Farmer’s Reserve Blueberry – Almanac Beer Co. (San Jose, CA, USA)

Farmer’s Reserve Blueberry (Sour ale aged in wine barrels with blueberries) – Almanac Beer Company, 7% ABV – 12.68 fl.oz., (San Jose, California, USA)


on the front-bottom label:

“Every year, the blueberry harvest heralds the coming of summer. We selected the very best hand-picked berries grown in the hills of Butte County, California, and added them to a sour golden ale aged in wine barrels. The resulting beer is infused with the essence of these hewl-like berries, creating a fruity character reminiscent of mom’s blueberry pie and a reminder of long summer days.”

(front)



Visual: (cellared for 1 year). Pours clear garnet red without a significant head, thin ringed retention, lots of active tight micro streams.

Nose: blueberry overtones, sour pukey funk. Not too enticing. (lvl-6)-pungency

Attack: big puckery sour

Mid-palate: (lvl-3-sweetness), blueberry vinegar, red wine vinegar, blackberry

Finish: lengthy wet woody funk, lingering tart acidity

Summary: Big sourness from start to finish with decent juiciness in the mids, with enough balance to make it continuously sippable. Although not my favourite style, this exhibits an underlying composed sense of quality in craftsmanship.

Full Patch Pumpkin Ale – Longwood Brewery (Nanaimo, BC, Canada)

Full Patch Pumpkin Ale – Longwood Brewery, 9% ABV – 650ml., (Nanaimo, BC, Canada) (*local BC craft beer*)


on the front-left label:

“This seasonal Belgian style saison is not for the faint of heart. Born in a pumpkin patch and rasied in the brewery, this 9% bad boy is not your grandma’s pumpkin pie. Eight slaughtered pumpkins and a whole lotta spice were boiled in a cauldron of barley, hops, and anything else we could find lying around. Fly orange with full patch.”

(left)


  • Style: (pumpkin, spices) Spiced Ale
  • Taste: Sweet pumpkiny brown sugar barley malt mild ginger light clove
  • Where I got it : High Point / Vancouver
  • How much: $7.30 CAD (after 12.5% off) – 650ml., February 2016
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Recommended: nah
  • What made a impression: big brown sugar sweetness

Visual: (cellared for 1 year). Pours dark brown with a smallish 1mm lasting creamy head, lots and lots of singular steady micro streams.

Nose: brown sugar, ginger, clove, biscuity barley malt (lvl-5)-pungency

Attack: crisp, thicker tingly

Mid-palate: pumpkiny (lvl-7-sweetness), ginger, brown sugar barley malt,

Finish: residual brown sugar sweetness, clove exhale

Summary: Not terribly complex but at least the 9% ABV is well hidden. The sugars become heavy on the palate after half a glass – there’s not enough depth to round it out.

Raspberry Dessert Wine 2011 – Isabella Winery (Richmond, BC, Canada)

  • My Rating: B

Raspberry Dessert Wine 2011 – Isabella Winery, 11% ABV – 375 ml., (Richmond, BC, Canada) (*local BC fruit wine*)


on the back label:

“This raspberry dessert wine displays intoxicating aromas of fresh picked raspberries and a little plum pudding. On the palate it is richly layered with fresh picked raspberries and a little plum tart. It has just enough sweetness and acidity not to make it tiresome to the palate and the delicate fresh stays in the mouth for minutes after you sip it. Enjoy it with black forest cake, blueberry tart or just by itself.”

(back)


  • Style: (Raspberry) Dessert Wine
  • Taste: Tangy authentic raspberry light sour tangy slight cloying
  • Where I got it : @Winery
  • How much: $17 (after 15% off) – 375 ml., January 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Recommendable: yes
  • What made an impression: rich raspberry

Visual: (cellared for 4.5 years). Pours dirty dark magenta with runny legs.

Nose: tangy raspberry juice (lvl-4)-pungency

Attack: rich fruity, zingy subdued alcohol

Mid-palate: (lvl-6-sweetness), big tangy, juicy tart authentic raspberry, firm sour acidity, slight jammy cloying

Finish: raspberry juice exhale

Summary: Finally after almost 10 misses, an above average and enjoyable dessert wine from Isabella Winery that has flavourful depth and a drinkable balance.

Spiced Rum Round 4 – Whaler’s (Champ) VS Elements Eight (Challenger)


1) Whaler’s Spiced Rum – Bishop Wines & Spirits (Mira Loma, CA, USA), 35% ABV – 750ml$39.50 CAD @ Liquor Depot Dilworth in Edmonton, AB (7/2010 price)

  • “Made from Hawaii’s legendary recipe”

VS

2) Elements Eight Spiced Rum – Elements Eight Rum Company Ltd. (London, England, UK), 40% ABV – 700ml$59 CAD (after 10% off) @ Sherbrooke Liquor in Edmonton, AB (3/2011 price)

(left)(right)

  • 8 step process: 1) Terroir (St. Lucia climate) -> 2) Cane -> 3) Water (tropical water) -> 4) Fermentation (3 strains of yeast) -> 5) Distillation (Kentucky Bourbon Vendome pot still, using “heart only) -> 6) Tropical Ageing (American oak Bourbon barrels) -> 7) Blending (10+ single rums) -> 8) Filtration
  • 2x the price point of “standard” rums ($60 vs $30)
  • Fancy and classy bottle

Criteria

Nose:

  • Whaler’s (WH): 50/50 blend of vanilla-molasses & alcohol detection
  • Elements Eight (E8): nutmeg, orange, coffee nib, biscuity liquid toffee
  • E8 is much cleaner and more enticing

Taste & Texture:

  • WH: thinnish, a mix of cinnamon/nutmeg with vanilla and alcohol at the start, medium-high heat with dryness as the finish
  • E8: explicitly full-bodied. Slick, big orange coffee up front (much like Pyrat Rum Cast 1623), clove, cascading waves of controlled molasses sweetness, cocoa, subdued medium alcoholic heat. Finally a good sipping spiced rum.
  • WH: watery feel, vanilla, dull. E8: oily, big orange coffee bean, smooth rounded sipper. E8 is FAR superior.

In a Rum & Coke

  • Whaler’s & Coke is cola-caramel forward with dry lime juice and oils in the mids to finish.
  • Elements Eight & Coke is aggressively sweet sticky-tart with a incompatible cloying orange flavour in the mids, finishing unclean with cocoa-cola.
  • Whaler’s is more enjoyable in a cola mixer.

Final Notes:

  • Whaler’s has a decent of mix of cinnamon/nutmeg, toffee and vanilla but is thin and has harsher detectable alcohol.
  • Elements Eight has a luscious rush of orange nutty coffee bean, tanginess, and toffee-cocoa.

WINNER = the challenger Elements Eight. You can taste the rich difference in quality. Finally, a tasty sipping spiced rum that has left the rest behind (Sailor Jerry’s, Devil’s Triangle, Captain Morgan’s, Whaler’s), but less than perfect in a Rum & Coke.

Fraîcheur du Soir 2011 – Brasserie Trois Dames (Saint-Croix, Switzerland)

Fraicheur du Soir (Blanche double malt) 2011 – Brasserie Trois Dames, 7% ABV, 75 cl., (Saint-Croix, Switzerland)


  • Style: Sour Ale / Wild Ale
  • Taste: Sour soft tart grapefruit apple barley malt light pukey woody clean
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek / Vancouver
  • How much: $16 CAD (10% off) – 750 ml., September 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes
  • What was the impression: sour yet clean and composed

Visual: (cellared for 5 years). Pours translucent marmalade orange with large bits of suspended yeast, no head, active tight clustered micro streams.

Nose: liquid barley malt, mild woody dank (lvl-5)-pungency

Attack: sour, light crisp, soft-puckery

Mid-palate: (lvl-3-sweetness), sour fleshy grapefruit, subdued subtle pukey, apple undertones, sweet barley malt backbone

Finish: woodiness, subtle bittersweet citrus peel, residual pukey malt

Summary: It says it is a blanche but it drinks unlike any witbier I’ve ever had. With no wheat listed in the ingredients, this one drinks darker but still has bitter orange peel nuances, though I’m not getting much coriander. Great all around balance and a unique style.

Spiced Rum Round 3 – Captain Morgan (Champ) VS Whaler’s (Challenger)

2 Years later and never too late for Round 3. This time Captain M is going up against it’s piratey competitor Whaler’s. Which one will win the booty? Which one will walk the plank? Let’s find out. R2 here and R1 here.


1) Original Spiced Rum – Captain Morgan (Diageo), 35% ABV – 750ml, (Global), $31.61 CAD @ BC Liquor Stores (11/15/2017 price)

wpid-img_20150628_002842.jpg

  • blend of Caribbean and Canadian rum
  • in colour (but still rather light), aged in oak barrels for up to 1 year. Caribbean spices used (wiki)

2) Whaler’s Spiced Rum – Bishop Wines & Spirits (Mira Loma, CA, USA), 35% ABV – 750ml$39.50 CAD @ Liquor Depot Dilworth in Edmonton, AB (7/2010 price)

  • “Made from Hawaii’s legendary recipe”

Criteria

Nose:

  • Captain Morgan (CM) has an noticeable alcoholic nasal edge, vanilla, and butterscotch. Semi-smooth.
  • Whaler’s (WH) is much more subdued and clean. Bubblegum, a touch of cinnamon, and cola notes emerge in the mids and just a bit of alcohol detection emerges at the finish.
  • CM = vanilla+alcohol WH = bubblegum+cola. Winner = Whaler’s, simply cleaner.

Taste & Texture:

  • CM: Too thin flavoured to enjoy as a sipper, plus the alcohol detection kicks in almost from the very start. The vanilla is very faint but I must say I just noticed a peppery spiciness from the mids to finish that is decently pleasant. Tastes cheap because it is.
  • WH: Thicker on the palate, bringing a much more composed and complete profile. Brighter and a sharper bite at the start, while drying out by the finish. Cinnamon, cola, and nutmeg along with a bit of caramel comprise of the discernible flavours. There is medium throat heat and warmth that lingers. Flavours are muted, decent but not great.
  • CM = thin-bodied vanilla+butterscotch, WH = cola+alcohol throat heat, but complete.

In a Rum & Coke

  • Captain & Coke is smooth with lots of cola caramel and lime oils painted on the palate. Somewhat cloying at the finish.
  • Whaler’s & Coke is a touch sharper and black pepper spicier, finishing drier with lingering vanilla notes.

Final Notes:

  • Captain Morgan is smoother, cheaper, and more accessible.
  • Whaler’s has more complexity and spicy length, but comes at a price of more alcohol heat.
  • Both come across as imperfect spiced rums.

WINNER = the challenger Whaler’s Spiced Rum, offering more complexity, balance, and refined mixability.

Blueberry off-dry Dessert Wine 2011 – Isabella Winery (Richmond, BC, Canada)

  • My Rating: FAIL

Blueberry off-dry Dessert Wine 2011 – Isabella Winery, 11% ABV – 375 ml., (Richmond, BC, Canada) (*local BC fruit wine*)


on the back label:

“Overlooking the historic Fraser River in the heart of blueberry country, Isabella Winery balances blueberry characteristics in this off-dry dessert wine. Delicious drizzled over vanilla ice cream” (same description as their Blueberry Dessert Wine [C+])

(back)


  • Style: (Blueberry) Dessert Wine
  • Taste: Sour tangy acidic muddled short blueberry vinegar cloying rough tannic
  • Where I got it : @Winery
  • How much: $17 (after 15% off) – 375 ml., January 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to dessert wine aficionados: you’re joking
  • What made an impression: crap quality

Visual: (cellared for 4.5 years). Pours deep dark purple, suspended large bits of sediment.

Nose:  (lvl-6)-pungency

Attack: big sour, medium acidic cloying

Mid-palate: (lvl-1-sweetness), tannic rough, tangy blueberry juice, berry vinegar,

Finish: tart rough palate, dry

Summary: It is way too sour acidic-vinegary and lacks counterbalancing sugars to make it enjoyable as a dessert wine; Total waste of time and money, not recommended at all.

(a “why would anyone drink this?” moment…)