Mielcke & Hurtigkarl – Mikkeller (Copenhagen, Denmark)

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  • My Rating: B-

Mielcke & Hurtigkarl – Mikkeller, 8.7% ABV – 375ml., (Copenhagen, Denmark)

(non-descript bottle, just artwork)

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  • Style: (Belgian-style) Strong Ale
  • Taste: smooth creamy-crisp -> honeyed malts/caramel/chamomile -> sweet/light bitter hopped finish.
  • Where I got it : Sherbrooke Liquor Store
  • How much: $17 (after 10% off) – 375ml., June 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: probably not for the price
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: White foil covering a corked top. The label is pretty basic with simple artwork and the ingredients listed in Danish. Pours very cloudy dirty brown-orange with tons of activity, a nice lasting small ultra-creamy head, sticky lacing.

Nose: Floral honeyed citrus malts, cane/brown sugar. (6/10-pungency)

Attack: sweet-creamy-smooth-crisp mouthfeel

Mid-palate: (8/10)-sweetness, (MAIN) honey, caramel malts, chamomile

Finish: lingering honey-sweetness, light hoppy bitter finish.

Summary: A very nice Belgian-style tripel out of Denmark. The first sip surprised me with its incredible smoothness and texture. Halfway through the sweetness gets heavy.

Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout – North Coast Brewing (Fort Bragg, California, USA)

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  • My Rating: B

Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout – North Coast Brewing, 9% ABV – 12 fl.oz., (Fort Bragg, CA, USA)

on the neck, front label:

“Brewed in the tradition of the 18th century English brewers who supplied the Russian court of Catherine the Great, Old Rasputin develops a cult following wherever it goes. It’s a rich, intense brew with big, complex flavours & a warming finish.”

  • Style: (Russian-style) Imperial Stout
  • Taste: creamy bitter -> burnt malts/dark roast/chocolate -> lingering bittersweet hopped finish.
  • Where I got it : Firefly
  • How much: $3 (after 10% off) – 12 fl.oz., February 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes, definitely for stout fans

Visual: Good ‘ol Rasputin on the front label. Makes me wanna sing “Ra, Ra, Rasputin, lover of the Russian queen…” Love the 70s jams. Nonetheless, this pours almost pitch black with some brown in there, a large sized dissipating creamy head, lots of sticky lacing, decent retention, lots of activity.

Nose: roasted malts, cacao, burnt coffee. (6/10)-pungency

Attack: cream-foamy, incoming biting bitter-sweetness

Mid-palate: (6/10)-sweetness, high bitterness, light sourness, (MAIN) burnt malts, bitter roast, dark chocolate

Finish: long roasted bitterness, bittersweet light-medium-hopped finish.

Summary: This one is all about dark roast with extremely well-hidden alcoholic background. It’s quite smooth and a touch lighter than other Russian Imperial Stouts I’ve tried.

Kentucky Bourbon Round 2 – Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve (Challenger) VS Maker’s 46 (Champ)

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Round 2 of Kentucky Bourbons. Round 1 was here. Tonight we have a somewhat disparate comparison of the Knob Creek Single Barrel 9YO to a possibly-single barrel w/ oak staves 6-8YO+several months, Maker’s 46.

1) Knob Creek Single Barrel 9YO (Challenger)– 60% ABV – 750ml, (Clermont, KY, USA), $59 CAD @ BCLiquor Stores

  • made with corn, rye, barley malt.
  • each barrel is somewhat unique in flavour profile due to its placement in the warehouse and duration of barrel aging, 9 years being the minimum.
  • Double Gold @ 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition

2) Maker’s 46 – 47% ABV – 750ml, (Loretto, KY, USA), $60 CAD @ BC Liquor Stores

  • made with corn, red winter wheat, barley malt.
  • patented hand-dipped wax sealed top
  • 10 toasted French oak staves are added to the barrel and aged for 2-3 months to impart a spicier, more intense caramel and vanilla flavour profile while maintaining their signature “tip the of tongue” finish.
  • Back_To_The_Barrel_2_266

Criteria

Nose: Knob Creek is up first, and only a medium tingly nasal sensation accompanied by a medium alcohol detection; surprising for 60% abv. Mainly oaked caramel, but otherwise rather muted. In comparison, Maker’s has a noticeably rounder, denser, more aromatic nose consisting of sweeter caramel/toffee, mixed with a toastier burnt wood backdrop. KC = light-caramel+alcohol, Maker’s = thick toasted caramel. Clearly Maker’s 46 is more aromatic.

Taste & Texture: KC flavour builds up softly, starting with a lot of sweet cornmeal up front, spicy hot oaked caramel (rye), intense alcoholic heat + nasal warmth, licorice tongue numbness, extra-long smooth warm finish, all the way down to the very depths of the throat. After drinking KC @60%, Maker’s at a paltry 47% almost seems like water, no joke. Maker’s has a markedly sweeter start(winter wheat), transitioning into a much less spicy toastier oaked caramel with sourness, and about 1/2 the heat and numbness, but surprisingly jagged and unclean compared to KC. KC = light fruity caramel +HEAT, Maker’s = sweet-tangy toasted caramel. It was a hard choice, but KC edged it out with its clean finish. After a month of back-and-forth casual re-tastings, my drink of choice is Maker’s 46. 60% ABV is just way too much; you gag if you don’t swallow properly and half the time it gives me sore throat…

Final Notes:

  • Going into this I actually liked 46 more at first, but actually in essence it depends on what you like. KC is like a bullet train that rips off your toupée, while Maker’s is like a local train that has a lot of activity at every stop (sip).
  • Go Maker’s for flavour, Knob Creek for clean, round smoothness.
  • Knob Creek Single Barrel gives me occasional hiccups and a sore throat.

WINNER = Knob Creek (New Round 2 Champ) Rescinded. Maker’s 46 is still champ.

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Cranberry-Red Currant Mead – Middle Mountain Meadery (Hornby Island, BC, Canada)

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  • My Rating: B-

Cranberry-Red Currant Mead – Middle Mountain Meadery, 12% ABV – 750ml., (Hornby Island, BC, Canada)

from the Middle Mountain Mead website:

“Smooth, dry and full of flavour…. It has been the summer drink of choice and is wonderful served over ice with a splash of soda.”

  • Style: (cranberry, red currant) Flavoured Mead
  • Taste: fruity dense sugar -> alcohol/tart/cranberry/apple -> red currant/tart/off-dry finish.
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek Liquor Store
  • How much: ~$23 (after 10% off) – 750ml., sometime in 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to wine aficionados: just try it once

Visual: Synthetic cork sealed and shrink aluminum wrapped. Pours pale pink-orange, clear as water, with a few countable bubbles settled at the bottom of the glass. Quite a unique colour.

Nose: acidic fruity red-berry mixed with very easily detectable alcohol. The alcohol aroma almost overpowers the flavour notes. (8/10)-pungency

Attack: incoming cranberry fruitiness, dense sugar/alcoholic bitterness

Mid-palate: (7)-tart texture, (4)-sweetness, (6)-tanginess, (MAIN) cranberry, apple (HINT) honey.

Finish: red currant-flavoured nasal exhale, off-dry tart, mildly spiced finish.

Summary: Flavours are rather light on the palate, while the textures play more of prominent role. Very fruit-forward, a good amount of residual sugar, but the alcohol is a little too detectable.

Brooklyn Silver Anniversary Lager 1988-2013 – Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, NY, USA)

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  • My Rating: B-

Brooklyn Silver Anniversary Lager 1988-2013 – Brooklyn Brewery, 9% ABV – 1 Pint 9.4 fl.oz., (Brooklyn, NY, USA)

on the back label:

“(front label artwork: Breathing Head, Fred Tomaselli, 2002)

I first met Fred Tomaselli in the early ’90s at Kasia’s, the Bedford Avenue diner that was the main meeting place for artists living and working in Williamsburg. The brewery was in its second year, and Fred’s painting career was just starting. Today, Fred’s painting is known all over the world, and so are our beers. This Silver Anniversary llabel is based on Fred’s 2002 painting, Breathing Head. In 1988, we introduced Brooklyn Lager, an American original inspired by the beers of 19th Century New York and Vienna. Today, we salute our beginnings with this Silver Anniversary Lager, brewed to a doppelbock intensity and re-fermented in the bottle.”

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  • Style: Doppelbock
  • Taste: creamy-sweet texture -> malts/honey/cola -> bittersweet hops/malty-sweet finish.
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek Liquor Store
  • How much: $17 (after 10% off) – 1 pt 9.4 fl.oz., July 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes, it’s quite smooth

Visual: High quality cork seal and twisty-tie metal cap. Pours hazy medium-dark brown with a small but super long lasting ultra-foamy head, thin sticky lacing, a plethora of activity.

Nose: faint sweet malts and cola. (2/10)-aromatic strength.

Attack: lasting super-foamy texture,

Mid-palate: (8/10)-malty sweetness, (MAIN) caramel malts, honey, dark fruit/red fruit (HINT) cola

Finish: soft & mild-hop/malt bitterness, smooth sweet finish.

Summary: Good texture, drinkability, and flavour. Overall solid, but lacks  any memorable qualities imo.

Kentucky Bourbon Round 1 – Maker’s 46 VS Buffalo Trace

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Round 1 of Kentucky Bourbons. Strictly made in Kentucky just to keep things simple but I think I’ll mix up the price ranges from low to high just to get an idea of what’s good out there.

1) Maker’s 46 – 47% ABV – 750ml, (Loretto, KY, USA), $60 CAD @ BC Liquor Stores

  • made with corn, red winter wheat, barley malt.
  • patented wax sealed top
  • why the name 46? This is the 46th variation of 125 recipes attempted to create something new.
  • 10 toasted French oak staves are added to the barrel and aged for 2-3 months to impart a spicier, more intense caramel and vanilla flavour profile while maintaining their signature “tip the of tongue” finish.
  • my dated review of Maker’s Mark original here (C+)

VS

2) Buffalo Trace – 45% ABV – 750ml, (Franklin County, KY, USA), $40 CAD @ Aristocrat Liq 82nd (Edm)

Criteria:

Nose: Starting with Maker’s 46, I immediately get toasted oak, burnt rubber, thick caramel with a touch of honey, vanilla, and a medium level of alcohol detection, though not much nasal burn. Buffalo trace seems more “watered down” in comparison; perhaps it’s the lighter colour that’s throwing me off. In any case, BT has kind of a orange-marmalade citrus-caramel going on, but not as much caramel intensity, and a noticeably more nasal burn. Maker’s = caramel candy, BT = fruity caramel, kinda soapy. My preference is Maker’s 46.

Taste & Texture: Maker’s has boatloads of sweetness up front, mainly caramel, toasted oak, bold vanilla, lots of alcohol heat and nasal warmth, licorice numbness, followed by hot spiciness at the finish. BT feels less thicker, but a gradual build up of apple-pie fruity yet cinnamon/nutmeg-spiced, mild sourness, huge licorice/nutmeg numbness, light-medium heat, somewhat drier finish than 46. Maker’s = bold caramel + heat/length, BT = fruity-floral +numbness. It really depends on what you like in a bourbon, but I like Maker’s 46 more.

Final Notes:

  • Maker’s 46 is more expensive than Buffalo Trace ($60 vs $40, which are both OVERPRICED anyways here in BC…)
  • Maker’s has bolder flavours, and longer length, but more burn and heat.
  • Buffalo Trace is slightly smoother when sipping, and exhibits more composure,
  • Bottom line: Maker’s 46 will definitely hold up better when diluted as a mixer. Both are decent sippers, but Maker’s will stay on your palate longer.

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WINNER = Maker’s 46 (Round 1 Champ)

Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout – Muskoka Brewery (Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada)

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  • My Rating: A-

Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout Vintage 2013 – Muskoka Brewery, 8% ABV – 750ml., (Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada)

on the back label:

“What could be more reminiscent of a frigid Northern winter than an insulating beard and a warming Muskoka seasonal brew? Our Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout is rich and sturdy with roasted dark chocolate malts, real cocoa, 70% dark chocolate, and freshly harvested local cranberries. Pair that with a slightly higher alcohol content and you’ll find yourself sharing this bottle of joy all winter long. Beard not included.”

  • Style: (chocolate cranberry) Flavoured Imperial Stout
  • Taste: malty sweetness -> roasted malts/chocolate/general fruitiness -> bittersweet coffee malty finish.
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek Liquor Store
  • How much: $14 – 750ml., December 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: yes, annually
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: Metal twisty-tie top with their logo’d cork-sealed. Quality packaging and cool label. Pours jet black-brown with minimal lasting ultra-micro CO2 retention, lots and lots of active streams.

Nose: heavy roasted malts and sweet chocolate, with hints of fruit. (6/10)-aromatic strength.

Attack: silky-fizzy-tingly mouthfeel

Mid-palate: (6/10)-bright fruit-malty sweetnes, (MAIN) deep roasted malts, dark chocolate, chocolate-covered cranberry fruitiness

Finish: chocolate bittersweetness, coffee-malty finish.

Summary: This is a tasty brew that goes down quite smoothly. Pick up one annually if you can.