12 Beers of Christmas-Day 10 (Phillips Trainwreck Barley Wine)

It’s an honour to announce day 10 day post done by a guest blogger, Tom Dyer of thebeerblogger.ca. Please read on for Tom’s write-up about Phillips Trainwreck. Thanks Tom for your contribution.

Photo credit-canadianbeernews.ca

Photo credit-canadianbeernews.ca

While it’s easy to ‘spruce’ up your beer selection with some winter seasonals, or step ‘ginger’ly into spice beers during Christmas (and resisting the urge to make a ‘Don’t slip on the Eis’ or a ‘Naughty or Eis’ Eisbock joke), I always turn towards the rich malt flavours of a big barley wine to keep me warm during the colder season. Victoria’s Phillips Brewing Company returns for the fourth year in a row with the 2013 edition of their Trainwreck Barley Wine. Weighing in at a hardy 10% ABV and available in 650mL bombers; heed the warning label and be “careful not to derail your caboose”.

Best enjoyed a little warmer than not, Trainwreck is deep reddish amber in colour with an off-white head and provides a sweet nose with notes of caramel. Aging in wet bourbon barrels gives it a smooth body that carries the caramel flavour and mixes it with hints of vanilla and big, malty overtones. The long finish dries out slightly and brings out the trademark sourness associated with whiskey-barrel aged beers. In contrast with some other strong beers, Trainwreck’s high alcohol content is only noticeable from the pleasant feeling of warmth it spreads from head to toe.

Although some argue that it’s more of a ’strong ale’, as it lacks the fruitiness or nutty flavours of a typical barely wine, pairing it with nothing but good company and a warm fire provides the perfect finish to a winter dinner or family gathering.

Remember, don’t drink more. Drink better!

Happy Holidays and all the best in the New Year!

T.

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12 Beers of Christmas-Day 8&9 (Village Monk & Grizzly Paw Rutting Elk Red)

Happy Christmas Eve day to everyone! I hope you’re all taking the time to visit with family over a nice cold beer. I’m lucky to have my sister here from Whistler, B.C. and my mother and step-father from Dundas, Ontario for the holidays. In celebration we’ve picked up a couple great beers, among others.

Photo Credit-Village Brewery website

Photo Credit-Village Brewery website

Village Brewery, brews a limited edition called Village Monk, which is a chai winter porter. When everyone’s sipping on mulled wine this is my holiday go-to. It has tons of seasonal notes; everything from cloves, cardamom, chocolate, mint and ginger to hints of fennel and peppercorn. It’s very balanced with a subtle mint finish and a nice roasted malt profile. The Monk is available in growlers and on tap at many Calgary pubs. Grab a growler or two for the holidays. I’ve enjoyed a glass with a chocolately caramel Turtle on the side. It was delicious!!

For those that enjoy a more medium bodied ale, try Grizzly Paw Brewery’s Rutting Elk Red. This scottish style beer is great aside roasted peanuts or with a prime rib meal. It’s dark copper in colour and has delicate roasted and toasted notes and caramel in the finish. This is a great session beer for the holidays at 5.2% and with medium carbonation.

Photo Credit-Grizzly Paw Brewery website

Photo Credit-Grizzly Paw Brewery website

Thanks for keeping tuned in to the 12 Beers of Christmas! Stay tuned for the final three brews to get you through Christmas Day. The final brew will be posted on Boxing Day and will be a great one to celebrate with after a fun but tiresome holiday!

Cheers!

12 Beers of Christmas-Day 6&7 (WRB Cherry Porter & Rogue Chocolate Stout)

Well I must admit, due to some serious Christmas party-ing this weekend I failed to post day 6 of the 12 Beers of Christmas. I’ll be featuring two wonderfully delicious brews today, two of which I’ve indulged in this weekend at National on 10th (Calgary, AB). They are both big, bold and tastily rich. What can I say, I kinda owe it to you after skipping out on yesterdays beer of the day.

Photo credit-Wild Rose Brewery website

Photo credit-Wild Rose Brewery website

The first one, Wild Rose Brewery’s Cherry Porter, is one I look forward to each winter. It reminds me of black forest cake in liquid form with some knock-out cherry and mocha notes. It’s brewed with only the juiciest and plump B.C. cherries, giving it a delicate fruitiness that’s balanced with rich, roasted malt notes. A strong yet smooth beer at 6.6% with just ever so slight dark bitter chocolate notes in the finish. Cherry Porter is available starting in November each year and is available for a limited time, until stores/pubs run out, and you can be sure they will, and fast! Available in 1L swing-top bottles or on tap. Enjoy with your favourite Christmas cookies or fudge.

Photo credit-Rogue Brewery website

Photo credit-Rogue Brewery website

So this next one, though available all year round, is Rogue Brewery’s Chocolate Stout and sure packs a ton of rich chocolate punch. The recognition in awards that this beer has received is only a small testament to its wealth of flavours and superior quality. It is even the only US beer to have won an award at the Mondial de la Biere Festival in Strasbourg, FranceIt is hands-down my favourite stout with creamy and sweet chocolate notes, full-body from rolled-oats; it’s the perfect combination of bitter and sweet. Fun fact about this beer; the recipe for this beer was created a number of years ago for export to Japan. Sip on Rogue’s Chocolate Stout paired with a chocolate truffle atop a dollop of candy cane ice cream-yum!

-Cheers!

12 Beers of Christmas-Day 5 (Muskoka Brewery, Winter Beard)

Photo credit-Muskoka Brewery website

Photo credit-Muskoka Brewery website

I’m going back to my roots with this next one; a beer brewed in the province I’m from and in one of my most favourite places in the entire world, Muskoka. Winter Beard, Muskoka Brewery’s seasonal beer is a smooth creamy double chocolate cranberry stout at a whopping 8% ABV. There’s nothing that screams winter warmer more than notes of rich chocolate and cranberry in your beer

Winter Beard is brewed with actual cocoa and bitter (70%) chocolate, fresh and locally harvested cranberries and roasted dark chocolate malts to give it a rich deep colour. It has a silky mouthfeel with just ever so subtle cranberry undertones and a pleasant cocoa bitterness in the finish. It comes packaged nicely in a large corked bottled, is great for an after dinner night-cap, or as a gift for that beer lover in our life. On second thought, keep it for yourself…you’ll thank me after you take one sip! Enjoy Winter Beard in a nice snifter style glass and at a cool, not cold temperature.

‘Tis the season to indulge in rich, creamy and chocolately beer!

-Cheers!

12 Beers of Christmas-Day 4 (Granville Island, Lions Winter Ale)

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Photo Credit-Granville Island Brewing website

I had the pleasure of visiting the Granville Island Brewery this past October and was honoured to meet brewmaster Vern Lambourne. They had just finished brewing and shipping the seasonal pumpkin ale, The Pumpkining, that I enjoyed every ounce of on tap in Vancouver, and back in Calgary in the bottle. Since the fall, Granville has switched over to serving the infamous Lions Winter Ale for the winter season. This gem is available from October to March to keep you warm and toasty through the winter. This year is a very special one for the brewery as it marks the 10th Anniversary of Lion’s Winter Ale-It’s THAT good! This isn’t the brewery’s first milestone; they were Canada’s first microbrewery and have been in operation for nearly 30 years!

Lions Winter Ale is the epitome of a seasonal winter brew with warm chocolate, vanilla and caramel notes. The blend of the flavours are neither too sweet or over-powering and one sip is like a warm blanket over your taste buds. Pair with bacon wrapped pork tenderloin or aside your Christmas lamb, even turkey! Or enjoy it the way I love to; curled up on the couch with a warm blanket while watching your favourite Christmas flicks.

For you seasonal beer fans in eastern Canada, such as Ontario, you’re lucky to be able to find this one in LCBO and other stores with the wider distribution of this brew since Creemore Springs bought the company in 2009. No matter how you enjoy this one, Lions Winter Ale will be sure to bring back memories of the winter before.

-Cheers!

12 Beers of Christmas-Day 3 (Big Rock, Lumberjack Pack)

Photo Credit-Big Rock Brewery

On this wintery Monday I thought it would only be appropriate to cheer you up with not one but three beers on day three! Big Rock Brewery has released the new Lumberjack Pack with a variety of tasty strong ales. Though they are strong in alcohol content, each have their own personality with one more dark than the others, one with more wild fruit notes and another with a crisp earthy spruce kick.

The Lumberjack Pack is only around for a limited time in Alberta and B.C. so be sure to pick up a couple six packs for the holiday. My favourite beer from the pack is Twisted Antler, and one that can get away with being a ‘breakfast beer’ for the holidays. Imagine, opening your gifts on Christmas morning, fire-side, beer-in-hand. Now that’s what I call a Christmas miracle! Twisted antler is a beautiful dark ale with rich notes of cocoa and coffee. This beer is actually brewed with Colombian coffee as well as Caramel, Chocolate, Munich and Pale malts. The rich chocolate undertones blend nicely with just hints of licorice in the finish. Enjoy this with dark chocolate or a slice of coffee cake.

The next beer in the pack is the Spruce Goose, and should be sipped after cutting down your Christmas tree (for those late holiday prep folk), or next to your tree while snacking on mild cheese and crackers. This amber beer is brewed with spruce tips to create an ever so subtle and refreshing earthy flavour, mellowed out with honey and a citrus finish.

The last beer in the pack, Hibernation, has the most complex variety of ingredients, and though it’s a fruit beer by style, it’s dry and ever so delicate with flecks of floral notes. Picture yourself sitting in a forest filled with juniper berries, wild strawberries, rustic and statuesque birch trees, pretty and plush roses, the aroma of wood and elder flowers filling the air — now picture that in beer form; to.die.for. As Big Rock puts it, this beer contains everything that a bear would eat before hibernation, and it truly is ‘our home and native land, now in liquid form.’ The earthy ingredients are combined with honey and maple sugar to create a complex, yet easy drinking and mild brown fruit beer.

Grab a Lumberjack Pack today (6 pack)! It’s a limited edition and each is sure to please the different taste buds at your holiday gathering. Better yet, keep em’ for yourself!

Cheers!

12 Beers of Christmas-Day 2 (Delirium Noel)

Delirium Noel-Photo Credit www.realbeer.com

Delirium Noel-Photo Credit http://www.realbeer.com

There’s nothing that says Christmas more than a beer that has pink elephants wearing santa hats on the label, and packs and punch of 10% abv. Belgian brewery, Brouwerij Huyghe, known for their Delirium Tremens, also brew a festive Belgian strong dark ale called Delirium Noël. Instead of reaching for a nice glass of port or liqueur after your Christmas meal, this beer is the perfect and sweet replacement to pair with apple pie or enjoy on its own. At the first sip you’ll see just why this Belgian brew and three others from the brewery are award-winning and have been named best beer in the world in 2008 at the World Beer Championships.

The Noël is full of sweetness from the high alcohol and malt and has rich spice notes blended with hints of toffee, caramel, coffee and raisins. The finish is reminiscent of Christmas pudding or rich dark fruit and brown sugar and is a must-have for sitting in front of the fire on Christmas Eve with the tree glistening and festive tunes playing in the background. Should the weather be snowy and cold the Delirium Noël will be sure to warm you.

Thanks to Christian Moger for recommending this great beer! “Delirium Noël; pink elephant with a Santa hat! You can’t beat that.”-Christian Moger

-Cheers!

12 beers of Christmas-Day 1 (Parallel 49, Salty Scot)

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If you’re anything like me during the holidays, you’re looking forward to trying all the fabulous and festive beers there are out there. This year in honour of the holidays for all you beer lovers, I’ll be posting 12 great brews that are a must try this season!

The first recommendation as part of the 12 beers of Christmas is by Parallel 49 Brewing Company out of Vancouver, BC, and is hands down my most favourite beer this Christmas. Salty Scot is the name, and don’t be surprised if many Calgary liquor stores are sold out by Christmas as I cannot seem to get enough of this one. It’s a Scottish style ale that has notes of caramel and salt with a beautiful pairing that envelopes you like a warm blanket. It has warm subtle caramel notes with a sweetness that’s evened out nicely with an ever so gentle salty finish. It reminds me of caramel and toasted almond bark, and is ideal for you sweet and savory fans out there. It’s 7.5% and can be purchased in large 650 ml bottles, so please enjoy in moderation or do be sure to have a safe drive home after this one!

Cheers!

Moving Mayhem-Brews to Cure the Madness!

Do you have a big move planned? Or maybe you spent the majority of your summer getting settled into a new home. The stress and cost of moving is enough to make one crazy! To cure your madness from moving, check out these tasty and refreshing beers that are perfect for the ‘heat’ of packing, unpacking and moving.

For those of you that have tackled a big move in the past, know that it isn’t a small feat. It takes days on end to get settled, and the move itself can take a full day. You need a beer that will..ehem…allow you to sustain the full day, so a light, low alcohol beer, and one that isn’t too full-bodied or sweet. Think thirst quenching, crisp and refreshing. Session beers as they are called, are great for, well, session drinking, when you know you’ll be sipping on more than just one. I’ll be honest, with the thought of ever having to move again, I know I’ll need more than one tasty craft beer to get me through; something to look forward to at each break, and at the end of the very end of the day. Saison’s are my ultimate favourite session beers. Now these are certainly not lacking in body and flavour, though they are balanced enough, and light enough to enjoy over an extended period. I’ve just discovered a Saison by Green Flash Brewing Co.,(thanks to Kensington Wine Market) out of San Diego called Saison Diego which I absolutely love! It is very subtle with coriander, grass and citrus notes, a slight tartness and it’s very fresh. At 4.5% this is a must try Saison and will be sure to keep you standing during your next big move!

If you’re more of a pale ale fan, reach for Deschutes Brewery’s Mirror Pond Pale Ale. This beer is part of their regular year-round portfolio, and it is a great easy drinking pale with a bronze hue. It’s smooth and very drinkable as it have just the right amount of hops and pale malt to even out the hoppiness.

Lastly, Big Rock has released a Märzen, Gerstemeister Marzen, just in time for Oktoberfest. Marzen is a style of beer that was traditionally brewed in Germany in March to be enjoyed in the fall. This beer is brewed with Hallertau and Tettnanger hops and brings about a very European style flavour profile with maltiness and just an ever so slight hop finish. The Gerstemeister Marzen is only available in the Family Jewels mix pack, which includes the Scottish Style Heavy Ale, gold old classic Traditional Ale, and brand new, Monkey’s Fist IPA. Each of these beers in the mix pack are more than worthy of you picking one up before this limited edition combo runs out.

Let’s face it, with pizza likely being the only thing on the moving and likely unpacking menu, these beers will all pair well with any kind of pizza pie! So whether you’re still unpacking from your summer move, or trying to squeeze a move in before the cold temperatures start, do yourself a favour and pick up one or all of these beers today to maintain your sanity.

Cheers!

Big Rock Eddies Celebrates 20 Years

Me and my husband/date to the Eddies!

Me and my husband/date to the Eddies!

After this years Big Rock Eddies, guests, judges and sponsors took away with them community pride, and award winners walked away with that and a little extra cash in their pocket. The Eddies is an event that all beer lovers in Calgary look forward to each year, as it allows the opportunity for creators of the print, video and t-shirt submissions to express through their talent why they are so proud to be a fan of Big Rock. The evening kicked off with the ever famous red carpet where guests had the opportunity to display their wacky, humorous, fancy, over-the-top oscar-esque get-ups. Everyone enjoyed sipping on the real reason why everyone was gathered there that evening, Big Rock beer! Life of Chai, their most recent creation, as part of the Brewmaster Series, was being sampled and everyone from media to industry folk, beer lovers, beer creators, and community supporters rubbed shoulders while enjoying their favourite Big Rock product.

Big Rock CEO, Bob Sartor

Big Rock CEO, Bob Sartor

The 20th Big Rock Eddies marked a year unforgettable for everyone involved. The event was postponed this year due to the tragic flooding back in June, and this years celebration donned more pride and community spirit than ever. Bob Sartor, CEO of Big Rock stood proudly on stage as he announced the start of the event and said “The result of 20 years is lots of laughs and lots of fun.” He impressed upon how community is one of the other big reasons for Big Rock’s success over the past 20 years. Sartor commended Ed McNally, founder of Big Rock, as this man has not only created Big Rock as a house hold name to all Albertans but he birthed what really is high-quality and pure craft beer. Ed McNally, though retired now, attended the ceremony with his wife, and it was an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to shake their hands and to personally commend McNally for his brilliance. Mayor Nenshi, one of the judges for the print category this year spoke about his pride in Calgarians and how special a community we are to come together and support others even during the most trying times. The crowd raised their glasses and applauded as Nenshi proclaimed “Lets hear it for Calgary!”

Big Rock Brewmaster, Paul Gautreau

Big Rock Brewmaster, Paul Gautreau

The winners of the video, print and t-shirt categories were no doubt a highlight of the evening. The first place video was awarded to Greg Arenburg for his video ‘Cheers‘. Robin Blais took home the award for her t-shirt design ‘Stuffed’, and Bill Mallory won first place in the print category for his Highland Games design. The prize for the student category poster went to Logan Tanner for his “Every Man Dreams of Getting a Big Rock”, and last but not least the Responsibility category print winner was Justin Poulsen for his message about the dangers of drinking and driving. Congratulations to all the winners and submissions! Stay tuned to Big Rock for all the winning videos, posters and t-shirts from this years Eddies.

Keep your eyes out for your chance to enter the 2014 Big Rock Eddies, early in the year, and look out for the unveiling of many more Big Rock products. The innovation and most recent releases are just the beginning from Big Rock.

Cheers!