5% alc./vol., 1.8 L bottle
Kichesippi Beer Co. – http://www.kbeer.ca/
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
“Kichesippi” means “The Great River”, and it was an old name for the Ottawa River. The city Ottawa (“adawe” means “to trade”) was given that name when incorporated in 1855, and the river was renamed to match the city. It’s certainly easier to spell. Initially, I was at a loss to figure out the alcohol content of this one. Eventually, I discovered it was encoded in the serial number of the “dollar bill” attached to this growler at the brewery. If you go there on Saturday at 2:00 p.m., you’ll be a few minutes early for the brewery tour that starts late. It’s a smallish operation, but a good opportunity to see the process up close. This beer is a pretty good one, and it has already sold out since I bought it. It’s not too sweet, not too hoppy, a nice middle-of-the-road darkish ale. You should support your local brewery, and I do. Fresh beer is the best beer.
8.5% alc./vol., 500 ml bottle
Fuller, Smith & Turner P.L.C. – http://www.fullers.co.uk/
Here’s a pretty powerful Pride, like drinking two London Pride in one glass. If you’re in a hurry, maybe that’s what you need. Ah, but a stronger beer like this one is supposed to be sipped, I hear, and therefore it should take you twice as long. In theory. I have no problem with a strong beer when it’s done right. I know in my head that this one is a good beer, but my heart is not in it. They are recreating a strong abbey ale, but I don’t actually like strong abbey ales. It’s all just a bit too malty for me. I should like it more than I do, and they might have to revoke my critic’s licence for failing to recognize the greatness of this beer. If I give an honest opinion, though, it means I must already have enough pride and this bottle of liquid pride is unnecessary. I think what I really need is some shame or modesty, but neither of those is a great name for a beer.
360 Elgin St., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Time to first beer: 5:21
Another oxymoron or two…a tavern is not supposed to be luxurious, neither is a standard supposed to be above standard. It seems like a nice little restaurant to look at it, but the menu is not built for a foodie, more for a drinkie. After a page of interesting pizzas and burgers, there’s some three more pages of drink choices. I found an ample and interesting row of beer taps with choices you might not find elsewhere. Maybe this standard is the standard that should be set for all watering holes.
Here’s one of their unique taps, an Austrian beer. The branded glass is also pretty unique: a wide bottom and narrow top that flips the traditional glass shape on its head and provides a bit more stability as you have a few of them. It was clear and refreshing. The pulled pork pizza sounded kind of interesting; it came out on a pizza paddle (more alliteration). The crust was thin and crispy, while the toppings were blackened but not actually burned. I have to mention that the service was great…she always seemed to get there just as my glass was almost empty. By the time I had those sips, she’d brought me a fresh one. Bravo! I hope this service is standard and not just my good fortune.
Next Week: Les Brasseurs du Temps (BDT)
7.1% alc./vol., 710 ml can
Red Bull Beer Company
La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA
I couldn’t find a web site for this one…not a good sign. The can credits the “Red Bull Beer Company”, but this is clearly a total piece of Schlitz. If you value your life and your reason, keep away from this one. Hey, how come you can buy two canned drinks named “Red Bull”? The popular energy drink originated in Austria in 1987 as a European adaptation of a Thai energy drink. The original Thai drink is called “Krating Daeng”, recognized by the same two red beasts (Indian bison) butting heads that appears on Red Bull. Meanwhile, another silver can in the U.S. already featured a red bull, but the two canned drinks seem to happily coexist. One is a terrible beer, and the other one is a terrible energy drink. I prefer getting my caffeine from a good cup of coffee, which has about the same amount of caffeine as an energy drink. As for my alcohol, I’d rather get it from an actual beer than from a medical sample.
5.2% alc./vol., 1.89 L bottle
Broadhead Brewing Company Ltd. – http://www.broadheadbeer.com/
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Some order mere pints of beer, but some of us drink half gallons. It’s half of a U.S. gallon, called a growler. I’ve only seen these bottles sold at a local brewery, and Broadhead definitely falls into that category. This is a seriously very new brewery, having opened earlier this year. It’s not in the store, and there’s only one restaurant that carries their beer. Most of their product is sold straight from the “brewery”, a little unit in a small commercial complex in an industrial park. It has become the brewery that’s closest to my house. When I got there, I sampled four styles from the taps…but they had already sold out of three of them. Batches are small and business is good. The pale ale is a bit flat, but hits all the right notes. It’s not as generously hopped as some but that makes it accessible to that friend you have to share it with. (This is a bottle intended for sharing, by the way.)
5.4% alc./vol., 500 ml bottle
Baltika Breweries – http://www.baltika.com/
St. Petersburg, Russia
I work at Industry Canada, and a few years ago I was involved in the planning for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Nothing too athletic: computer programming for radio licence applications. After all was said and done, I got a chance to meet the Russians planning the Sochi 2014 Olympics. Naturally, I asked them about Russian beer, and the reply was that I should keep an eye out for this one. (I was also told that I should maybe try something not from Russia…and the guy who said that works for their embassy.) The “seven” just tells you that this export lager is the seventh style in their line-up. Like the other Russian beer I had, there’s a pull-tab cap…not my favourite cap, but I didn’t cut myself this time. The beer reminded me of any other typical European lager, but a pretty tasty one. If you like your beer out of a unique bottle, this might be the beer for you. The brewery only dates back to 1990, and it’s a huge factory cranking out mass-produced product, but your bohemian friends in the fine arts program don’t have to know that.
7% alc./vol., 500 ml bottle
Renaissance Brewing Company – http://www.renaissancebrewing.co.nz/
Blenheim, New Zealand
The Marlborough region of New Zealand is better known for its sauvignon blanc wine…some even say it’s the best you can get. Founder and head brewer Andy Deuchars came here from his California home to make wine, but in 2005 he switched to beer. Just two years later, Renaissance beers were winning awards. A Scotch ale is a darker and stronger style. This particular ale is a blend of no less than nine (9!) malts, making for a very complex and very malty beer. Yes, there is a wee bit of foam on top. I like having a bit of head on my beer, but this beer was making me wait. Good things come to those who wait. You know, I think I have a good aphorism for most situations. As Nietzsche said, “A good aphorism is too hard for the teeth of time and is not eaten up by all the centuries.” (Thanks, Google!)