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Leapbeer Reviews #329 & #330 Skull Splitter & Dark Island by Orkney Brewery

The next two beers I’m putting on the blog are from a place I’d never heard of. The Orkney Islands are located off the north coast of Scotland.

Orkney Islands North of Scotland

Cascadia Liquors in Victoria set these two beers aside for me. I’ve always been welcoming to try new beers from different areas of the world. I got one of the Skull Splitter Scottish Wee Heavy and one of the Dark Island Scottish Ale. Despite it being the higher alcohol test beer, I chose to try the skull splitter first.

Skull Splitter is their 8.5% Wee Heavy (no kidding at 8.5%). It was named after Torfinn Hausakljuv, the 7th Viking Earl of Orkney (aprx 950 AD according to Wikipedia) who was nicknamed “Skullsplitter”. This is a deep brown beer with a frothy tan coloured head on top. Only a little light gets out of this beer, its that thick. The aroma it gives off is of dates and rich malts. The taste is something quite strange considering the ABV. It starts off very smooth, very tame. But then mid way through the tasting it grabs a hold of the back of your throat with a gentle alcohol burn. Here’s the tasting notes from their website.

On the nose, this strong beer has a fruity malt character, with hints of dark fruit, spicy hop, dates and figs.
On the palate, rich and complex with sweet toasted malt, molasses, fresh and dried fruit and hints of warming spices.  (per http://www.sinclairbreweries.co.uk/skull_splitter.html )

Leapbeer #329 is Skull Splitter by Orkney Brewery

Skull Splitter Scotch Ale by Orkney Brewery, Orkney Islands Scotland

Skull Splitter Scotch Ale by Orkney Brewery, Orkney Islands Scotland

Brewery: Orkney Brewing Company (Sinclair Breweries) Sandwick, Orkney, Scottland
Size/ABV: 330ml Bottle/8.5% ABV
Availability: Very Limited
Website: http://www.sinclairbreweries.co.uk/skull_splitter.html
Other Reviews: Beer Advocate, Rate Beer

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Leapbeer Review #323 Lagunitas IPA

At first with this blog I didn’t want to admit to my mistakes. I would attempt to proofread and double check every error into oblivion. This proved harder than I thought, being that beer drinking was involved. One of such errors occurred with this beer. I purchased a bomber of this a long time ago. It sat in my fridge for only a short time before I drank it. I poured the beer, took the picture, sampled, took notes then consumed the rest with glee (it is very nice). Then, for whatever reason, I discarded my notes. I have no idea why when I looked at the note on my phone I thought “Oh I’ve already posted that”. Thankfully the new Cascadia location came to my rescue, and this time instead of a bomber I’ve got a lovely six pack to share.

My love for Lagunitas beers has already been well documented. I still contend that their Hop Stoopid is the bar that I measure all double IPAs to. It is the gold standard for such a widely available beer.

Their standard, or unlimited, release IPA is a clear gold & copper coloured beer with a lovely fluffy tan head on top. It has all the aroma expected of a lovely hoppy ipa. There’s hints of citrus, orange peel and underlying malty sweetness. The beer is definitely easier to quaff than their hop stoopid. The tasting of this beer washes over you with initial bitterness, then a lovely sweetness from the malt followed by a lovely dry finish. The malt of this beer has the same kind of light licorice quality I picked up from the Samuel Smith’s beers. While not the cheapest six pack out there, it is sure not to disappoint any hophead (like me).

Leapbeer #323 is India Pale Ale by Lagunitas

India Pale Ale by Lagunitas Brewing Company

India Pale Ale by Lagunitas Brewing Company

Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Company of Petaluma California
Released: Unknown
Size/ABV: 355ml Bottle(Also Available in a 650ml)/6.2% ABV
Availability: Unknown
Purchased @:
Cascadia Liquors Courtenay
Website:
http://lagunitas.com/beers/ipa/
Other Reviews: Beer Advocate, Rate Beer

Thanks for reading

Leapbeer Review #277 & #278 Spiced Rum Cask & Winter Treacle Porter by Innis and Gunn

Today I’ve got a pair of new limited Innis & Gunn beers for the blog. I was pleased to hear that I&G is doing more seasonal releases. More new nicely crafted beers is good news to the craft loving community. I received one each of their next two bottles, one of the Spiced Rum Finish and one of the Winter Treacle Porter. Both of these beers should be available at discerning private liquor stores. You can find them on their own, and in the case of the Winter Treacle Porter, in a gift box containing two other beers and a branded stemmed glass similar to the one I use for all I&G reviews. I’ve always been a sucker for free glassware or gift packs when I go shopping at liquor stores, and I’ve gone through more than one of these stemmed glasses.

First up for me was the Spiced Rum Finish beer. For the record I am a big fan of rum. I went on a trip a while back to an island that specializes in making it, and ever since then I’ve been in love with the stuff. Like other sweeter liquors it can have a tendency to overly sweeten a drink, unless the sweetness can be off set by an additional ingredient. In this case they use a spiced rum cask imparting a bit of the sweetness of the rum and spice from the additives in it. This is a lovely light brown beer with a light tan head. The carbonation seems to be fairly standard to it with rather large bubbles. There is a lovely spicey scent to this beer, with a nice hit of that boozey smell. I pick up a nice sweet rum character to it as well as a bit of plum or some other kind of dark fruit. This is a relatively high test beer, weighing in at 7.4% ABV. When you drink it that doesn’t really come into play, at first. It starts of very smooth, and then a little earthiness creeps in from the oak, followed by a latent boozey burn. Initially I found it very palatable, but then the carbonation really kicks it up into your palate. This is a nice change of pace from all the seasonals I’d had up to this point (IE Pumpkin Beers) with a very different spice profile. I quite enjoyed it.

Leapbeer #277 is Spiced Rum Cask by Innis & Gunn

Brewery: Innis & Gunn Brewery of Scotland
Released: Unknown
Size/ABV: 330ml Bottle/7.4%
Availability: Private Liquor Stores
Purchased @:
Gift
Webpage:
http://www.innisandgunn.com/en/the-range/spiced-rum-2012.aspx

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Leapbeer Fieldtrip – Portland Oregon, Day 1

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to pack the family up and take a nice trip down to arguably one of the craft brew mecca’s of the new world, Portland Oregon. Not only is Portland home to more than 40 breweries & brewpubs (as of 2011 per link) but it also boasts some wonderful attractions, and one of the most impressive transit systems I have ever seen.

Image via Wikipedia

As you could imagine I was very excited before going on this trip. My wife and I both started making lists of places we were anticipating to go and see, both beer and family themed. To my initial surprise, it was remarkably easy to intertwine both of those. One of my first revelations about Portland came to me before even leaving British Columbia. A conversation with a fellow BC beer blogger, @BGCanary on twitter informed me that many of the brewpubs and breweries were minor friendly. In fact, some of the pubs even have special kid friendly menus & games to help the two areas coincide. Of course sometimes the people drinking the beer get a hold of the kids games and engage their inner child while enjoying the beers as well, (Lynn).

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Leapbeer Report – Cooking With Beer

I am a fan of cooking with beer. Sure you may say “But of course, you’re a beer blogger.” However I’ve been cooking with beer for quite some time. One of my favorite applications of cooking with beer is using the sugars and starches in it to cut back on the acidity with dishes that include cooked tomatoes. I used to suffer from chronic heartburn, making things like tomato based pasta sauces and most non cream based soups a recipe for an instant flare up. I don’t remember where I saw it, perhaps it was from an episode of Good Eats (my favorite cooking show), but the host was explaining that when you cook with tomatoes that adding a sugar source, whether it be actual sugar or wine or beer, will cut back on the acidity. Ever since then, which was over 10  years ago now, I’ve been adding beer into all sorts of cooking. I find in pasta sauce it is an absolute must. I even won my wife over to the cause.

I chose to cook and share with you one of my home made recipes. This dish started as a real mash up of ingredients we had lying around in our apartment. I’ve cooked it many many times, and each time it’s been a little bit different. I wholeheartedly encourage tinkering with this recipe. It’s one that lends itself well to experimentation. Without further adieu, I present to you, my Mexicali Stew.

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Leapbeer Review #255 Oktoberfest Bier (to-go) by Paulaner München

I felt that October first would be a great day to break out my Oktoberfest Bier, even though the festivities in Munich have been already going since the 22nd of September. I did a bit of research of Oktoberfest and ‘lo and behold’ a quick peek at wikipedia shows that it always starts in Late September and goes into the first week of October.

I’ve always had the thought in my mind that Oktoberfest is a whole bunch of Germans sitting under a tent, some accordion & yodeling music playing in the background, with a sea of beer mugs on the table. All singing along in happy unison, hoisting their glasses high, frothy head sloshing too and fro. This is what I imagined I’d become when I drank this beer. The Paulaner München is one of the six brewers who make ‘official’ Oktoberfest beers, along with Augustiner-Bräu, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu-München, Löwenbräu, and Spaten. I noticed this ‘Oktoberfest Bier To-Go’ the other day at the liquor store. It is a one litre can of beer along with a gigantic beer glass to hold it in. How could I say no?

Limited Edition? Where do I sign up?

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Leapbeer Reviews – An Evening of Saisons

Recently I shared a trio of Saisons that I’d been eagerly awaiting with my sister. The three for that evenings tasting were, Saison Diego by Green Flash, Wasteland Elderflower Saison by Elysian and Saison Sauvin by 8 Wired Brewing. It was the beginning of the fall, and with the last harvests coming in it felt fitting to honor the ale of the farmhand.

First up was Saison Diego from Green Flash Brewing Company in California. I was really curious to see how the added spices (see quote below) added and played together in this Saison. The bottle has right on it, ale brewed with Spice. There is no ABV listed on the bottle, but I can find it out thru Untappd. This is a loudy golden coloured beer. It smells a bit sweet, but it also smells like a golden ale yeast. It sounds like a cop out, but this beer has a very beer smell. It’s definitely Saison-esque, although it is lighter than I expected. I would say that it is more reminiscent of an original style of Saison, where it was made to quaff the thirst of the farmhands. It is a very refreshing beer. You get flavours of spice, a bit peppery, but others as well. I really like it. Not much of a head on it, slightly carbonation. Rim of light bubbles. A very easy finishing, easy drinking Saison. Here’s the notes from their website (link below).

Unfiltered golden farmhouse ale, brewed with Seville orange peels, Chinese ginger and grains of paradise. Light, bright, spicy aromas, lively carbonation and earthy flavors co-mingle with musty notes that add funky complexity.

Leapbeer #253 is Saison Diego by Green Flash Brewing

Brewery: Green Flash Brewing of San Diego California
Released: Unknown
Size/ABV: 650ml Bottle/4.3% ABV
Availability: Limited
Purchased @: Top Shelf Liquor Store
Webpage:
http://www.greenflashbrew.com/our-beers.php
Other Reviews:
http://ithinkaboutbeer.com/2012/06/14/green-flash-saison-diego/

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Leapbeer Reviews Pyramid Thunderbird vs Outburst – The IPA vs IIPA debate

I’ve had several iterations of the India pale ale on the blog so far. I’ve had the original style IPA, like the Wells IPA. I’ve had American style IPA’s & Double or Imperial IPA’s. When I bought these two bombers I fully intended to try them back to back to give an honest comparison between the two styles. I gave you the lesson on what makes an India portion of the India Pale Ale in my trip to india pale ale. These two beers fall under the category of an American IPA or American IIPA. Read more…

Leapbeer Reviews #220-#222 An Unlikely Trio

As an attempt to catch up for all the time I slacked off last month you’re going to see at least a couple of posts like this one. This post is a bit of a odd grouping of beers, 3 completely different styles from 2 different countries. I have a German Dortmunder/Export Lager, a complex Pale Ale, and an American Saison.

First up is the DAB Original from Germany. This was given to me by a co-worker, Frank, who’s helped out quite a bit in the leapbeer journey. Thank you to him for this. This to me is a style of pilsner beer. It smells like that european pilsner smell. Like it has Saaz hops in it. It pours to a golden colour with a very thin head that all but disappears quickly. There really isn’t anything special about this beer. While it finishes crisp with no real aftertaste, it tastes weak. I would call it a full on pilsner after drinking it, but I’d definitely call it pilsner-esque.

Leapbeer #220 is DAB Original

Brewery:     Dortmunder Actien Brauerei
Released:    Regularly Produced
Size/ABV:   500ml Can/4.8% ABV
Availability:    Year Round
Purchased @: Gift from Frank

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Leapbeer Reviews The Samuel Smith’s Selection

I was really pleased to receive this gift pack a while back. It was picked up by my Sr VP of leapbeer acquisitions on her trip to Vancouver from VITI. It is the Samuel Smith’s Selection from the UK. It had their India Ale IPA, their Nut Brown, and their Oatmeal stout, as well as a nonic pint glass and 2 of the ‘rose of  Yorkshire’ coasters.

This brewery was founded in 1758 in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England. The Samuel Smith’s Brewery employs a fermenting process in ‘stone Yorkshire squares’~ fermenting vessels made of solid slabs of slate, which they say give the beers a fuller bodied taste. You can read more about the brewery on their website here (http://www.samuelsmithsbrewery.co.uk/) or on wikipedia here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Smiths) Them using these old style fermenters reminded me of another blog post I had read recently about the beer caves underneath Nottingham, England. You can read about it here (http://ediblegeography.com/beer-caves-redux/)

Pic from Aleheads Blog

First Beer I went to try was the India Pale IPA. This beer pours to a cloudy amber colour with lots of tiny bubbles in it. There is a nice malty smell to the brew. There is definitely bittering hops employed in this beer, but not very present on the nose of it. I get a light licorice flavour from this beer, which will prove to be a common theme to these beers. I’m guessing it comes from the base malts used.

Leapbeer #215 is Samuel Smith’s India Ale IPA

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