Tag Archives: caramel

Finch’s Beer Co. Fascist Pig Ale

Finch’s Beer Co. is another Chicago native brewery that keeps a humble profile. They’ve been around for five years brewing and packaging out of Elston. Their cans are great to look at – speaking to the founder’s background in visual communication – and I selected the can with the name that spoke the most to me …

The 8% ABV Fascist Pig Ale is a murky amber colour with a frothy uneven head. It has the lemon zesty aroma that I often associate with rye beers and an understated but fresh hop aroma. Think sauerkraut, onions and freshly ground leaves. There’s even a little background generic maltiness in the aroma. Although it’s not a mental cacophony, as so often is the case with a U.S. beer at such high ABV, this beer’s aroma has a lot going on.

Flavourwise the first truck to hit you is caramel, toffee-sweet malt. Then comes the bitterness wagon; again, a fresh, acerbic hop character, with a devastating afterbitterness that lingers on. A slick mouthfeel assists the malt-bomb along and restrains the affect of the alpha acids and spicy rye. This is a beer that I can’t drink quickly, but I sure can drink.

If I had to put it into a BJCP style, I guess it would be either a double IPA, with an unusual aroma, or a thicker example of an American Brown Ale, but without the citrus whack ova’ the ‘ead.

I bought a can of this beer at Sky Liquors, Norwood Park, Chicago, Illinois and drank it in a house nearby, after feasting on the immensely delicious Red Apple Polish buffet. Oh my. Still reeling from the meals I had there; I expanded my stomach to new limits.

Wig & Pen Sequoia

What a pleasure it is to be doing a beer tasting again for the blog, even more so that the beer in question is from an old favourite brewpub of mine, the Wig & Pen in Canberra. This establishment can be characterised as “the Australian Capital Territory’s most enduring brewpub” and moved locations recently from its CBD base to the School of Music on the campus of the Australian National University. I am studying at ANU now , so this suits me just fine. The ability to get consistent, delicious, uniquely brewed beer in a variety of styles on campus is simply unrivalled.

Not to mention the friendly brewers, owner and staff!

I usually drink the Wig & Pen’s Australian Pale Ale (dubbed the “Kool-Aid”) but there was none on tap for this visit, so I went with the Sequoia, an American Amber Ale. It poured a brown-to-maroon caramel colour with a delicate white head that retained minimally, dissipating in about five minutes. Clarity was extreme, clear as glass even at this heavy EBC. The aroma was restrained, but spoke of mango, pineapple and lollies. A bunch of American aroma hops definitely floated for a while in this wort and beer.

A medium-thin mouthfeel was unexpected but refreshing, providing a watery background of mildly crystalesque pancake malt to a bracing, fresh hop bitterness. A distinct bitter bite is pleasurable in the aftertaste. For an American Amber the Sequoia is very accessible and clean – you could be fooled that it is a lager – and I was assured by the bar staff that it is a popular choice with drinkers because of it. Sitting in the sun on a clear day like today, it lulled me in, tempted me for another, but I resisted. Responsibilities, you know.

I bought this draught beer at the Wig & Pen, Canberra

Pirate Life Pale Ale

The Pirate Life brewery hails from South Australia and its two head brewers are alumni from BrewDog’s early days in Scotland. They can all their beers citing the usual logical reasons, with an emphasis on the environment that I can get behind. So far the brewery only produces American-style pale ales: a session IPA, a pale ale and a double IPA. Distribution is ramping up.

The 5.4% ABV pale ale comes in an attractive, space-age blue can. It drops into the glass a deep bronze, completely clear, and with a moderate to middling head that retains only slightly. The aroma is high on new world hops with grapefruit and melon combating caramel malts. A bit of soapiness is present on the nose as the glass depletes.

This glass tasted particularly fresh: well-balanced, slightly edging more onto the bitter side for a pale ale. Carbonation is right in the centre and some cantaloupe fruit flavours accentuate peach and soft, muffin-like malt. A thin mouthfeel delivers the goods, slightly thinner than I would like, but not detracting from the overall package.

This is a nice pale ale, entrenched in the new American tradition. Approach with haste and expectation.

I bought this canned beer at Carwyn Cellars and drank it at home.

L’Alchemiste IPA

With a name like L’Alchemiste you could be forgiven for guessing that this beer is cashing in on the reputation enjoyed by Vermont’s Alchemist brewery, but you’d be wrong. L’Alchemiste is a microbrewery in Quebec – closeish to Vermont, yes – that has been around since 2001 – long before Vermont’s The Alchemist – and expanding in 2006. As a result their core range is very substantial, though distribution varies. L’Alchemiste’s 5.5% ABV IPA predates Heady Topper by a substantial margin. And it’s a completely different beer.

For starters it’s a traditional-tasting beer. It’s not aspiring to anything. It’s an OK IPA that ticks most boxes, erring on the English side.

The beer is super effervescent and sits bronze-red in the glass with little aroma to speak of. A chunky head, big and fairy-floss-floaty, adorns a thin, dry beer that is bitter – very bitter. The bitterness dominates most of the malt, which in conjunction with the thin mouthfeel provides an illusion of flavourlessness. There are themes to tease out however, if you can stomach the thin bitterness.

Caramel malts pepper the beer’s profile with hints of sodium and earthy notes. In fact the beer almost has a kelp-like aftertaste. There’s a bit of grit in its thinness that can take you places if you let it. But ultimately it’s not balanced enough for my palate to truly appreciate. Not half bad but not half good either.

I bought this bottled beer from a Montreal Walmart and drank it in a rented house in Pittsburgh.