Coffee Blonde – Spinnakers Brewpub (Victoria, BC, Canada)

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Coffee Blonde – Spinnakers Brewpub, 4.5% ABV – 25 IBU, 650ml., (Victoria, BC, Canada) (*local BC craft beer)

-some info on cold brew coffee


on the front-right label:

“COFFEE BLONDE. A slightly different take on a beer and coffee, this beer starts with a crisp pilsner malt base and gets its roasty, chocolatey flavours from Fernwood coffee cold brew and Sirene cocoa husk. Add to that a nice creamy mouthfeel”

Ingredients: aquifer water, malted barley, Fernwood cold brew coffee, Sirene cocoa husk, hops, yeast.

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  • Style: (flavoured – Fernwood cold brew coffee) Blonde Ale
  • Taste: Thick coffee roasted barley chocolate mild oyster exhale
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $6.70 CAD – 650ml., February 2016
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: nope

Visual: Pours golden yellow orange with a massive, forever-lasting huge foam-bubbly head, thick retention, clusters of very active streams – beautiful sight.

Nose: pukey sour coffee acidity – background lager malt (lvl-6)-pungency

Attack: super sharp crisp bite

Mid-palate: fizzy-creamy, grainy pils barley malt, (lvl-3-sweetness), nutty cocoa

Finish: cold brew soft coffee w/o bitterness, lingering sweet barley malt

Summary: Crisp, smooth and drinkable but not terribly complex or deep. An interesting twist to a would be boring blonde, but still rather weak in body.

McCools Hazelnut Porter – Hearthstone Brewing Co. (North Vancouver, BC, Canada)

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McCools Hazelnut Porter – Hearthstone Brewing Company, 5.0% ABV – 25 IBUs, 500 ml., (North Vancouver, BC, Canada) (*local BC craft beer)


printed on the back of the can:

“The Celts believed hazelnuts gave one wisdom. There is an ancient tale where nine hazelnut trees grew around a sacred pool, dropping into the water nuts that were eaten by salmon, who absorbed the wisdom.

A Druid teacher caught one of these special salmon and asked a student to cook the fish, but not to eat it. While he was cooking it, a blister formed and the pupil used his thumb to burst it, which he then sucked to cool, thereby absorbing the fish’s wisdom. This boy was called Fin McCool and he went on to become on of the most heroic leaders in Gaelic mythology.” (also found on wiki)

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  • Style: (flavoured? – hazelnut) Porter
  • Taste: Straightforward dry roast bitter malt generic nutty
  • Where I got it : High Point / N. Burnaby
  • How much: $4.00 CAD – 500ml., February 2016
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: nah

Visual: Pours dark brown with minimal head, half layer of micro retention, thicker viscosity, clusters of micro streams around the perimeter.

Nose: nutty malt deep roast. (lvl-4)-pungency

Attack: crisp, slick-mildly thicker viscosity

Mid-palate: dry bitter deep roast barley, continued-crispness/tingly-fizzy, (lvl-3-sweetness), nutty-woody, caramel malty

Finish: lingering roast bittersweetness, subtle hop bitterness.

Summary: Decent big roast flavour with generic nutty bitterness. Straightforward, not that intriguing.

Gray Monk Odyssey III (Port-Style) (BC, Canada)

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  • My Rating: [B-]

Odyssey III – Gray Monk Estate Winery – NV (solera process since 2005), 19.8% ABV, 500 ml., (Lake Country, BC, Canada) (*VQA BC wine)


printed on the back of the bottle:

“In the true family tradition of Gray Monk, Odyssey III signifies three generations of commitment to bringing the very best to your table.  Full bodied, rich and elegant flavours reminiscent of black cherry, raspberry and chocolate. This fortified red wine is equally delicious being served on its own, with Stilton and other blue cheeses or with full-flavoured fruit desserts.”

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  • Style: (Port / Port-Style) Fortified Wine
  • Taste: Tangy alcoholic cherry raspberry chocolate warmth tart
  • Where I got it : Liquor Barn, N. Burnaby
  • How much: $25 CAD (after 5% off) ($17.39 @Gray Monk online) – 500ml., January 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: nah
  • Would I recommend this to port wine aficionados: good flavour for a good price

Visual: (NV, cellared for 4 years). Pours dark magenta, slow runny legs.

Nose: cab sauv red wine, tingly-airy dark fruity alcoholic background, (lvl-3)-pungency

Attack: immediate tangy alcohol hit, dark fruity tangy acidity

Mid-palate: woody black cherry, rich fruity (lvl-6-sweetness), raspberry, continued eau-de-vie alcohol

Finish: chocolate, soft tartness, alcohol heat/throat warmth, raisin exhale

Summary: All flavours as advertised, solid richness, solid drinkability. A tad watery in the entry, could use a bit more body in the mids.

Domaine de Terrebrune Bonnezeaux 2006 (Late Harvest) (France)

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  • My Rating: [C+]

Domaine de Terrebrune Bonnezeaux 2006, 13% ABV, 500 ml., (Notre-Dame-d’Allençon, France)


from the Domaine de Terrebrune website:

“Famous desert wine, the colour is gilded with green reflections. The nose is fine and subtle, in mouth it expresses the acacia, fern, and citrus fruits. In age the flavours change : honey, lime and stone taste with rifle. Serve it in medium temperature : 12 °C, taste it in apéritif, with a foie gras, white meats, strong cheeses, blue cheeses. A young Bonnezeaux can be serve with shellfish (lobster). The Bonnezeaux is a high-class wine of guard, sometime centenary but ten years is good enough. This wine represents the Chenin from the Loire, an outstanding wine, something very rare.”

-actually, I prefer it at room temperature, around 21°C, so that it becomes slightly more viscous and you get more deep warmth.


  • Style: (Bonnezeaux – Chenin Blanc) Late Harvest Dessert Wine
  • Taste: Tangy sweet light sour acidic apple lime honey nectarine short length
  • Where I got it : Liberty Wines, Granville Island
  • How much: $38 CAD, (after 10% off) – 500ml., August 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: nah
  • Would I recommend this to dessert wine aficionados: not worth the $$$

Visual: (2006 Vintage, cellared for 10 years). Pours clear light golden orange.

Nose: tangy citrusy sweet apple-pear. (lvl-4)-pungency

Attack: chilled=thin viscosity, warm=slightly thick, incoming sugars

Mid-palate: sweet-sour acidic tang, dense (lvl-7-sweetness) sugar hit, medium body, apple, lime, honey, alcohol zingy

Finish: nectarine exhale, woody throat warmth, short flavour finish

Summary: Not particularly memorable since I had a fantastic Donnafugata Ben Ryé Passito yesterday [A-]. Somewhat lacking in full bodyness and length, the flavours are simplistically good but over too quickly.

Donnafugata Ben Ryé 2009 Passito di Pantelleria (Sicily, Italy)

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  • My Rating: [A-]

Ben Ryé 2009 Passito di Pantelleria, 14.5% ABV, 375 ml., (Sicily, Italy)


on the back label:

“Made from Zibibbo (Muscat of Alexandria) grapes ripened and well dried in the sun and wind of the island. Sipping wine, perfect with herbed cheeses, fois gras and sweet preparations of the Sicilian tradition. Try it with gianduia. Serve at 14°C.”

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  • Style: (Passito di Pantelleria) Dessert Wine
  • Taste: Rich warm clove orange peel apricot honey fig
  • Where I got it : Liberty Wines, Vancouver
  • How much: $49 CAD, only $1 off – 375ml., May 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: delicious, but unlikely
  • Would I recommend this to dessert wine aficionados: yes

Visual: (2009 Vintage, cellared for 7 years). Pour dark oak brown.

Nose: candied orange, caramel florals. (lvl-6)-pungency

Attack: syrupy slick mouthfeel, incoming dense sugary tang

Mid-palate: clove spiced orange peel, (lvl-7-sweetness) non-cloying, controlled tangy acidity, apricot, almost woody

Finish: soft throat warmth, honey, caramel fig

Summary: Superbly balanced. Lots of warm depth with delicious rounded orange-apricot and a solid acidic backbone.

Sky High Grand Fir Ale – Phillips Brewing Co. (Victoria, BC, Canada)

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Sky High Grand Fir Ale – Phillips Brewing Company, 5.0% ABV, 650 ml., (Victoria, BC, Canada) (*local BC craft beer)


on the front-right label:

“If you’re pining for a sappy sipper you may be barking up the wrong tree. Branching out from the usual, freshly harvested grand fir boughs were added to the kettle, accenting this bright ale with notes of citrus & evergreen.”

Ingredients: water, barley, hops, yeast, grand fir boughs, grand fir essential oils.

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  • Style: (herb flavoured –  Grand Fir) Spice/Herb Ale
  • Taste: Citrusy almost lemony grand fir grassy sweet barley malt
  • Where I got it : Bottle Jockey / N. Burnaby
  • How much: $7.85 CAD (after 10% off) – 650ml., February 2016
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: like fir? Be my guest

Visual: Pours clear golden straw yellow, almost no head, thin large island retention, several of steady large CO2 bubble streams. Suspended sediment in the last pour.

Nose: grassy grand fir, light woody, sweet lager malt. (lvl-4)-pungency

Attack: almost creamy, incoming sweet barley

Mid-palate: fizzy-tingly, (lvl-4-sweetness), citrusy grand fir tang, grand fir oil, almost lemony, light sweet barley malt

Finish: grand fir grassy exhale, lager malty, tongue numbness

Summary: Interesting prominent grand fir flavour profile that works, but the barley base is fairly basic and non-spectacular.

Cranberry Wine – LuLu Island Winery (Richmond, BC, Canada)

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  • My Rating: C+

Cranberry Wine 2007 – Lulu Island Winery, 11% ABV – 375ml, (Richmond, BC, Canada)


on the back label & box:

“This festive wine has a beautifully bright cranberry colour that will enhance anyone’s dinner table! It has a delightfully fruity aroma which compliments it’s mouth-watering flavour, slightly sharp with a dry, acidic finish. This wine is a local favourite, as our cranberries are harvested right at home, here in Richmond, British Columbia. This is a great wine to serve with Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey, but don’t limit yourself to the holidays! Our cranberry wine is also perfect to serve everyday, with BBQ hamburgers, pork, or wild game.”


  • Style: (Cranberry) Fruit Wine
  • Taste: Tart-tangy fruity acidic cranberry more tartness
  • Where I got it : @Winery
  • How much: $29 (after 10% off) – 375ml., March 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to dessert wine aficionados: yes

Visual: (2007 Vintage = 9 years old, cellared for 4 years) Pours translucent ruby red.

Nose: fruity cranberry juice nose, grassy tangy acidity. (lvl-6)-pungency

Attack: fruity tart

Mid-palate: lemon balm grassy, highly tart bright cranberry, alcohlic tangy wine acidity, (lvl-3-sweetness)

Finish: cranberry fruity, residual tart-tangy, mild alcoholic throat warmth

Conclusion: A decently complex cranberry flavour, though it’s high tartness makes this more suitable as an aperitif with appetizers or with a meal – not that great solo.

Señor Saison – Coronado Brewing Co. (Coronado, CA, USA)

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Señor Saison – Coronado Brewing Company, 6.5% ABV, 1 pint 6 fl.oz., (Coronado, California, USA)

“Crown Series – Belgian-style ale brewed with jalapeño and piloncillo

-In case you’re like me and wondering what is piloncillo, it’s unrefined cane sugar packed into a cone shape.

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printed on the back of the bottle:

“Just south of our brewery, Baja California’s burgeoning spirit of craft brewing reminds us a lot of our own Meixcan brewers looking to make a name for their region. We’ve enjoyed keeping an eye on the exciting new beers coming out of Tijuana, Mexicali, Ensenada and Valle de Guadalupe, and celebrate the rise of craft beer south of the border with this reimagined farmhouse ale. Brewed with piloncillo and jalapeño peppers, it combines a touch of spice with fruity esters derived from Belgian yeast. Like the brews of our cross-border amigos, this cerveza takes craft to new and interesting places.”

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  • Style: (flavoured – jalapeno, piloncillo) Saison
  • Taste: Bubbly-fizzy non-spicy jalapeno banana clove wheat malt tangerine bloated
  • Where I got it : Liquor Barn / N. Burnaby
  • How much: $10 CAD (after 10% off) – 1 pt. 6 fl.oz., October 2015
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados:

Visual: Pours amber orange with a large creamy head, half sticky lacing, a foamy layer of retention with clusters upon clusters of fast activity.

Nose: orange citrusy banana wheat malt, jalapeno. (lvl-5)-pungency

Attack: crisp-full cream-fizzy

Mid-palate: jalapeño vegginess without the heat, (lvl-5-sweetness), bubbly beer head texture, light pukey-tangy mixed with banana clove wheat malt, tangerine citrusy

Finish: very subtle jalapeño heat, banana wheat malt grainy exhale.

Conclusion: Too much CO2 in there combined with the citrusy wheat malt makes it unbalanced and leaves you feeling bloated.  Jalapeno flavour plays a subservient role to the prominent banana-clove profile, I didn’t find this brew particularly enticing. A small notch above average.

Killer Red Fresh Hop IRA – Double Mountain Brewery (Hood River, OR, USA)

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Killer Red Fresh Hop India Red Ale, 7.3% ABV – 85 IBU, 1 pint 0.9 fl.oz., (Hood River, Oregon, USA)


on the front-left label:

“It’s harvest time again, which means just-picked hops from the Willamette Valley. Notes of apple, pine and orange dominate the intense flavor profile of killer red.”

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  • Style: (Red IPA) India Red Ale
  • Taste: Solid citrusy toasted malt creamy light apple orange piney bitter hop dry dull finish
  • Where I got it : Bottle Jockey / N. Burnaby
  • How much: $6.40 CAD (after 12.5% off) – 1 pt. 0.9 fl.oz., November 2015
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: sure

Visual: Pours reddish brown with a nice 1.5cm dissipating head, sticky lacing, a thin layer of retention, lost of slow steady streams.

Nose: citrusy pine hops, toasted malt backdrop, light boozy (lvl-6)-pungency

Attack: creamy-fine, crisp

Mid-palate: (lvl-5-sweetness), more creamy CO2, sweet light toasty barley malt, apple, orangy hop oils

Finish: soft green grassy piney off-dry bitter hops, malty sweet finish.

Summary: Solid malty hoppy profile with a very nice creamy mouthfeel. It’s just a touch too dry on the finish for me.

Stowford Press Export Cider – Westons (Herefordshire, England) (re-tasting)

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  • My Rating: [C+],  I gave it a (3.1, upgraded from 2.8 of 5) on Ratebeer.com

Stowford Press Export Cider – Westons, 6% ABV, 500ml, (Herefordshire, England)


  • Style: (sweet) Apple Cider
  • Taste: Clean controlled sweet half apple/half woody
  • Where I got it : ??
  • How much: ?? – 500ml., ??
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to cider aficionados: 50/50

(September 3, 2013 tasting)

Visual: clear bottle, sticker labels. Pours medium dark clear golden yellow with no head and some activity.

Nose: Very woody and tangy filtered apple juice

Attack: 4/10-sweetness, incoming tang

Mid-palate: (MAIN) dense red apple, very woody, tangy/acidic

Finish: off-dry, medium sourness, mild apple exhale finish.

Summary: It has a nice woody body. Straightforward, decent, mildly above average.


April 5, 2016 re-tasting:

Visual: Pours clear apple juice yellow with no head, no activity, just a few bubbles lounging on the surface.

Nose: tangy, very woody apple juice. (lvl-6)-pungency

Attack: slightly thicker viscosity, incoming fruity sugars

Mid-palate: tingly-fizzy, (lvl-6-sweetness), apple juice, big woodiness, tangy acidic bite

Finish: tingly-tart, sticky palate, apple-woody exhale

Summary: Pretty straightforward fruity apple with a very nice woody counterpart.