metawidget: A plastic wind-up teeth thing with a googly eye. (chatter)

The holidays went by pretty fast — it felt like we were doing something social nightly for about two weeks. It's a good thing Oscar generally seems to like parties!

Christmas eve, we went over to Elizabeth's parents' place for the traditional nut loaf, cookies, rum balls and gifts. Christmas day, we drove to Ormstown and joined 17 or so family at my parent's place, feasting extensively and helping the new people get names straight. I had been a little sniffly on Christmas eve, but by Christmas day, I was full-blown sick, so a bit subdued. Boxing Day was sort of quiet, but three generations of my parents' next-door neighbours walked over to admire Oscar and say hi. The 27th was the annual Christmas bash with white elephant gift exchange (aka "steal the present") — last year there was one kid there, this year there were three and we were all starting to feel a bit grown-up. We got together at my friend A's parents' place, about 20km past civilization — Enterprise was out of compact cars and gave us something with four-wheel drive, which got some use as we were whacking through snow drifts to get there. On the 28th, we celebrated [personal profile] dagibbs' birthday with food and drink and cheer at his place, and on the 29th we celebrated [personal profile] frenchzie's housewarming and birthday. On the 30th was our mostly-weekly D&D game at our place, and on the 31st we stayed in and rung in the new year with the upstairs people from House of Flail, Ticket to Ride: Europe and Dominion, and some mead from 1999.

The most memorable presents this year were Ticket to Ride: Europe from Elizabeth (a rather addictive little game), a huge jug of Beau's Nightmärzen from my cousin Erica, and a medieval-looking Garden Weasel from my parents.


I've had two tasty gift beers lately. Most recently was Nightmärzen, from my cousin Erica, which is a bright amber beer, Beau's hoppiest beer and fall offering. It reminds me a little of a darker Grolsch — same fresh, sort of pungent hoppiness, with a bit more sweet, and kind of light and easy-drinking. It's got a nice fizz to it and a modest head. I think it would be most excellent on tap when I'm expecting to stay for more than one pint somewhere. A little before that was Fuller's 2010 Vintage Ale, from [livejournal.com profile] the_arachne — it's supposed to be a prime candidate for ageing, and I may get another bottle to stash away. Consumed at a few months old, it was like a light-ish, sweet barleywine (despite a lower alcohol content than most barleywines), with notes of somewhat rough port. It had big malty flavour as well, but definitely tasted kind of young and almost unfinished.
In resolutions and plans for the year, I'd like to build a trellis and get some peas and beans up this year, and maybe even manage to get pumpkins into our squash mix. I also would like to not buy stuff made with water that I could've reconstituted myself — juice from concentrate, any sort of tea in a bottle, and bottled water. This is inspired by seeing chai syrup for sale in our local fancy grocery store. I would also like to bike up into the Pontiac sometime this year, and get out on the bike sometime in every calendar month. To this end, I should really clean and lubricate my chain before I need a new one.

Places I've slept in 2010:

  • Eganville, ON.
  • Gatineau (Hull), QC. A lot.
  • Gatineau (Gatineau), QC.
  • Montreal, QC.
  • Mont-Tremblant, QC.
  • Ormstown, QC.
  • Ottawa, ON.
  • Quebec, QC.


In a little bit of rantiness, I've been fuming slightly over Google's ranking of restaurant pages. When I search for a restaurant, I probably want the official page (with menu, hours and phone) somewhere in the first hits, and failing that (or to help me decide), a review written by a real human with as much of that information as possible. The last thing I want is a listing scraped from the yellow pages, with Bing's best guess at where it is located, in which I can be the first to write a review or add information.

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!

Hue beer

Sep. 14th, 2010 09:21 pm
metawidget: Blue bucket with thirty bottles of beer. (beer)
Today I made some spicy coconut milk-and-veggie soup, and decided to pair it with Hue Beer, whose label specifically indicates it is good with spicy food. I threw it in the fridge for an hour, and then poured it into a tall, skinny glass.

Hue doesn't have much head, but it is fairly bubbly and pale golden in colour. I think the first sip is the best — a waft of toasty grain an a little bit of aromatic bitterness, grain on the tongue and the prickle of bubbles. It's not particularly original, but Hue does it well. Further down the glass, it gets kind of unobtrusive, with it getting a little sweeter as the beer warmed up. It definitely is a with-food beer, although you might want to savour the first swallow or two before tucking into the food.
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)
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)
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)
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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