Monday, 19 November 2012

Repositioning Round-Up: Fort George Brewery, Astoria, Oregon

I think I have mentioned that I currently work on cruise ships.  This gives me the opportunity to travel while doing a job I love, and also to try lots of different beers from different places.  Repositioning is a particularly exciting time for this.  Repositioning is when a cruise ship moves from one area to another and changes its itinerary.  Usually this is in April/May and September/October time as we move from winter to summer and vise versa.  My ship repositioned from Alaska to the Caribbean which gave us the chance to visit some new places that we would only go to once.  The first port of call was Astoria, Oregon.  I did some research before we got there and made a bee-line to the Fort George Brewery.  I was not disappointed!

The brewery has a large variety of beers on offer and you can try all of them in their tasting sampler that is very reasonable priced.  At the time of year I visited there were several fresh-hopped beers that were interesting to try.  The staff are very knowledgeable and there is an extensive “Beer Book” that tells you about all of their regular brews indepth so you can make an informed choice. 

I really enjoyed the décor of the brewery and that the regular sized drinks were served in mason jars!  I had the sampler of all 11 beers and their wasabi ginger ale as a palette cleanser.  There is definitely something for everyone at Fort George as my tasting notes will show you:

1811 Bicentennial Lager
Brewed for Astoria’s Bicentennial in 2011 this lager has a depth of flavour that surprised me.  It has an aroma of lime and citrus fruits, has a good body and a combination of slight bitterness next to a slight malt background that I really liked.  But Lite this is not!

Quick Wit
This wheat beer uses elderflower, coriander and lemongrass giving it a gorgeous fruity taste.  It smells like marmalade and I found it very smooth, only a touch floral at the end.

This fruit beer was an instant fave with me.  Light amber in colour with a slight beery hue and a fuzzy head it smells of juicy berries with a creamy background.  The taste is summer fruits bursting in your mouth.  Absolutly divine for sure!

Nut Red Ale
Reddy brown with a light tan head, this amber ale had a sweet, malty aroma.  It has a strong malt taste with an underlying nuttiness leading to a subtle sweetness.  I like my amber ales a bit stronger, but it was still good.

Vortex IPA
Not bad as IPAs go, bright clear amber with a fuzzy white head and a hoppy, sweet grapefruit nose.  It is not too bitter, being smooth to start leading to a pleasing maltiness and ending with a nettle/grapefruit sweetness.  Tame compared to some of the Alaskan IPAs I’ve tried.

Working Girl Porter
Dark brown with red highlights and a lingering tan head this porter was a bit too much like a shot of espresso for me.  It has a strong coffee aroma and a smooth espresso taste with a chocolate aftertaste.  Needed to be a bit sweeter for my tastes.

Cavatica Stout
This one is for the people that like their ABV’s high.  Dark brown/black in colour with a tan head, there isn’t a lot going on aroma wise, only a very mild maltiness.  I got a strong alcoholic taste from this with fruit cake and malt in the background.  It was too strong for me but I am sure a more seasoned stout drinker would love its complexities.

Fresh Hop Vortex IPA
Now we get into the seasonal beers, beginning with our first fresh hop variety.  This is the same as their Vortex IPA but made with fresh hops – what a difference.  Fresh is not the word!! What is fresher than fresh?  Nettle and grapefruit on the nose this beer hits you with nettle and grapefruit in the taste then a freshness that I cannot describe.  I liked this so much more than the regular IPA because of the freshness.

Another fresh hop brew, this time bringing a more organic flavour to the table.  Hopstoria is a clear bright gold with a quickly dissipating head.  It has an organic fragrance that almost reminded me of cannibis.  This organic quality continues in the flavour giving it a chlorophyll and nettle taste.  I wasn’t a fan, it made me think I was chewing on a leaf.

Co-Hoperative 2012
Another fresh hopped beer, this one uses hops gathered from all the growers in Astoria so is slightly different every year.  For me, this was an instant favourite.  A slightly cloudy amber with a light head, this years offering has an aroma that is a combination of sweetness, malt and hops.  It has a well balanced malty sweetness that lingers on the tongue, very satisfying!

Fresh Hop OPA (Oatmeal Pale Ale)
The last beer on the list and another fresh hopped one.  The regular version of the OPA was out when I visited but it was on the Draft Magazine top 25 beers of 2012.  This beer is gold with a fuzzy white head and has an aroma that is a combination of hops and buttered popcorn.  It begins bitter in taste leading to a buttery creamy finish that I think must come from the oatmeal.  It wasn’t a favourite of mine but I did find the mouthfeel very interesting and kept going back to it to sip it and feel it out.  An interesting use of specialty grains for sure.

I loved Fort George Brewery and really hope that I get to visit Astoria again some day so I can try some more of their delicious brews. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Canadian Beer Round-Up

While in Victoria this season, as with Alaska, I tried a lot of different beers.  Here we are going to focus on three Canadian breweries with brews that I particularly liked:

Phillips Brewery

Along with Service 1904 which I talked about last post I tried several beers from Phillips Brewery.  Blue Buck is what seems to be their stock beer – a pale ale with a bitter, biscuit flavour.  Analogue 78 is a Kölsch style beer with a creaminess to it that I also found in the Service 1904.  It was wheaty with a buttery aroma overlapping a freshness that was quite pleasant.  I think I have made it quite clear in previous posts that I enjoy a good raspberry wheat and the offering of this style from Phillips is very tart with a raspberry beginning.  I enjoyed the wheat aftertaste but wished this brew had more body.  I found the selection from Phillips Brewery to be quite satisfying and diverse.

Cannery Brewing Co

I have a friend who currently lives in Vancouver (which we will return to shortly) but studied in Victoria.  One day she picked us up from the ship and we went to her friend’s house for a bbq and some beers.  I picked up Cannery Brewing Co’s taster pack (in cans, no less) and really enjoyed it.  For a start I think a mixed six pack, three each of a style, is an awesome idea.  I know Boston Brewing Co also does mixed sixes, this idea needs to come over the pond for sure!  In my taster pack was their IPA, their Nut Brown Ale and the Anarchist Amber.  Of the three the Nut Brown was my favourite – brown with a tan head, a sweet, malty aroma that continues into the flavour with a good balance of nuttiness also.  The Amber came a close second being bitter to begin followed by a malt sweetness and a caramel finish.  The IPA wasn’t quite fruity enough for me, leaning more to the malty side of the IPA spectrum, but was still drinkable.  These guys are also pretty active on twitter so if you try their offerings, let them know, they like the feedback.

Steamworks Brewing Co

Back to Vancouver then, where we stopped just once and my friend came to visit again.  This time we had lunch at Steamworks Brewing Co which has a good selection on offer.  I tried the Frambozen (obviously) first, and this has become an instant favourite.  It is bright red in colour with a low pink tinged head and smells strongly of raspberry sweetness with a sour background.  The taste is pure raspberry with a bitter aftertaste that balances the sweet beautifully.  Secondly I tried their Ipanema White wheat ale which was also very tasty.  This is a very aromatic brew smelling of orange and spice, but unlike some of this style these are not overpowering in the taste which sometimes puts me off.  Slightly floral and spicy but balanced with a creaminess I enjoyed this brew almost as much as the Franbozen.

Before I sign off for this post I should also mention Lighthouse Brewing Co and Vancouver Island Brewing, who I also had some interesting offerings from.  If you are every in Canada, there is so much to choose from you will definitely find something that suits your taste buds!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Irish Times, Victoria, BC, Canada

It has been crazy busy around here lately, hence the lack of posts.  Here's a new one from Canada, then we'll soon get onto the beers I tried while my ship was repositioning - keep your eyes peeled!!

Irish Times is an Irish themed pub in Victoria.  It has a wide selection of draft beers from Canada and the local breweries and also from Ireland.  I tried the Taste Of Ireland sampler while I was there and here are my results:

Harp Lager
Pale yellow with a low head this lager smells very solventy with a hint of citrus and apples.  It has a very crisp taste with a hoppy background.

Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale
Orange amber with a creamy white head this ale has a sweet, solventy aroma with some maltiness in the background.  It is very smooth on the pallet; malty with a touch of sweetness and a creamy aftertaste.  As with most cream ales I found it a bit lacking in flavour, but the creaminess was definitely there.

This Irish red lives up to it’s name being a red amber in colour with a low head.  It’s aroma has a malty depth with a sweet background.  It is bitter to begin followed by a malty body.  I enjoyed this combination.

Guinness Irish Stout
If you are trying Irish beers then obviously you have to include Guinness!  Almost black with red highlights and a good creamy tan head, Guinness has a roasty burnt quality to it that is very pleasing.  I enjoyed the creamy, almost coffee background to the taste.  I think I have only ever had Guinness out of a bottle or can before so the draft version was much more satisfying to the tastebuds!

I also tried Caffrey’s Irish Ale (bitter with a smooth, sweet creaminess) and a Scottish Ale brewed just for this pub called Service 1904 by Phillips Brewery, which is local to Victoria.  I was very surprised by Service 1904.  It is billed as a Stone Fired Ale so I expected it to have a smoky quality.  Quite to the contrary it was fruity with a creamy sweetness and a full mouth feel.  I’m quite sad that I am no longer in Victoria to enjoy more of it!

Next post I will give a quick Canadian beer round-up, then on to my repositioning beer adventures, which are long overdue reporting!