metawidget: Sticker saying "you are beautiful" on a black background. (beautiful)
Baby Ada's birth was the home birth we'd been planning for — kids safely at their grandparents, midwives we knew, intensity and joy and healthy everyone at the end. Elizabeth was very independent for most of labour, as she has been before — I fetched things, let midwives in, helped keep things clean and was just being present up into late pushing. We'd talked about my maybe catching Ada, but in the end I was busy holding Elizabeth and crying a bit as she pushed the last few times. I got to cut the cord, as I have for Oscar and Vivien. At home in our space was a nice place for a birth, and I felt quite involved.

Ada is pretty laid-back so far, and looking around a lot. She has a powerful suck, curious hands and neck and a variety of unconvinced facial expressions. She also sleeps really well in the baby carrier!

Elizabeth and I got a chance to give the baby carrier a whirl yesterday when our friend Seema generously offered to take the older two over to her place for a couple of hours. Thanks to her, we got to walk over to Brasseurs du Temps and have a little anniversary lunch date. Seven years of vaguely sacrilegious matrimony and crazy adventures! Our conversation was more sleep-deprived than deep, but it was really nice to make some time for our little dyad, and Ada helpfully snoozed almost the whole time. Also, BDT has really gotten comfortable in its skin and gotten into a refined and interesting beer groove. There was one unfortunate server comment about "ladies' beer" – La Grande Rivière is a tart, citrusy smacker of a beer that happens to be pink (and delicious to me and not Elizabeth's thing). Silly server. The presence of a tasty 2.4% session IPA (good for easing back into regular beer after 9 months on the pregnancy wagon) was exciting, though.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)

I liked this post about a positive subway experience a lot. The kids are all right :)

I've had couple of interesting beers lately. Both are a little off the beaten path, and both are quite happy to occupy centre stage — dessert or tasting beers, definitely, or your one/first glass of the night.

Traquair Jacobite Ale
This Scotch ale has a beautiful bottle, and is labelled as a flavoured beer. Both Scotch ales and flavoured beers can sometimes hit me over the head in an uninteresting way, but this one, part of a Christmas gift from [profile] the_arachne was definitely ahead of the pack in both genres. It's a dark red beer with a small, middling-thick, persistent head. I tried it after a short time in the fridge (just shy of room temperature). The flavouring here was coriander — not exactly a non-beer flavouring spice, being an ingredient in some white beers and others — and it was nicely balanced with the sweet, malty Scotch ale taste, giving the beer an interesting bite. It is very tasty on its own, but I imagine it would go nicely with buttery cheese like Oka.
L'Aphrodisiaque (Dieu du Ciel!)
Don't let this beer's somewhat silly label dissuade you. L'Aphrodisiaque is a chocolate stout with a hint of vanilla. It has the usual tight, persistent head and is tasty at room temperature, like many stouts. It's got a nice stout-y flavour, with added bitter and cocoa flavours mirroring the natural stout snap, and a whiff of vanilla in the nose and at the back of the mouth. Again, the flavouring doesn't overwhelm the beer, and it tastes like they used good chocolate. This beer is definitely tasty for dessert. It might put you in the mood for good chocolate, but I think it's probably at its best poured into a couple of little glasses and enjoyed unaccompanied.

cross-posted to [community profile] beer4breakfast

metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
First, for my Dreamwidth readers, I've added extra tags to all my beer entries, so you can find things like beer I would happily pay for and the various beers I consider to be variations on the local lager with an easy click. Readers of the LiveJournal mirror: not all the tags made it over due to how I did the editing.

I think the biggest discoveries in the bucket were Belgian abbey beers — tasty, varied and generally complex. I'll have to try a few more over time! My personal favourite was one of the first ones I had: Orval. I also found Duvel to be "like a beer I like, but more so", which is a pretty good impression to get. I don't think I had any disagreeable Belgian beers in the bucket, although Duchesse de Bourgogne was a bit of a surprise.

Among the thirty beers, many were "the local lager" for a given country or region. There was a very strong central tendency to decent, grainy, easy-drinking beers here. At the "I think they should stick to distilled liquor" end of things was the unsettling Švyturys. At the happy end of the spectrum were Pietra, with its nice weight and flavour, and the first few aromatic sips of Hue. Although it's a "premium lager", Samuel Adams Boston Lager is in the genre and very tasty too.

The two memorable beers for me that don't fit into these categories were Weisen Edel-Weisse, for its notes of champagne and summer, and O'Hara's, for being a surpassing, balanced, tasty stout.

From here on in, it's beers of opportunity in my beer tag — I had an interesting Montreal stout and an Austrian lager lately, I may write one or both of them up soon…
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
My beer drinking got a little ahead of my reviewing today.

Yesterday, after nailing down a hardwood floor in the nursery-to-be with my friend Marc, I had a Grolsch beer, right out of the fridge and right out of the bottle. I remember them being kind of skunky; I didn't find that as pronounced this time — it could be because it was well-chilled, or maybe they've tweaked the recipe (the distinctive bottle is 50ml smaller than it used to be, too), or maybe my taste buds have gone in new directions since undergrad. The beer did have a bright, untoasted taste with nice bitter notes, and it was very refreshing. I had some zucchini bread with it, but the real pairing was probably sweat.

I think the bottle got my parents to try Grolsch way back when, and the swing-topped reusable bottle is always a bonus — either for one's own brews, or for maple syrup, salad dressing, whatever…

Today, I had Maredsous 8 Bruin, chilled slightly, in a wine goblet, with Elizabeth and Tracy and a game of Settlers of Catan (It was a fun evening of supper, game and chat, and Elizabeth won). It is a brown beer with a big, stiff head. The head is a bit bitter and airy, and the first taste of liquid beer is dominated by bitter. After that, sweet and warm alcohol tastes rise up but the bitter sticks around. It's a substantial-tasting beer, and went well with the cooler weather tonight. I'm beginning to realize that I hadn't given enough credit to Belgian beers — Unibroue's take on the country is tasty as far as it goes, but the originals are a wider and, at least in my sample so far, subtler variety of tasty beers.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Pietra has a Comic Sans label and claims to be strong (6%) and contain chestnut flour. It comes in a skinny brown bottle. I tasted it with bruschetta.

Pouring it cold into a tumbler, it had a thin, quickly-dissipating head and a nice amber colour. Top to bottom, it had a nice aroma of grain and malt with a little bit of spiciness. Despite being basically transparent and light-coloured, it has a nice weightiness to it (but not too much). The bubbles were plentiful and prickly. It was a nice mix of interesting and refreshing — I could drink a lot of it in the right circumstances. It reminds me a little of Molson Ex (Do they even make it anymore? Apparently they do, but it had dropped off my radar… all I see is Canadian and Dry where I see Molson-branded stuff, and I see even more Coors light), but more so. I see it's also available (at least in Corsica) in 75 cl corked "formidables" — that seems like the right format for this straightforward and tasty beer.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
I tried Samuel Adams Boston Lager® with homemade pizza topped with garden veggies. As is proper for pizza and beer (and to make up for using the word "effervescence" in my last review), I had it from the bottle, and cold.

I can't comment on head, or colour, as it was hidden in a brown bottle. The taste started out malty, a bit sweet, a bit tart, and with a hoppy aroma. Down the bottle, it got a bit more bitter and less aromatic, and stayed malty and somewhat tart. The carbonation wasn't obtrusive at all, but it was there. I liked it; I think it would be a good refreshing beer, and it can certainly hold its own with hot pizza. It seems like the midpoint between the Scotch-Irish Stewart's Session Ale (aromatic, complex and bright) and a Labatt Bleue (in terms of alcohol and punchiness of flavour), but more tart and malty than either. I hear that Sam Adams is popular in universities out west of Toronto; it seems to me they have good taste in beer out there.

Also, now we can all stop worrying about women with face coverings threatening our airports: there's a bigger threat to airport safety out there, channeling equal parts Stockwell Day trying to look cool on a toy vehicle and Helena Guergis being erratic in an airport while driving unannounced across an airstrip. Is there a fixed election date coming soon?


Aug. 24th, 2010 09:05 pm
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Today I tried Duvel strong beer. It comes in a sort-of-stubby little bottle. I had it in a wine goblet, with bruschetta (we have tomatoes galore, I will probably have lots more bruschetta in the near future).

When I poured it, I got a lot of firm, fine white head. The head was creamy, bitter and very fluffy. The beer itself (after some snuffling though the head) came on as fruity, sort of sweet, strong and a bit bitter. As far as something with 8.5% alcohol and a big wallop of bitter can go, it was sort of understated. The resemblance to the Quebec Fin du Monde was close: Fin is a bit spicier and less fruity, but it's clear where Fin got its inspiration. Duvel definitely wants to be centre stage when it's consumed — I'd have it with some simple munchies (bruschetta was about as complex a food as I think it could tolerate being beside).
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Wiesen Edel-Weisse has a lot of Georg Schneiders involved in its history. It's a German wheat beer, brewed according to the Bavarian Purity Law. The label is packed with history and annotations.

I had the beer with flatbread crackers and sliced tomato, in a stemless wine glass. It was very effervescent, with a thin head and a deep golden colour. The first sniff was fruity and aromatic, and the first taste was tart and a little bit fruity. The tart stuck around, along with an untoasted grain flavour and the prickly bubbles. The flavour was crisp and almost champagne-y. I found it quite refreshing (a friend and I had been putting down floor before stopping for a beer), and pretty different from other refreshing beers. I would go out of my way to get this beer again during the summer and/or when planning to do more sweaty renovations.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Tonight I tried Fürstenberg Weizen Hefe Dunkel which, as promised, conforms to the Bavarian purity law. I had it, cool, in a skinny beer glass with bruschetta and steamed turnips and greens.

The beer poured with a copious, fairly firm, white head. The head was very aromatic and wheaty, leaving a nice aftertaste on the top of my mouth. The beer itself was a little bit sweet and equally wheaty. It was nice and full and heavy, with a lingering aftertaste. It sort of reminds me of a cross between a typical Brutopia pint and a Blanche de Chambly, without the sharp lees-y taste of the Blanche. It's definitely not a simple thirst-quencher — it could round out, or even be the centrepiece of, an otherwise light meal; I think it did this evening. It could also be an excellent early-fall "let's go out for a pint" beer, as it's satisfying, mellow and hard to drink too fast due to its weightiness.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
I had O'Hara's slightly cooled in a pint glass, with perogies, fried onions and mushrooms, and sour cream. The beer had a loose and fairly thick milky-coffee head, and the first sip had a bit of milky-coffee taste as well. Down the glass, the coffee, malt and slightly sweet taste continued, with a nice lingering bitterness. I think it's a bit less snappy than St. Ambroise stout, and a bit drier tasting than Fuller's porter. It is definitely the sort of stout I like. It could go with a nice savory meal, or be dessert.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Tonight, I tried Barbãr Bok, from a water glass, with plain potato chips over a game of Dominion.

The beer has some head and a modest carbonation, and is — as would be expected for a beer with 2.5% honey — sweet, and malty. I also noticed little notes of fruity, like white grape. Although the label includes an impressive list of ingredients including bitter oranges and hops, there's not much bitter. The beer is smooth and tasty. I think drinking it unaccompanied or with a light, savory snack is probably the best way to go.

In other news, after noticing that Pixel enjoyed chasing the ribbon suspended from it, we managed to give a mylar balloon from the baby shower on Saturday nearly neutral buoyancy by tying extra ribbon, a bell and some masking tape to it. The world needs more neutral buoyancy cat toys (and by cat toys, I guess I have to include all people present in the broad category of "cat").
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Fuller's London Porter is a dark beer in a bottle whose label suggests it as a digestif, so I had it after supper, in a pint glass, cool, with some leftover baby shower cake. It is, as advertised, rich and dark. It has only a little bit of head, and not much carbonation. It comes on smooth with coffee and toffee tastes, and gets bitter after a few sips. There's a bit of a sweet aroma, but the taste is not too sweet and the beer is velvety and pleasantly heavy. Later in the glass, there is a bit of unroasted-grain taste — despite being dessert, it is still a beer. It is very much like St. Ambroise Noire (which I also like a lot), but smoother, a little less opaque, and with a bit of a time delay on the bitter taste.

I figured Mort Subite Framboise, a Belgian lambic with raspberry juice blended in, would sit somewhere close to wine (and probably sweet, fruity wine like the inexpensive Shiraz of my late university days) in taste, and despite my old roommate's quizzical "wine and pizza, c'est quoi ça?" remarks of old, I thought I'd pair it with steamed greens and tomato pizza (made with no name cheese pizza topped with yesterdays leftovers and a sliced tomato). The beer comes in a bottle with a cork wired down, and it opened with a satisfying pop. The pizza sort of disintegrated — the instructions say to cook it directly on the rack, but the extra moisture in the bonus toppings caused it to seep partway through the rack. Spooning pizza onto my plate, I tried the pink, slightly cloudy, bubbly beer with a moderate, creamy head. It is sweet, like good raspberry cocktail or sangria, with a little tartness — not at all like beer, with no discernible hops or grain. This is a tasty drink, but I find it hard to call it beer.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
For my birthday this year, my parents gave me a bucket of thirty different bottles of beer from all over the world:

There is already a little "good beer list" on our fridge (along with the "renovation list, from mundane to absurd" and the grocery list), but thirty bottles requires something a bit more involved… like blog entries. Some of these beers are familiar to me, and some are uncharted territory.

Methodology )

the first two reviews: Orval and Švyturys Ekstra )

I'll post more entries for your reading pleasure as well as to crank the non-work-related writing handle with some regularity. Updates will proceed at the speed with which I taste the beer (no more than one bottle a day; more than that biases reviews of beers later in the tasting order…)


metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
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