Friday, 28 September 2012

Swan's Brewpub, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Unfortunately my time in Alaska has come to an end.  My ship is now repositioning to the Caribbean… not sure how much good craft beer I am going to find there!  But for now I will continue to tell you about my last few stops just outside of Alaska – did I mention my run took me to Canada as well?

Our stop in Canada took us to Victoria in British Columbia.  Here we discovered a brewpub called Swan’s that was the home to beer brewed at Buckerfields Brewery.  We went back here a couple of times so we could try the whole selection!  Conveniently you could choose flights in four or six glasses or try each beer in taster size individually…. I got flights of six almost every time !

Here are my tasting notes from Swan’s:

Old Towne Lager
Pale, watery gold in colour with not much head to speak of, this lager is solventy with a maltiness that gives it body.  Not my favourite from here but a pretty good lager overall

Pandora Pale Ale
Warm gold with a low head this brew has a sweet aroma with a malty base.  It has a sweet taste with a very subtle fruitiness overwhelmed by a malt finish.

Extra IPA
Orange gold with a low white head, this IPA has a good combination of hops, nettle and grapefruit on the nose.  It starts of bitter with a nettle taste that lingers followed by subtle fruit in the background.

Buckerfield’s ESB
This Extra Special Bitter is amber with a quickly dissipating head.  It has a malty aroma with an underlying sweetness.  To taste it begins bitter with a sweet maltiness lingering on the tongue.  A very good example of this style in my opinion.

Appleton Brown Ale
Brown with a low head, this ale smells smoky and malty almost with a coffee background.  This tastes like a watery stout with a combination of grain, malt and roastiness. 

Berry Ale
This is a more subtle fruit beer, being amber with a red tinge and a low head.  It strongly smells of berries and tastes bitter to begin with a raspberry shot then a lingering grainy taste left behind.

Honey Lager
This brew tastes like an IPA with a sweet background.  Golden straw in colour with minimal head is has a hoppy, lightly sweet aroma.  Bitter to begin with a background taste of sweetness from the honey this lager finishes with light nettle and hoppiness.

Arctic Ale
Gold straw in colour with a low head there is minimal aroma to this brew, possibly slightly malty.  The taste was also minimal to me, a touch grainy and biscuity.  I like my beers a little stronger than this but my Bud Lite drinking friend adored it.

Coconut Porter
Not being a fan of coconut, I didn’t think I was going to like this one but along with the berry ale and ESB it is actually one of my favourites.  Dark brown but red in the light with a low tan head this brew has a strong coconut aroma accompanied by a light roastiness.  In tasting it is smooth and creamy with slight coconut and a good amount of roasty aftertaste.

Riley’s Scotch Ale
For a high alcohol content ale I found this surprisingly easy to drink and very smooth.  Brown with red highlights and a low head this scotch ale has a dark, fruit cake aroma.  It is oily in the mouth but not in a bad way and is fruity and grainy.

Oatmeal Stout
Black with red highlights and a low almost nonexistent head, this stout had a good burnt aroma with a background sweetness.  As with the Scotch Ale it was very smooth tasting of coffee with a lingering sweet, burnt aftertaste.

Phew!  That was a good run of beers there!  I have a couple more installment from my times in Alaska/Canada, next we will look at some more commercial beers and then the beers I like from Canada… then we will move on to new pastures!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Goldrush Brewery, Skagway AK

Outside of the main town of Skagway sits a little restaurant and brewery called Goldrush.  The walls are covered in the signatures of patrons and out back runs a river giving you one of the most gorgeous views I have had while tasting beer.  The food is pretty good too!

I visited Goldrush Brewery on what was probably one of the sunniest days I had my whole Alaska season.  After the trek out there and a little bit of sight seeing along the way I was ready for the 5 beer flight set before me.  Here are my tasting notes:

Smuggler’s Cove IPA
At 8% this is the strongest beer the brewery offers.  Gold in colour with a low head it smells of cider and is a touch solventy.  The taste is bitter to start with a sweet, light apple after taste.

Fireweed Honey 
This is the brewery’s most popular brew using local fireweed.  It is clear gold in colour with a low head.  This has a hoppy aroma with an alcohol background.  The hoppy bitterness continues in the flavour, as does the alcohol hit with a  slight sweetness.  I would have liked a little bit more of the honey to come through though.

Gold Dredge Red
Not the best red I’ve had but not a bad little offering.  Dark amber orange with a low head this has a warm malty sweet aroma which carries through in the taste.

Blue Collar
This wheat beer was refreshing.  It is cloudy and light gold in colour with a soft floral aroma with a touch of marmalade.  It is very carbonated with a light wheat flavour and a grainy linger.

Coffee Stout
This was my favourite from this brewery.  Dark brown, almost black in colour with a dense tan head it has a strong aroma of hazelnut and coffee.  When tasting it begins with a bitterness that is followed by a coffee taste leading into a roasty burnt flavour ending in a nutty sweetness.

If you are in Skagway, although it is a bit of a trek out of town the Goldrush Brewery is a good little stop to make with friendly staff and some fun activities nearby also.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Skagway Brewing Co, Skagway AK

This is my third season in Alaska; the last time I was here was 2008.  I remember back in my first season in 2007 the Skagway Brewing Co opening its doors.  Back then it had a menu of various different beers from around the world and as it is at the end of the main street in Skagway, not many people visited it.

Four years later the place is heaving and you have to get there early to get a good seat!  They have a selection of their own beers and a couple of guest brews.  I’m a fan of their Spruce Tip Blonde as I mentioned in a previous post and have indulged in a few this season.  Here are my tasting notes from their other styles:

Blue Top Porter
Real smokey taste with a hint of coffee and chocolate, very drinkale.

Boom Town Brown
My favourite after the Spruce Tip Blonde.  A good malty taste with a hint of toffee

Chilkoot Trail IPA
This has a very bitter beginning with a nice grapefruit after taste, not a bad IPA

Prospector Pale
This one was too bitter for me as I'm not a fan of Pales but still quite refreshing.

I’m currently up to 233 different beers tried… I think the new goal is to try to get to 250 by the time my ship reaches LA in 

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Alaskan Brewing Tasting Notes

While traveling around Alaska I have had the opportunity to try several of the Alaskan Brewing Co range of beers.  They have not disappointed, that for sure!  Here are a sample of my tasting notes, some more in depth than others J

Amber with a cream head, smells sweet, almost milky.  Bitter taste to begin followed by a creamy sweetness.  This is one of my faves and I love that my ship has it in our crew bar while we are in Alaska!

Yellow in colour and slightly cloudy with almost no head. A biscuit aroma with citrus and freshly baked bread.  White has a clean taste, a little biscuity with a fresh citrus background.  This is a good session beer for me.

Light gold with a foamy white head.  A nettle aroma, almost spicy.  This has a nettle and citrus taste, some grapefruit and a toasty aftertaste.  Pale’s aren’t my favourite type of beer but this is definitely very drinkable.

Before I tried Alaskan’s IPA I thought I didn’t like them.  They are too bitter for me.  Then I sipped this beauty.  It has just the right combination of bitter and fruity with that slight nettle taste.  It must be the glacier water!  Now I am finding IPAs that I like all over, but I think Alaskan will always be my favourite one.

Oatmeal Stout
Dark in colour with a tan head this beauty smells strongly of coffee and tastes like it too.  A real sipping beer with full flavour and a burnt aftertaste that is pleasant.

Raspberry Wheat
I am so glad I found a bottle of this, especially after I found out on my brewery tour that is sold out twice!  I am very picky about my raspberry wheats as they have to have the right balance of fruit against the beer flavour.  This one did not disappoint, of course!  I only wish I had been able to get more than one bottle!

Smoked Porter
I was very intrigued by this brew, unsure as to whether I would like it or not.  After getting a taste for fruitier, sweeter beers I was worried that savouriness of the smoke might put me off.  I was wrong.  The smoked taste is very pleasing and balancing well with the dark flavours of the porter.  Another good sipper.

I’ve also tried their Cream Ale rough draft and the APA at the brewery, both of which were good – the APA in particular.  And let's not forget Summer which is a fave of mine but I haven't had chance to make notes on it yet! Now I’m on the look out for Baltic Porter and Winter Lager before I leave in three weeks – here’s hoping I can get my hands on some!