Tuesday Drink Night tears apart the LCBO’s spring beers release


As mentioned by Dr. Bamboo, Thursday Drink Nights exist as a means for like-minded individuals to gather in a chat room and trade and discuss cocktail recipes whilst actually making them with whatever they have stocked in their home bars. There’s usually a theme and apparently, amendments to proffered recipes can come fast and furious, with each one adding a different nuance and, of course, everyone gets shitfaced.

While I have yet to participate in one (my own bar is ill-suited to this kind of thing at the moment and it’d drive me crazy operating with the handicap a government monopoly leaves me with) I thing the idea is fantastic and I’ve often wished for company while trying out the latest purchase.

Taking advantage of some visiting friends, I handed them each a glass and we proceeded to get into the latest beer offerings from the LCBO. The drinking party was made up of Lowell, my brother with a rubber arm when it comes to alcohol; Rodney “The Professor” Snooks, my soon-to-be-ex roommate and philosopher and his girlfriend, Kate (I don’t know much about her but she seems nice and she’s originally from England so she’s gotta know something about beer).

pietraFirst up was Pietra, a “strong beer” from Corsica. Weighing in at 6% ABV, its claim to fame is the inclusion of chestnuts in the recipe. It’s also bottle-conditioned for eight weeks. I can’t think of many French beers I’ve liked beyond Kronenbourg 1664 (both Fischer and Boris were disappointments) but this was kind of different and I thought it might be interesting.

The first thing I noticed was the pineapple smell. It was lightly carbonated and I thought it had a bit of a metallic aftertaste. Lowell thought it tasted flat and it reminded him of a UK bitter. Neither of us could detect any chestnut flavor and thinking back, I can’t think of it as anything but mundane. I wouldn’t drink it again.

Next up was Stuart’s Natural Session Ale, a local beer from Scotch Irish Brewing. Billed as a light beer, it’s only 3.7% ABV and is bottled in a stubby which I’m always fond of. I also really liked the picture of the Scottie dog on the label. I’d never liked anything else they offered but I figured I’d give them one more chance.

stuartsUnfortunately, the beer was an epic fail for all of us. Rodney shook his head and walked away, saying “I don’t know…” (which proved to be the most positive thing any of us could find to say about it) and that’s all we got out of him for the rest of the night.

I noticed a slight taste of honey but this was overshadowed by a weird sour mouthfeel and it smelt kind of doggy. Lowell thought it tasted like “a wet newspaper at the bottom of a kennel” and Kate agreed, noting that it “lies there and dies on your tongue”. I drank it but I didn’t like it; I wouldn’t call it sessionable.

Wanting to get the hell out of our backyard, we moved across the ocean to Germany for Köstritzer’s Schwarzbier, a canned dark lager (4.8% ABV).

kostrikerLowell thought it smelt “cheesy” and Kate agreed. I didn’t pick up on that at all but my first sip packed a wallop of liquorice. While there was some chocolate in there, my overriding impression was of those nasty black candies that everyone leaves at the bottom of the bowl and I couldn’t shake it.  Lowell thought that it would probably taste better at the brewery and he’s probably right. Kate was happy that it tasted better than the ale that proceeded it and we could all get behind that.

To get the bad taste out of our mouths, we moved on to Hockley Stout which promised to save our tongues by pouring “like liquid midnight”, even from a can. With a relatively-low ABV (4.2%) I was hoping I might have a new stout to stock my fridge with.

hockleySmelling of caramel and chocolate, I found it light, smooth and refreshing with both notes of coffee and a continuation of the chocolate. I thought it was a perfectly acceptable stout and certainly better than Guinness.  Lowell disagreed, labelling it “foamy” and “vacuous”; like “a soda-pop with no fizz”. He liked the Schwarzbier better. Kate thought it was “complex” and she liked the smell of tamari that she was getting from it.

By this point, we were pretty drunk (despite portioning out the beer, we’d been drinking it pretty quickly) so we wrapped the evening up with Fuller’s London Porter. Porters generally differ from stouts in terms of strength so I was expecting something even smoother than the stout that had proceeded it.

fullersI wasn’t disappointed as the chocolate smell and taste was woven with this lovely creaminess which stretched out into a nice, long finish that reminded me of one of my mum’s chocolate malt pie. Like the Hockley Stout, the carbonation was mild and I could easily see myself drinking two or three of these over the course of a night. Lowell and Kate also liked it and even went so far as to proclaim it the best beer of the night. While the localist in me wants to get behind Hockley, I have to agree; the London Porter was exceptional and I’ll definitely go back for some more.

We never got into Young’s Double Chocolate Stout which I think beats all of the above handily but I’ll get into that next time, along with the second half of the LCBO’s spring beers release.

Marston’s Oyster Stout smooth and elegant


The second beer I’d recently purchased was Marston’s Oyster Stout. English in origin, the name’s a bit of a cheat actually as it contains no oysters (An intriguing departure from the standard brewing process whereby a handful of bivalves are thrown into the mix during the boiling stage. They melt away, leaving an accent of their taste for your drinking pleasure.) but it’s meant to be enjoyed with oysters.

Unfortunately, I had none on hand and was in no mood to pop down to the local gastropub for a Malbec or two to test out this pairing. I can only imagine it would go together rather well.

The beer poured with a little brown head and it smells of malt, chocolate and prune. I had it cold which may have contributed to its thinness because it did seemed to linger a bit longer at the end. I haven’t tried any oyster stouts before so I had no means of coming to some half-remembered conclusion of a better stout being out there but I quite enjoyed working my way through this pint.

There was a lovely, creamy taste to it that allowed for some bitterness from the hops. I generally find stouts refreshing (with the exception of those sweet bastards from the Caribbean) and Marston’s was no exception. I think it would go exceptionally well with any number of meals. I had a bit of mine with an ahi tuna steak and some rice and had no complaints.

I wouldn’t go out of by way to seek it out but I’d say Marston’s is an above-average stout (if not as good as some genuine oyster stouts) and I’d drink it if it was put on tap at my local. You can find it at your local LCBO.