Tag Archives: toffee

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.

Case Swap: Saison

This post is part of a series of twenty-three discussing beers brewed by members of the Merri Mashers brewing club for their 2015 case swap celebration.

This beer was brewed by Brett Lenne and the label stated it as a saison-style beer with 47% Maris Otter, 41% Golden Promise, 6% Vienna, 4% Cara-Pils and 2% Caramunich II malts. That’s quite a payload. Who does SMaSH these days, anyway? The hop additions were Perle to 24 IBU then EKG and Styrian Goldings towards the end of the boil for flavour. Danstar’s Belle Sasion yeast was used, fermented @ 22 degrees Celsius. OG 1045, FG 1001, 5.8% ABV.

Up front let me say this is a tasty beer, well-brewed and technically faultless. It carried a poised, generous head over a bronze coloured body with total clarity. A slightly sour lemon and subtle clove aroma drifted between wafts of breadiness. This was accompanied by a friendly smoothness and spot-on dry finish.

Malt flavour shot through in rays of weak toffee and croissant with hints of nutmeg, leaving a clean medium bitterness lingering in the background. Although delicious, I found myself wanting that element that makes a saison extra special – a farmhouse thing, some funk, a touch of sour, a herbal note from the fields … so it’s a bit too Belgian overall for my tastes.

But it’s as close as a perfect saison gets – and I can’t brew one any better!

Simple Malt Altbier

While “Springing” – or rather, what felt like Wintering – in Montreal this year I was lucky enough to check out many of the city’s pubs and bars. They were all excellent but the shockingly cold weather made getting to and from them a severe difficulty. Experiencing Spring in Montreal convinced me that I would never live further away from the equator than say, the fortieth parallel. And on the coast.

I proudly believed living through two Canberra winters was worth a pat on the back … until I visited Quebec. In Spring. Anyway.

One of the best pubs I checked out in Montreal was Saint Houblon (Houblon = Hop). The bar staff were really friendly here and pointed me in the direction of other breweries and beer pubs in town. They also served a decent Altbier – with a slice of fruit on the side.

The Simple Malt Altbier is 5% ABV and fluffs a frothy big head. There’s a strong but difficult to distinguish soft toffee aroma, with some caramel and lemon going on in the nostrils also. Superbly bitter, the beer’s sweeter malts gush over chocolate and citrus hop flavour when tasting. This is a large altbier, more flavoursome than most of the style I’ve had before. It’s kept in check like a faux-cum-hybrid-lager should be, but is not as crisp and refreshing as other Alts.

There’s even a little coffee and maple too interestingly, brought home with a slick, oily mouthfeel that is oddly not unpleasant. Definitely decent; a peculiar Alt but one I will remember.

I drank this draught beer at Saint-Houblon, Montreal.

Okanagan Springs Pale Ale

The Okanagan Springs Brewery is venerable by Canadian craft beer standards, being opened by two blokes in 1985 with a lager as its first beer. The pale ale came later in 1989 and as far as I am aware it is still brewed to the same recipe today. This beer is a bit of a mainstay at the mainstream Vancouver pubs, and the more its tap handle kept staring at me, the more it wore me down. I gave it a crack, hoping for good craic.

This peculiarly boring pale ale is a deep copper, rusty colour with saffron hues. It poured a solid head and smelt a bit metallic, a bit dank – like swampwater – with the faintest hint of passionfruit in the background. It tasted very mild, a soft watery mouthfeel delivering touches of crystal and toffee. Not at all bitter.

It’s drinkable then – but far too plain for my liking. Everything is mute, background, safe – there’s little to no flavour, wrapped in a conventional package and delivered with business-like dullness. It’s technically solid, but that merely makes it qualify as beer.

This ale shakes your hand like a limp fish; a sickly postman, a dying, slender, choleric man. I simply wouldn’t bother with this pale ale – there are thousands better out there. Maybe in 1989 it was a worthwhile beer. Not anymore.

I bought this draught beer at Soho Billiards, Yaletown, British Columbia.