Monday, May 28, 2012

Halifax, NS Beer Scene Roundup

I am in Halifax for work. Rather than process my notes, it is probably just as instructive to post them in their entirety:-

Halifax beer notes: Day One.

Place: Henry House (3oz samplers followed by a pint of the red)

Best Bitter
Decent, malty, casked with usual character. Bit thin. Not bitter.

Best Bitter Special
As above but dry-hopped with fuggles. Not overly detectable in this small sampler. A larger glass might have opened the aromas, but otherwise identical.

Modeled on Theakston's. Award-winning, but award not specified. Is indeed rather malty. Scotch whisky coloured, moderately thick head. As drinkable as OP but without the leathery notes of the original.

Keefe's Irish Stout
Very light for a stout. Closer to a dark mild in colour. Redder than a porter. Nitro-tapped. Decent body. Roasted bitterness is too light, but probably within range for an irish style? Have to check. Smells mainly of dust, to be honest.

Despite a little vegetal character, probably the best of the lot so far. Light colour: toward pale honey. It's a pale blond ale (whatever that means) hopped with Oregon fuggles. Gently hoppy. Dry and mildly apple-ish in the finish. What might constitute a collection of small flaws actually combines in a very drinkable beer.

Propeller IPA
Bitter. Light side of orange. No detectable head. Presumably also casked as it's flattish. Bittering hops dominate, very little aroma or flavour. Wouldn't order another.

Haddock and chips. Batter is underdone and mealy. Fish seems decent quality. Fairly well priced at $14 for two medium sized fish. The chips are the best bit. Darkish, double-fryed, and curly, with occasional scabs of skin. Coleslaw (poor) and tartare (decent) in prepared plastic containers — one of the worst customs of pub food. Smacks of no attention, regardless of ingredient quality.

McAuslan Oatmeal Stout
Bit of a write-off. Nitro tap, but to its detriment. Guinness works due to the slight sourness. This is just bland. Nitro should be used carefully. THis beer is calling out for some zing, and if the ingredients don't have it, the CO2 better had.

Garrison Irish Red Ale
*first one in a pint pot.
CO2, red as you could expect. Slight odor of straw and subtle hops. Very light body, which is good, as the hop profile couldn't carry much weight. Perfect carbonation. Mild blackberry smell coming off this one. Mildly uriney smell. That said, it's still drinkable.

Service: very good. Amiable, not over-indulgent, spotted two samplers in response to my queries.  

Place: Rogue's Roost

Decent. Citrusy, mid bitterness. Red colour. Thought it was the red ale initially. Slightly sryupy, without the bitterness to carry it off. Decent pint. Better than the Propeller.

Place: Hart and Thistle

Double Citra SMASH IPA
Murky mid orange colour. 2mm head, but lacing apparent immediately on pour. Looks like a 355 pour in a pub that's half mall, half mock-tudor "english" pub. Very good. Bitter as fuck. Probably not the 100IBUs but close to (chalkboard says "100+IBUs 7.5%") Mildest hint of feta cheese on the nose. More piney than I'd expect from a pure citra hop brew. A hint of chamomile nose comes through the rest. Very clean and dry. Despite some syrup on the mouthfeel, I'd put this as well attenuated, perhaps down to 1.010 or less. Lacing is gloopy, sticky, but sparse.

From the Hart and Thistle Brewer's blog*: (by the way, check out the "Messie" series on this blog. Accoriding to one of the H&T chefs, #3 is landing in August rather than in two weeks as the blog suggests)
Vital Stats:
Gravity - 17.3 P/1.071
IBU's - 100+ (324 Calculated)
Hop Rate - 8.2 lbs/bbl
ABV - 7.5 %
Colour ~ 7.0 SRM
Malt - Pale Ale
Hops - Citra

Notes on the above:

7.5 abv is not quite apparent, which I credit the hops for (rather than a lack of actual abv). It is very bitter. Colour is misreported from my sample. Looking at the SRM chart, I'd put this at 13, possibly 14.

Rock Bottom
They may well have a selection of local brews (brewed by Nash who also brews at Hart and Thistle), but they also have Peche Mortel in bottles. Either way, they did not have the Coffee IPA reported on the brewer's blog (the fact that it was tapped on Saturday and is absent come Monday illustrates Halifax's craft beer fanboys are good and keen at least). Peche it is then. Goodnight.

*"Nash" brews — from what I can ascertain from his wonderfully scattered blogposts — a massively impressive range of weird and edgy beers. Please do visit H&T and RockBottom if you get the chance. Plus, he swooped for the email address, so it's chutzpahx10.