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Beer

Second Draught: Alexander Keith’s Casade Ale, a large-scale brewer’s foray into craft beer

Alexander Keith's Hop Series Cascade Ale

While wearing their trend-spotting thinking caps, other beer writers have wondered in print why Keith’s produced this new beer. On one hand, because their “India Pale Ale” is really nothing like the style should be, Keith’s has more to lose than some other macrobrewers by acknowledging the existence of craft beer. On the other hand, the end game question comes up: if regular Keith’s drinkers try this beer and like it, won’t they then turn to actual craft beers with their fistful of limited beer dollars?

I’m not really sure how to answer these questions. Maybe Keith’s thinks that craft is a trend (the decades-long history of real ale campaigning in the UK probably indicates otherwise) or maybe somebody at the multinational, brewing behemoth realised that dollars are being left on the table. Either way, the Cascade ale (and to a slightly lesser extent the Hallertauer version) is a very good beer. It will be easy to find this summer and I’ll be happy to drink it again. (more…)

Second Draught: Rodenbach Classic, an easy-drinking introduction to sour beer

A tolerance for bitterness is probably what everyone means when they speak of beer being an “acquired taste”. When you get past that, drink through everything IPAs have to offer, sour beer is the next frontier. We innately associate bitter flavours with dangerous poisons and sourness with spoiled beer (though the latter connection probably isn’t as hard-coded by evolution).  It’s worth developing an appreciation for the style of sour ales (that are that way by design and not because of spoilage) not just for the notoriety but also because they are delicious and pair excellently with food.

If beer-writing gods were really on my side I would have been able to write about the Rodenbach first and the Panil second. They are both in the same Flemish sour ale style (though Panil is made in Italy), but the Rodenbach is lightly tart and makes  a better introduction for newcomers to the style than the funkier, more complex Panil. (more…)

Second Draught: Brasserie des Rocs Grand Cru

Brasserie des Rocs Grand Cru

My “workflow”* process for writing the First Draught posts is pretty simple: drink the beer, take notes, shoot a photo, do some quick background reading and write it up. This time out, that fourth step ballooned into a bit of a paranoid obsession. I was bothered by the feeling that I had missed something while searching for a unified definition of “Grand Cru” beer. But, from a living room covered in beer books (not to mention a computer screen covered in browser tabs) I can report that there really isn’t a single meaning. It sometimes means “this beer has spent time in oak barrels” and more often “this is the best beer we make.”

The St. Feuillien Grand Cru (also in the LCBO’s Spring release) is an exception on both counts. It isn’t aged and they also brew a Grande Cuvee and a Grand Cru Reserve. Bottom-ish line: regardless of what the name really means the Brasserie des Rocs Grand Cru is an excellent beer and a great deal for $3.10.

*obligatory quotations for referring to work that involves drinking alcohol, sometimes before noon even. (more…)

Second Draught: an Italian craft beer that brings on the funk

Panil Barriquee Sour

When I’m looking for a beer to write about for my Post City blog I take into account availability and seasonal timing, but mainly it’s a balance between what I think readers will enjoy and what I like to drink. I’m regularly impressed by how well-received some of my recommended beers are. In a lot of cases, I would found some of them too challenging five years ago. That’s especially true of the delicious but bitter hop-bombs that are in vogue.

This Panil is the first sour beer I’ve written about, so I’m wondering what the reaction will be like. Sours are remarkably different than all other beers. I think this one is excellent and look forward to reading your feedback. (more…)

Second Draught: Chaman, a hoppy and aromatic imperial pale ale from Quebec

Green beer annoys me. It’s a gimmick and another plank, roughly patched over a hole in the leaky SS International Pale Lager. I guess the hidden irony here is that DDC makes some of Canada’s best stouts. Many of them are good options for St. Patrick’s Day; better some would say than the Irish stouts we get here.

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