Moscato Puglia (NV) – Primo Amore (Italy)


  • My Rating: B

Moscato Puglia – Primo Amore, 7% ABV – 750ml, (Gambellara, Italy)

On the back label:

“This refreshing and fruity Moscato wine comes from the warm Southern vineyards of Puglia. Prmo Amore, or ‘First Love’, expresses the joy of discovery experienced when a wine drinker first encounters the sweetness and enticing fragrance of this delicate wine. It pairs well with salads, chicken and fish dishes, as well as desserts.”

  • Style: Crackling Wine
  • Taste Profile: Smooth CO2/sweetness -> apple/pear/lemon/tang -> low alcohol/soft/crisp/med-sticky finish.
  • Where I got it : Legacy (?)
  • How much: ~$20, Sometime 2011
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: yes with friends
  • Would I recommend this to sparkling wine aficionados: yes and to non-drinkers

Tasting notes: Screw-cap top but hey don’t judge a bottle by its packaging (even though we all do). I gotta say I love Moscatos/Muscat wines so I am looking forward to this one. Pours surprisingly with light carbonation (like a frizzante), very light yellow, ringed retention, a few countable streams. Bright summer fruits like peach and apricot, as well as apple/pear on the nose.

Attack: super-smooth micro CO2 mouthfeel, 8/10-sweetness, light density

Mid-palate: red apple, pear, lemon, very light tartness, medium tang, persistent soft sweetness

Finish: very low alcohol detection, soft until the end, light crisp, low-sticky sugary finish.

Overall a very approachable crackling wine. Simple yet refined, elegant and poised.

Mort Subite Framboise (Belgium)


  • My Rating: B-

Mort Subite Framboise Lambic, 4.5% ABV – 375ml, (Kobbegem, Belgium)

Ingredients: water, malted barley, wheat, raspberry juice, corn, sugar, hops.

  • Style: Fruit Lambic
  • Taste Profile: Sour/tang fruit sweetness -> rich raspberry/oak/jam/yeast -> dried fruit chew/light tart rough finish.
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $5, Sometime 2011
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: yes, but not until I’ve tried every other beer out there
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes and also to non-beer drinkers

Tasting notes: quite a list of interesting stuff in this lambic, including wheat, corn, and the sugar even though it’s a low ABV beer. It has been matured in oaken casks too. Pours almost clear copper-reddish with almost no head, not much retention, slow activity, and the last few drops being very dark like drops of blood. A SUPER-fruity sour-tangy raspberry nose with hints of oak.

Attack: lots of tang, 5/10-puckery sourness, 8/10-gentle sweetness, filtered juice-like viscosity

Mid-palate: rich kapowie fruity depth of raspberries, the tang/tartness of fresh raspberries, oak, jammy, mild yeast, building sweetness

Finish: sugar finally dissipates, mild dried raspberry fruit chew flavour, light tart, mild roughness.

1st half is quite awesome chilled. As it warms up and you get used to the flavour, it starts leaving a stickiness in your mouth and isn’t quite as smooth.

Pauwel Kwak (Belgium)


  • My Rating: B+

Pauwel Kwak – Brouwerij Bosteels, 8.4% ABV – 33cl, (Buggenhout, Belgium)

  • Style: Belgian Strong Ale
  • Taste Profile: Creamy-fizzy-sweet -> honey/caramel/malt/sarsaparilla/yeast -> light malt/light bittersweet clean finish.
  • Where I got it : Firefly
  • How much: $4, Sometime 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Tasting notes: pours a nice caramel orange with a sizeable foamy head opaque with floaties, nice retention and lacing, some active streams. Sweet honeyed malts on the nose.

Attack: Ultra creamy-silky smooth mouthfeel, fizziness in the background, 6/10-gentle sweetness.

Mid-palate: honey, caramel malts, sarsaparilla, coriander, minor yeasty, light florals.

Finish: light malty, 2/10-bitterness mixed with light sweetness, crisp, clean, slightly fizzy, light burpy.

Quite an easy-drinking beer that has soda nuances. Exceptional.

Brooklyn Local 2 (USA)


  • My Rating: B-

Brooklyn Local 2 – Brooklyn Brewery, 9.0% ABV – 1 pint 9.4 fl.oz., (Brooklyn, NY, USA)

On the back label:

“Here in Brooklyn we’ve combined European malt and hops, Belgian dark sugar, and raw wildflower honey from a New York family farm to create Brooklyn Local 2. Our special Belgian yeast adds hints of spice to the dark fruit, caramel, and chocolate flavors. After 100% bottle re-fermentation, this ale reveals a marvelous dry complexity, enjoyable by itself or at the dinner table.”

  • Style: (Belgian-style) Strong Ale
  • Taste Profile: Sweet creamy malts -> honey/brown sugar/orange/citrus oils/alcohol -> fruity malts/malty bitterness/smooth finish.
  • Where I got it : W.16th (West Vancouver)
  • How much: $12 (after 10% off), July 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: bring to a party
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Tasting notes: Tried the Local 1, now onto Local 2. Pours cola brown with a fab sizable ultra creamy-foamed head, abundant effervescence, very good head retention. Light roasted malts, sourness, and liquid honey on the nose.

Attack: burst of 9/10-sweetness, crisp, creamy-creamy mouthfeel.

Mid-palate: med-dense malts, honey, brown sugar, orange citrus oils, tingly mouthfeel, mild alcohol detection in the background.

Finish: fruity malts, mild alcohol warmth, slight malty bitterness, smooth finish with creeper.

A high quality refined beer. The sweetness gets progressively heavier if you are soloing the bottle.

Stellaport (NV) – Elephant Island Orchard Winery (BC/Canada)


  • My Rating: B

Stellaport (NV) (purchased in 2010) – Elephant Island Orchard Winery, 18% ABV – 375ml, (Naramata, BC, Canada)

from their website:

“A port-style wine made exclusively from estate grown Stella cherries. Cherries are harvested from a specific orchard site which receives concentrated southwest exposure for the duration of the ripening season, producing extremely sweet, concentrated fruit. In crafting Stellaport, we employ the Spanish technique of “solera”. Through this process a mother barrel was established in 2001. Each year we release half the barrel replacing it with the current year’s vintage.So what’s with the label, you ask? The label pays homage to that Spanish tradition of the Solera. The bottle is wrapped in headlines: moments in time that have passed since the wine has rested in barrel. A time capsule on the outside, and inside, and combined… a brilliant conversation starter.”

  • Style: (cherry) Port (style)
  • Taste Profile: Sweet tangy fruitiness -> alcohol/deep cherry/spiced oak -> chocolate/tart/sour/alcoholic finish
  • Where I got it : Liberty Wines / Liquor Depot (Vancouver)
  • How much: $28, Sometime in 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: perhaps in a cocktail
  • Would I recommend this to dessert wine aficionados: yes

Tasting notes: Fruit wines are always exciting to me. Grapes are cool but there are other cool fruits too; cherries being one of them. To me cherries bring to mind deep, luscious flavours as well as a stained shirt when I’m not careful. Anyways this pours a very dark red with nice legs. A tingly-tart, fruit jammy, oaked cherry on the nose.

Attack: 8/10-medium aggressive sweetness, tangy, gently dissipating/not cloying

Mid-palate: Soft alcohol detection nicely balanced with cherry juice, green vegetal notes, deep lush flavour, lightly spiced oak

Finish: mild chocolate, light tartness, 4/10-sourness with a smooth med-alcoholic finish, with just a touch of tannic roughness in the mouth.

Medium complexity, medium-high depth, good transitions, good sippability, good interest factor since it’s a fruit wine. It’s definitely more elegant, supple, and sippable than your average cherry liqueur. Stay tuned for some cherry liqueur reviews soon.

Old Engine Oil – Harviestoun Brewery (Scotland)


  • My Rating: B+

Old Engine Oil – Harviestoun Brewery, 6.0% ABV – 330ml, (Alva, Central, Scotland)

On the back label:

“This rich, lubricious, black beer reminded Harviestoun’s original brewer of the engine oil he was familiar with having worked for Ford. A modern take on the 19th century porter style, it is complex, powerful but elegant; distinctive notes of chocolate and coffee lead to a bittersweet aftertaste. Enjoy it with strong, hard cheese, slow-cooked lamb or black pudding. Best serve chilled. Old Engine Oil was awarded a Gold Medal at the International Beer Challenge 2009.”

  • Style: Porter
  • listed in “1001 beers you must taste before you die” book
  • Taste Profile: bittersweet rich depth -> chocolate/malt/coffee/charcoal -> bittersweet/sour/mellow finish
  • Where I got it : Legacy
  • How much: $5 (after 10% off), January 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Tasting notes: I like their Ola-dubh barrel-aged series, especially their 30-year old. So with that in mind I kind of have some positive expectations of this one. Anyhow, this pours supa-black with just a shade of brown, minimal micro CO2 head, not much retention, no visible CO2 activity. Very strong rich aromatic roasted coffee on the nose.

Attack: bittersweet mild 5/10-sweetness, amazing richness & depth up front,

Mid-palate: mellow bittersweet chocolate malts, roasted coffee, charcoal

Finish: bittersweet, mildly sour, smooth & mellow

Medium complexity, med-high depth, good carry, good transitions, great drinkability. This and Russian Imperial Stouts are my kind of beer.

Rossignol Blackberry Mead 2008 (Canada)


  • My Rating: B+

Blackberry Mead 2008 – Rossignol Winery, 11% ABV – 375ml, (Little Sands, Prince Edward Island, Canada)


  • Style: (fruit) Mead
  • Taste Profile:  burst sweetness -> cassis/blackberry/jammy clover honey -> light alcohol/warmth/mild sticky finish.
  • Where I got it : Sherbrooke (??)
  • How much: ~$20, sometime in 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: yes since now apparently now their ABV is 13%
  • Would I recommend this to dessert wine aficionados: yes

Tasting notes: Firstly I like the fact that it’s Canadian (yay!) and that it comes from the mysterious far east. I’m hoping to have the opportunity to try the rest of the fruit wines in their portfolio (fingers crossed!). Moving on, this wine pours dark cassis purple/red with a thicker than water viscosity. Amazing fruity sweet cassis nose with hints of honey and alcohol.

Attack: starts slightly syrupy, coating your mouth, a burst of 8/10-sweetness and not too cloying.

Mid-palate: Deep and rich cassis, blackberry, clover honey notes, jammy

Finish: tingly light-med alcohol detection, gentle warmth, clean slightly sticky finish in the mouth.

Medium complexity, med depth, good transitions, good carry, good sippability. Would be excellent with pie, vanilla ice cream, or custard. Very nice & pleasantly satisfied.

Brooklyn Local 1 (USA)


  • My Rating: B

Brooklyn Local 1 – Brooklyn Brewery, 9% ABV – 1 pint 9.4 fl.oz., (Brooklyn, NY, USA)

On the back label:

“In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, we forge barley malt and hops from Germany, aromatic raw sugar from Mauritius and yeast from Belgium into our latest beer, Brooklyn Local 1. Behind the full golden color you’ll find an alluring aroma, a dynamic complex of flavors. Belgian flair, Brooklyn fortitude and a dusting of yeast after 100% bottle re-fermentation. Enjoy it locally or globally, as an aperitif or with your favorite dishes.”

  • Style: (Belgian-style) Strong Ale
  • Taste Profile:  bitter-sour malts -> grapefruit/banana/coriander/bready -> burpy/alcoholic finish. (creeper)
  • Where I got it : W.16th (West Vancouver)
  • How much: $12 (after 10% off), July 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: only shared with friends ’cause of the wow factor of popping the cork
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Tasting notes: I love the label – simple yet eye-catchingly unforgettable. Pours translucent golden orange with a superb large creamed-foamy head, very sticky lacing, good thick layer of retention, lots of active streams hugging the glass. Beautiful inviting orange/tangerine citrus aromas along with mild sour malts on the nose. Drinks with a rounded crispness up front, tingly mouthfeel, bitter-sour malts, 6/10-balanced sweetness, mid-palate consists of grapefruit, banana, coriander, mild bready malts, finishing burpy, off-dry with hints of alcohol and vanilla. Medium complexity, medium depth, good transitions, good carry, good drinkability. Creeper effect of the 9% ABV fo sho.

Innis & Gunn Original (Scotland)


  • My Rating: B-

Innis & Gunn Original (77-day matured), 6.6% ABV – 330ml, (Edinburgh, Scotland)

-So the story goes that the process of barrel-aging their beer was discovered by a fortunate accident. They were contracted by a Scotch producer to condition their empty Scotch barrels with beer so that they could produce a Scotch with beer nuances. Instead of pouring out their beer they found it to be quite delicious and thus bottled it to create a breed – barrel-aged beer.

  • Style: Barrel- Aged Ale
  • Taste Profile: Very sweet caramel malts -> honey/oak -> citrus/creamy wood & malt finish.
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $2.85, Winter 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: yeah as part of a ltd ed. pack if I want the rare one
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Tasting notes: probably my 6th or nth tasting but 1st formal write-up. Pours clear toffee brown with a nice small micro foamy head, ringed retention and lots of CO2 action. Mostly malts on the nose with a bit of sourness. Drinks with aggressive 9/10-sweetness up front, mildly cloying, fading into malts, caramel/toffee, fizzy, honey, mild oak/wood, light citrus at the finish along with creamy wooded malty mouthfeel. Medium complexity, med depth, good transitions, decent carry, good drinkability. Can only do one per session because the sweetness weighs on you.

Scaldis Noël (aka Bush de Noël) (Belgium)


  • My Rating: B

Scaldis Noël (aka Bush de Noël), 12% ABV – 25cl, (Belgium)

on the back label:

“The Strongest Christmas Belgian Beer. Brewed exceptionally for the Christmas period, Scaldis Noel is a brilliant, red-amber ale that will delight the most demanding connoisseurs.”

  • Style: Belgian Strong Ale
  • Taste Profile: sweet brown sugar malts/alcohol -> caramel/honey/chrysanthemum -> light malty bitter finish.
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores (no longer sold)
  • How much: ~$5, Winter 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yah

Tasting notes: It’s not exactly Christmas in February but I figure I’d rather have this now than wait until the end of this year. Besides, it has been sitting on my shelf for years already. Pours cloudy light brown with lots of sediment/floaties, small head, ringed retention, many active streams. Strong brown sugar, prune, and malts on the nose. Drinks with 7/10-sweet, heavy subdued alcohol up front, partially fizzy, tastes of brown sugar malts, caramel, toasted honey, chrysanthemum, finishing light-med malty bitter and clean. Alcohol is superbly hidden beneath the layers of flavour. Medium complexity, med-high depth, good transitions, good carry, good drinkability.