Beer 8 of 28: Captain Lawrence Brewing Company Captain’s Reserve Imperial India Pale Ale

An 8% Imperial IPA from Pleasantville, NYThe Beer: An 8% Imperial IPA from Pleasantville, NY
The Location: Jay’s place

The Captain recommends enjoying his Imperial IPA “with aged cheeses such as Stilton, cured and grilled meats”, so it’s with great joy I note we ensured we enjoyed it with aged cheeses and cured meats. A tray of assorted cheeses, meats and sausages was assembled by Kurt, and enjoyed throughout this fine beer. An extremely fruity and spicy aroma just promised a bevy of hops, and the taste didn’t disappoint. She’s simultaneously fruity and peppery, sweet and malty, and was surprisingly thick and rich for the style. And from just down the highway! Very enjoyable.

Beer 7 of 28: North Shore Santa Got Blitzen

The Beer: A Winter Ale of unknown strength from Port Stanley, ON
The Location: Jay’s place

One of Kurt’s latest creations is a monster. Brewed in May and fermented for months, Santa Got Blitzen is a deep and dark winter ale brewed with all the things you’d expect. Poured almost pitch black, greasy and oily, a sizable tan head on top. The aroma was super malty with chocolate and molasses, and it was as thick and oily in the mouth as it was in the pour. Molasses, raisins and coffee dominated the taste of a terrific, smooth, well done winter beer. Once again, North Shore comes up with something that best far too many of the bottles you can buy out there. Great – and I got one to take home!

Beer 6 of 28: La Bavaisienne Brasserie Theillier Ambrée

7% Bière de Garde from Bavay, FranceThe Beer: A 7% Bière de Garde from Bavay, France
The Location: Jay’s place

This puppy was a reward provided on my first (and thus far only) visit to Jay’s brother’s annual beer party. Those who haven’t heard of this it’s akin to a beer festival in a backyard, with an incredible assortment of beer to enjoy. After the party I was invited back for a bit of a grab bag – there was so much left he was handing it out! I came home with this one, completely unfamiliar to me, and it finally made its way into a glass this past Friday.

The nose was quite sour, toffee sweet and very yeasty. We looked into the glass to find an insane amount of yeasty bits floating throughout, which I tend to feel is favourable. Unfortunately, the favour ended there. With high hopes in tow we found a watery concoction I found rye bread dough, sour lemons and oranges in. What flavour was there was decent enough but the mouthfeel was light and against the incredible array we were in the midst of, it just couldn’t stand up.

Beer 5 of 28: North Shore P.O.’d Pumpkin

A Pumpkin Ale from Port Stanley, ONThe Beer: A Pumpkin Ale of unknown strength from Port Stanley, ON
The Location: Jay’s place

The second of Kurt’s homebrews for the evening, and about the closest to an annual seasonal we’ve come to expect from our talented friend. One of Kurt’s most famed and requested brews is a heavily hopped pumpkin ale featuring hops grown from his own garden. This would be my first chance to try the popular beer and I was ready to go!

Poured darker than expected but still an amber-orange with a massive foamy white head on top. The aroma offered tons of floral and peppery hops and a bounty of fresh pumpkin. Kurt noted to me that unlike many pumpkin beers that make use of canned pumpkin puree (one of the best canned products you can use, by the way), Kurt actually used real, roasted pumpkin. You can tell, especially in the taste. Just bursts of caramelized, roasted pumpkin and cinnamon, tons of great flavour. Sweet, demerara sugar and tons of hops close it off inside a thick, almost oily mouthfeel. Just a really well done beer, and I don’t even typically like pumpkin beers!

Beer 4 of 28: Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot

7.8% American Strong AleThe Beer: A 7.83% American Strong Ale from Petaluma, CA
The Location: Jay’s place

This oddly named WTF Ale had captured my attention – and dollars – at Consumer’s Beverage in Buffalo following my trip the previous summer to Arizona. Paul and I had made sure to stop and load up a bit on bombers of good beer before heading home. This one is billed “a malty, robust jobless recovery ale”, thusly named as it’s not quite in the red or black, and thus must be in the brown.

The aroma was strongly both sour and sweet, clearly heavy with the malts as promised. The taste is malty, of course, brown sugar and toffee alongside a surprising amount of hops. Another job well done by the friendly folks at Lagunitas.