Mure Oh! – Merridale Ciderworks (Cobble Hill, BC, Canada)

  • My Rating: [C+]

Mure Oh! Fortified Blackberry Wine – Merridale Ciderworks Corp., 19.5% ABV, 375 ml., (Cobble Hill, BC, Canada) (*local BC wine)

on the front-left label:

“A delicate blend of our own blackberry brandy and blackberry juice gives this dessert drink a full fruity richness with a deep colour”


  • Style: (fortified blackberry wine) Dessert Wine
  • Taste: Forward alcohol very tart deep blackberry wine slight smoky alcoholic warmth
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek (?)
  • How much: ~$25 CAD – 375ml., sometime in 2012-2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to dessert wine aficionados: 50/50

Visual: (cellared for at least 3 years). Synthetic cork, really stuck in there. Pours

Nose: deep luscious tangy blackberry wine, soft alcoholic background (lvl-7)-pungency

Attack: tart berriness, almost immediate alcohol

Mid-palate: more alcohol presence, luscious tangy blackberry wine, slight smokiness, eau-de-vie

Finish: very tart, blackberry wine exhale, moderate throat warmth

Summary: A lot of depth to the blackberry, but with it comes a rather forward alcohol presence. The blackberry flavour itself has the dark berriness but lacks the bright, tangy juiciness you find in the fresh fruit; thus after a glass the taste becomes predictable and overly tart. Too much alcohol, not enough complexity.

Ancient Lore Mead – Golden Age Meadery (Richmond, BC, Canada)

Ancient Lore Mead (flavoured mead), 18.0% ABV, 200ml, (Richmond, BC, Canada) (*local BC mead*)

on the back label:

“Golden Age Meadery strives to recreate the forgotten ancient recipes and revive the time – honored traditions of good cheer.

Mead made from local 100% natural local products:

Wildflower honey from Fraser Valley. Herbs from Lower Mainland. Fruits from Okanagan. Unfiltered, unpasteurized, no sulfites”


  • Style: (flavoured – Balsam tree needles/NA fir, Tarragon, Nutmeg, Propolis, Coffee, Juniper berry, Yarrow, Grape leaf, Vanilla bean) Mead
  • Taste: Complex cacao sweet tangy honey coffee vanilla hints of floral fir
  • Where I got it : Legacy Liquor / Vancouver
  • How much: $11 CAD (after 5% off) – 200ml., January 2015
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to mead aficionados: worth a go

Visual: Plastic cork. Pours slightly hazy apple juice yellow-orange.

Nose: cacao, coffee, vanilla, with some light-bodied mead in the background. Bright and inviting. (lvl-8)-pungency

Attack: incoming (lvl-6-sweetness)

Mid-palate: cacao, tangy-prickly honey wine, manageable alcohol heat

Finish: slight fir, mild alcohol throat warmth, coffee bean and vanilla exhale

Summary: A unique and delectable bouquet of florals, spices, berries and beans. Quite approachable and  what I appreciate about this mead is at least some of the infused ingredients are discernible in the final product. Good complexity, but lacking depth/richness in the mids and finish, making it feel thin; Conversely however, this makes it easy to sip without taxing the palate.

Wolf in the Woods – Sea Cider (Saanichton, BC, Canada)

Kings & Spies – Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse, 9.9% ABV, 750ml, (Saanichton, BC, Canada) (*local BC craft cider*)

from the website:

Botanically infused with hops and grand fir needles, Wolf in the Woods is a hard apple cider with a timberland twist. This unique union creates a dry cider that leads with grapefruit aromas and finishes with hopped herbal notes. As part of our Canadian Invasion Series, Wolf in the Woods draws attention to invasive species and their threat to farms and natural areas alike. Raise a glass of Sea Cider to the rainforest!

The Story:
As part of the Canadian Invasion Series, Wolf in the Woods was created to continue our awareness campaign around invasive species and their implications in farming and the natural world. A few years back, Sea Cider owner Kristen Needham, planted some hops on the perimeter of the Sea Cider forest to be used in our first hopped cider, Tillicum. Little did we know at the time, hops have many invasive qualities – spreading by underground rhizomes that can quickly get out of control. Wolf in the Woods was born as a juxtaposition of the agricultural landscape and the natural world. By combining grand fir needles that we’ve collected from the forest on Sea Cider Farm and Pacific Northwest grown hops, we’ve created a unique union of farmed and wild. Wolf in the Woods is here to tingle your senses with botanical delight!

Tasting Notes:
Appearance: Clear, bright, light verdé
Aromas, flavours: Grapefruit, pine, rainforest and hopped notes
Acid/sweetness: Off-dry, good acid balance
Mouthfeel: Soft astringency, gently effervescent

Suggested Food Pairings:
The balanced botanicals of Wolf in the Woods pair well with salty and fried foods – try french fries and jalapeño poppers. We’d even tackle the spiciest Indian and Mexican dishes with this rainforest wonder!

  • Style: (flavoured – grand fir, hopped) Apple Cider
  • Taste: Short-bodied off-dry crisp fizzy red apple yellow grapefruit sour light fir
  • Where I got it : Bottle Jockey / N.Burnaby
  • How much: $16.65 CAD (after 12.5% off) – 750ml., February 2016
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to cider aficionados: nah, too plain

Visual: Bailer top re-sealable bottle. Pours clear light apple juice yellow with no head, soda-like big CO2 activity, big bubbles clinging to the side of the glass.

Nose: faint apple juice, restrained fir aroma (lvl-3)-pungency

Attack: sharp crisp, fizzy-tart

Mid-palate: off-dry (lvl-2-sweetness), fruity red apple, muddled yellow grapefruit, medium sour-puckery

Finish: fleeting fir exhale, residual tart sticky gum acidity

Summary: The crisp, fizzy, dryish mouthfeel are pleasant but there isn’t a whole lot of lengthy or bold flavours. The apple is neither woody or fleshy; the grand fir is only slightly noticeable at the finish; overall the taste experience is rather tart and thin, not leaving much of an impact.

London Dry Gin Round 7 – Pink 47 (New Champion) VS Fords (Challenger)

Let’s kick off the start of a new year by welcoming the 7th Round of the London Dry Gin Battles. We have the newly crowned Pink 47 going up against The 86 Co.’s Fords London dry.

[CHAMPION from Round 6, recrowned after losing out on round 5, Pink 47]

1) Pink 47 – 47% ABV – 700ml., Old St. Andrews (UK), ~$40 CAD no longer sold at BC Liquor Stores

  • beautiful diamond shaped bottle – inspired by the legendary Khavaraya pink diamond
  • 4x distilled
  • recipe includes 12 botanicals: juniper berries (Tuscany), coriander seeds (Morocco), two types of Angelica roots (Saxony and ?), lemon and orange peel (Spain), orris root (Italy), almonds (Spain), licorice roots (China), cassia bark (Indochina), nutmeg (West Africa) – [actually that’s only 11…]
  • accolades include: International Spirits Challenge 2012 Gold, 69th 2012 Annual Wine & Spirits WSWA Silver, 5***** rating from Paul Pacult 2012, etc, etc, (18 awards and counting)



2) Ford’s Gin London Dry – 45% ABV – 750ml., The 86 Co. (England), $43.70 CAD,  Jan 2017 – BC Liquor Stores

  • distilled by 8th gen Master distiller Charles Maxwell and Simon Ford of The 86 Co.
  • 9 botanicals: Italian juniper, Romanian coriander seed, Spanish lemon peel, Haitian/Moroccan bitter orange peel, Turkish grapefruit peel, Chinese jasmine, Italian/Moroccan orris powder, Polish angelica, Indonesian cassia
  • botanicals steeped for 15 hours, cooked for 5 hours



Nose: Keeping in mind that almond, licorice, and nutmeg differ in ingredients for P47, I get half juniper-half licorice floral harshness. While it’s not exactly unpleasant, I find the alcohol detection slightly disengaging. Fords main difference is its use of grapefruit peel and jasmine. Upon nosing Fords I get a very clean, composed and mellow sweet grapefruit-lemon citrus – virtually no nasal burn whatsoever; Impressive since it is just 2% ABV lower. Fords wins the nosing challenge.

Taste & Texture: Sipping P47 for the first time in 2017, I remember why I dethroned T.10 in round 6. It comes out with a huge alcoholic intensity backup up by a very lengthy sweet juniper base, prickly licorice and subtle citrus mids, and incredible throat heat at the finish. My intuition says that this will make a sturdy gin base in a cocktail. Onto Fords, slightly thicker in viscosity and wow, I’m really digging the juniper/cinnamon->grapefruit-lemon-orange->sleeper jasmine notes at the finish. Amazingly the alcohol harshness stays for the most part, hidden in the background so you are able to concentrate on teasing apart the individual botanicals. Although P47 has intensity and length, Fords takes it with its composed clean elegance.

Final Notes:

  • P47 exhibits intense juniper sweet, alcoholic soft citrus licorice, a reliable gin-cocktail base spirit
  • Fords showcases a burst of grapefruit juniper citrus with a subtle jasmine backend
  • Both have their place when concocting cocktails; P47 for cocktails with numerous ingredients, Fords to accentuate either the citrus or spotlight the jasmine in it.
  • As I mentioned at the start of Round 1 in the Gin battles, every gin has its own unique recipe, therefore each is more suitable according to the cocktail you wish to create. Thus, all gins are WINNERS! (actually there are probably some awful bathtub gins out there…)

but for this round 7, WINNER = Fords London Dry Gin

Extra battle – [T.10 VS Fords citrus battle]

Outcome: T.10 grapefruit/lime/orange/chamomile VS Fords grapefruit/lemon/orange/jasmine = T.10 is much more grapefruity citrus forward but with it comes a lot of aggressive alcohol at 47.3% ABV. It’s quite suitable in a lower ABV cocktail. Fords is much more tame and around a 65:35 – juniper:citrus ratio. I’d pick T.10 but obviously only for citrus-oriented gin cocktails.


Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale – St. James’ Gate Brewery (Dublin, Ireland)

Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale – St James’ Gate Brewery (Diageo), 4.3% ABV, 500ml., (Dublin, Ireland)

  • Style: (widgeted + nitrogen) Irish Ale
  • Taste: Dull flat sweet lightly toasted barley malt slight metallic
  • Where I got it : traded with a friend
  • How much: $3.30 CAD – 500ml., Winter 2016
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: no

Visual: Widget with CO2 + nitrogen. Initial pour has the cascading draught head, subsequent pour leaves a small 1mm head, half moon layer of retention, slow and steady loose clusters of streams.

Nose: very faint light toasted sweet barley malt. (lvl-3)-pungency

Attack: flat, gentle (lvl-3-sweetness)

Mid-palate: dull carbonation, lightly toasted barley malt

Finish: barley malt grainy, light metallic

Summary: It drinks pretty dull and flat like the other nitrogenated beers I’ve had. The flavour is very one-note and basic. Uninteresting, but somehow I got a buzz from 4.3%.

Mon Cheri – Spinnakers Brewpub (Victoria, BC, Canada)

Mon Cheri (Strong Belgian Style Ale with Cherries) – Spinnakers Brewpub, 8.2% ABV, 650ml., (Victoria, BC, Canada) (*local BC craft beer*)

on the front-left label:

“Brewed with the finest malted barley, imported hops, a traditional Belgian yeast, fresh Saanich Peninsula cherries, and our own deep well pure mineral water.”


  • Style: Fruit Beer
  • Taste: Barely tingly dull cherry fruity short barley malt
  • Where I got it : Legacy Liquor / Vancouver
  • How much: $9 CAD (after 10% off) – 650ml., March 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: no

Visual: (cellared for 4 years). Pours opaque cloudy red currant colour with barely any head, very thin ringed retention, suspended micro sediment, just a few bubbles here and there.

Nose: light red fruity sour barley malt, pie crust. (lvl-5)-pungency

Attack: slightly thicker viscosity, barely tingly

Mid-palate: soft tart, mellow dull cherry flavour, (lvl-4-sweetness), soft short sour, sustained tangy, brown sugar barley malt, controlled acidity, thinnish body

Finish: almost salty, residual red fruity barley malt

Summary: The cherry fruit flavour is underwhelming and the Belgian ale profile is short and unremarkable – put them together? No surprise, nothing special. It’s drinkable at least for 8.2%.

Habanero Hard Cider – Finnriver Cidery (Chimacum, WA, USA)

Habanero Hard Cider – Finnriver Cidery, 6.5% ABV, 16.9 oz., (Chimacum, Washington, USA)

On the front-right label:

“Finnriver’s Habanero Cider release was inspired by the quest for something strange and a hankering for heat. In the winter of 2013, cold days on the farm coincided with the annual Strange Brew Festival in Port Townsend, WA. This gave our crew the inspiration to take the hottest thing we could get our hands on and blend it into our hard cider. The combination of chili heat and tart apple, mellowed by a dash of sweet, makes for a memorable fermented adventure. Enjoy in any latitude with rice and beans, fish tacos, burritos of all kinds, or just a crackling bowl of chips & salsa.”


  • Style: (flavoured – habanero) Apple Cider
  • Taste:
  • Where I got it : Bainbridge / Burnaby
  • How much: $17.40 CAD (after 10% off) – 16.9 oz., February 2016
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to cider aficionados: yes

Visual: Batch #115B, hand numbered. Pours slightly hazy light orange-yellow with no head, some bubbles clinging to the mid-section of the glass, very active tight micro clusters.

Nose: sweet apple juice, nasal-tingly/cough-inducing habanero spicy. (lvl-8)-pungency

Attack: tart dry crisp juicy apple

Mid-palate: habanero med-high spicy heat, (lvl-2-sweetness), habanero flesh, thinnish green apple juice

Finish: lingering habanero biting heat, residual fleshy apple

Summary: Certainly drinks like an aggressively experimental brew. Not quite full-feeling enough in the mids to balance out the heat. And a fair warning: don’t inhale while drinking.

Garún Icelandic Stout – Borg Brugghus (Reykjavik, Iceland)

Garún Icelandic Stout – Borg Brugghus (brewed at Ölgerðin Egill Skallagrímsson), 11.5% ABV, 11.2 fl.oz., (Reykjavik, Iceland)

on the back label:

“Garún is named for the strong and brave heroine of one of Iceland’s most popular folktales “The deacon of Dark River (Myrká).” A tale of ghosts, undying love, and life triumphing over death told against the backdrop of elements essential to Iceland’s character: ice, snow, and flooding waters whirling dark and mysterious. The same elements that inspire this rich, intense, bold and swirlingly varied Icelandic stout. Garún is a dark aura of intense richness and haunting aroma with notes of chocolate, licorice and coffee. Skál!”


  • Style: Imperial Stout
  • Taste: Easy sweet roasted chocolate barley malt some coffee licorice
  • Where I got it : Bottle Jockey / N.Bby
  • How much: $4.15 (after 12.5% off) – 11.2 fl.oz., November 2015
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: easy for 11.5%

Visual: (cellared for 1 year). Pours jet black, barely any head, a super thin ringed retention, a few small islands and a few bubbles here and there.

Nose: sweet dense roasty-toasty barley malt, molasses, light coffee. (lvl-5)-pungency

Attack: much thicker viscosity, trace tingly-fizzy

Mid-palate: background subdued tangy alcohol, chocolate, (lvl-6-sweetness), liquid roasted barley, intermixed coffee notes, subtle sweet licorice

Finish: residual chocolate barley malt

Summary: Wow, drinks a lot smoother than a 11.5% should. It goes down easy but I feel it’s missing some pop to make it really stand out.

Pale Ale – Four Winds Brewing Co. (Delta, BC, Canada)

Pale Ale – Four Winds Brewing Co., 5.2% ABV – 38 IBU, 330 ml, (Delta, BC, Canada) (*local BC craft beer*)

on the back label:

“Our American-style pale ale is a tribute to the origins of craft-brewed beer. A dynamic duo of Cascade and Centennial hops combine for a refreshingly bitter ale, varied with the subtle maltiness that gives way to a clean, brisk finish.”

Ingredients: Pale, munich, caramel pilsen and crystal malt. Chinook, cascade and centennial hops.


  • Style: American Pale Ale (APA)
  • Taste: Smooth crisp peach-citrus metallic dry grainy toffee barley malt
  • Where I got it : traded with my brother
  • How much: $priceless – 330 ml., sometime in 2015
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: just okay

Visual: Pours clear copper brown with a smallish 1cm head, a spotty 1mm layer of retention, clusters of very active streams, sticky lacing.

Nose: toffee malt with light citrus hops (lvl-6)-pungency

Attack: soft smooth & crisp

Mid-palate: peach-citrus hop oils, (lvl-3-sweetness), dry metallic, grainy toffee barley malt

Finish: lengthy hopped soft dry bitterness

Summary: Pretty decent, good a good balance of hop and barley grain profile. A tad too metallic for my tastes and the hops are on the dull side.

Strawberry Lambicus – Timmermans (Belgium)

Strawberry Lambicus – Brouwerij Timmermans, 4% ABV, 33 cl., (Itterbeek, Belgium)

“The World’s Oldest Lambic Brewery” (founded in 1781)

Ingredients: water, fruit juice (strawberries 11.5%), barley malt, sugar wheat, flavourings hops, antioxidant: E300.

  • Style: (strawberry) Fruit – Lambic
  • Taste: Aromatic authentic tangy-sweet strawberry light sour background barley rough wheat malt
  • Where I got it : Legacy / Vancouver
  • How much: $6.90 CAD (after 10% off) – 33cl., November 2015
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: taste not worth my $

Visual: Aluminum foil covered. Pours opaque cloudy scarlet red with a nice 2cmm frothy head, 1mm layer of retention, clusters of very active micro streams.

Nose: huge authentic fruity sweet strawberry puree, magnificent. (lvl-10)-pungency

Attack: tangy-tart, subdued sour, fruity sweet

Mid-palate: (lvl-6-sweetness), real strawberry-tangy puree, background barley malt

Finish: wheat malt rough palate dry, strawberry exhale

Summary: The barley tastes very generic and is mainly covered up by the strong fruity strawberry presence. Decent strawberry flavour, but it comes across as very candy-esque, straightforward, and uninteresting after a few sips. Wicked aroma though.