Fresh Hopwired IPA – 8 Wired Brewing (Marlborough, New Zealand)

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  • My Rating: C

Fresh Hopwired Wet Hopped IPA – 8 Wired Brewing, 7.3% ABV –500ml, (Marlborough, New Zealand)

On the back label:

“Over the past few years, HopWired has more or less become the BENCHMARK for all New Zealand hopped IPAs. It is a pure expression of NZ ‘terroir’ for better and worse. In 2012 we decided to mix it up a little and make a wet hopped version of this modern classic. So hotly demanded and so enjoyable to make, we decided to turn the creation of this beer into an annual event.

One beautiful morning in March we drove to Motueka and picked up a truckload (literally) of freshly harvested ‘wet’ Motueka hops. We went straight back to the brewery and brewed some beer. Two weeks later we did the same thing, but this time the hop was NELSON SAUVIN, (the two hops mature at different times). The two beers were blended and here it is, a refreshing take on New Zealand IPA.”

  • Style: (wet hopped) IPA
  • Taste: hoppy/creamy -> passion fruit/citrus -> grapefruit bitter/lingering hoppy bitter finish.
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek
  • How much: $10 (after 10% off) – 500ml., July 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: only if you can handle bitter IPAs

Visual: Pours cloudy golden orange with a small creamy head, very long thin layer of retention, lacing, lots of steady activity.

Nose: strawberries and faint citrus. (3)-aromatic strength

Attack: incoming hops, creamy mouthfeel

Mid-palate: (4)-sweetness that quickly dissipates, (MAIN) passion fruit, grapefruit (HINT) peach, light caramel malt

Finish: sharp grapefruit bitterness, lingering hoppy bitterness.

Summary:  This one is all about the heavy bitter hops that last longer than the energizer bunny. Mainly citrusy with some passion fruit flavour in there but way too hoppy bitter without the sweetness/brightness to balance it out. Too heavy to sip alone. (Note: numbers above are on a 10-point weak-strong scale)

Craftsman Chocolate Oatmeal Stout – Renaissance Brewing (Marlborough, New Zealand)

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  • My Rating: B

Craftsman Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (2012 edition) – Renaissance Brewing, 4.9% ABV –500ml, (Marlborough, New Zealand)

On the back label:

“Craftsman is our Chocolate oatmeal stout. To brew it we add a proportion of organic oatmeal to the mash for a velvety smooth mouthfeel. and plenty of dark roasted coca nibs to the mash,boil and fermentor. The result is a rich, intense stout with notes of dark chocolate that gradually gives way to a subtle hop finish. With malt, coffee and chocolate flavours, Craftsman pairs well with any dessert, or match it with hearty fare such as venison and beef.”

Ingredients: water, malted barley, hops, OATMEAL, COCOA, VANILLA.

  • Style: (Chocolate, Oatmeal) Flavoured Stout
  • Taste: syrupy richness -> mocha/vanilla/roast/malts/cola -> alcohol/malty-roasted bitter finish.
  • Where I got it : 16th Liquor Store
  • How much: $9 (after 10% off) – 500ml., September 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: “Winner of the Australian International Beer Award 2011 Champion Stout”. Pours super dark brown with barely any head, very thin ringed retention, some activity on the surface.

Nose: Very deep roasted coffee and liquid chocolate. (10)-aromatic strength.

Attack: deep richness, syrupy mouthfeel

Mid-palate: (6)-sweetness, (MAIN) mocha, vanilla, roasted coffee, malts, cola

Finish: light alcohol, malty-roasted bitter finish.

Summary:  A very nice balance of bittersweet flavours. Decent body but more creaminess and a bit thicker mouthfeel would’ve made this super awesome. (Note: numbers above are on a 10-point weak-strong scale)

You’re My Boy Blue! – Howe Sound Brewing (Squamish, BC, Canada)

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  • My Rating: C+

You’re My Boy Blue! Blueberry Wheat Ale – Howe Sound Brewing, 4.5% ABV – 1L, (Squamish, BC, Canada)

On the front-side label:

“A crisp, refreshing blueberry wheat ale, brewed with malted barley, white wheat and all-natural blueberry puree. This delicious, unfiltered ale pours a light shade of pink, and offers a mild fruit aroma. A great choice for summer!” (even though it’s winter now…)

  • Style: (Blueberry, Wheat) Fruit Beer
  • Taste: fruity creamy -> sweet blueberry/tangy lemon/wheat/barley -> fading body/acidic citrus finish.
  • Where I got it : Legacy
  • How much: $10 (after 10% off) – 1L., August 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: This is a collaboration beer with Vancouver’s Tap & Barrel bar/lounge; Nice place, their food is decent but on the greasy side. Informative sticker label on a bail-top bottle, I  love to reuse these things after cleaning and sanitizing them. Pours cloudy pale maroon with a ridiculous foamy head, lots of lacing, and tons of activity.

Nose: faint crushed sour blueberries with a hint of barnyard. (3)-aromatic strength.

Attack: incoming fruity-sour berries, very creamy mouthfeel

Mid-palate: (6)-sweetness,tangy/sourness, (MAIN) blueberry, lemon, wheat malt (HINT) banana, barley

Finish: fading body, semi-sweet acidic yeasty citrusy-sour finish

Summary: Sometimes one-off beers are gimmicky but this one actually has some substance. A decent balance of real fruitiness, sweet, sour, alcohol, texture and body. (Note: numbers above are on a 10-point weak-strong scale)

Forest Fruits – Wychwood Brewery (Witney, England)

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  • My Rating: FAIL

Forest Fruits Mixed Berry Fruit Beer – Wychwood Brewery, 4.2% ABV – 500ml, (Witney, England)

On the back label:

“A traditionally crafted beer, infused with mixed Bramble berries to deliver a truly distinctive, refreshingly fruity flavour to savour.”

  • Style: (Bramble Berry) Fruit Beer
  • Taste: artificial sweetener -> red bull/apple -> rough/burpy/medicinal finish.
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $3.50 – 500ml., September 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: A beautiful label on their own branded bottle. Pours pale orange with almost no head nor retention, almost no activity either.

Nose: a very fruity fieldberry nose, a mixture of raspberry-blackberry-strawberry, though somewhat perfume-like. (7)-aromatic strength.

Attack: aspartame-like, medicinal

Mid-palate: fizzy texture, (3)-sweetness, (MAIN) club soda, elderflower, red bull, watered-down apple juice

Finish: rough on the palate, burpy, light apple-medicinal finish.

Summary:  It drinks like an under-sweetened energy drink. The body is flat, flavour is awful, and nothing like any bramble berries I’ve ever tasted. NOT recommended. (Note: numbers above are on a 10-point weak-strong scale)

Saison – St Feuillien (Le Roeulx, Belgium)

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  • My Rating: B-

Saison Belgian Farmhouse Ale – St Feuillien, 6.5% ABV – 75cl, (La Roeulx, Belgium)

On the back label:

“St-Feuillien’s Saison is what the Belgians call a beer of the terroir, a traditional farmhouse ale with all the rich savour of the fertile land of southern Belgium. Saison, a warm golden blonde beer, is a top-fermented classique. Thanks to secondary fermentation in the bottle, Saison has an unmistakable flavour full of rich nuances and a slight tang.”

Ingredients: brewwater, barley malt, sugar, hop, yeast, VITAMIN C. (that’s a first I’ve seen for a beer)

  • Style: Saison
  • Taste: creamy/tangy -> honey/yeast malts/lemon/coriander -> grapefruit bitter hoppy/citrus malt finish.
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek
  • How much: $9 (after 10% off) – 750ml., September 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: Poppable cork secured with an aluminum twisty muzzle. Lots of sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Pours hazy light marmalade orange with a super lasting ultra foamy head, lots of activity, sticky lacing.

Nose: Bright golden malts with a nice hit of honeyed chamomile. (6)-aromatic strength.

Attack: incoming rich bitter hoppiness, cream/fizzy mouthfeel

Mid-palate: (6)-tangy/zingy, (MAIN) honey, yeasty malts, lemon zest (HINT) coriander, chamomile

Finish: (3)-soft/subtle grapefruit bitter hops, mildly dry light citrus malt finish.

Summary: An expert balance of booze-tang-body-texture-drinkablity. Very appetizing and recommended. (Note: numbers above are on a 10-point weak-strong scale)

Darkside of the Stoke Coffee Stout – Mt. Begbie Brewing (Revelstoke, BC, Canada)

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  • My Rating: C

Darkside of the Stoke Coffee Stout – Mt. Begbie Brewing, 4.8% ABV – 650ml, (Revelstoke, BC, Canada)

On the front-side label:

“A sinister blend of roasted malts combined with REVELSTOKE’S STOKE ROASTED COFFEE yields a complex rich flavour that can only be found on the darkside.”

  • Style: (Coffee) Flavoured Stout
  • Taste: crispness -> bitter roast coffee/malts/cola -> roughness/med-bitter coffee finish.
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $5 – 650ml., November 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: no

Visual: Neat artwork but label and bottle seem a bit plain compared to what’s out there today. Ah well only $5. Pours cola black with virtually no head, super thin ringed retention, barely visible activity.

Nose: fresh deep roast coffee on the nose. (10)-aromatic  strength.

Attack: sharp crispness, incoming dark malts

Mid-palate: (5)-sweetness, medium coffee bitterness -> med-high coffee sourness, (MAIN) burnt-roasted coffee, malts (HINT) cola, licorice

Finish: (6)-palate roughness, fizzy/burpy, medium-bitter coffee finish.

Summary: This drinks like a chilled fizzy coffee-cola with a noticeable alcoholic kick. Overall an average brew that has a decent taste but lacks in texture and depth.(Note: numbers above are on a 10-point weak-strong scale)

Floris Mango – Brouwerij Huyghe (Melle, Belgium)

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  • My Rating: D+

Floris Mango – Brouwerij Huyghe, 3.6% ABV – 330ml, (Melle, Belgium)

Ingredients: water, barley malt, wheat, 30% mango juice, hops, yeast, aroma.

  • Style: (Mango) Fruit Beer
  • Taste: sugary sweetness -> candied mango/wheat/barley -> mango exhale/half-sweet cloying finish.
  • Where I got it : Sherbrooke (EDM)
  • How much: $4 (after 10% off) – 330ml., June 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: not quite

Visual: Sealed with a glued-on foil and cap. Pours translucent hazy golden orange with almost no head , very thin retention, some slow steady streams.

Nose: sour-tangy wheaty candied mango juice. Seems artificial but aromatic nonetheless. (9)-aromatic strength.

Attack: cloying-super (10)-sweetness

Mid-palate: tangy-sourness, (MAIN) mango candy (HINT) wheat, barley malt

Finish: fruity real-mango exhale, partially (5)-cloying sweet sugary finish.

Summary:  This drinks like a COOLER, not really like a fruit beer or lambic. The sweetness is way too aggressive from the start and persists until some of the fruit flavour shines through but only momentarily at the finish. Casual beer drinkers may like it. (Note: all numbers above are on a 10-point scale, with 1 being weak and 10 being the strongest)

Libra Honey Wine – Meadow Vista Meadery (Kelowna, BC, Canada)

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  • My Rating: C+

Libra 2008 – Meadow Vista Meadery, 11.5% ABV – 375ml, (Kelowna, BC, Canada)

On the back label:

“Yummy. Smart and Sexy. Luscious and Seductive. This dessert wine has a lovely weight that coats the tongue with perfect balance of sweetness and acidity. The signature back palate of honey has a prelude of apricot, plum and hazelnut.”

  • Style: (Mead) Dessert Wine
  • Taste: alcoholic/watery -> red apple/apricot/honey/plum -> alcohol bitterness/warm tangy apple finish.
  • Where I got it : Hotel Eldorado (Kelowna)
  • How much: ~$22 – 375ml., Summer 2011
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to dessert wine aficionados: no

Visual: Simple and clean-looking sticker label with rounded edges. Pours clear light golden yellow.

Nose: red apple juice with apple cider vinegar. (3)-aromatic strength.

Attack: alcoholic heat, watery mouthfeel (not luscious)

Mid-palate: (7)-sweetness, (MAIN) red apple, apricot, honey, plum (HINT) lemon

Finish: alcohol bitterness, warm tangy-sweet apple finish.

Summary: Nice flavours and balance but sadly has a thin texture that doesn’t quite stick to your palate.  (Note: all numbers above are on a 10-point scale, with 1 being weak and 10 being the strongest)

Hop Head Black IPA – Tree Brewing (Kelowna, BC, Canada)

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  • My Rating: B

Hop Head Black IPA – Tree  Brewing, 8.2% ABV – 650ml, (Kelowna, BC, Canada)

  • Style: Black IPA
  • Taste: biting hops/creamy -> malt/choco/bitter roast coffee -> coffee malt exhale/grapefruity bitter hoppy finish.
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek
  • How much: $7 (after 10% off) – 650ml., July 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: Too bad no info about the beer itself, but a nice printed ink on the bottle. Pours coffee black with a nice smallish creamy dissipating head, thin layer of retention, sticky lacing.

Nose: strong thick malts and coffee/chocolate on the nose, very nice. (8)-aromatic strength.

Attack: biting hops, creamy-fizzy mouthfeel,

Mid-palate: (8)-caramel sweetness (MAIN) malt, chocolate, bitter roast coffee (HINT) pine, licorice

Finish: coffee malt exhale, lingering (6)-bitter grapefruity hops.

Summary: Good complexity. The body is almost there, just a wee thin but the good transitions and depth make up for it. Better than the Black Christmas CDA from Parallel 49. Just like a bittersweet coffee with a good kick to it. (Note: all numbers above are on a 10-point scale, with 1 being weak and 10 being the strongest)

The Stump Jump Sticky (Late Harvest) – d’Arenberg Winery (McLaren Vale, Australia)

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  • My Rating: B+

The Stump Jump Sticky Chardonnay-Riesling-Semillon-Pinot Gris 2010 – d’Arenberg Winery,11.5% ABV – 375ml, (McLaren Vale, Australia)

On the back label:

“The grapes for the Stump Jump Sticky are sourced from selected Botrytis infected vineyards in McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills. Botrytis is a vine disease that if carefully managed removes moisture from the grapes leaving behind sugar, fruit acids and minerals resulting in a luscious sweet wine with intense concentrated fruit flavours.”

    • The winery was established in 1912, now over 100 years of winemaking experience and history. Check out the youtube vid:
  • Style: (Late Harvest-Botrytis) Dessert Wine
  • Taste: fruity red apple -> passion fruit/lemon zest/alcohol -> warm/clean fruity finish.
  • Where I got it : Liberty Wines
  • How much: $18 (but $15 on the label, overcharged?) – 375ml., September 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to dessert wine aficionados: yes

Visual: They state the label was inspired by an optometrist’s eye chart; interesting but the effect isn’t really there since the font on the bottom row is not much smaller than the top row, imo. Screw-cap top with high quality labeling everywhere. Pours golden apple juice yellow with minute suspended sedimentation.

Nose: Super bright & clean red apple, honey, mild floralness. (8)-aromatic strength

Attack: med-dense fruity sugars, immediate red apple

Mid-palate: (8)-sweetness, (MAIN) red apple, passion fruit, lemon zest, mild alcohol detection (hint) papaya, yellow peach.

Finish: (3)-alcohol warmth, clean dense-fruity finish

Summary: An extremely approachable and sippable wine with manageable sweetness and excellent balance. Great price point for a high quality wine that reminds me of the depth you get from Icewines. (Note: all numbers above are on a 10-point scale, with 1 being weak and 10 being the strongest)