Virginia Names August Craft Beer Month

If you are planning on being in Virginia in the month of August (like I plan on) then you are in luck. Virginia has dedicated the whole month of August to craft beers. There are a tonne of events happening at brew pubs and breweries located across Virginia.

There is a website at that shows all of these events, all of the breweries and brewpubs available.

The month long festivities will culminate in Virginia’s first ever craft beer festival, all day on the 25th of August. It is being held at Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company (200 Mosbys Run Roseland, VA 22967)

I may not be able to attend many of these events the week that I am in Virginia, but there is a Dogfish Head brewpub literally MINUTES away from where I’ll be staying. So I may just enjoy my own craft brew week there.

Thirsty Beaver Amber Ale – Tree Brewing Company (Kelowna, BC)

ABV: 5.0%

Our most popular beer! A smooth amber ale. Medium bodied and bursting with flavour, this beer is clean to the finish.

It is what it says… A nice amber/gold colour with a frothy cream coloured head that lingers.

First thing you get is fruit. Not only are there some nice refreshing citrus notes, but also a hint of banana. All in all, it is pretty inviting.

This is a great summer amber ale! With the fruit notes coming in from the aroma are nicely balanced with a slight nutty-caramel flavor as well with some light hops. It goes down smooth with a slight bitter aftertaste but an overall crisp taste.

A great amber ale. This is the type of summer beer you want. You don’t realize that you’ve finished your first pint and you’re back in for a second. It is very refreshing but enough subtle flavors to keep you intrigued and wanting more. This would be a good compliment to some spicy backyard BBQ.
Unfortunately it is only available out in the Prairies and West, but if you stumble upon it be sure to grab some.

About Nick Collicutt

Nick is a guest author who travels across Canada and has access to the wonderful craft beers our country has to offer.

5 Tips For Aging Beer

Aging beer is a bit of beer geek activity that most people don’t bother with. You’re not going to age a lager from the local dépanneur but some of the bigger craft beers on the market start to receive nice nuanced changes in flavour over time. I enjoy experimenting on my homebrews to see how aging adds character and mellows out flaws in my beer. Aging normally mellows off flavours and hop flavours while enhancing malt flavours. Hard and fast, you want to age big alcoholic malty beers and not your IPA. Dogfish Head has a good article with a few tips for aging beer.

Beer won’t spoil.
Beer isn’t milk and it won’t go bad. The flavour just changes. You might not like the change in flavours (and it might change for the worst depending on style and aging conditions) but you don’t have to worry about getting sick off it. I wouldn’t open an old bottle of Molson Ex that has been in and out of the fridge though.

Storage matters.
Oxidation is to beer as the Joker is to Batman, archenemies. Oxidation will turn your beer tasting like last weeks edition of the newspaper. Light and heat speed up oxidation, so store beer in a cool, dark place. Keep the bottles upright in your basement or in a refrigerator set between 10°C and 13°C.

High-alcohol beers tend to age better.
Lie mentioned above, typically larger beers age better. Dogfish Head recommends beers that are 10% ABV and higher and have big dark malt profiles. Higher ABV beers will begin to mellow out and produce a velvety finish after aging.

Don’t underestimate fresh.
Some beers just don’t work with aging. IPA’s and fruit beers notably. Those flavours begin to fade into the background and lose their main characteristic. That being said, there are no rules so experimenting helps. Dogfish Head recommends their 120 Minute IPA which begins to develop sweet sherry and marmalade notes.

A little experimentation goes a long way.
Like mentioned above, you will need to experiment. Taste is subjective and your mileage will vary depending on a factor of conditions. Best thing to do is buy a few bottles and drink one fresh. Store the rest and pull them out at six month intervals. If you don’t like the direction aging takes your beer you can stop or if if you do you can age another six months. Part of the fun of drinking craft beer is that there isn’t no stringent rules to be followed. Go crazy with it and find out what you like.

IKEA Brews Beer, No Assembly Required to Drink.

Turns out IKEA is brewing its own beer to be sold in all countries at their store. Two types are available, a light (ljus) and a dark (mörk) beer will be offered in 330ml bottles and weight in at 4.75% ABV. I have no idea if the beer is akin to their furniture (as in cheap and not very well crafted), but the reviews don’t look great online. Drinkable, a bit sugary and one reviewer said it tasted like cardboard. Perhaps they barrel age the beer in unused pressboard from their side tables.

All jokes aside I’m a bit curious to try it with some Swedish meatballs.

Dieu du Ciel – Blanche du Paradis

ABV: 5.5% ABV
STYLE: Belgian Wit
ADJUNCTS: Coriander Seeds, Curaçao Orange Peel

It’s hard to find a Dieu du Ciel beer that I do not like. Every time I go to a speciality beer store and they have bottles I’ll try to pick some up. Their brewpub is definitely a place every Montrealer should visit on a regular basis. Like the other white beers featured here lately, summer is the perfect time for them. So let’s hurry up and crack into this bottle.

Blanche du Paradis is a Belgian-style Wit brewed with coriander seeds and Curaçao orange peels, the spices traditionnally found in this classic style. Unfiltered and containing almost as much raw wheat as malted barley, it presents a veil of yeast and proteins giving this style its “Blanche” name. Round and light at the same time, it exhales fresh baked bread aromas, and reveals spices and citrus flavours, accompanied by subtle notes of acidity coming from the wheat.

The Blanche du Paradis was born in our Montreal brewpub in May 1999

Pours a dull straw yellow with a lot of haze. Cloudy white three finger head that dissipates quickly. Very nice lacing. This is a bottle conditioned beer. Classic white beer look.

Strong yeast aroma. Bread and wheat along with some spiciness. A little bit of the orange peel makes its way through. Very simple and delicate aroma. Nothing jumps out at you. Still very appealing though.

The smooth and creamy mouth feel is the first thing I noticed. It has a peppery and slight hop middle and a very subdued bitterness at the end. Good balance of spices and the slight citrus from the orange. Very little aftertaste and very fresh tasting.

This is a well rounded white beer. Perfect for the style without doing anything out of the ordinary. Perfect for a summer session beer. What I like the most about this beer is that it is not thin or watery like a lot of other white beers I’ve had. It has a nice solid body. This is hands down a go to white beer and a perfect example of the style. It’s a little difficult to get your hands on it but if you can pick it up.

Unibroue – Éphémère Pomme

ABV: 5.5%
IBU: 10
STYLE: White ale brewed with apple must

I’m a big fan of Unibroue beers and this is an easy one to pick up in stores. The first time I’ve had it was at a restaurant where I ordered both versions of Éphémère, apple and blackcurrant, for my girlfriend and I. I had the blackcurrant and thoroughly enjoyed it. Since this is an easy enough beer to find in most grocery stores and white beers are perfect for summer drinking, I decided to pick up a case.

Éphémère Pomme is made in honor of this great fruit. Its lively effervescence, fresh and refreshing taste as well as its Granny Smith apple nose combine to offer you a unique sensory experience. It pairs extremely well with goat’s milk, cheeses, pork or duck. It has known such a success that you will now be able to appreciate its taste all year long.

Golden and hazy in colour with yeast cloudiness. Large three to four finger frothy white head. It dissipates rather quickly. Expected for a white beer. Really good lacing and a lot of carbonation streaming off the bottom of the glass.

Not as much apple in the aroma as I would have expected. I get a very spicy and yeasty aroma. Ginger and nutmeg are more prevalent. The apple is more subdued, but it is definitely akin to a granny smith apple. The aroma itself is sour. Reminds me a little bit of the Jolly Rancher candies. The spices and yeast definitely play a larger role here.

Again, as expected from the aroma, there are more spices in the taste. Ginger is more noticeable than the nutmeg. The apple flavours are more subtle. A very nice mix of sweet and tart going on. The body is very thin and watery (almost a bit grainy as well) and there is a lot of small bubbles in the carbonation. Expect to burp a few times. A bit of a dry and lingering aftertaste. This is where the tart green apple flavour shines. The aftertaste will stick with you for awhile and it’s a bit yeasty as well. The longer it lingers the less pleasant it becomes.

This is a decent beer but it’s not a favourite. I think the spiciness from the yeast overwhelms the beer in the wrong direction, masking a lot of the interesting apple flavour. The aftertaste also lingers too long in a bad way. On top of that, for some reason, the carbonation just does not sit well with me. I’m not opposed to drinking it but I don’t think I would go out of my way to have this again, especially when it’s counterpart, Éphémère Blackcurrant is better in my opinion.

All that being said, I think this beer would really work in conjunction with some nice goat and stinky cheeses. But I’m not reviewing a beer coupling, just how it stands on its own.

How-to: Open a Beer Bottle with a Newspaper

How many times have you been somewhere and haven’t had a bottle opener to get into that sweet, sweet beer? There is a instructables how-to for opening a bottle with a newspaper, but all you basically need to do is create a lever with your hand and a sturdy object. You can definitely get some ideas from an early post. Or, I suppose, you can always use a chainsaw, but I don’t recommend it. See below.

Missing Your Bottle Opener?

We’ve all had those moments when you’re at the beach, around a campfire or in the hockey locker room and you realize you don’t have a twist cap, and you don’t have a bottle opener. Bottle Cap Blues, a video by Chris Sumers, which is basically a 50 way to open a beer bottle instructional video. Pay attention! You never know when you may need to leverage something to get that drink into your belly.

This is a short film that I was a part of for Adam Young’s solo Art Show at Common House Gallery entitled: Songs of the Early Riser. Adam had a concept for a video installation. I took his concept and put it into a video. We originally had 4 different edits looping at the show in his installation, but this edit is a compilation of my favorite clips from the three day shoot. This has been the most fun project I have been a part of to date. Sitting around with your friends killing a couple of six packs of beer trying to think of different means to open your next drink is pretty fun. I encourage you to try it.

St-Ambroise – Raspberry Ale

ABV: 5%

St-Ambroise Raspberry Ale is a wonderful seasonal ale that comes out around June every summer in Montreal. I found out about the beer two years ago at their terrace and it has been a yearly staple on draft and in the fridge. It’s the perfect blend of fruit and beer.

Made with fresh raspberries and choice sun-ripened hops, it gently engages your taste buds in a delicious explosion of flavours. Its delicate fruit aromas marry perfectly with the pleasant hop character typical of all St-Ambroise ales. Brewed in Quebec – just once a year – it’s a unique summertime treat!

The Raspberry Ale pours a deep dark red with a fluffy pink cloud-like two finger head that slowly dissipates. The beer itself is a bit hazy with a very deep ruby red colour. The darker colour comes from using darker malts, which is a smart decision to give it that red colour. (I’ve always thought the blonde raspberry ales at other brewpubs looked wrong for the flavour). When put up to the sunlight it just glows red. Very good lacing around the glass. This beer looks absolutely gorgeous.

This beer smells like raspberries. Lots and lots of raspberries. The aroma is very pleasantly natural without any kind of sweet synthetic aromas. Like a fresh field of raspberries. There isn’t anything else on the nose and that’s OK. The raspberries are very inviting and you begin to salivate at the prospect of drinking this beer.

Again, we’re talking all raspberry here. A tart raspberry taste. Some malt flavours and a nice medium body. Not overwhelmingly sweet but enough to cut the tart bitterness of the raspberry flavour. Little bit of carbonation. It ends with a traditional McAuslan hop finish that is recognizable from their other beers. A little bitter at the end with a sour aftertaste. Very refreshing and surprisingly a well balanced beer between the raspberry flavours and beer flavours.

This is a great summer beer. I want to emphasize that this is indeed a beer. If judging by the colour and aroma alone, you would think this is some kind of blended beer with synthetic sweetness. But this is not the case. While it has a very powerful and inviting raspberry aroma it still blends the malt and hop flavours perfectly. Like I mentioned earlier it’s a staple in my fridge during the summer months. Perfect for sipping or session drinking, depending on your mood.

St-Ambroise IPA Launch

Hear ye, hear ye. It looks like the weather will be nice today in Montreal. The perfect opportunity to go down to the St-Ambroise terrace and drink some of their IPA at the official launch. While there you can also enjoy another another Lachine staple, the Grumman 78 truck will be there serving tacos.

India Pale Ales were brewed in 19th century England. In order to endure the long sea travel in clipper ships across the equator to India, English IPA’s were high in alcohol and brewed with plenty of hops. The hops provided a spicy bitterness balancing the malt and maintaining the quality of the ale through the natural antibacterial properties of hops. McAuslan has brewed a classic IPA using a blend of pale and specialty malts giving the beer a New World twist.

I’ve had the St-Ambroise IPA last year and I really enjoyed it. It’s a perfect introductory IPA and perfect for the weather today (hot and cloudy).

The launch is a 5 à 7 at the terrace @ 5080 St-Ambroise street. Normally the terrace is open until 11pm and at the launch the beer is usually a special price of $4 a pint, but I’m not too sure if that is the case this time around.