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Bryn's Beer Review

I love beer. I love bikes. I love beer and bikes!

Feb 21, 2011

Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout

by Bryn — last modified Feb 21, 2011 07:25 PM
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Wow, long time no write! That's what having a kegerator at home does... Here's an absolutely delicious beer to break the drought!

A trip or two ago here in Atlanta I found an awesome beer store with a terrific, always changing selection.  That's JUST what I needed to make things more bearable - the 4 'acceptable' beers at the Kroger were boring the crap out of me!

This time I stumbled across The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery from Farmville, North Carolina. They've gone so far to print 'The Dark Beer Specialists' on the bottle of their Milk Stout - pretty bold!

The bio for the Milk Stout:

Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout

The Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout is a traditional full-bodied stout brewed with lactose (milk sugar). The subtle sweetness imparted by the lactose balances the sharpness of the highly roasted grains which give this delicious beer its black color.

Yum!  

So how's it taste? 

This is a DARK stout meaning lots of rich, toasted hoppy flavour. MOST beers in this family have quite the edge.  This Milk Stout has all the flavour of a heavy stout but with a delightful finish.  I guess if you were to describe drinking a normal stout this dark, the flavour would be like Evil Kenevil doing a crazy jump over a dozen school buses, where you hold your breath on the landing, see a little wiggle from the bike but it turns out ok.  The Milk Stout is exactly the same thing except somewhere over the 11th bus Evil Kenevil sheds his motorcycle, clothes and lands in a hot tub full of naked Suicide Girls instead.  Yes, it's that smooth.

I want, nay, NEED to try some more beers from Duck-Rabbit.  Seriously.  Check them out!

Mar 24, 2010

2010 Fest of Ale - April 9/10

by Bryn — last modified Mar 24, 2010 04:23 PM
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It's NEARLY time for the Fest of Ale again!!

Yessireee bob, the Fest of Ale is a blast!  I had a great time last year so you better believe I'm going again this year!

A partial brewer's list for this year:

  • Alexander Keith's Fine Beers

  • Alpine Brewing Company Inc. (US)

  • Big Al Brewing (US)

  • Bravo Beer Co.

  • Cannery Brewery Company

  • Central City Brewing Co.

  • Crannóg Ales

  • Dead Frog Brewery

  • Fernie Brewing Company

  • Granville Island Brewing Company Inc.

  • Growers Cider

  • Mikes Hard Lemonade

  • Mt. Begbie Brewing

  • Old Yale Brewing Co.

  • Paddock Wood Brewing

  • Palm Bay

  • Plan B Brewing Co.

  • Russell Brewing Co.

  • Shuswap Lake Brewing

  • Stanley Park Brewing

  • The Tin Whistle Brewing Company Ltd.

  • Tree Brewing Co.

  • VEX

  • Whistler Brewing Co.

  • Yanjing Beer Group


  •  

    I can't wait!!

    Oct 27, 2009

    Weyerbacker Brewing Company Old Heathen Imperial Stout

    by Bryn — last modified Oct 27, 2009 09:32 PM
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    YES, I have found the best beer thus far in Atlanta. After much sampling of countless "average" beers this one really stands out as something special.

    Weyerbacher Brewing Old Heathen Imperial StoutAs always I've been poking and sampling, trying out whatever I can find that I haven't had before.  There's been a few things here and there worth buying but nothing that's "inspired" me enough to write up a blog entry, until now!

    Weyerbacher Brewing Company hails out of Easton, Pennsylvania and has an absolutely HUGE beer library, practically one of everything.  Believe me after having the Old Heathen I'm DEFINITELY going to be sampling a bunch of the others!!  If you ever find these guys at a beer festival or the like try them out!!

    You might have noticed by now that I'm definitely a dark beer fan.  Stouts and Porters all the way, especially at this time of year when it's a bit colder outside.  So I find myself here today with a Fort Collins Brewery Chocolate Stout, a Rogue Mocha Porter and the Weyerbacher Old Heathen - that's not exactly a lightweight competition to find yourself in.  But there is absolutely NO competition here, the Old Heathen wins hands down.

    Given that it weighs in at 8.0% this beer naturally has some body to it.  Unlike most beers in this class it's really smooth drinking, not harsh at all.  Really if there's a single word you could use to describe it really SMOOOOOTH is it.  Like a lot of stouts in this class it's got a nice taste of chocolate, although not as much as a true "chocolate stout" like the Fort Collins.  But the Fort Collins can't even hold a candle when it comes to flavour!

    Really it almost reminds me of a slice of Black Forest Cake.  It's too good to put down, but you don't want to eat a whole cake (or 6 pack) to yourself - there's just too much body to it!  I'll happily take a slice or two though!  Just watch it doesn't knock you on your butt... ;)

    Aug 24, 2009

    The Kegerator is ALIVE!

    by Bryn — last modified Aug 24, 2009 11:13 AM
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    I am stoked. Yes, very very very very stoked.

    Complete!

    Oh yes, I have a Kegerator.  Saturday, August 22 shall go down in history as the day that I ceased to need my huge collection of glass bottles for my U-Brew.  Weighing in at over 170 lbs empty this is a serious machine!

    OK, the build... Last time I had juuuuust gotten the fridge in the door and we'd chosen where it would live.  Well after staring at it a bunch I decided I really wanted to try and clean it up a bit.  Obviously the dents weren't going anywhere but the scrapes, scratches and stains could do with a little elbow grease.

    Before:

    Kinda Groatie       Other Side

     

    Naturally the first question was "How do you clean up a badly scratched stainless steel refrigerator?" - Google to the rescue!  Well, sorta kinda.  Basically I learned a few things - #1 is DON'T USE STEEL WOOL ON STAINLESS STEEL - particles of the steel wool will embed themselves in the surface of the stainless.  Then guess what?  It ain't stainless anymore!  The "regular" steel from the steel wool will rust.  Well good to know - I never would have guessed.  Thing #2 I learned is DON'T USE BLEACH OR OTHER CHLORINATED CLEANERS ON STAINLESS STEEL.  Bleach reacts with stainless and will cause it to look dull or dark.  If you want it to look nice and clean, keep the bleach away from it.

    Final answer?  Automotive medium grade wet/dry sandpaper, thoroughly soaked.  Use LOTS of water to keep washing away the grime and don't press TOO hard, although you definitely need to throw your weight behind it.  Always go with the grain and make sure your strokes are straight.  Oh, and do all the dents and other low spots first, THEN go over the whole surrounding area.

    During:

    Kegerator Top - Before & After

    Big difference, eh?

    After:

    TaDa!

    That looks MUCH better! I feel a lot better having that next to my kitchen.

    OK, so fast forward a week (and another trip to Atlanta and back for me):

    Goodies

    Goodies!!

    Double draft tower, double regulator, CO2 lines, drip tray, keg "gas gauge" strips.  Ohhhhh yeah!

    I can only fit a single 1/2 barrel (a "normal" keg is called a 1/2 barrel) but I can fit two 1/4 barrels or three 1/6 barrels.  The 1/4 barrel is what I'm planning on using for the most part.  That's half a batch of U-brew so I figure this way I can have some overlap between batches.  The dual regulator comes in handy there because different types of beer need different pressures to keep them properly carbonated.  There's a whoooole lotta figuring you have to do with respect to beer pressures, line diameter and length, tap height above the keg and keg storage temperatures.  I might have to shorten one of my lines and use it just for IPAs and Porters that don't like as much CO2 pressure, but it's pretty much perfect for pale ales and things right now.

    OK, the build:

    Layer 1!      We're Through!     Anybody In There?

     

    I used a bi-metal hole saw from Princess Auto - it worked GREAT.  It said on the box "For Mild Steel, Stainless and Cast Iron".  From my Googling I found out you need to use some kind of lubricant with these or you just overheat them and the teeth go soft.  I used my usual favorite, plain old 10W30.  Worked fine... I got through both layers no problem and the saw is still SUPER sharp.

    Tower Test Fit

    Test Fit

    Next step was to mount the tower itself.  I measured, measured, measured to make sure the mounting bolts were spaced equally from the front and sides.  I'm kinda anal about that sort of thing since I tend to notice it forever after.  I actually noticed the draft tower itself is slightly off - the taps aren't QUITE even with respect to the mounting base.  I didn't build that part though so I'll ignore it.  :)

    Mounted Up!

    Nice thing about using a commercial fridge for this is it's stainless inside and out.  Most bar fridges you buy are plastic on the top and vinyl on the inside with nothing more than foam in the middle.  If you try and bolt a draft tower to that it'll be super wobbly, the plastic will crack and you'll just end up compressing the foam a bunch.  No such issues with the Silver King.  The bolts that came with my draft tower were super long too - I actually cut about 3/4" off of 'em before I mounted this all up.

    Tower Cooling

    Temporary Tower Cooling

    One thing I learned through all of this is the draft tower itself needs to be kept cold.  That's why it's such a large diameter in the first place - you need to make sure there's plenty of airflow in the tower or the beer in the lines gets too warm and goes bad, plus you get a foamy first pour.  What a waste!  The evaporator fan in this unit runs continuously (which you want for keg cooling anyhow) so I just used an old paper towel tube to duct some of the air up the tower.  I cut the tube in half lengthwise to feed cold air up the tower while leaving enough room for it to push itself back out again.  It works GREAT - I'll probably just leave the cardboard in there till it gets mushy or something then go to Home Depot and get some vinyl tubing - they've got some big fat stuff that's about the same size as this.

    Beauty Shot

    Sure have come a long way from that filthy scratched up thing I started with!!  This has definitely been a labour of love.  I can't wait to actually be drinking beer from it!!!!

    Aug 11, 2009

    Kegerator Here I Come!

    by Bryn — last modified Aug 11, 2009 09:13 PM

    I've been doing U-brew for a looooong time - that's a lot of why my Beer Review doesn't get updated so often! Well how about I start reviewing more than just commercial beer? Yes, it's the KEGERATOR! 168 lbs empty she's a beast!

    OK, I don't screw around.

    When I decide I'm going to do something, I do it as right as I possibly can.  If that means building a website, I do the best I possibly can with a website.  If I decide I need to make my beer drinking experience beter, well - you get the picture!

    I'm sick and tired of washing bottles.  Standing there with the apron on and rubber gloves going rinse-rinse-bleach one by one sucks.  I'm done having a big pile of bottles in my house.  In short I'm DONE with having all that packaging to worry about!  Straight up, when I buy cans from the liquor store I leave the 6-pack ring and recipt with them, and refuse a bag.  Packaging sucks!

    So what comes next?  Well, the natural progression is to look at what I like about having bottles so much.  I like that they cost basically nothing - once you buy 'em they're yours and you can use 'em again and again.  I like that beer tastes better out of a bottle than out of a can.  I like the experience of drinking out of glass.  I hate the cleanup!

    That pretty much leaves us at a draft system.  One time purchase price and you're done - you never have to clean another bottle.  You DO need to clean some lines and things but that's not nearly so bad.  Enter the KEGERATOR!!

    Silver King

    Like I said, I don't screw around...

    This is a Silver King commercial under-counter fridge.  It's designed to live up to the cruel, cruel world of commercial food preparation which means it was designed from day one to be abused, and better yet repaired!  No sense in building your kegerator around some crappy cheap fridge that bites the dust in a couple years and you have to start from scratch.  This baby was built to LAST!

    Kegerator Inside 

    For now I've just got my cans in there - had to make sure the fridge worked before I started putting even more beer in there! There's a glass up at the top with a thermometer in it - the air temp inside your fridge isn't really anything more than "of interest" - the actual temperature of the liquid inside is what matters.  Beer doesn't pour right unless it's between 34-38 degrees Fahrenheit. Doesn't mean that's the right temp to drink it at!! There's NOTHING wrong with pouring in to a warmer glass and giving it a chance to gain a little temperature - only crappy beer tastes better the colder it is!

     

    My taps and things show up some time HOPEFULLY this week, or early next week at the latest.  Only thing is I'm going to be away next week - I'll be going nuts if it doesn't show up by Friday!!!!  More to come as things progress...

    Jul 22, 2009

    Highland Brewing Company Oatmeal Porter

    by Bryn — last modified Jul 22, 2009 07:47 PM
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    What can I say, I couldn't resist picking up a beer with a name like that!

    Highland Oatmeal PorterI'm in Atlanta drinking beer from North Carolina!

    This time around I'm sharing Highland Brewing Company's Oatmeal Porter.  I'm a big fan of dark beers though I usually tend to avoid them at this time of year... Summer is more for IPA's than Porters!  But HBC's Oatmeal Porter is a bit different from most...

    A lot of porters tend to be a bit on the bitter side - the flavour of the Highland is quite smooth though with that great almost coffee finish and a well balanced taste.  Definitely an easy drinker!  It doesn't have as wild a body as some Porters, but I think a strong Porter is really an acquired taste.  This beer is a great place to get yourself started in the world of beers you can barely see through!

    Highland Brewing Company has a few other interesting titles in their library - if I had more time here I think I'd be seeking out their Black Mocha Stout for a taste.  Next trip to ATL perhaps! 

    Mar 10, 2009

    Okanagan Fest-Of-Ale 2009

    by Bryn — last modified Mar 10, 2009 02:02 PM

    This year I'm going up to Pentiction for the Fest-of-Ale!

    Can't have all our fun here in Vancouver, right?

    In a few weeks I'm heading up to Pentiction for the Fest-of-Ale - it's a pretty good deal, $20 for a ticket and then beer tokens are $1 each.  Most beer samples are only one token, and as an added bonus a lot of the food is only a couple of tokens too!  $2 burgers anyone?

    Here's this year's brewery list:

    Alpine Brewing Company Inc. (US)
    Big Al Brewing (US)
    Boundary Bay (US)
    Bravo Beer Co.
    Cannery Brewery Company
    Central City Brewing Co.
    Corby Distillers Ltd.
    Crannóg Ales
    Dead Frog Brewery
    Fernie Brewing Company
    Granville Island Brewing Company Inc.
    Growers Cider
    Hells Gate Brewing Company
    Lost Coast Brewery
    Mikes Hard Lemonade
    Mt. Begbie Brewing
    Old Schoolhouse Brewery (US)
    Old Yale Brewing Co.
    Paddock Wood Brewing
    Pyramid Brewery
    Shuswap Lake Brewing Co.
    The Tin Whistle Brewing Company Ltd.
    Tree Brewing Co.
    VEX
    Whistler Brewing Co.
    Yanjing Beer Group

    Just a few there eh?

    Anyhow, check out the event home page here: http://www.fest-of-ale.bc.ca

    Feb 16, 2009

    Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

    by Bryn — last modified Feb 16, 2009 10:40 PM
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    Whenever I travel I always try and find some beers I've never had before. I'm in Vegas right now, and stumbled across Sierra Nevada brewing!

    Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

    Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is definitely worth checking out.  If you're ever in Vegas, for god's sake stay away from the casinos when you buy beer!  You absolutely do not need to pay $7 for a Coors Light.  Go find yourself a grocery store or whatever that sells beer - there's lots of them on the east end of the strip.  They're still pricey for the US - you'll pay about $11 - $12 for a 6-pack so pretty much "normal" prices for Vancouver.

    Anyhow, on to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.  It's a nice bitter Pale Ale with a really tasty flavor, and quite a nice finish.  They pre-treat the bottle with a yeasty beer mixture so there's usually a touch of yeast in the bottom of the bottle, but that's how you know you're getting something besides plain old ordinary boring beer.

    If I had to choose a local Pale Ale that had the same kind of flavor, I'd go for Nelson Brewing.  The Sierra Nevada is better though - it's got more body and really has a much fuller taste.  Lots of hoppy flavour much like Nelson, but there's just more to it.  Check it out!

    Jan 15, 2007

    R&B Raven Cream Ale

    by Bryn — last modified Jan 15, 2007 08:53 PM

    Smooth drinking good times from R&B Brewing

    My first experiences with R&B Brewing were in about 1997. Unfortunately the R&B web site doesn't have much info about the company (ie when they opened!) but their beer was good then and it's still good now.

    To the matter at hand, R&B Raven Cream Ale. This is a very smooth drinking beer with a nice rich dark flavor. The taste is similar to Nelson After Dark so if that's your style then you'll like this for sure. It's a bit smoother than After Dark plus I'd say a bit more 'creamy' - I guess that makes sense given the name.

    I'd rate this beer quite highly. If you want something darker and a HELL of a lot better than Shaftsbury Cream Ale check out R&B. They're local and you'll find them on tap at quite a few places around the city.

    Dec 02, 2006

    Shaftebury Winter Nights Black & Tan

    by Bryn — last modified Dec 02, 2006 06:48 PM

    Shaftebury has joined in on the winter ale bandwagon with their Winter Nights Black & Tan

    These days Shaftebury Brewing Company is a regional division of Sleeman but it is still an all Canadian brewery. Shaftebury is considered a 'Regional Brand' of Sleeman with its brewery in Delta and has been around since 1987 while Sleeman itself has been brewing since 1934.

    As with most winter ales Shaftebury Winter Nights is a darker beer. The colour is quite close to a real black and tan although it's a bit lighter than the famous Harp mix. It's a reasonably smooth drinking beer - I'll confess I usually find a bit of an aftertaste on Shaftebury products that I'm not super excited about but I'd definitely choose this over the majority of the Shaftebury lineup.

    How does it compare to other Winter Ales? Well, as a relative newcomer on the Winter Ale scene I'll have to give it the benefit of the doubt and say that I see potential for a really nice Winter Ale in the future. I'd choose Granville Island Winter over the Shaftebury and I'd choose Nelson Faceplant over both of them.

    It's not a bad beer by any means - It'll beat most of the Sleeman lineup without even breaking a sweat. But it just doesn't have the smooth finish that I'm looking for, a fault I find all too common with Shaftebury beers when compared to the competition.

    Nov 17, 2006

    Phillips Draught Dodger

    by Bryn — last modified Nov 17, 2006 09:15 PM

    A nice slightly smoky Maple Cream Ale with a bit more sophisticated flavor than the competition...

    Phillips Brewing Company is located in Victoria, BC so they know what the good stuff is! I actually had never had Phillips before tonight - I was checking out a not-so-local Liquor store and spotted the box in the lineup. Since I hadn't tried it what choice did I have??

    Phillips Draught Dodger is a Maple Cream Ale that kicks the pants off of Granville Island's Maple Cream... Phillips Draught Dodger actually has a complex flavour while I find the Granville Island Maple Cream while totally drinkable to be somewhat simplistic.

    If I had to find one word that would describe Phillips Draught Dodger that would be 'smokey' - the flavour is quite nice and has a lot going on, you can tell that this was actually brewed beer, not just 'manufactured'. I suppose some people might not go for it - it's definitely got a lot of the qualities of darker beers though not as dark as a stout or anything like that. St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout shares a bit in the flavour department with this beer so if you like that you'll probably like this too.

    The initial flavour is quite smooth while the smokiness really comes in on the aftertaste - inhale, exhale, ohhhh yeah. Good stuff. I found this at a BC Liquor Store at Willingdon and Kingsway - check it out!

    Update: I found this article talking about the history of Phillips, if anyone is interested.

    Red Cap

    by Bryn — last modified Nov 17, 2006 08:52 PM

    Just like your pappa used to drink...

    Red Cap by Brick Brewing Company is somewhat unique in that it is one of the few Canadian beers sold in stubbies.
    Brick Brewing Company is somewhat unique in that it is one of the few Canadian beers sold in stubbies.
    Red Cap is a lighter ale that's got excellent drinkability. The taste is smooth and just a little sharp - nice and refreshing. Although I'm pretty against bottles on cruiser rides there's no denying that stubby looks pretty sweet in your cupholder - just don't break any glass around my tires, mmmkay?

    I honestly haven't had too many of the other beers by Brick Brewing - they're an Ontario brewery in the Kitchener/Waterloo area and actually have quite a few different varieties that you don't find out here in BC too much.

    Red Cap is about more than just the stubbies - if I had to choose a favorite 'light' beer it'd probably be Red Cap. My tastes definitely go towards the darker stuff but I would never turn this down (not that there's much beer I actually WOULD turn down!!).

    Red Truck Ale

    by Bryn — last modified Nov 17, 2006 08:39 PM

    Red Truck is available at a few places around Vancouver including the Cruiser-friendly DIX Pub near BC Place

    The first time I had Red Truck was on Rod's Birthday Ride in 2005 - coincidently that was also the day I got my Manhattan AND the day I stumbled across a lot of the cruiser 'scene'. Picture yourself riding along on your brand new bike and ending up at the pub... What will you have? Well, they've got this 'Red Truck' stuff you haven't heard of, how about that? Let's just get one thing out in the open - I'm not a huge lager fan. Yeah, it's beer, you can drink it and some lagers are actually ok but it's just not my thing. So it shouldn't come as any surprise that Red Truck Ale is my preferred choice from the Red Truck lineup.

    Red Truck Ale

    Red Truck describes their ale as aluscious, copper-hued ale is combines the drinkability of a lager with the rich smoothness of an amber ale. All you serious hopheads out there will be interested to know that it's crystal malt that gives Red Truck its rich colour and depth of flavour, while Pacific Fuggles and Goldings hops provide the wonderfully complex nose and finish. For the rest of us, let's just say that it's made with nothing but pure, good stuff, delivered fresh from our brewery to your favourite watering hole. That's honestly pretty on the money - it's smooth and flavorful. No skunky lager taste here! Check it out one day - pop in to Dix and grab a glass. They're usually cool if you want to park your bike inside provided they're not too crazy busy (no game nights) and they've even got a nice cruiser on display. Food isn't bad either.

    Beer Review? So What Is This Anyhow?

    by Bryn — last modified Nov 17, 2006 08:29 PM
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    I keep thinking of doing a beer log to keep track of all the various brews I've come across. Well hell, why not here?

    I kind of pride myself on being able to tell you what just about any beer in the liquor store tastes like... In fact I always get excited when I'm at a new beer store that has something I haven't tried yet!

    I've been wanting to sort of keep a 'beer record' for my own self... Then I decided I wanted to share it... Of the various sites I host Vancruisers.ca seemed the best place - we all like beer so why not?

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