Thursday, April 27, 2017

Packing Up With a Brown Van

When I started my Beer O'Clock blog, I wanted to review at least one beer each week, to try a brew that I hadn't had before and share my views with you.

If you follow my blog—and I thank you for that—you'll have noticed that beer reviews are far and few between.

Beer O'Clock began on my main blog, The Brown Knowser, as a periodic review of beers that I came across at the LCBO, at beer events, and abroad. For a while, it was a weekly segment to the usual shenanigans of that blog.

Starting in May, that's where my beer reviews will return.

Thank you to all of you who have read this blog: I hope you continue to enjoy my reviews from where they originated.

To wrap up this blog, I'm going to look at a relatively new Ottawa brewery, one that made its debut through taps at scattered Ottawa pubs and has since made its way to the LCBO and has earned international recognition.

I was first introduced to a Kölsch-style beer a few years ago at another Ottawa brewery and I have to say that I didn't like it very much. It came off as high in steely minerals and off-balanced. I was reluctant to have it again.

And then, a couple of summers ago, while on vacation, I ventured to try another Kölsch from a small brewery outside Owen Sound, and it gave me an appreciation for the Cologne (Köln) brew. A variation of Kölsch by Cowbell Brewing made me a convert.

But I wasn't sure if I had tried a true German-styled Kölsch, so when I heard that an Ottawa brewery had won an award for their ale, that it was designed on a Cologne style, I had to first look up what characteristics to expect from this beer.

And then I opened a can.
Kolsch (4.8% ABV)
Brown Van Brewing
Ottawa, ON
Brown Van operates out of Kichesippi Beer's Campbell Avenue home. Kichesippi, itself, celebrates its seventh anniversary, this week, to which I tip my had. Brown Van, for now, only makes its Kölsch: it seems to work for Steam Whistle, so why not for this fledgling brewery?

Appearance: a clear, straw-yellow tint with a foamy-white head that clung to the inside of the glass as it settled to a razor-thin cap.

Nose: a light mix of wheat, grass, and pear, with subtle malts.

Palate: flint, black pepper, and malt, with a nice carbonation in the mouth. The finish is clean, with a slight bitterness that cleanses the palate.

Overall impression: as a Cologne-styled Kölsch, it's spot on with what my research showed. I expected to detect more fruit in the nose—perhaps some cherry—but I was able to get some pear notes as the glass opened up. The flintiness is consistent with the steel flavour that I was expecting, and I found this Kölsch to be extremely satisfying.

Recently, Brown Van earned the 2017 top rank for a Kölsch and was awarded a gold medal at the Chicago World Beer Championship, and I can see why. It's something that I can see myself enjoying on a patio, this summer.

Truth be told, I have had this ale a few times over the past six months or so. I first had it at CRAFT Beer Market, at Lansdowne, and I have also bought a few cans at the LCBO. Earlier this week, I chatted with one of the brewery's reps at a beer event, and he did hint that the brewery will have more offerings in the future.

I look forward to seeing what comes for this brew company. But first, I think they need to find a home of their own. When that happens, I'll be happy to share another review on The Brown Knowser.

Beer O'Clock rating: 4.5


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Express Yourself

I know, I know. Long time, no review. Do you even remember this blog?

It's not that I haven't been trying new beer over the past few months: I have. I've taken notes. I've photographed the evidence.

It's just that at the end of the day, I never found the time to give the attention to this blog that it deserves. I've also thought more about video reviews and how I can reduce the review to a five-minute maximum, and in the coming months I'll create something new.

And now that most of the snow has disappeared and flowers are just beginning to spring up, my thoughts are turning to beers that make me want to enjoy the outdoors—on a patio, on my front step, or at a festival.

One beer that I found in my local LCBO that piqued my curiosity was one by St.Thomas brewery, Railway City. These are the guys who bring you a great pale ale, Dead Elephant, as well as other treasures such as The Witty Traveller and Black Coal Stout, and seasonals, such as their maple bock. This new offering is an India Session Lager.

I'm familiar with India Session Ales, which started popping up a couple of years ago, where they were hop-forward but low in alcohol. I was curious how this style would translate to a lager.
Express India Session Ale (4.8% ABV)
Railway City Brewing Company
St. Thomas, ON
Appearance: a clear, pale amber-gold hue, topped with a foamy, white head that creates a thin cap that transitions to a dense lace.

Nose: intense orange and pink grapefruit that hints at a candied bouquet. It's beautiful and makes you want to pause and appreciate the craftmanship. Beautiful!

Palate: while the nose has you anticipate solid hops in the mouth, the malt and fruit hit the taste buds first. The malt is light; the fruit, clean and refreshing. The hops only make their appearance as a refreshing finish that cleanses the palate, rather than exhibit a bitterness.

Overall impression: flavourful and easy-drinking, Express is a lager that would be welcome as a refreshing brew on a hot summer day. I'm glad that Railway City has made this ISL a part of their regular lineup.

Beer O'Clock rating: 4  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Russian Imperial Stouts—A Video Review

Happy New Year, beer lovers!

To start 2017, I've decided to produce a video review and present two different Russian Imperial Stouts from 2013, which have been aging in my basement over the past couple of years.

There's not much that I can write in this post that isn't said in the video, so if you have some time, sit back and enjoy this video. It's a little long—almost 20 minutes—but it is a detailed review of two stouts and includes the kind of tasting notes that you've come to expect at Beer O'Clock.

Considering it's unscripted, I'm surprised I was able to shut up in the 19 minutes of recording.

The Russian Imperial Stouts are by
I hope you enjoy this video review. If you do, let me know by leaving a comment. If there's enough interest, I may make video reviews a monthly thing.