A Tasting Miscellany

Some beverage reviews, to break up the historical discussions.

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Cool Lager Draft

This was out in West Toronto, at a fine Greek restaurant. Sometimes a fresh, well-made adjunct draft is what you want. Its weight and flavour go perfectly with the foods and this was the case with this brew. It has good brewing attributes as well, e.g., the Hallertau hop character is evident, mineral-like, clean and sharp.

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Captivator DoppelBock

A letter-perfect strong bock beer, made out in B.C. by Tree. The Perle hops underpin a rich malty character that spells Bavaria. Proof, were it needed, that terroir is mostly a charming conceit.

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Cameron’s Ambear Red Ale

Another well-made beer but with a light character, as for Cool Lager. In this case, a mild caramel malt note is evident with a good flavour of American hops, but it’s all ratcheted down.  If the Doppelbock above is 10 on the intensity scale and a Rickard’s Red (Molson Coors product) is three, the Ambear Red is five.

The point is, the taste is good, which a lot of people don’t understand in this context. They think anything with powerful flavour is good, anything with light flavour bad. This is a misapprehension which, apart from possible business consequences, strays from gastronomic logic. Many foods have a light taste or a complex but subtle one but are prized in gastronomy. So it should be with beer.

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Gillman’s Blended Scotch-style Whiskies

This is a personal blend which is the result probably of 50-60 whiskies, possibly even hundreds as small amounts of older minglings, going back years, are part of the matrix. It isn’t done willy-nilly (more or less), but to get a certain character. The various elements interlock and re-combine in a way that often presents a surprising unity of palate. Remember, it’s all from grains, all alcohol, all mostly Scotch whiskies: you can’t really go wrong here, and an occasional nudge of the helm puts it into the deluxe range.

Scotch-style means, most of the whiskies are Scottish malts or blends, but some are not. There is some Irish whisky in there, Powers was a recent addition. There is a bit of rye and bourbon as well, but the mash bill for Irish whisky used to use very small amounts of non-barley grains, typically, rye, maize and/or oats (less than 5% of the mash). In effect I’ve duplicated that part of auld country whisky-making.

I did, too, some time back, add a skosh of Amontillado sherry, to emulate sherry cask aging.

Let’s just say no whisky fan would turn it away. Nae danger, laddies.