Friday, September 30, 2011

It's Revolution Baby!

Back in Chicago, August 2011 - Revolution Brewing.

After Lollapolooza, I stayed in Chicago and visited that lovely bar I had met such wonderful people at back in March. This time around, I had the opportunity to hit quite a few local spots and try some really great beer.

I tried both the Anti-hero IPA and Iron Fist Pale Ale at Revolution Brewing.

The Anti-hero IPA was the perfect cure for an action packed night before. Revolution's website describes this ale as "An American hop assault for all the ambivalent warriors who get the girl in the end." OK, so that wasn't the result in my case, but it was hoppy enough to make this lady happy.

The Iron Fist Pale Ale was the beginning to a long day of ales. It was slightly stronger than the IPA's I'm used to, but had a really nice crisp flavour that allowed it to go down really smoothly.

I'd recommend anything from this brewery if you're ever in the area.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Vanilla Porter, BBQ Sauce, and Hippies Chicago? Ok, I'll come back.

August 2011 - Chicago - Breckenridge Vanilla Porter.

Well, technically I went back for Lollapolooza's 20th anniversary. Lollapolooza.. Thousands of people wandering the streets of Chicago, full with Bud, Bud Light, and Bud Light Lime.

If I remember what this restaurant was called, I'll edit this post, but for now, let's talk porter. The thing that I find about most vanilla drinks is that they are all scent and no taste. This one was on the fence. It has a really light vanilla flavour and had the thickness of a stout made of molasses. At 4.7%, it was too much flavour for me as a main dish pairing. I'd try it again as a dessert; not with the pulled bbq chicken sandwich I ordered this time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Don't tell Palin, but this is one killer IPA

August, 2011. We're nearing present day, I assure you.

The folks just got back from a cruise to Alaska and brought back an Alaskan IPA.

Alaskan Brewing company is still pretty new. It opened in 1986 but seems to be doing alright in terms of this one ale. It uses pure glacier water. People seem to like that.

It was definitely hoppy enough for you connoisseurs to check that box that says it's an IPA. I felt some fruity undertones while drinking it, and it had a bit of bitterness which I could have done without, but all in all, a good IPA IMO.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Oh the Pride: Alexander Keith's Tartan Ale

After being purchased by the Labatt brewing company a few years ago, Alexander Keith's Ales have had the opportunity to be re-worked into many different flavours and styles. I for one, am a big fan of this. They've kept the original recipe in tact, and altered it to create beers such as this Tartan Ale.

It was Spring 2011. It would have been better if it was fall for my description of the beer to work *really* well, but I can't control the seasons yet.

The way I can describe this ale is as follows:

Have you ever sat on a front porch, watching the red and orange leaves fall ever so slowly in a quiet but existing breeze? You pull a hoodie on, or a toque if you're so inclined, and twist the cap off of pure pride; Alexander Keith's Tartan Ale. With one sip, you are engulfed with the glory of autumn and the history of Scotland. With the next, your thoughts move to New Scotland, and a 25 year old brew master. Finally with the third sip, your mind returns to the porch. The reality of what was just leaves falling in autumn, is now encapsulated with the appreciation of over a hundred years of Canadian history.

Go ahead, take that forth sip.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Eastern Beer in the Western World

Kirin Light. To be honest, it tasted like the combination of Asahii and Sapporo to me - It was dry, lightly citrus-like, and light, probably due to what I considered to be micro carbonation. I had it with sushi; It wasn't too strong on the hops or malt, and it was 95 cals per bottle!

As for the story behind this bad boy: It was still March, I was still in Chicago, I still had a tour guide, and this was breakfast.

The sign on a restaurant door nearby read "BYOB". This caught my eye. Are these Chicagonians living the dream? Bring your own beer to the restaurant, and have paid beer store prices? ...I immediately started considering moving to Chicago.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sierra Nevada's Brother - It's Harvest Season

There are a lot of breweries that are throwing the word "Harvest" onto beers, which, and please correct me if I'm wrong, just means that it's a new beer made from ingredients from a specific time of year.

Well I had the opportunity to try Sierra Nevada's Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale, and enjoyed it. It was a lot stronger than their pale ale, coming in at 6.7%. You could feel the difference and it has a lot of earthy tones, which was my only complaint.

No big story here on this one. I was at the same bar as the last one, and preceded this brew with Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale. What came after? Read on my friend.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Chicago, 2011, Return of Sierra Nevada

Hello love, how have you been? I'm sorry I haven't been around so much.. it's just that with you being American, and me being Canadian, I can't visit as often as I'd like.

Sierra Nevada, I wish they shipped you up to Toronto.

Let's fast forward a bit through time, and stop at March 2011. I had 5 days off before starting a new job, and I was celebrating. Needless to say, I woke up in Chicago.

Have you ever wanted to go somewhere so badly, but feel like the timing was never right? Take my advice folks, NOW is the right time.

After a couple of days of wandering around Chicago I was looking for a local sports pub to watch the Blackhawks game at. Timothy O'Tooles was that bar. Yes, the Blackhawks were the reigning Cup champions, and yes, I had to ask the bartender to kindly change one of the 75 tv's to the game, but I understand, it was March Madness..

Anyways, luckily I'm the kind of lady who sits at the bar when travelling, because after explaining my love for trying local brews, my bartender allowed me to sample just about every kind I could handle that night. From Goose Island to Half Acre to Founders (MI), I got a good fill of what Chicago had to offer.

The next night, the very same gentleman showed me around town. I ended up at what I could only describe as a bbq restaurant, and I finally found it: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was on the menu!

My description of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is probably different from most. I believe it's the PBR of the States, but just hasn't been picked up by some advertising company yet. You see, PBR hasn't changed. It was your grandfather's beer, and it still is.   I'm not your grandfather, but I drink it too.
Apparently Sierra Nevada's gotten the same rap that PBR had, before PBR's advertising re-fresh with the new generation.  People consider it to be just a regular pale ale; one that's always around.

I disagree, based purely on taste.   As a pale ale fan, Sierra Nevada combines hops and a lightly carbonated flavour in the perfect way as to allow one to drink it for an entire night, but also get an eye opening flavour punch with each sip.

If you're ever in the States, try it, and let me know what you think.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Light Ale's aren't just for chicks.

Alexander Keith's Light Ale. One of my favourite things to pick up for a holiday, sunny day, or weekend away.

It finally hit shelves in Ontario about two years ago, while before it was only available in Nova Scotia.

If you're ever looking for a 4.0%, light on the cals, clear ale, but still has enough flavour that you don't think you're just drinking Perrier, pick up a 6er of these.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Boston - Beer Works - Blueberries!

Boston Beer Works - One of the coolest micro breweries I've ever visited. The photo to the left is one of my travel companions trying the Beer Works blueberry ale.

We tried a few different pints that the microbrewery had to offer and were pleased with each. It's definitely a place I'd recommend to anyone who's going to be in the Lansdowne Street area. Pop in for a pint before a game at Fenway, or before hitting Bleacher Bar just down the street too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Boston - Common - Lager

I'd like to solve the puzzle. Is it Boston, Common, Lager?
Boston, March 2009, Samuel Adams Boston Lager. As Dave Chappelle says about his Samuel L Jackson beer: it'll get ya drunk!

Yes, after hearing about this skit, I constantly ordered Samuel Adams at bars, just so I could say "I'll have a Samuel Adams, please" with the smug smile and head nod. It was fun, but as for his regular lager itself, I find it to be a little too thick to be a "get ya drunk" kind of beer. I recommend it when you're in it to have under 5 beers, and you want them to last the night.

Thankfully, Boston has an enormous amount of microbreweries on Landsdowne, just down the street from Fenway, and the House of Blues where I was seeing the Dropkick Murphys play their St. Patrick's day shows.

How'd I get to Boston? Well, I was cleaning my good friend's house because I had absolutely nothing else to do, when his roommate came home with a 2-4 of Keith's (he was from Halifax). I told him that two friends of mine were going to Boston for St. Patrick's Day and we decided to buy our bus tickets that night. Why not, right?

Of course, this was the year the recession really hit, and drinking in public at the parade was not allowed anymore. I've since then paid my $265 ticket and am looking forward to visiting Boston in the future.

The worst part? This was the second time I'd ever had a Sierra Nevada IPA.. and I was traded my 6er for that $265 ticket... ooo, didn't think I'd leave this post with just Sam Adams, did you? Ah yes, Sierra Nevada.. I have a certain love affair with this brew that you can read about in a future post.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Where for art thou, Carlsburg?

If there was ever a connection made in Heaven, it was beer and sports.

This brings us to Liverpool, November 2008, Anfield to be exact. Now, one would think, Redbar, Anfield's main bar, would have a wide variety of sports related beer like Carlsburg, Budweiser, and Coors, to quench its thirsty football fans at half time.  But then again, I'm basing this on my North American knowledge of the few stadiums I've been to (The Skydome, BMO Field, the ACC, Fenway, Wrigley, Soldier Field).  The fans went crazy for the one beer available: Budweiser.  I had enough time to get a couple in during half time to go with my steak pot pie.

Liverpool was my third stop in Linda Lee's whirlwind adventure to find the Holy Grail. Here, I met and had a lovely Everton fan show me around town for a few days.    The Cavern was next on the list, and my new-found love for Guinness was greatly-satisfied.

Monday, September 12, 2011

My First Pint of Guinness: Paris

October 2008. I decided to pick up and leave Toronto for a bit.

I was seeking life, love, and new experiences from around the world. What I got was something much better than expected: my first Guinness.

Paris, Rhubarb, the now closed Irish pub in the Latin Quarter, was the perfect stop for my two travelling companions and I. Sure, they ended up leaving me on a Parisian subway the next day, and "losing" me in the Louvre, but we all got along quite well with our Irish bartender pouring them the Rhubarb's famous martini's, and me, Guinness. To have my first pint poured by an Irishman, so close to Dublin? I'd say it was worth the subway abandonment.

To add to my love for Guinness, it is now my go-to beer when I need a starter on the road. Low cal, lighter than water; If I can't decide what local brew I want to start off with, I'll grab a Guinness to get the mind straight.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Multipacks and Quebec Brasseries

Keith's traditional? Bring on the multipack with the variety of flavours.


I had never tried Alexander Keith's Traditional Lager, so here I was: A new city, a new beer. That's my motto.

It was much more flavourful than any other Keith's I'd ever had, but in a different way than regular Keith's. It was stronger, and slightly more malty tasting. Maybe it's malt, I can't be sure. I'd like to try it again to see what I think nowadays.

Aside from seeing Paul McCartney that very same night, and walking 10 miles home due to the entire city playing a cruel 'hide-the-cab' trick on me, I'd say the best part, beer-wise, was the Traditional Lager.

The one microbrewery I had the pleasure of visiting was La Barberie Brewpub on Rue Saint Roch. From the stout, to the fruit, to the IPA, to the white, they all had extremely strong flavours that combined to make quite the platter in their sampler wheel of about 4 ounces each.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I do solemnly pledge...

I do solemnly pledge to be faithful to Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale, the ambrosia of ales and the emissary of Nova Scotia good times as long as I am able to lift glass aloft. Slainte mhath.

It was a hot, hungover, Tall Ship, June 2007 day in Toronto. Two friends and I were going in for a pint to quell last night's repercussions when we bumped into 4 lovely gentlemen visiting Toronto. The were originally from Halifax, so the Keith's started
flowing. None of them currently lived in Halifax, but were scattered around Canada, meeting up for yearly trip to Toronto.

That brings us to this post. Halifax, 2009, my second trip back to the Lower Deck, a year after meeting these lovely men. Have you ever visited a city where via one text, you have a dozen friends to take you out and show you the best of the town? I have. Sociables, my Haligonians.

A trip to Halifax wouldn't have been right without visiting Alexander Keith's grave site. It was memorable and followed up by the Lower Deck; a bar where the servers walk around with trays full of pints that don't last very long. How can a bar pre-pour pints and keep selling out minutes later you ask? No one orders anything other than Keith's IPA there.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale - The Beginning

Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale.

You've not only brought me to Halifax to visit your brewery twice, but you've made your birthplace on my list of favourite Canadian cities, and sparked my entire love for beer.

Yes, I know, it has at most half the amount of hops that a traditional IPA should, and through the years of drinking Keith's I've had this conversation time and time again; but it is still a proper drinking beer. Premium, light hops, and just flavourful enough that it stands out, far above any blur collar drinkable.

Here begins.. through the tales of many bottles... the story of Linda Lee.