St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout – Beer Review

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Okay – I know, yet another alcohol-related review. I want to be sorry, but I’m not because but at least I’m providing new content. Also, another plug for my novel: Wine Bottles and Broomsticks. It’s a good summer read and summer is very nearly over!

Before saying anything else, I need to apologize for the picture. I didn’t have the appropriate glass, all of my proper pint glasses were in the dishwasher, and I totally over-poured and had to clean it all up before I could snap the picture. The beer I chose today comes from my wife. She loves the sorts of heavy beers that could have a fist-fight with a stiff bowl of oatmeal and win with one hand tied behind it’s back. She cracked this one open and couldn’t finish it because it’s too bloody hot here for this kind of beer just now.

What we have here is the St-Ambroise Oatmeal stout from Mcaulslan Brewing in Montreal, Quebec. The can advertises 45IBUs and 5%ABV with cascade, Willamette, and Kent Goldings hops. As a home-brewer, these are my favorite go-to hop choices with the exception that I typically add Chinook for aroma. Naturally, this beer had me excited, even though it wasn’t for me.

Before getting into my review, I want to come clean. When I was first learning how to enjoy beer, I got my hands on some French-Canadian beers, and I absolutely hated them, they were heavy and sweet and had unusual flavors. Now I’ve gotten older, lazier, fatter, and generally more exposed to lots of beers, I really like the occasional Quebec beer. I find them to be a lot like Belgians in the sense that they’re bigger than life and having more than one every now and then is just too much.

I’m going to take this one from the angle of a home-brewer. This beer is like sucking on a mouthful of chocolate malt and roasted barley. It’s also surprisingly bitter, not IPA bitter, but not sickly sweet like an imperial stout. The roasted barley adds an interesting bitter note. The nose on this thing is all sweetness and malt –coffee, chocolate, and molasses. You don’t even get a hint of hops until you drink it. The flavor is the same with mild and well-balanced hops. As the name suggests, it’s a heavy beer with a huge foamy head. This beer reminds me of a Guiness, but about 3x as heavy with a lot more punch in the flavor department. Unlike a lot of dark beers, this one is less sweet. Normally, after drinking a beer like this, I’m pretty much over it –I just get overwhelmed by the sweetness. This one, however, I’m finding that getting to the bottom of the glass doesn’t make me feel as though I’ve just had six candy bars.

On the whole, this is an excellent beer. It’s not really the sort of thing you’re going to want to stock in your fridge, and it’s absolutely not a great summer drink, but this is one you should have in your fridge come winter holidays.

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Husky IPA – A Beer Review

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I figured since I’ve got a bit of momentum on this blog now, I’d start by plugging my new (not food or beer-related) book – Wine Bottles and Broomsticks. Now that’s out of the way, I’ve got a second beer review – HEY! Don’t judge me. I’m trying to keep to my diet. I think two beer reviews a couple weeks apart isn’t awful. It’s just that stress, you know? In any case. This review is brought to you by a 4th of July party and a beer hidden behind some truly horrible spiked seltzers that will not be getting a review because if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. I actually caught sight of this brew last week, lurking behind the unmentionables in the beer fridge, but I was looking for something to write about, and I thought – what the hell, let’s give this a go.

What we’ve got here is the HUSKY IPA Mosaic India Pale Ale from Alaskan Brewing. I’m not 100% sure why they had to include IPA in there twice – once spelled out and once in abbreviated form, but it probably has more to do with graphic design and not with a lack of proof-readers. The can advertises a “Tropical, Hoppy, and Fruity” beer at 7.0ABV.

The nose is pineapple and grapefruit, which is a nice start to a summer IPA, in my opinion. The first few sips made me feel like this was a pretty heavy beer, actually, however, once I got into about the first 1/3rd, my opinion changed. It’s a lighter crisper beer than I was expecting from Alaskan. It’s not a brew that threatens to overwhelm with sweetness or from being too heavy. You could easily knock two of these back and not even regret it. Thinking about this from the summer perspective, I’d place this beer on the ‘refreshing’ end of the spectrum, but only just.

The flavors that come through the strongest are the fruity pineapple and hints of spice from the ‘pine-needle’ quality you get from the Mosaic hops. As far as IPAs go, this is not particularly bitter, I’d describe it as a mild IPA, but not disappointing, you still get a satisfying hoppy kick. My one criticism is that the heavy reliance on the mosaic hops and under-stated aroma hops gives this beer a pretty one-note feel. It’s a little disappointing because I think with a bit more diversity in hops –especially with the aroma, it would be a better beer.

In all, I’d call this a pretty good brew. For comparison, it’s a milder version of Deschutes Fresh-squeezed IPA – which is one of my go-to beers. This is a great one to bring to parties or if someone else has brought it in a 12-pack mixer –drink all of these first before someone else gets there.

1792 Small Batch – A casual review

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After a beer-related review, I figured I’d try a whiskey related review, but before I can do that, I need to plug my novel: Wine Bottles and Broomsticks. It’s an excellent summer read.

For this blog, I perused the liquor store shelves for a solid like 3 minutes. There are a lot of mid-shelf options to have a look at. I picked this one after turning a bottle purporting to be bourbon whiskey round to find, in small text, the words: Aged at least 6 months. Now, I’m not an expert, but I’m pretty damn sure 3 years is like the minimum, and I do have a bit of familarity with what whiskey tastes like if it hasn’t been properly aged.

Today, I’m reviewing 1792 Small Batch – this is just one of several types of 1792 you can get. This bottle didn’t have any such BS about only aged a bit more than 6 months sitting on the label, so I picked it up. Plus, I’ve never tried it before. There are a ton of reviews on this bourbon, and they’re all pretty good. Now, I’m not a sommelier for whiskey or anything, so my palette isn’t as developed as folks reviewing on those sites.

The bourbon described: It’s made by the Barton distillery in Bardstown, KY, which is owned by the Sazerac Company. This one rings in at 46.85% ABV. It is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. It’s dark amber and comes in a really spiffy looking bottle.

My initial reaction to this is not super-duper positive. At $32.99 in my local liquor store, it’s not anything remotely top shelf and totally worth the dollars.

The nose on this one is rich, lots of sweetness, I’d call it caramel. If you’re looking for it, you’ll also find some pretty striking orange notes along with the spice from the rye. The vanilla is subtle but present.

As usual, I tried this one neat first. It’s smooth going in with lots of caramel. There is also plenty of spice coming in from the rye. The thing I didn’t care for was the very long finish that is almost too punchy. I’d almost call it harsh and screamed of spice which almost washes out the sweetness. When I put this on ice, it opened up the rye like a can of really pissed off wasps. I’d describe the flavor as almost ashy and just not very pleasant.

My final call on this one: It’s an alright whiskey. To be fair, I didn’t try this one mixed. However, I’m dubious about how it might go in a Manhattan or Whiskey sour. When added to ice, it didn’t do a lot of great things to the flavor. That said, I haven’t ruled it out as workable, especially as an alternative to a straight rye a Manhattan. I would absolutely not do this one on the rocks, but neat is just fine – my final assessment is that this is not my favorite, but for the price, I don’t feel as though I’ve been taken to the cleaners.