Worthington’s White Shield

Worthington’s White Shield

Will I buy this again? No. This is not a bad beer. It’s just not a hoppy, flavour-packed, fun-filled rollercoaster that the bottle seems to indicate.

I was excited. The bottle design is unique, William Worthington started brewing in 1744, and the label indicated that this cask-style beer is “our finest India Pale Ale for true IPA connoisseurs”. This must be a fantastic pint.

On first pour, I have to admit, the smell had the soft notes of a cask beer. I ensured that the directions were followed: for best results allow to settle for 12 hours and serve at 11-13 Celsius. Everything was set – I was ready for a taste sensation.

Sadly however, the reward was somewhat less impressive. “Ahh, I see”, I thought to myself. “This is an IPA in the sense that Alexander Keith’s is an IPA. The difference being that this IPA has some flavour unlike the aforementioned rival”.

Darn.

I suppose this is why I started journaling my experience with pints and pubs; so that I would have a record of what works and what misses.

This is not a bad beer. It’s just not a hoppy, flavour-packed, fun-filled rollercoaster that the bottle seems to indicate. The taste is not at all close to a cask beer, the carbonation is just wrong. Again, not that it’s bad, but it is certainly not as advertised.

Research

I think I know what the problem is. This appears to be a beer now owned by Molson Coors. Perhaps at one time this was a great beer with all of the fantastic flavours that I see described on several websites, but these two lines from ratebeer.com sums up the quality perfectly:

“Production moved from White Shield brewery to William Worthington’s brewery in December 2010. Production moved to the main Coors brewery in Burton in 2012 to keep up with increasing demand.” – Ratebeer.com: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/worthingtons-white-shield/286/

It appears that demand increased, brewing was moved, and quality suffered. I’m not alone in rating this beer rather poorly, as others have been duped by the promises of a unique IPA as well. Upon reading reviews by others, one thing becomes very clear: this beer is mediocre at best.

Outcome

Will I buy this again? No.

I’m actually so saddened by this beer that I don’t feel it’s worth reporting the details on any further. You can see more on the Molson Coors website, but really, why bother.

http://www.molsoncoors.com/en/Brands/Global%20Portfolio/Worthingtons%20White%20Shield.aspx

Beau’s – Bog Water (seasonal winter)

Beau’s – Bog Water

Beau’s has crafted a beer with the soul of a plant that has the gumption to stand up against the odds and fight for survival. Yes, the beer is just that cool!

Know those moments when you’re standing in front of a selection of beers and the thought suddenly strikes you: I could really go for some fresh bog water! Perhaps this is not a thought that happens often, but today it is exactly what happened to me.

My first impression of this pint was to go and check the bottle to ensure that it is actually a strong beer. It’s 6.6%, but it is surprisingly watery. Not watery in a bad way, just not as overwhelming as fun name like “bog water” suggests. I also found it lacking in carbonation, although I don’t believe it’s a cask beer.

On second taste, I realize the secret behind this beer is the subtle flavour given by the wild sweet gale. Perhaps it’s not much of a secret since another term for sweet gale is BOG myrtle (hence the beer’s name). The bottle also indicates that the bog name comes from the Alfred Bod, in Eastern Ontario, where the sweet gale is grown.

What is sweet gale?

Looking as Wikipedia it appears that sweet gale “typically grows in acidic peat bogs, and to cope with these difficult nitrogen-poor growing conditions, the roots have nitrogen-fixing actinobacteria which enable the plants to grow.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrica_gale

What this means is that Beau’s has crafted a beer with the soul of a plant that has the gumption to stand up against the odds and fight for survival. Yes, the beer is just that cool!

However, here’s the downside. I’m about halfway through the pint and it’s becoming boring. It’s sold in a 600mL bottle and I could have stopped at about the average 355mL bottle. This is a beer that begins to lose its charm after a while – not that I don’t recommend trying it, but if you’re debating about buying two bottles it would be better to buy one and pickup one of Beau’s other pints as well.

What others are saying?

It appears I’m not alone in my feeling about this beer – good, but not great. Here are few reviews:

Amsterdam Brewery – All Natural Blonde

Amsterdam Brewery – All Natural Blonde

Amsterdam Brewery – All Natural Blonde

I grew up on competing ads between Molson and Labatt’s. For those of you who watched Hockey Night in Canada, you’ll remember how one brewery would be the official sponsor one year, and the next year it would flip. Their marketing taught me that beer was a lager, by one of these companies. Growing up, beer was at first exciting, then bland, and then I grew to dislike lagers.

Well there is good news: I met a strong blonde with a great body. The best part, she is a lager (not a logger). Amsterdam Brewery has restored my faith that a lager can be delicious, easy-drinking, and have a crisp finish.

The Amsterdam blonde, with a light hops flavour, raises the bar for other lagers. It deserves to be served ice-cold and would make a fantastic summertime pint. Unlike other lagers which develop an unpleasant aftertaste, I found that this pint works from start to finish.

A few notes:

Beer Style: Lager
Alc./Vol.: 5.0%
Bittering Units: 14
Malts: Canadian 2-Row
Hops: Vanguard

Find more information on their website: http://amsterdambeer.com/beers/amsterdam-blonde/

Yes, there was a time when I was turned away from lagers because many were bland and tasted terrible, but it’s fair to say I’ve fallen for a new blonde who is guaranteed to turn some heads.

Ommegang Brewery – Hennepin: A spicey Farmhouse Saison

Ommegang Brewery - Hennepin The best way to outline this pint is one that has a variety of spices mixed with notes of orange and coriander. I say this because it is unlike anything else I’ve ever had.

This is a mid-evening drink. I would not start the night off with this beer as it is simply too complex and will distort the flavor of other beers. However, I would not leave this to the end of an evening either as it deserves to be enjoyed.

The bottle describes the types of pairings that go well, including: Asian cuisine, seafood, and spicy barbeque. I agree 100%. This complex beer deserves a complex, and flavourful, meal to accompany it. Don’t treat this as a quick drink as each sip is has a unique taste – not an easy feat for a single pint.

What is a Farmhouse Saison?

The Hennepin is a farmhouse saison. I have to admit, I didn’t know what a farmhouse saison was before I started writing this posting. It was interesting to learn that saison is French for season, and as such, this is a seasonal beer.

To read the best description, I highly recommend reading the article from Allaboutbeer.com:

“Saison is a remnant of centuries-past, rural Belgian farmhouse ales common to French-speaking Wallonia, especially in the west, and parts of Flanders… Centuries ago, beers were spiced with locally grown or culled herbs and botanicals, referred to collectively as gruit. Naturally, this would have varied regionally or locally, based on availability or preference. A thousand years ago, hops began replacing gruit in much of continental Europe, and almost entirely by the sixteenth century. Belgian brewers, though, often used hops alongside their herbal mixtures.” – http://allaboutbeer.com/article/belgian-farmhouse-ale-saison/

I like this beer. It is not something I would drink all the time, but is something that I could definitely see myself including in a menu as an excellent pairing. It is a well thought out pint, and one that deserves praise.

Read more details on the Ommegang website:

http://www.ommegang.com/#!beer_hennepin

Dead Guy Ale – Breathes well!

Dead Guy Ale – Breathes well!First sip, first thought: this can’t be a strong beer, it’s far too mellow.

It has taken about 10 minutes and suddenly the quiet, unassuming Dead Guy Ale is alive. Giving this pint a little room to breathe is exactly what it needed to bring out some of the complex, and elegant flavours – it even has a better nose to it. Yes, the irony that the dead guy smells better after it sits around for a bit is not lost on me.

A few details
Dead Guy Ale is nicely carbonated, has an excellent bite to the hops, and a balanced finish. The bottle, decorated with a pint-loving skeleton, clearly indicates that the beer is crafted in Oregon and “Greatfully dedicated to the rogue in each of us.” At 6.5% and 650 ml per bottle, I could see how consuming a few of these would bring out the rogue in anyone.

Style: German Maibock brewed using proprietary Pacman yeast

Nine Ingredients: 2-Row, C15, Munich, Rogue Farms Dare™ & Risk™ Malts; Perle & Sterling Hops; Free Range Coastal Water & Pacman Yeast.

This pint scores very well online with high-ratings between a very good and world-class. Personally, I’d give it a strong very good rating. I like it, I would definitely have it again, but I would not go out of my way to track it down. BUT… I would go on a brewery tour if given the opportunity.

I’m really impressed to see that they grow their own hops, malting barley, rye and other ingredients. These guys even make their own DIRT! That level of dedication right there makes me want to take another sip.

More information is on their website: http://www.rogue.com/roguebeers/

Side note: on their website I see an entire series of other pints. Perhaps further investigation is required.