metawidget: Oscar in a diaper, crouching as if to fit into the frame and looking quizzical (oscar)

Oscar is a little sick lately — he's been sleeping a lot more, sniffling a bit, a little subdued and a bit feverish. He was pukey for a day or so, but now that seems to be over. We're pretty sure the heat of lately isn't helping. Good thing the rain is coming to clear the air. The fact that he's napping more is sort of nice, if we weren't a little thrown off by his fragility when he's awake and the fact that he's pretty obviously not liking being sick.

Elizabeth is making Father's Day cake, with Oscar supervising :) We've been seeing lots of family lately — one of my cousins is moving into the area with his wife and infant, they crashed here along with another cousin while house-hunting, and then we went over to see their new place yesterday and saw my aunt and uncle, and introduced Oscar to another cousin and her friend. Our newly-local cousins seem to have a similar parenting style and bicycle orientation: they're looking into not owning a car in the capital, too. I think they can pull it off. This summer is going to involve at least two cousin-weddings, both on my paternal side, so we'll be seeing the whole clan quite a bit.

I got the rapidly-becoming-traditional early-morning call from Dad, wishing me a happy Father's Day. He was planning on making hay while the sun shone (literally — that might be a metaphor for golfing for some people, but he actually has hay cut and looking promising in the field that needs to come in), so he called in the morning. If Oscar were his normal self, 9:30ish would have seen us up and fed, so he couldn't have known!

This week, we're saying goodbye to our voluntarily-departing colleague in my section. I don't know if she's part of workforce adjustment or not, but I hope her next stop is a good fit — it sounds like a cool job, almost cloak-and-dagger (so I won't specify what it is). I'm starting to feel like my knowledge-transfer and torch-passing work is rising to the top of the to-do list, as well — I read a pile of semi-annual reports in an attempt to catch up on what everyone is doing and decide which chiefs to try and arrange a chat with about opportunities after I return from parental leave. It does feel like a bit of a risk having told my chief that I'm moving on after leave, but I think it's time before I ossify too much. I want to keep doing linkage and disclosure control, though, maybe just on a sample survey (i.e. the ones where we call or mail stuff to respondents) rather than pure administrative data (like reportable diseases and health usage data).

I accidentally got Beck's regular the other day; it's actually not as nice as Beck's non-alcoholic: more malty and sweet, not as crisp, more like Grolsch and not terribly German-tasting, really. I'll manage to drink the pack, though: it's decent hot-weather beer.

metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
For fetus-related reasons, we've had a bunch more de-alcoholized beer around the house than usual. I have found a pretty good (if silly and unintuitive) rule for picking de-alcoholized beer so far: drink de-alcoholized beer whose name starts with 'B'.

First up: Bitburger Drive. It's a German lager-y de-alcoholized beer from a company that makes a lager-y full-strenght beer. It's got delicate floral hoppiness and tastes like a German beer should, or for Ottawa beer drinkers of a few years ago, like the now-defunct Stewart's Session Ale.

Next: O'Doul's. Made by the folks that brought us Bud. No hops, sort of sweet. Comes in blonde and red versions. Can sort of fill the niche filled by beer in a meal, but not really beer and doesn't taste like it. If you can't put alcohol in beer, the only way to make it taste like beer as far as I can tell involves generous doses of hops, and O'Doul's is timid to absent in this department.

Surprisingly (except by my newfound rule), Labatt Bleue de-alcoholized actually tastes pretty much like regular Bleue — the same sort of spiciness, maybe a little sweeter and a touch toward Molson Ex, but starts with B and is definitely quite drinkable.

Last, there is Beck's. Made by Germans, but tastes more like Grolsch. Less subtle and delicate than Bitbuger, maybe better with strong-tasting food, but definitely highly beer-like, and available at our local discount supermarket, unlike Bitburger.

I have been drinking actual beer lately as well, but the world needed to know my newfound de-alcoholized beer selection rule and see these four little capsule reviews (and my Mum expressed some enthusiasm about reading them), so there they are!
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Tonight, I tried Tsingtao lager, with a salad including cilantro, turnip greens and a simple vinaigrette. I poured it chilled into a skinny glass; it had no head to speak of and a pale golden colour. The aroma is a nice hoppy one, and the beer itself is fairly sweet and malty, with the hops reappearing in the aftertaste. It is a lot like Red Stripe, but bracketed with hops. I think the food pairing wasn't such a good one; it would have gone nicely with something more fried or salty, whereas the salad could've used something more bitter or tangy.

Tsingtao was the last beer remaining in the bucket. I'll post soon with a bucket-in-review including my favourites, and then I intend to review interesting beers I run across in other contexts.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Yesterday, I had Brasseurs de Montréal's «Chi Orientale». I'd had it once before at a barbecue; this time I had it a little chilled in a glass. It's a cloudy white beer with a thin, non-clingy head and dull brass colour. The initial sniff as well as the whole glass were dominated this time by ginger — I remember it being a bit more subtle last time I had it; this time it was definitely all ginger, with that slightly soapy real-ginger-beer taste. The white beer base was a nice choice, if I were to augment a beer with a hit of ginger this powerful, I'd have started with Blanche de Chambly. It has a definite prickle to it and is certainly a "beer for people who don't like beer," like Mort Subite but for the more adventurous.

Today, I had Red Stripe Lager. It is the local (export) lager from Jamaica, as far as I can tell. I poured it at fridge temperature into a skinny glass, and had it with cucumbers and a zucchini melt on a baguette (our garden's zucchini yield isn't quite equal to the tomato yield, but it's no slouch, either). It has a thin head, Compared to beers with similar roles, it is sweeter, maltier and much less hoppy. For something noticeably unhoppy, it has a nice aroma. Between the lack of hops and the low alcohol content, it doesn't quite square with my "warm geography beer" preconceptions, but it is unassumingly tasty, and quite drinkable, if perhaps not as thirst-quenching or come-again-ish as some of its less sweet cousins.

I have one more beer on the roster from my birthday bucket of beer: Tsingtao beer. It probably isn't the end of my beer posts, but I'll try and wrap up the thirty with some mapping out of how they relate to each other. It's been a very pleasant trip through the beers of the world!
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
It's been a few fun and distracting days since I actually drank Moretti (on Wednesday), but I did make a point of talking about it to gel my thoughts about it, so here are my recollections.

I had it, fridge temperature, in a tall, skinny beer glass with fettucine and home-made tomato-and-vegetable sauce. It's pale golden and has very little head and a moderate bubbliness. It has a bitter hoppy and grainy taste: sort of like Grolsch but maybe a bit further toward toasted on the fresh-to-toasted axis, and with some definite similarities to Molson Export. It's a light, unassuming Local Beer That Goes With Everything. Due to the grain notes and bitter hoppiness, I would pair it with starchy or savoury stuff: I just had some squash, carrot and miso soup, and it would probably go very well with that.
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)
Tonight, I had Sagres beer from Portugal, thoroughly chilled in a wine goblet, with stuffed tomatoes.

Like Pietra, I figured this would be The Local Beer — not much description on the label, national emblem front and centre. As such, I was expecting a versatile, easy-drinking beer.

In the glass, it had a middling-thin persistent head and very small bubbles, and a light brassy colour. The first taste was mostly of malt and grain — more directly sweet and less fresh-cut tasting than Bleue, and doing much more on the tongue than in the nose. Sagres was consistent all the way down, and very easy to drink. It played nicely with the onions and curry powder in the stuffed tomatoes. I think it might be a bit less refreshing and more of a with-food sort of beer — even cold there was a slight heaviness to it that was nice, but better-suited to mealtime than right after performing great feats in hot August weather.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Labatt Bleue is the beer that was around the house during my childhood. The label has changed several times since then, and they added a significant digit to the alcohol percentage, but it was my baseline archetypal beer. I think the Quebec-ness appeals to my dad (a well-rooted transplant to rural Quebec from what used to be rural Mississauga), and the simplicity, and the ubiquity and unpretentiousness.

I poured it, chilled, into a goblet-y water glass, and had it with bruschetta and beet soup (my dad has a habit of ordering the soup at restaurants — I remember lots of small orders of whatever main dish, and the soup — there is always a full stop after the word soup when he orders, too. Soup.) It had a thin, quickly dissipating head, lots of bubbles, and a pale golden colour. It doesn't have a whole lot of aroma or bitterness — the taste is of fresh grain. It's light but not watery, and quite refreshing. I suspect the ingredients list is pretty short. I thought tonight of rating all 30 beers by difficulty and tastiness at the end of this series, and Bleue is definitely well into the easy-and-tasty quadrant.
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?
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Tonight was Czechvar lager, served quite cool (having been in our fridge all day) in a skinny glass with veggie kielbasa sausages in nice sesame buns.

The beer is golden-coloured, with fine bubbles and a modest head. It is middling-hoppy, aromatic and I could taste gentle notes of grain, which makes for a very nice, unassuming and very beer-like beer — but not so unassuming as to be dull. I found it very similar to Steam Whistle (not surprisingly, given that Steam Whistle is a Czech-inspired beer from Toronto) and equally good. I definitely liked it better than Švyturys.

Alas, after tasting, I found out the brewery was assimilated into the Budweiser borg (bullies!), but the beer doesn't taste like they've had much influence over the recipe.


Also: Tony Clement, this song is for you.
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Samson Original Dark Lager apparently has "Budweiser" in the name in its native land. The bottle has a man with wild hair and a twisty moustache on the front.

I drank it in a pint glass, slightly cooled, with veggie (lentil) shepherd's pie. Although the label says "noir" en français, it's actually dark reddish-brown but not opaque. It has a somewhat thin head, and lots of big bubbles. The initial taste is sweet, a little heavy and taffy-like. There's no bitterness or "green" unroasted flavour, or toastiness — it is quite smooth and easy to drink. While I think I got the temperature of the beer right (maybe 20 minutes in the fridge down from our ambient temperature of 28 degrees), I think I got the temperature of the room a bit wrong — this definitely tasted like winter beer. It was pretty tasty tonight, but I think it would have been much better while still shivering from Ottawa winter. It reminds me a bit of Sleeman Dark, or of many of the house beers at Brutopia in Montréal.
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…)

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