LCBO Spring Release

So, by now, most of the beers brought in for this year’s spring release at the LCBO should be on the shelves.  And I must say, they just keep upping the ante.  Only one “Okay” beer, and everything else was at least “Good”.  Notes from the media tasting follow, in the order I drank them.

Maple Bock – Trafalgar Ales and Meads – #45880

A bit of chocolate and maple syrup on the nose.  Taste is lightly sweet, with a notable graininess and a hint of maple.  Finish is a bit of cocoa bitterness.  The body is fairly thin for a bock, but all in all, it’s okay.

Orange Peel Ale – Great Lakes Brewery – #615633

Aroma is oranges and a bit of something metallic and sweet.  The taste is very akin to orange soda.  Citrusy and sweet, with maybe a bit of sweet malt.  Not at all my thing, but I can see why people would like it.

Hitachino Nest White Ale – Kiuchi Brewery – #210054

(no link, LCBO seems to not have this in their system yet)

Minty and spicy aroma, with a touch of sweet malts.  Taste is very similar, though a bit of ginger comes through on the mid-palate.  Quite a refreshing and easy-drinking beer.  Would be interesting with a  salmon teryaki.

Panil Barriquee Sour – Torrechiara di Losi Guisseppe – #210591

(no link, LCBO seems to not have this in their system yet)

So excited to see this!  Big does of herbal/vegetal aroma, with hints of horseradish.  Taste is the same, except with a sharp sour vinegar note and peppery finish.  Tart sour feel continues to linger.  As it warms, some sour raspberry flavours start to surface.  Definitely give this bottle a bit of time to warm up out of the fridge.

Springbock – Amsterdam Brewing Co. – #208942

Nice malty aroma with a spicy astringency.  Mildly sweet taste has some cola-like medicinal spiciness and a velvety smooth mouthfeel.  Lovely.  Can’t wait to get some on tap.

Doppel-Hirsch – Hoss Brau – #106237

Glad to see this back.  Big caramel sweet malts in the nose and mouth.  Not boozy, despite it’s 7.2%.  A nice bit of yeasty spice and a wonderful lingering sweetness.

Old Empire IPA – Marston’s Brewery – #208976

(no link, LCBO seems to not have this in their system yet)

Okay, here’s the thing:  I love English IPAs.  I also love Americans, but I’ve got a real soft-spot for the Brits.  But for some reason, it’s not uncommon to see them in a clear bottle.  Like this one.  The pair of clear bottles we were tasting were sitting out on a counter, in direct sunlight from a window.  For those of you who don’t know, hops react to sunlight, and create that classic “skunked” aroma and taste.  And IPAs have a good amount of hops in them.  Guess what?  SKUNK!  Through the skunk, I could grab a bit of malt, and hops that seemed to hint at something herbal, mint or parsley.  That’s about all I can say.  I know that Marston’s generally produces a good product, so I’ll pick up a few more of these, but they’ll be from the back of the shelf.  And if they’re on the top shelf, I’ll ask if they can open another case.

Gouden Carolus Hoopsinjoor – Het Anker NV – #211284

Another beer I was super excited to see on the list.  I’ve only had this at a Monk’s Table tasting, and it was remarkable.  Hops in the aroma are peppery and reminescent of oregano.  More of the same in the taste, with a nice malty sweetness to balance it out, and some dark fruits and yeasty spice.  A bit boozy.  Would go excellent with some nice game meat.

Nobel – Christoffel Bier – #157552

Am I giddy?  Yes.  Was it a wrench leaving it so long in the tasting to drink some more of this nectar?  Oh yes.  Did I curse in my notes on first tasting it?  Yup, I sounded like Melissa Leo.  You can read last year’s review of Nobel here, but suffice to say, this dry-hopped, high-alcohol lager hasn’t changed.  It’s still effing incredible.  Buy this.  Lots.  You won’t be sorry.

Curmudgeon IPA – Grand River Brewing – #205393

Quite a bit of sweet malts on the nose, grainy and a bit like fresh baked bread.  There are hops, but they are not popping the way I expected.  Taste is nice and quite dry, considering how malty it smelled.  Hops are nearly all on the finish, balancing out the grainy malts, and are more drying than aromatic.  This beer garnered a lot of positive press last year.  I didn’t get any then, but this is not what I was expecting.  It’s good, and I enjoyed it, but I was thinking it was going to be a bit more of a hop showcase.

Skjálfti – Ölvisholt Brugghús – #168393

Another top-pick from last year, this surprising pale ale from Iceland totally caught me off guard last year, and made me a believer.  Their Lava Smoked Imperial Stout was incredible too (going to finally do a proper review of that tomorrow for Beer Day, an Icelandic celebration of the end of their 74 year prohibition on beer).  Last year’s review is still totally accurate.  If you don’t have time, just read this:  Buy it, it’s worth the slightly elevated price.  Wicked!

Gemini – Southern Tier Brewing Co. – #211425

(no link, LCBO seems to not have this in their system yet)

Aroma is hot and boozy, with some astringency and yeasty spices.  Some nice bready malts fill in the bottom end of the aroma.  Taste is nice and thick with malts and spices; nearly like a dark fruit preserve.  Hops are resinous and spicy too, and fight against the lingering booze, trying to dry it out.  A very cool beer.

HopHead Double IPA – Tree Brewing Co. – #209346

I want to put this out there.  I was assaulted by Stephen Beaumont.  He chucked a pen at me.  And only for the offense of labelling a beer “Imperial”.  Stephen’s got a thing about the Imperial/Double label.  And I actually agree with him for the most part.  While I haven’t run into any really awful double or imperial ales myself (and have had many quite lovely ones), there is just too much opportunity for any jackass to throw a bunch of hops into the kettle and hope for the best.  The good news is, for the most part, the LCBO seems to be tending towards Stephen’s point of view.  We were treated to the lovely Garrison Imperial Ale (duck!), and now have another wonderful DIPA, this time from the left coast.  Tree Brewing has been garnering a lot of praise, and with good reason: they make some nice beers.  The HopHead DIPA pops with fresh hops and a nice alcohol tang.  The hops are herbal and spicy, not too resinous.  Taste comes out strong on the hops, sharp and spicy, but almost immediately they get called into check by the malt, which is sweet and mellow.  I noted that they were in “good balance”, which in this case didn’t mean the pans were level, but at least the scale wasn’t bottomed-out.  There was enough malt to keep it from being fizzy hop tea.  But the hops are the star of the show, biting and spicy, a little coating, and very dry on the finish.  Lovely.

So now you know.  Get yourself down to your local LC and see what they’ve brought in.  And if something sexy on this list isn’t there, let them know you want to see more better beer at that location.  Sure, we can all head down to Queen’s Quay, but what a message we would send if every store level was asking for the “premium release” beers.

14 Comments

  1. Posted February 28, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    “Assaulted”? Perish the thought.

  2. Posted February 28, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    “Assaulted”? Perish the thought.

  3. Posted February 28, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Haha, you’re fast. Yeah, if I recall, it didn’t even hit me, but intent is 8/5 of the law, or something…..

  4. Posted February 28, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Haha, you’re fast. Yeah, if I recall, it didn’t even hit me, but intent is 8/5 of the law, or something…..

  5. Posted February 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Haha! I didn’t see a thing…

  6. Posted February 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Haha! I didn’t see a thing…

  7. Posted February 28, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    In fairness, it was your second infraction that day. One more and he would have gone for the patented Beaumont elbow drop.ah

  8. Posted February 28, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    In fairness, it was your second infraction that day. One more and he would have gone for the patented Beaumont elbow drop.ah

  9. Susannah
    Posted March 24, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Oh man…I LOVE the Hitachino beers! Which LCBO had it??

  10. Susannah
    Posted March 24, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Oh man…I LOVE the Hitachino beers! Which LCBO had it??

  11. Posted March 25, 2011 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Susannah,
    This is actually a bit strange, but I’m not sure. The LCBO website still doesn’t have it listed. It’s possible it got pulled after the media tasting, but I’m not sure. I’ll send out an email, and see if we can get some answers. But yes, the Hitachino beers are quite lovely.

  12. Posted March 25, 2011 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Susannah,
    This is actually a bit strange, but I’m not sure. The LCBO website still doesn’t have it listed. It’s possible it got pulled after the media tasting, but I’m not sure. I’ll send out an email, and see if we can get some answers. But yes, the Hitachino beers are quite lovely.

  13. Susannah
    Posted March 25, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Oh no!! What a tease. Well, let me know if you hear anything back…so far I have not been able to find that brand of beer anywhere in Toronto.

  14. Susannah
    Posted March 25, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Oh no!! What a tease. Well, let me know if you hear anything back…so far I have not been able to find that brand of beer anywhere in Toronto.

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