My LCBO Wish List. Part II.

In Part I I enumerated beers I would like to see sold in Ontario. Two or three have been available here for relatively short periods, vs. continuously as a private system could ensure.

In this post I will explain my reasons for listing these beers. I stress they are not intended to suggest each beer is a world classic, although many are. In some cases my interest reflects a personal history or predilection.

Everyone has their reason for exercising consumer choice, after all, and should be allowed to in a free-market system, subject to reasonable regulation and, inevitably, taxes and so forth.

San Miguel Cerveza Negra (Dark Beer) (Philippines)

This beer was mentioned as superlative in early writing of foundational beer writer Michael Jackson (1942-2007). I tasted it about 20 years ago, my last opportunity, on the U.S. East Coast.

It was great with sweet, cocoa-toned malt. Traditional Munich in style despite being brewed so far afield (reflecting early German influence across the world in this respect). I want to try it again.

Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (Ireland)

I have written extensively on Guinness including as catalogued here. This beer is 7.5% abv and more flavourful than standard iterations of Guinness. It descends from a type intended for export to distant climes and was given a unique character in consequence. The current version still does reflect this history.

The beer was re-introduced to American markets about a decade ago and inexplicably has not been made available in Ontario. 

Klosterbrauerei Andechs Doppelbock Dunkel (Germany)

A classic rich German strong bock brewed at a venerable Benedictine priory in Andechs, Germany. Brewing there reflects an old tradition formerly long associated with many monastic and other spiritual communities across northern Europe.

I last had it in bottle as exported to Florida, ostensibly an incongruous environment in which to enjoy it, but believe me I did. Malty-rich, a touch winy, layered in palate. Before that I had it on draft in a German restaurant in New York.

I recall discussing it with the German-born server. Gazing at me evenly after my (perhaps overlong) laudation, he rejoindered simply, “We love it too”.

Kernel Export Stout London 1890 (England)

Had this once, either in UK or as a one-off LCBO import here, possibly both. A hearty traditional taste of old London brewing, everything true and right.

Adnams Tally Ho Barley Wine (England)

A generous, rounded, stronger iteration of traditional English ale. Last tasted in U.K. within last five years. Would like to re-visit.

New Albion Ale (and Porter) (U.S., Scotland)

Iconic to the craft beer movement. Brewed initially 1976-1982, Sonoma, CA, the true “first” craft brewery. Brand revived some years ago by founder Jack McAuliffe’s daughter Renée M. DeLuca. Currently brewed for her company by Brewdog U.S.A (ale in Ohio) and Brewdog Scotland (porter).

I had missed these beers the first time around, wasn’t in California at right time or with right awareness. Enjoyed Boston Beer Company (Jim Koch’s) recreation/valentine some years ago. New Albion Ale establishes the mid-point between old-school American adjunct lager and where craft is today, and very satisfactory it is, apart the history lesson.

 

 

McDouglas Scotch Ale (Belgium)

Produced by John Martin’s in Belgium. Strong, all-malt ale fashioned to honour Scottish brewing, or rather one part of it. Encountered the style, this brand and others similar, when first visiting France and Belgium decades ago. Complex, winey, heady. While not bobbing on craft beer’s wilder shores, it may be better for it.

Carnegie Porter (Sweden)

I have written my appreciation of this famous Swedish porter elsewhere in these pages. To find, see my porter and stout index linked above (under Guinness Foreign Extra Stout).

Sinebrychoff Porter (Finland)

Another raven-hued Scandinavian achievement in the beer annals, known by many simply as “Koff” porter. See in rating site Beer Advocate for a sampling of opinion. Put it this way: 93/100.

Anchor Porter (U.S.)

The first modern craft porter from a brewery often described as a bridge to the modern craft movement. A tiny San Francisco steam brewery, founded 1890s, was refashioned into a craft hero by the legendary Fritz Maytag, scion of the washing machine fortune.

Now owned by Sapporo of Japan. Good malt, good English-style hopping – no citric New Age hops at work here. As important for its influence as its inherent quality.

Ridgeway Oxfordshire IPA (England)

Made by a small English independent brewery, their line, or many that I have tasted, uphold the best in native traditions. Malt and hops of Britain used in generous quantities contribute to the star quality.

Cristal Alken lager (Belgium)

I am not sure I ever had this. Lauded in beer writer Michael Jackson’s early books as exemplary of Belgian lager brewing. Then independent Cristal of Alken, Belgium, through acquisition and merger, is now part of Heineken N.V. Still accorded good respect by tasters. See in Beer Advocate again.

Traquair House Ale (Scotland)

Another proto-craft, an old estate brewery brought to renewed life in the 1960s by the laird and today run by his daughter. Heady, malty, oak-toned Scottish beer, it’s just the season for it now. We used to get occasionally the coriander-flavoured, Jacobite version. The regular house ale is superior, in my estimation.

Worthington White Shield (England)

Considerable information is available online for this yeasty pride of Burton, U.K. For the lowdown, you won’t do better than the dean of world beer writers, U.K.-based Roger Protz. See here. 

Left Hand Brewing Milk Stout (U.S.)

We get a nitrogenated imperial stout from Left Hand currently, at some 10% abv, rather strong. And you have to buy the pack. I want the original milk stout, not nitrogenated (it comes in regular carbonation and “nitro”).

This classic of the milk stout genre is on a par with an American-brewed version of Mackeson Milk Stout (which latter improves on the English original, imo) but is still different. Black satin and silk in the palate, hence sustaining malt with subdued but supportive hops. Blows down those wintry blues, to adapt a lyric of Beatle George Harrison.

Newcastle Brown Ale (U.S.-brewed version)

The famous Newkie Brown of U.K. is now brewed elsewhere as well, in the Netherlands, and by former craft brewery Lagunitas in California, also now in Heineken hands.

The U.S. recipe differs from the others, by early reports anyway. See some detail in a 2019 Beverage Dynamics story.

We do get at LCBO the English-brewed one but it is rather pallid these days, imo. I want to give the Cal version a whirl, both for a comparative and because the state has contributed so much to the beer landscape.

Actually I’m reminded a friend has some and promised me a bottle, so a review seems likely – maybe this weekend.

3 thoughts on “My LCBO Wish List. Part II.”

  1. Some updates re the text: in the entry for Andechs Dopplelbock Dunkel, I stated initially Florida was an anachronistic place in which to enjoy the beer. That was not a correct usage of anachronistic. One might say though the beer itself could be viewed as an anachronism in such a fast-paced, sunny patchwork of suburbia.

    I settled finally on “incongruous”: the state seemed ostensibly an incongruous place to consume such a rich-bodied, sustaining drink. But of course it is not, just as many beer fans there drink barley wine or Imperial Stout. A/C helps, long perfected to a science in America.

    For the Kernel, initially I listed its Export India Porter but I later recalled it uses New World hops (an incongruity there, I would argue). It was their 1890 London export stout that formed the nec plus ultra of old London taste.

    Finally, each entry now bears a brewery, or other, link for further information on the beer or its style.

    Reply
  2. This series got me wondering how beer stocking decisions were made, and I found this interview:

    https://toronto.eater.com/2014/9/5/6160255/how-an-lcbo-beer-guy-decides-what-his-store-carries

    http://davidort.com/lcbo-beer-guy-interview-unexpurgated-version/

    It sounds as though when a store has a committed, interested “beer guy” the result can be very good.

    But I can also see how the weak financial incentives of a state backed monopoly can be a problem — this guy left after a few years to play music, and if nobody with an equal interest took over, it’s hard to see how the quality stayed high.

    It’s not that a purely private store is automatically better, but the profit motive definitely adds a strong incentive.

    Reply
    • I would wish stocking decisions to be made based on public demand and retailer preference. These are intertwined, but obviate any considerations of mandarin diktat.

      Reply

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