • Lacklustre appearance
  • Not much in the way of flavor
  • Must be drunk while cold

f

3½ stars. The ugly appearance of this beer is perhaps only matched by its smell. Nevertheless, you probably aren’t buying Schlitz for its aesthetic qualities. Taste-wise, this is a refreshing, mild and generally easy drinking brew. A solid discount beer overall


Gatlin Thinks:

Pros:

  • Damn cheap!
  • Not really any bad flavors

Cons:

  • Mass produced macro-brew = poor craftsmanship
  • Not exactly the best tasting beer

f

All in all, this is a 4 star cheap beer. I wouldn’t order it for a date. However, if things take a turn for the worst and I start hanging out under the expressway, I may just become a Schlitz man. This beer would be perfect for a big college party


So, What’s On Your Mind?

Breckenridge Oatmeal Stout

July 9, 2009

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Better In A Pint Glass Than A Breakfast Bowl

Anthony Says:


IMG_0849Made famous by Michael Jackson- the beer critic, not the deceased entertainer, may he rest in peace- oatmeal stout is quite possibly one of the most underrated and underloved styles of beer. Indeed, malty, rich and full of body, it is perhaps the consummate autumn brew in my opinion. While I have various theories (mostly conspiratorial) as to why oatmeal stout doesn’t have a greater presence in the beer market, I’ve come to the conclusion that it comes down to its relatively spotty availability. Thus, with perhaps only ten brands readily accessible- and even less in Canada- I jumped at the opportunity to try this offering by Denver based Breckenridge Brewery.


Aesthetically speaking, oatmeal stouts are one of the most visually pleasing beers; pouring an impenetrable oil black with a billowing cream-colored head, Breckenridge’s offering is no exception. Nose is a little more understated than I initially expected, but all the aromas one would expect from this style of beer are present: molasses, toffee and coffee nicely underscore the heavy scent of toasted malts. Taking into consideration the rather sweetish nose, I was surprised by the initial bitterness of this beer. Strong caramel malt flavors are slightly offfset by an almost pecan like nuttiness, and then quickly pass into bitter roast coffee or perhaps burnt oatmeal. However, finishing in a lingering sweet toffee and crème brulee, the aftertaste really validates the impression initially imparted by the malty nose.


While I didn’t mind the interlude of bitterness between malty caramel sweetness, the centrality of roast coffee as a bittering agent really belies its light nose presence. I suppose this alone could raise some eyebrows in the wrong way, but the thing that throws me off most about this beer is its weak mouthfeel. Thin and watery is just not what one would expect from a rich, dark oatmeal stout. To be sure, I’d imagine that this flaw would be corrected if served on nitro, but it detracts enough from the bottled version to make it a good but not quite great beer.

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Gatlin Says:


IMG_0854Stout, especially in the cooler months, is one of my favorite styles of beer. I particularly enjoy oatmeal stouts and dry stouts for their superb mouthfeel. Unfortunately, mouthfeel seems to be the one key feature this oatmeal stout is missing.


Technical Rundown:

  • Container: 341 mL brown glass bottle
  • Alcohol:4.95% by volume, 3.96% by weigh
  • Colour: NA (black)
  • Bitterness: 33


Off the pour a small, foamy, tan head emerges. Retention is pretty good, as is the lacing which creates soapy rings after each sip. The body is black with bark brown visible around the edges. Fairly high carbonation for the style is also visible.


The smell is classic stout: chocolate and coffee, roasted maltiness and even a slightly bitter smell. The nose is quite strong for this style; I often find oatmeal and dry stouts to be very subtle in smell compared to their bigger stout brothers.


The taste is equally classic stout. A bitter coffee taste hits your tongue right off the bat- sweeter chocolate and roasted malts follow. The finish has a very slight hoppiness, which makes for a pleasant cleanser. The mouthfeel is quite watery for the style. The carbonation also seems a bit high, making this beer feel somewhat thin. I dare say this beer may be great on nitro-tap.
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IMG_0856
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Some Final Thoughts


Anthony Thinks:

Pros
  • Great appearance and aromas
  • Relatively easy drinking for a stout
  • Nice array of malt flavors

Cons

  • Slightly more bitter than malty nose would suggest
  • Watery mouthfeel leaves much to be desired
  • Not available in Canada!

f

3½ stars. Recommended for stout and porter lovers, but I would refrain from introducing it to less seasoned beer drinkers as it lacks the distinctive mouthfeel one would expect from a good stout. Nevertheless, this is a nice beer that I’d definitely consider purchasing again were it available in Toronto


Gatlin Thinks:

Pros:

  • Great representative of oatmeal stout aromas and flavors
  • Quite refreshing for such a flavorful, malty beer
  • Quality craftsmanship

Cons:

  • Lacks the creamy, thick mouthfeel I look for in a stout
  • There are better options available in this style, which are both cheaper and more accessible

f

This is a 3½ star oatmeal stout. I would possibly buy a case of this beer for a cold weather session (example: ice fishing). I would not recommend this stout to those who enjoy the typical British style stout


So, What’s On Your Mind?

Dogfish Head 60-Minute India Pale Ale

June 25, 2009

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The Pride of Delaware

Anthony Says:


IMG_0878

Delaware. One of the original 13 states that participated in the American Revolution and the very first to ratify the Constitution. Yet, most people can’t even name the state capitol (is it Wilmington?), let alone speculate as to its beer brewing pedigree. Since its founding in 1995, however, Dogfish Head Brewery has single handedly put the Diamond State on the craft-brewing map, both national and international. And with little doubt, the diamond in the Dogfish tiara is its excellent array of IPAs. Dubbed according to the amount of time they are left to boil, these are some of the hoppiest beers you will find just about anywhere. Despite having the shortest boil of the Dogfish family, and thus the least amount of hopping, 60-Minute IPA is no exception.


Pouring a rich, dark gold with a light cloudy head, 60-Minute gives off a powerful aroma that seems to leap out of the glass. The nose is a complex variety of appetizing hop scents: flowery, piney, sharp grapefruit undertones and hints of tapioca pudding. While I’d like to say that this beer holds some hidden surprises, what you see (or smell) is pretty much what you get: rich, earthy hops flavor. The use of Warrior bittering hops imparts a sharp, tart bite that doesn’t linger long, and while citrus flavors are pronounced, the spicyness characteristic of some other American IPAs is fairly subdued. Perhaps more than anything else, I was slightly taken aback by how pleasantly crisp and smooth 60-Minute is, despite of a chewy almost starchy consistency imparted by the malts.


Combining high quality ingredients with excellent craftsmanship, 60-Minute not only stands out as one of the better American IPAs, but also demonstrates that heavily hopped ales can be equally as accessible as the light lagers that dominate the North American beer market. Moreover, in doing so, 60-Minute does much to disprove the popular trope that craft beers need sacrifice drinkability in favor of quality and complex flavors.

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Gatlin Says:


IMG_0880

It is almost hard for me to review this beer. I’ve been purchasing 60-Minute consistently since it arrived at the liquor store and it has become my usual go-to brew. All I have to say editorially is: if you live in Ontario, hop on down to the local LCBO and pick-up a six pack. This is really a great beer.


Technical Rundown:
  • Container: 355 ml brown glass bottle
  • Alcohol: 6% by volume, 4.8% by weight
  • Colour: 10 SRM
  • Bitterness: 60 IBU

f

Off the pour emerges an amazingly bright, white head that slowly reduces to a small-bubble film that leaves some decent lacing. The body is a perfect orange-copper colour with moderate visible carbonation. The smell is full-on, up-front hoppiness. Beautiful floral and citrus notes are followed quickly by a very intriguing vanilla / oak maltiness. The combination reminds me slightly of root beer.


The taste is once again an up-front hoppiness which is both floral and citrusy. On the back end comes in a well developed malt base with the same vanilla / oakiness evident in the smell. The finish is a little dry and reminds me slightly of naphthalene, but in a pleasant way…. although I may be over thinking the finish. In terms of overall drinkability: as I said, this is my usual go-to beer.


c

IMG_0882

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Some Final Thoughts


Anthony Thinks:

Pros
  • Dynamic range of hop aromas & flavors
  • Pleasantly crisp & dry aftertaste- highly drinkable for a beer this flavorful
  • Very accessible beer

Cons

  • Slightly on the expensive side
  • Distribution outside of the USA is a little spotty
  • Not a particularly well balanced beer- this one is all about the hops

f

4½ stars. While perhaps not the most complex beer, Dogfish Head accomplishes what is sets out to achieve: provide a hoppy IPA brimming with flavor. Scoring high on quality, taste and drinkability, 60-Minute is a beer that should appeal to beer drinkers across the spectrum


Gatlin Thinks:

Pros:

  • Quality craftsmanship
  • Big flavours & bitterness
  • Super drinkable- despite the big flavours

Cons:

  • Hmmm…. Price? Availability? Maybe I’m biased on this one
s

This is a 4 star American IPA overall. Big flavours and drinkability- I’m in. This is a great buy for just about anyone; the quality is so good a non-beer drinker may well enjoy it

f


So, What’s On Your Mind?

Rogue Brutal Bitter

June 22, 2009

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Rogue’s Bitter Badboy

Anthony Says:


IMG_0884

While my experiences with Rogue Brewery have been otherwise outstanding, I must admit that I’ve passed up on their Brutal Bitter for far too long. I blame it on the imposing bomber bottle, the cantankerous looking character on the label, or perhaps more likely, some sort of subconscious reaction to “bitter”. Indeed, in spite of its ubiquity in the UK, it seems that North Americans are just generally not well acquainted with this style of beer. Oriented as we are towards watery lagers, our collective palette shudders at the thought of drinking something called bitter- much less “brutal” bitter. Even for those like myself, who’ve had the privilege and opportunity to expand their beer horizons, this vestigial hesitance to drink bitter is surprisingly hard to shake. Indeed, as difficult as the above admission may have been to make, it verges on embarrassing after having finally sampled this excellent brew.


Brutal Bitter pours a cloudy, copper-tinged hue of amber with a billowing creamy head. While a light caramel malt aroma is present, the nose is heavy on hops: nutmeg spiceyness, pine, undertones of herbal tea and a strong scent of dewy fresh grass. An initially rich mouthfeel finishes refreshingly light, crisp and dry. As impressive as the nose and mouthfeel may have been, it was the taste of this beer that really got me hooked. Hints of green tea and grapefruit accentuate a bitterness that is both strong and somewhat muted; toasted malt and brown sugar flavors are far much more prevalent than I had expected.


The bitterness here is not nearly as blunt and overwhelming as the name might suggest. Nevertheless, it supplies the dominant- though not sole- element in a surprisingly dynamic flavor profile. My best guess is that the use of spicy crystal hops, as opposed to more citrusy varieties, provides for rich hop flavors while reducing the overall acidity of the beer. Overall, while the name Brutal Bitter might conjure up images of the mouth puckering equivalent to drinking a sourball, the reality is a well-balanced and abundantly flavorful beer.

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Gatlin Says:

d

IMG_0886

This may be the best hoppy beer you can currently find at the LCBO. There are only a handful of local brews available in Toronto (Hop Addict, Hop Head, Hopping Mad, West Coast IPA), which surpass Brutal Bitter in flavour and quality. This beer is a must have while still available.


Technical Rundown:

  • Container: 750 ml brown glass bomber
  • Alcohol: 6.50% by volume, 5.2% by weight
  • Colour: 10 SRM
  • Bitterness: 59 IBU

d

A blinding head of bright white bubbles emerged off the pour. The head seemed to last forever with little dissipation, and when it finally did, a thick coating of lacing covered the glass. The body of the beer was a beautiful orangey, copper colour with moderate visible carbonation.


The nose is a powerhouse of pure hop oils. All the key flavours are present: pine, citrus, herbal, grassy and floral. A slight bit of juniper is also detectable. The malt background is quite complex, but is somewhat subtle in aroma. The malt stands out as being made with extremely fresh and/or high quality ingredients.


The taste is surprisingly not that bitter….certainly not “brutal”. What is brutal, however, is the pure aromatic hop flavours that are accentuated like no other beer I have tried. All the smells come through with equal resonance on the pallet. It is a mystery to me how they have so perfectly captured the full range of hops flavours, while leaving out the tart, astringent bitterness. All things considered: the scents and flavours here are bang on. I could drink this beer all night if it weren’t 6% abv.

d

IMG_0887

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Some Final Thoughts


Anthony Thinks:

Pros
  • Great hoppy alternative to IPAs
  • Aromatic nose and dynamic range of hop flavors
  • Pleasantly bitter flavor profile that encourages, rather than dissuades, further drinking

Cons

  • May disappoint those seeking a more purely bitter brew
  • Bomber bottles are unwieldy
  • Strong alcohol content prohibitive for a session beer

f

Unquestionably 4 stars. Brutal Bitter hits all the right notes and is an excellent brew for intermediate beer drinkers seeking to up their hop game and/or make a foray into the world of bitters. Drinkable enough to be a session beer, perhaps the only drawback is that its heavy booze content and bomber style container will have you seeing double in double time


Gatlin Thinks:

Pros:

  • Perfectly captures the essence of hop flavors in all of their manifestations
  • Many otherwise subtle flavors smack you right in the face (or mouth)
  • Unique and incredibly well crafted

Cons:

  • Cost, availability and bomber size
  • Not much going on in the malt department
  • So tasty you might overlook the booze content and wind up drinking more than you bargained for
s

Overall a 4½ star bitter. This beer is universally accessible and would be enjoyed by almost everybody. However, big beer drinkers might nevertheless be disappointed by the lack of raw bitterness

f


So, What’s On Your Mind?

Breckenridge Pale Ale

June 15, 2009

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A Session Beer With Plenty of Substance

Anthony Says:


IMG_0844This is another Colorado craft beer I sampled while in Denver. Breckenridge offers a 12-pack mixer (at a very reasonable price, if I may add) and their Trademark Pale Ale was one of the beers included. Having tried a variety of other superb local brews, including Odell’s IPA and several of Great Divide’s beer, my expectations for Breckenridge were perhaps unreasonably high. And while their Trademark Pale Ale didn’t exactly blow me away, it certainly did not disappoint.


Breckenridge Pale Ale pours a well carbonated, deep golden with a medium airy head. Nose is disappointingly mild: faint hops mixed with wet grass, light malts and a vaguely tea-like herbal spiciness. Though a bit on the thin side for a pale ale, mouthfeel is pleasantly crisp and reminiscent of a lager.


While the nose and mouthfeel might leave much to be desired, the taste is nevertheless surprisingly dynamic. An initial blast of complex hops flavors subside into an almost cantaloupe sweetness. Subtle undertones of tangy grapefruit and black currant tea are also noticeable.


Full of complex herbal and fruity flavors, yet lacking the hop tartness characteristic of most American pale ales, Breckenridge’s taste profile is far closer to what one would expect from a British pale ale. While it may therefore come across as rather mild to someone accustomed to the typical American pale ale, this is nevertheless a deceptively nuanced and highly drinkable pale ale.

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Gatlin Says:


IMG_0847

Anthony, being such a nice guy, was thoughtful enough to bring back several Breckenridge beers from his recent trip to Denver. The first one I tried was their pale ale, and was delightfully surprised by the quality. I really wish we had more exposure to this well rounded beer and other Breckenridge offerings north of the border.

vvvv

Technical Rundown:

  • Container: 341 ml brown glass bottle
  • Alcohol: 5.70% by volume, 4.56% by weight
  • Colour: NA (deep golden)
  • Bitterness: 40 IBU

s

This American style pale ale pours an excellent golden in colour. The head generation is mild, but it hangs around producing a medium lacing before reducing to a white film. Moderate carbonation is visible. The smell is somewhat mild; floral hoppy notes are immediately present, but are underlain by a very complex array of grassy and spicy hops smells. It should be noted that this particular beer is brewed with five different varieties of hops.


In the background of this beer is a well-laid malty base, which is both sweet and toffee-like. The taste up front is a very pleasant and complex maltiness. Vanilla and oak like flavours shine through a very subtle sweetness. The dynamic hoppiness of this beer registers mid-sip, exploding in a smorgasbord of appetizing hop flavours: citrus, pine and earthy tones are all noticeable on the palette.


While this pale ale is not super bitter, it is very complex in the hop department. For a hop lover who likes big IPAs, this beer is perfect for a session. Not so bitter as to bog-down your palate, yet complex enough to keep you coming back for more.

c


IMG_0848

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Some Final Thoughts


Anthony Thinks:

Pros
  • Taste profile that is both dynamic and subtle
  • Excellent range of hop flavors
  • Extremely drinkable

Cons

  • Nose and mouthfeel are disappointing
  • A little too sweet compared to other American pale ales
  • Some flavors demand a more pronounced presence

f

3½ stars. Breckenridge is both a great beer to acclimate amateurs to the world of American craft brews, and sufficiently flavorful and complex to satisfy the more seasoned beer drinker. Overall, this is a scarily drinkable session beer that would qualify as a solid 4 stars had it a less lacklustre nose and mouthfeel


Gatlin Thinks:

Pros:

  • Highly complex flavours
  • Great balance between bitter and sweet flavours
  • Aesthetically a superb pale ale

Cons:

  • Unless you have a hop-head friend heading to Colorado you’re pretty much out-of-luck
  • If you are into big, bitter beers, this one may be a bit too subtle
s

Overall, this is a very solid 4 star American pale ale. Great for an average lager drinker looking to explore the complex flavours available in more hoppy beers. This would also be great for hop heads looking for a complex and quality session fix

f


So, What’s On Your Mind?