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Ryan's Liquor in Port Huron, MI!

For Ontarian's wanting American craft beer at great prices, Ryan's is the place to go. Located just across the border at 1837 Pine Grove, Port Huron, MI.

Friday, April 29, 2011

OCB Series - Black Creek Historic Brewery's Pale Ale

5.0% ABV

"At Black Creek Historic Brewery we will start out brewing three traditional types of beer – a Dark Ale, a Pale Ale and a Porter. All three were the common beverages in Ontario during the 1860s, the era in which our brewery is set. As we go, we will be adding other beer varieties.

All of our ingredients are locally sourced, and other than hops, (which was originally introduced as a preservative), we use no artificial additives or preservatives. Our beers ferment in real wooden barrels.

Pale Ale uses predominantly pale or lightly-roasted malts. This beer has a full, airy taste with more hops than darker ales. Black Creek Pale Ale is a great choice with salads or spicy foods, or as a cool refreshment in warm weather."

The Pour

This offering from Black Creek pours a nice orange to caramel cross in colour. There is some hop haze and possible chill haze with decent carbonation in the glass. Small bubbles form a nice frothy one and a half fingers of white, cloud-fluffy head. As the head dissapated quickly, it left a traditional Pale Ale.


Poured into a tulip glass, there is a nice slightly spicy aroma with some orange and citrus notes. A slight bitterness to the nose with hints of malt breadiness. Very pleasant, if somewhat faint. This Pale Ale is more traditional than some of the hop bombs from breweries like Flying Monkey or Bell's.


Right away you get some bitterness from the cascade hops. The is a nice malty presence in the middle of the mouth. Finishing dry with lingering bitterness. A pleasing carbonation adds to the overall enjoyment. This ale is not the biggest or best tasting Pale Ale, but definitely respectable.

Overall Impression

At 5% ABV, this beer is a very solid, sessionable, authentic Pale Ale. Definitely a craft beer, right down to the bottle conditioning of the product. It doesn't have the huge citrus to floral aromas of some of the more renowned American styled offerings, but it is a beer one could enjoy with some Indian food or a nice salad. I would give this beer a B. A good Pale Ale, fitting nicely the mission of Black Creek's Historic Brewery.

Available at the LCBO (238766) 500mL $3.55

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

OCB Series - Reviews start this Friday!

The Beer Geeks are happy to announce that starting this Friday, we will be reviewing beers from all of the breweries that are part of the Ontario Craft Brewers (OCB).

This should be a great series of reviews with some wonderful local brewers. We hope to add some articles with interviews with the brew masters and some insight from tours of a few of the breweries as well.

We are looking forward to tasting the treasures that Ontario has to offer!

There will be at least two of the breweries featured each week. It should be an enjoyable few months!

First up, Black Creek Historic Brewery's Pale Ale....

Check in often to read the latest reviews. And don't be afraid to share your thoughts!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Brew Day of a Bell's Hopslam clone

Well brew day finally came, all the ingredients were ready to go. The Geeks met at 9:00am to start the process. A huge hop bill, although would you expect anything less from a beer named "Hopslam"? Five malts, some local honey (McQueen Honey in Strathroy) and a champagne yeast to help boost the ABV up to 10%.

As we are just starting with the home brewing, we went for a modified extract brew with steeped grains. A friend of ours has had great luck with customizing recipes and steering away from the mass market clones with Diane at Brewhaven. She was able to take our original all grain recipe and convert it for their setup.

After the strike water was up to temperature, we were able to start mashing in the grain bags, pour in the pale malt extract, add some cane sugar and wait...After the mash was complete, we removed the grain bags and cranked up the heat.

With our wort starting to boil, we waited for the protein break to lower the temperature and keep a gentle rolling boil. Then the hop additions began. Many, many, many hops to add (see the recipe above). After about 75 minutes and 5 plus hop additions, it was time to add the honey followed by the finishing hops at flame out.

The last step before our yeast did its job was to cool the soon to be beer to a fermentable temperature. The beer was then passed through a chiller and into the primary fermenting pail, then the yeast pitched. From start to finish this morning was about 3 hours. We need to be enjoying some beer as we brew next time.

At the first week of fermentation, the beer will be filtered, then sent to a secondary fermenter and dry hopped for two additional weeks. Then some forced carbonation and bottling...can't wait until May 7th!

We look forward to letting you know how close we got to Bell's Hopslam with this clone.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre

8.0% ABV

25 IBU's

"A deep, mahogany Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins, and Belgian-style yeast.

We began brewing this one at our brewpub in 1996 (we began packaging and selling it sometime in 1998) as the answer to the question, "What beer should I enjoy with a wood-grilled steak?" Raison D'Etre fits the bill, tasty and as complex as a fine, red wine."

The Pour

This beer has a nice brown, rich caramel colour. Not a lot of carbonation off the glass, but a decent two finger head. The head was a frothy off white to tan colour, with fine champagne like bubbles. The fine bubble can be attributed to the Belgium yeast for sure.


Huge raisin smell. Hints of other dark fruits. Very sweet, caramel notes. Some slight spice characters. Definitely a Belgium influenced beer. Not a huge nose, but pleasant overall. A bit subdued.


Very light on the front of the tongue. As it moves over and to the back of the mouth, you get hit with lots of raisin. It is definitely the most pronounced flavour in this beer. Some typical brown ale breadiness. A bit of spice. With it not being overly carbonated, it has a very mellow mouth feel. It is somewhere between a brown ale and a Belgium dubbel.

Overall Impression

An interesting beer. Stylistically, it is a bit lost between a brown ale and a dubble. It has more spice notes than a typical brown ale, and is overwhelmed with the raisin and not enough fruit diversity for a dubbel. This beer is good, not great. It would be interesting with dessert. The beet sugar gives it lots of sweetness. It would pair well with a rich, dense chocolate torte. Overall I give this beer a B. Not the best thing Dogfish Head has to offer but good.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Brew Dog Hardcore IPA

ABV: 9.2%
OG: 1083
IBU's: 150

Brew dog is located on the north sea, north of Glasgow in Scotland, and they brew beers for the dedicated drinker, AVB's ranging up to 41%. They are "proud to be an intrepid David in a desperate ocean of insipid Goliaths."

Had the pleasure over lunch today to taste their Hardcore IPA

"An Imperial India Pale Ale jam packed with our favourite hops. This explicit ale has more hops and bitterness than any other beer brewed in the UK. This is an extreme beer rollercoaster for freaks, gypsies and international chess superstars."

It appeared almost orange in the glass, translucent, some particles, with a small amount of head lingering after the pour.

It was a hoppy fruity flavour, little citrus, not overdone, but strong. Flavour lasting on the tongue of fruits and alcohol, slight chemical towards the back. Overall impressions was slightly above neutral, a beer to drink again, but not for a whole night. I would suggest this for a night of BBQ, and it would go well with a grilled rack of ribs.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tree Brewing Co. - Hop Head Double IPA

8.3% ABV

"At TREE Brewing Company, we take craft brewing seriously. So much in fact that we got a little carried away and brewed

this occasional rarity, Hop Head Double IPA. Loaded with five different hop varieties, this bold IPA is not for the faint of heart."

Gold Medalist - 2009 Candian Brewing Awards

The Pour

Beautiful golden orange, 1 1/2 to 2 fingers of white frothy head. Some hop haze, a very nice looking translucent beer.


Wonderful nose, lots citrus notes, some slight hints of pine. Slight breadiness. Fantastic smelling beer, especially on a warm spring day.


Great hop flavour, keeping the citrus and pine notes over the tongue. At 8.3% ABV, the alcohol is pleasantly masked. Smooth finish. Very impressed by this offering from Tree Brewing. Along the lines of a Hopslam from Bell's in colour and tropical fruit tones, although not as big a mouth feel.

Overall Impression

I would give the Hop Head Double IPA an A. This beer is very well balanced, flavourful, with a beautiful colour and a great hoppy aroma. Definitely could enjoy a couple over a hot summer afternoon. Also would be delicious with some cedar plank Salmon to highlight the pine notes.

Available in Ontario in limited release from the LCBO. Be sure to have your local store bring this in for you before they discontinue the product.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Railway City Brewing Company – February Seasonal

It was my first seasonal night with Railway, and their unveiling of "Dragonberry Pilsner". Railway’s first foray into a pilsner, brewed with locally sourced blueberries and ginseng.

Now the format of the evening was interesting, and enjoyable. They provide a few rounds (4) of beers, for this they offered samples of the Dragon Berry Pilsner, their last seasonal, Chocolate Cherry Porter, and two other “premium” beers.

Round 1: Dragon Berry Pilsner

The staff provided tasting notes sheets, and a little info about the beer, its ingredients (locally sourced etc.) and passed around the samples. The appearance bordered on brilliant, head was good to poor. For aroma, it was light, slightly sweet, leaving a neutral impression and a fairly balanced nose. The flavour was again light and a little sweet, but enjoyable, the overall impression was neutral to nice, however, it did have a slightly chemical taste. It was slick off the tongue with lively carbonation and the finish was pleasant, balanced and just the right length. I would consider this to be a great summer beer, served well chilled, on a warm patio afternoon.

Round 2: Mystery “Premium” #1
I won’t go into as much detail, suffice to say the comments around the room were “Blue?”, “Canadian?” (not to disparage either of these major breweries trademark offerings) it was a light yellow offering with minimal flavour, minimal aroma with a slightly tart finish. Generally not a favourable impression, on this writer, or others in attendance.

Round 3: Chocolate Cherry Porter

This having been my first tasting, and the porter being Railway’s previous seasonal, it was familiar to some in the room. It was a dark brown offering, with a light reddish hue on the edges, predominantly opaque. Excellent aroma, earthy, coffee, without being too heavy on either, a strong initial coffee flavour leaving a lingering light fruity finish. I did expect more from the porter, and expected the flavour of cherries to punch through, but overall an mildly enjoyable beer, great looking in the glass, but leaving a little too much lacking.

Round 4: Mystery “Premium” #2
Again, not much to comment on, but the room’s consensus was that “no, this is Blue” (or Canadian). Another light yellow offering, slightly cloudy, not much flavour, not much of anything to comment on really.

Thankfully the staff offered a 5th round of your choice, and overwhelmingly, people picked the two railway offerings, no one choosing the “premiums” and the staff confirming that they were indeed “premium” offerings available through the LCBO. After our final round of samples it was revealed that Mystery beer #1 was Heineken and Mystery beer #2 was Stella Artois, both from a can. (I will admit, I’ve never been a fan of either)

We walked out with a pint of the porter, a pint of the pilsner, a growler of the Iron Spike, and looking forward with anticipation to their next tasting. Pictures to follow.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Time for a homebrew...

On Saturday we will be starting to brew a big mid-American style IPA. A clone of Bell's Hopslam really. Right now we are thinking about adding some honey and a Champagne yeast to boost the ABV. I will post the recipe and some photos from the day this weekend.

We expect about a 3 week fermentation. Should be ready to drink long before the May 24 weekend.

Stay tuned. It should be fun!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Big Hole Brewing Company - Headstrong Black and Tan

Big Hole Brewing Company
Headstrong Black & Tan
ABV 5.5% 473 mL can
Sugar Content : 4
Available: LCBO 170167 Price: $ 2.20

So, I always liked Upper Canada's Black & Tan, for my then immature palate, it was a tasty beer. Unfortunately, it no longer exists except in my memories.

Headstrong's appeared in my fridge courtesy of my wife's trip to the LCBO, a thoughtful gesture on her part. My attempts to dig up information on the beer, or the brewery, had limited success, so I'm unable to share what Big Hole blended for this particular offering.

the Look: Started well, leaving a nice head, good texture, rich, dark colour. Unfortunately it quickly dissipated into lingering foam on the edges leaving the liquid looking lonely in the glass.

the Smell: not much here, maybe a little citrus, maybe a little "chemically"

the Taste: little on the front, nothing on the back, lingering chemical flavour, no length, no complexity. Not horrible, but not much to say.

the Feel: thin, good carbonation, no residual.

Overall, I would suggest this as a decent beer to introduce a non-beer enthusiast to a different style. It does have "enough" to be different, and thus a little exposure therapy for your friends, but not enough to keep you engaged.


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