Big Rock Gerstenmeister Marzen

big-rock-family-jewels_baseBrewer: Big Rock, Calgary AB
Style: Marzen
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: Consistent with the popular Oktoberfest-style of German Lager, the Gerstenmeister combines (what I believe are) Munich malts with a mild hopping, which is then aged for six months of cool confinement to effect a rich, malty, and mildy hoppy flavor.

Tasting Notes: As Marzen’s go, this beer was a little light for my taste. Still, it had all the right things going for it – a rich malt, base, smooth character, a light tang, and some sweet notes that reminded me of shortbread and toffee. And despite generally being on the lighter side, I have found Big Rock’s wares always comes through where it counts. This beer is the first sampling from my most recent procurement from the local beer stores post-holiday surpluses. It’s known as the Family Jewels Pack, and stay tuned, because there are a few more to come!

Appearance: Orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, biscuits, toffee, mild floral hops, minerals
Taste: Sweet malt, mild tang, shortbread, toffee, mild dry hops, minerals
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, minerals and mild tang
Overall: 7.8/10

Weltenburger Kloster Anno 1050

weltrenburger_anno1050Brewer: Weltenburger Kloster, Regensburg, Germany
Style: Marzen
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This Marzen is a classic example of the venerated German style, brewed by the world’s oldest Abbey brewery. Rich, deep colored malts combine with a mild dose of Noble hops to create a slightly sweet and syrupy lager.

Tasting Notes: The last of the advent pack, and this one the oldest of the bunch! As a big fan of Marzens, I was quick to appreciate what this beer had to offer. In addition to the usual richer malts and mild tang, I was surprised to notice a hint of smoke and brandy-like flavor. Definitely an interesting and very German

Appearance: Light amber/orange, clear, medium foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, sugars, caramel, mild hops, minerals
Taste: Smooth malt, mild tang, caramel, hint of smoke, notes of brandy, minerality
Aftertaste: Lingering minerals, malt flavor, smokey sweetness
Overall: 7.8/10

Bomber Marzen Amber Lager

bombermarzenBrewer: Bomber Brewery, Vancouver, BC
Style: Marzen Lager
Alc/Vol: 5.5%
IBU: 20

Description: This Spring seasonal beer, originally launched as a draught-only product, is now available in bottles for limited edition release. Consistent with the Bavarian-style of “March” beer, this beer is a darker, heavier take on the traditional lager, employing what I can only assume are Vienna Malt and Zaltec Hops to create a malty, dryly hopped amber lager.

Tasting Notes: I’ve been a fan of Marzen’s for quite some time, due to the fact that they are both clean drinking and refreshing as well as rich and malty. Bomber’s take on this was certainly faithful. In addition to the clean drinking quality of a lager, it had rich malts, a slightly sweet taste, viscous mouthfeel, and a nice, dry hop finish. Not a bad intro to this brewery either!

Appearance: Amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Slightly toasted malts, syrupy sweetness, grassy hops
Taste: Rich malt, slight tang, hint of syrupy sweetness, dry hop finish
Aftertaste: Lingering malt, tang and sweetness, clean and dry
Overall: 8.5/10

Hoyne Helios Golden Lager

hoyne_helios_labelBrewer: Hoyne Brewery
Style: Dortmunder Export Lager
Alc/Vol: 6%

Description: The Helios is the latest limited release by Hoyne Brewing, brewed in the style of a Dortmunder Export, which is a slightly stronger and darker malt-forward take on the traditional lager. According to the brewmaster himself (Sean Hoyne) it is made using Vienna, Munich and other German malts and bittered with a variety of Hallertau hops.

Tasting Notes: I am a big fan of Marzen, Oktoberfest, and other forms of stronger, maltier lagers. And this beer was definitely no slouch when it came to delivering on the quintessential flavors these beers are famous for. In addition to its smooth and slightly tangy start, the malt flavor really comes through in the middle with characteristically grainy and slightly sweet Vienna and Munich accents. It then accompanies this with an infusion of subtle, dry and bitter Noble hops. A clean finish and a beautiful orange hue make it a delight all around. I strongly recommend beer lovers in the Victoria area get a growler of this lager while they can. Limited releases tend to run out after just two weeks at the Hoyne brewery, so be quick about it!

Appearance: Golden-orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Discernible Munich-style malts, grainy, subtle notes of Noble hops
Taste: Grainy start, slight tang, hint of sweetness and syrupy malt, dry, herbal hops
Aftertaste: Mild, lingering hop bitterness, mainly clean finish
Overall: 9.5/10

 

Mill Street Brewpub Visit 2013

Mill_ValleyIrishRedAs promised, another review of one of Ottawa’s premier eating and drinking establishments! Much like last year, the wife and I knew that we had to set aside time to visit the Mill Street Brewpub which opened up just a few years ago in the LeBreton area. And I was determined to try all this beers this year that were either unavailable or that I didn’t get a chance to last year. This included the latest seasonals, such as their Oktoberfest, pumpkin ale and Ambre de la Chaudiere. Paired with some delightful eats, we both had a pretty good evening and sampled our fair share. Arranged in order of tasting, here’s what I thought of them all:

Mill St. Oktoberfest:
Mill Street OktoberfestJust in time for the autumn, Mill St. has put their take on the traditional Marzen on tap, and I was sure to include a glass in my sample train. And consistent with this seasonal lager, it was nicely balanced in terms of malts and hops. The former were slightly darker, syrupy, and sweeter than your average lager; while the hop content was very much consistent with the usual grassy, and grainy quality common to a Marzen or Pilsner. It also had a noticeably creamy quality, and a relatively refreshing finish. It was admittedly a bit light for my taste, but was still very pleasing and went well with my wife’s plate of nachos and my Elk burger!


Appearance:
Golden amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Very light malt and hops, traces of nuts
Taste: Smooth, slightly creamy, semi-sweet malts, hint of nuts, mild hop bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering grainy malts and hops
Overall: 8/10

Ambre de la Chaudiere:
millstreet_ambreNow this beer was a bit of a surprise, a seasonal which I have never before seen at the Mill St. brewery or as part of their extended lineup. As a Bière de Garde, a style of strong farmhouse pale ale that comes from the Calais region of France, this beer is noted for being darker, stronger, and fermented a second time in the bottle. This beer happened to be my favorite of the evening, and of course came in a special glass! Boasting rich malts, good yeasts, and an oaky, semi-sweet taste, it was also rounded out by a nicely balanced profile that was strong without being overpowering.

Appearance: Dark amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Yeasty, rich heavier malt, notes of spice
Taste: Smooth, semi-sweet malts, notes of oak and yeast
Aftertaste: Slightly coarse malt finish, light lingering yeasts
Overall: 9/10

Nightmare on Mill St. Pumpkin Ale:
MillStNightmareThis beer was a must have, which was why I ordered a pint of it on top of the glass of Ambre and the sample train I ordered. So much for sampling on the cheap! In any case, it was what one would expect from a pumpkin ale that comes brewed by a faithful craft brewery. This would include a dark amber hue, a nose that calls to mind pumpkin pie, and a malty, spicy flavor profile that is quite refreshing and appetizing. Again, it was a bit light for my taste, but nevertheless gets high marks for doing this seasonal variety of ale right. I was happy I was able to score some alongside their Ambre, making it a two-fer night for seasonals!

Appearance: Dark amber, clear, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Pumpkin pie, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, rich malts
Taste: Immediate hint of sweetness and pumpkin, giving way to allspice
Aftertaste: Lingering spice and malty finish
Overall: 8/10

Pilsner:
millst_pilsnerNow this was the part where the sampling began to diminish for me. In the past, I had some bad experiences with Mill’s own Stock Ale and their Lemon Ice Tea, two beers which regrettably made it into their sample pack. However, I was undecided about the Pilsner, so I chose to include it in the sample train. And while perfectly inoffensive and somewhat charming, it also possessed some characteristics which I don’t feel belong in a Pilsner. These included the sweeter than normal malts, which came across as quite honey-like in terms of smell and flavor and overpowered the hops to a fair degree. On top of that, it did not finish clean and crisp as a Pilsner should. This one felt more like a blonde ale in my estimation, not a true lager.

Appearance: Golden amber, clear, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Sweet malts, mild honey and light hops
Taste: Mild tang and hop bitterness, touch of honey sweetness
Aftertaste: Lingering tang and grainy hops
Overall: 7.5/10

Organic Lager:
mill st organicLast, and strangely enough, least, was their Organic Lager, a beer which I had sampled in the past but could not recall. After taking my first sip, I remembered why. Alongside their Stock Ale, this beer is a perfectly forgettable, very light, and very oddly flavored lager. All throughout, one gets the impression they are drinking a light beer, as it is both lacking in color and is consistently underwhelming in terms of taste. What’s more, some interesting and odd fruit flavors come through as a result of the light malts and very light hops, such as traces of mild apple and melon. Not an offensive beer by any measure, but if the best you can say about a beer is that it’s inoffensive, something’s missing.

Appearance: Light gold, clear, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Mild Pilsner malts and grainy hop
Taste: Very mild malt, mild tang, light grassy hops, mild apple and melon
Aftertaste: Very light finish, no real aftertaste
Overall: 5.5/10

Well, that was Mill Street for 2013, every bit as adventurous and interesting as our 2012 visit. Coming up next, our visit to Pub Italia, and the other assorted beers I managed to sample while in town!