Friday, 21 July 2017

Burlington Funk

My next summer theme week originates in Burlington, Ontario. It's a mixed four-pack from the Nickel Brook Brewing Co. that they call their Funk 101: Summer School Mix Pack. The pack features an array of NB's sourest and funkiest ales, a quartet that includes their Uncommon Element Brett Pale Ale, Duplicitous Citra Dry-Hopped Gose, Raspberry Berlinerweisse, and Ceres Cucumber-Lime Gose. The four 375mL bottles (weird size BTW) came in a very sharp box with beaker/scientific flask cutouts.

I'm going to call the next four reviews Burlington Funk. Stay tuned to the bitter world to read my thoughts on this slick summer quad.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Sanguine Siblings: Blood Light

Lest anyone belive from the first three installments of Sanguine Siblings that Blood Brothers Brewing deals only in IPAs, Blood Light is a low alcohol blonde ale from the midtown Toronto brewery. At just 4.2%, this brew is straw yellow in colour; hazy with a bright white head. I reviewed this one with the Bitter Wife, fresh from the source.

Bitter Wife:

Smells like beer, with a thin but citrusy note. Smells like eating a grapefruit under a sprinkler on a summer day.

Tastes thin, but crisp, only for a microsecond. Frothy in texture, with a bit of a buried maltiness. Flavour is gone in a wink. There are mass-produced pale lager attributes, but with a refined flavour. Mostly, though, it's gone in an instant. Very little finish.

6.5 out of 10, but based on the Bitter Wife's harsh rating scale.

To my mind, this beer had a yeasty, slightly fruity scent. More flavourful than its low percentage should allow, this ale tasted slightly yeasty, over top of some strawberry notes. There was almost nothing on the finish, though, which let the beer down.

I liked the stuff OK. It was light and crisp, yet flavourful, except for a wispy finish that fell short of impressing.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Sanguine Siblings: Love Trip

My third foray into the Blood Brothers Brewing catalogue was also a member of the IPA family, although this time a double. At 8.5% alcohol, BB's Love Trip had some hefty ballast. Sold in 500mL bottles from the brewery's Toronto bottle shop, Love Trip proved to be an orange-gold grog--hazy with a bright ivory head.

For such a strong beer, the aroma was surprisingly mild: mild, but still engaging. The scent was slightly metallic, but primarily motivated by the tang of fresh oranges. The flavour could (and I think should) be described as "dangerous", given the fact that the high alcohol content is barely apparent. If I hadn't read the tag, I'd have guessed 6.5% tops. The result is that the booze in this double IPA can catch you unaware if you're not careful. It has a slightly sweet Valencia orange note on the front end and a finish that is bitter, but also warm and a touch sugary.

Based on the three beers I've tried to date, Blood Brothers Brewery seems to really excel at producing hoppy, juicy beers. The orange notes in Love Trip fit nicely into that pattern without holding the portfolio back--this beer is different enough from Shumei and Grannyville to forestall any qualms about repetitiveness. As double India pales go, Love Trip was a better than average entry; one I'd gladly return to.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Sanguine Siblings: Grannyvine IPA

While the stats for Blood Brothers Brewing's Grannyvine IPA are very similar to those of their Shumei IPA (both clock in at 7% alcohol, come in 500mL bottles, and pour with bright white heads), the beers are actually fairly distinct. My analysis of Shumei had already been recorded, so I'll save my ink for Grannyvine.

A hazy, bright gold ale, Grannyvine has a seductive, juicy aroma; a nose rich in both bitterness and tropical fruit. The flavour also has bursts of fruit; namely mango and pineapple. Added to this are deeply bitter hops elements. With lip-pursing dryness through the finish, this beer has a lot of big positives. The one stumbling block that I found was an initially thin mouthfeel. For a beer at this strength and with this aromatic depth, I wanted a comparably punchy tone. However, it should be noted that, though the initial mouthfeel is a touch too thin, much ground is made up by the time the arid finish rolls around.

On the whole, Grannyvine is another engrossing IPA from Toronto's Blood Brothers. While it isn't as distinctive or impressive as the flagship Shumei, it's still a very nice brew--adequately strong, amply flavourful, and agreeably bitter. Will most definitely buy again.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Sanguine Siblings: Shumei IPA

My first taste of a Blood Brothers Brewing product was their Shumei IPA. According to the copy on the cooler at the Toronto-based brewery and bottle shop, Shumei is BB's biggest-selling ale. It comes in 500mL bottles that feature a BEAUTIFUL label. At 7% alcohol, Shumei is a handsome orange-gold brew. It's hazy and pours with a fluffy cover of white head.

With a dank and resinous aroma, this beer's scent is definitely reminiscent of a certain euphoric plant that may soon be legal in Canada. The flavour, while mainly bitter and resinous, has layers beyond the hempen, however, with some light fruit notes, hay, and pine making cameo appearances.

For a first dip into the Blood Brothers reservoir, I found Shumei IPA an exciting and energetic brew. It was flavourful, adequately strong, and not a typical or boring India Pale: bitter and not bashful about it. Damned good stuff worth buying.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Sanguine Siblings

During the Victoria Day long weekend, I convinced the Bitter Wife, the long-suffering gal who won my heart, to accompany me to Blood Brothers Brewing--a little spot nestled on Geary Avenue in midtown Toronto. Keep in mind that our visit to the brewery came after a lengthy stopover at the Dufferin Mall--a brewery trip was no small ask.

Because we were carrying tons of cargo and because it was quite crowded, we opted to visit Blood Brothers' bottle shop rather than seek out a seat.

I left with a quartet of ales that I'll be reviewing over the next week. Stay tuned for the series I'm calling "Sanguine Siblings".

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Ricky and the Hendersons: Rube Goldbeer

Named in honour of both Rube Goldberg and the ingenious beer opening device that graces the wall behind the bar at Toronto's Henderson Brewing Co., Rube Goldbeer is described as a "Belgian-inspired strong ale". However, I'd class it as a dubbel. Sold in hefty 650mL bottles with a label that features a monk and the aforementioned bottle-opening machine, RG is an 8% alcohol concoction.

RG is clear, with a nice chestnut colour. It pours with a vivacious off-white head and has a malty, nutty aroma. The flavour is also extremely malty. It's sweet, with some raisin notes and a bit of a yeasty streak. As well, it tastes strong, as in boozy.

Rube Goldbeer was a pretty fair Ontarian take on a Belgian ale. It tasted quite nice, though nowhere near as funky as the Belgian equivalent. Still, I found it strong and satisfying, with a complex array of flavours.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.