“The ‘Witty’ Traveller” (Belgian Wheat Beer) Railway City Brewing Company

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Witty Traveller (front)Stats: Belgian Wheat Beer. 4.2% ABV. 15 IBUs. St Thomas, Ontario.
Size: 473mL can
Colour: Pale (very pale) off-‘yellow’ watery straw; faintly cloudy.
Mouth Feel: Low-medium carbonation with a dry finish.
Purchased: LCBO
Price:
 $2.85
Pairing Notes: Greek Food (e.g. Souvlaki)
→ 78 points

So, the next surprise in my Getting Canned series of beers only coming in cans is also the final taster from Howard, who officially now my Southern Ontario beer sleuth. Thank you, Howard.

I have to admit, I really thought I was going to hate this beer once I poured it — but to be fair, I had no real idea of what I was going to pour because while this beer has an incredibly interesting and creative label, it bears no mention of the beer’s lineage. Sample the beer, however, and the clues quickly added up:

  1. Very pale pour
  2. Cloudy
  3. Yeasty aroma
  4. Spices (coriander) off the nose and the tongue
  5. Orange peel — again, off the nose and the tongue
  6. Slight sourness
  7. Crisp finish

I knew in an instant it was a wheat beer. And when I detected the orange, I was pretty sure it was a Belgian wheat. Once I read the ingredients list on the label and everything was quickly confirmed.

So, as I’ve made clear in the past, wheat beers are pretty low on my list of beers I enjoy. As such, I’m not likely the best person to review them honestly. Still, I’ve had some I’ve quite liked, I’ll admit, including a few recently like Oranje Weisse or White Bark. And in the process, my heart and palette has softened to the style and I see there is a real need for it, especially while summer clings to the turning leaves. So while I sipped this brew, I kept an open mind.

My point with wheat beers, however, is that they’re not sipping beers. I don’t think they do particularly well being dissected and analysed for their constituent parts. Wheat ales are the epitome of an occasion where you should to admire the forest … whereas winter beers or an IPA is really a time when you want to admire the trees.

Witty Traveller (Back)Wheat beers are thin; they’re light; they have low specific gravity (often). Few are above 5% and rarely are they above 5.5%, so they’re comparatively ‘light.’ The flavour profile is also one that I would generally describe as ‘thirst quenching.’ All these facets mean that on a hot day, coming off the beach, a golf course, or mowing the lawn, there are few better libations to reach for in your fridge. And when you take the first “drink,” it isn’t a sip, it’s a quaff, which is why you will drink the ‘forest’ and not the ‘trees.’

So I’ll be fair to this beer and say that in the style of a Belgian wheat, it’s an above average even ‘good’ example and one of the better I’ve had in Ontario. Still, where it fails is in not having stronger trees in the forest of its waters. They’re lean, willowy, and they blow over very easily. While it’s an infinitely approachable beer that almost any party on the deck of summer deck (floating or otherwise) can enjoy, it’s not going to win awards for blow-you-away flavour or finish. The best part of it is probably the white pepper which adds some much needed zip to this otherwise ‘flat’ beer. And at only 4.2% ABV, minimal IBUs, and a lot wheat malts (which don’t add much in the way complexity), this beer needs something more ….

Nocturnal Grass

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Nocturnal Grasses5© Dale Schierbeck 2014

Nocturnal Grasses3

© Dale Schierbeck 2014

Nocturnal Grasses1 © Dale Schierbeck 2014

Nocturnal Grasses6 © Dale Schierbeck 2014

Nocturnal Grasses2 © Dale Schierbeck 2014

By the warmth of the moonlight, these elephantine grasses swayed in the winds of our Indian summer night and totally captured my heart.

See more of from other’s submissions to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime.

See more of my own photography here ….

Canary Melon Soup with Mint Coulis

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Canary_Melon_Soup(main)A soup that will surely delight as much as it surprises.

Canary_Melon_Cut OpenThe mystery of this soup continues long after the mystery of my last CSA mystery post. And this is certainly the kind of adventure I envisioned with the series. So when presented with a vibrant yellow melon, the size of a child’s football, during my previous CSA share, I knew I had the subject of my next adventure. One little melon probably wasn’t going to cut what I imagined, so I traded in my tomatoes to Lauren at Roots & Shoots‘ CSA pickup and grabbed another one and asked in the process “What kind of melon is this?” She wasn’t sure, she said, which really only heightened the adventure for me. Perfect. I would learn when I picked up my next share a few weeks later, however, that it was a “canary melon,” clearly named for its skin … not for the inside which kind of resembles a honey dew melon with a hue of yellow that quietly permeates the fruit.

The destiny for this pair of melons was to become a soup — a chilled, summer soup, specifically.

I really don’t know where these ideas come from exactly, I’ll admit. I suspect I see things on menus, scan them quickly in a magazine, flit past them on a TV screen, or simply concoct them in my imagination as an amalgam of influences. But wherever the source, the idea seemed plausible and I played around with the notion in my head for a few weeks as I thought about techniques and ingredients to pull it together.

Canary MelonWhat emerged was something incredibly unique. Try to explain the taste of a banana or cheese to someone whose never tasted them. It had the texture in many ways of a squash soup, even the sweetness of a squash or sweet potato soup … but certainly sweeter and definitely ‘different.’ The cooking process I used also deepened the sugars a bit, ever so slightly caramelizing them, for a richness that made it even tougher to discern the ingredients.

What is remarkable about this soup, however, is that apart from the flavours I instilled in it — and the coulis, which I’ll come back to shortly — this is 100% melon. No added sugar, thickeners, water, stock or anything. The soup is entirely made from the melon which I deconstructed in different ways to produce it.

Ultimately, it is a melon cooked in its own juices that is thickened with its own fibre and served with its own meat.

Canary Melon Soup - colour

Colour of Soup ‘changes’ with the colour of different bowls

The goal was to showcase the melon — but I wanted to nevertheless bring in some other subtle flavours for balance. So in the cooking process, I add a few sprigs of fresh cilantro, to add some herbaceousness and a bit of freshness to keep the floralness of the melon somewhat in check. And in the days leading up to the soup making, my mind landed on mint — something to work with the sweetness. I imagined something like the way mint works in a mojito — but I didn’t want this to taste just like a dessert, either, so there was one more ingredient that was essential: chile. This was done with the intention to bring a hint of pungency and a tinge of heat to balance the soup. Together, I used these to produce a ‘coulis’ which traditionally is a thickened sauce made from puréed fruits or vegetables … so making it from herbs seemed like an interesting experiment. The final ingredient was the addition of some organic Greek yogurt to further balance the soup by introducing a bit of ‘acidity’ into the mix (more than creaminess).

Presentation of Canary Melon SoupBoth the coulis and the yogurt were added to the soup using a squeeze bottle — so if an artful presentation isn’t your goal, simply use a spoon to arrange it in the bowl.

And finally, for texture and substance, I used a small melon baller to harvest a quarter of the melon separately. I placed these in the bowl before laddling the chilled soup over the pieces, and, voila, a summer/early-fall soup was born.

Trust me, keep an open mind here and amaze both yourself and your guests with a soup that will both keep them guessing but which they can’t stop eating.

Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  20 minutes 

Total Time:  60 minutes
Servings:     4-6 as starter

Canary Melon Soup with Mint Coulis

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 lbs (1.5kg) canary melon
    → substitute honey dew plus, optionally, a few scoops of cantaloupe
  • 3 sprigs, roots attached, of cilantro
  • 1/4 cup organic Greek yogurt (2% or higher)

Coulis Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250mL) packed mint leaves, stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons (30mL) lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeds removed
    → add more or less to taste, depending on heat of particular chile
  • 3 tablespoons (45mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons (30mL) mint ‘tea’ (reserved from blanching mint)
  • 1 tablespoon (15mL) honey or agave syrup

DIRECTIONS:

  1. To begin, cut the melon in half and remove both the seeds and a generous amount of flesh from around the seed ‘pocket’ and place the seeds and flesh in a wire-mess sieve.
    Scoop seeds from melonUsing your fingers or the back of a spoon, work the melon and seeds around the sieve forcing all the juice out into a medium-sized pot. When you’re done, all that should remain in the sieve are the seeds and a tiny amount of stringy melon fibre.
  2. Discard the seeds and in the same sieve, scoop out the flesh from one of the melon halves and, in batches, use your fingers (or spoon) to force the melon through the sieve.
    → Don’t discard the skin.
    Juice canary melonRepeat until you’ve ‘juiced’ the whole half and all that remains is about a tablespoon of fibre.
    Canary Melon FibreScrape with spoon underside of sieve (don’t lose this valuable puree) and discard the fibre. Your pot should now have a few cups of ‘liquid’ melon inside it.
    Melon Juice/StockThis will be your stock used for poaching the soup.
  3. Now, using a small melon baller, scoop out the fruit from one of the halves of melon. You should end up with roughly a cup or more of melon balls.
    → Don’t discard the skin.
    Ball the Canary MelonMelon Balls
  4. Next, you’re going to remove the ‘meat’ or fruit from the remaining two halves of melon … plus the residual meat that is on the skins from the above steps. Simply cut the halves (skins) into strips that are about 1½-inches (3-cm) wide and, using a sharp knife, ‘fillet’ out the fruit from the skin.  The point is: don’t waste any of the melon.
    Fillet out the melon from skinRoughly chop, cube the melon into chunks …
    Cube the canary melon…and add it to the melon stock.
    and add it to the melon stockAdd the 3 springs of cilantro now and cover in the melon.
    Add Cilantro to Melon StockBring soup to boil. Cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove cilantro and let cool.
  5. Meanwhile, place a medium saucepan of water onto to boil. Wash the mint and remove the leaves from the stems …
    Prepare Mint for Coulis… and cut the jalapeño in half and remove seeds. And prepare a small bowl of iced water.
    prepare jalapeñoOnce the water comes to a boil, toss in the mint and the jalapeño. After 20 seconds, remove the mint and place it in the ice water to arrest the cooking. You’re just softening it here. Leave the jalapeño to boil for another 90 seconds or so, then remove it and add it to the ice water.
    → Reserve the boiling water which is now ‘mint tea.’
    Add Mint to Ice WaterDrain the water and ice and squeeze the water from the mint. Finely chiffonade the mint now and add it to a small food processor or blender. Coarse chop the jalapeño and add most of it to the mint as well — reserve some of the chile if you’re concerned about heat (remember: you can always add more but you can’t take it out). Add the lime juice, salt, and olive oil and blend you have a smooth puree. If too thick, add a tablespoon or two of the reserved ‘mint tea.’ Taste for ‘heat’ and add more chile if desired.
    Blend the Mint CoulisPour it into a dish or squeeze bottle and add honey/agave syrup to taste until the natural sweetness of the mint comes out. Set aside.
    Add honey to mint coulis
  6. Clean out the food processor now and add the poached melon and soup. Pulse and blend just long enough to puree all the melon and create a smooth soup.
    → Do NOT over-process. The fibre gives the soup texture.
    Puree Canary Melon Soup
  7. You’re now ready to assemble and serve the soup. Your only decision is how ‘cool’ do you want to serve, either luke warm or chilled. If chilled, place the blender in the fridge for 20-30 minutes (or longer) and serve when ready. If warm, the soup is likely ready. Place a few melon balls in the bottom of each bowl and layer the soup over top. Garnish with a teaspoon or two of Greek yogurt, a similar amount of the mint coulis, and a sprig of mint.
    Canary Melon Soup served

Wine Pairing: Gewürztraminer … or chile mint tea (the water used above) with a dash of honey or sugar.

A Million Bells at Nighttime

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Million Bells at Night2 © Dale Schierbeck 2014

Million Bells at Night © Dale Schierbeck 2014

The notion of pictures at night are indeed a beautiful theme. There are so many elements to the night and so many variables that can be incorporated with the play between the shutter speed, aperture, and even the use of a flash, light and the absence of it become a canvas itself. And while the use of a flash may seem counter intuitive to photos used to accentuate the night, this series was an experiment to show that there is potential in the use of light in the foreground (the flash) and the night in the background as a tapestry. To put another twist on it, I positioned a far streetlight in the picture to add a haunting quality that you wouldn’t see with just a dark background.

Curious what you think of these Million Bells at night?

See more of from other’s submissions to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime.

See more of my own photography here ….

“Side Launch Wheat” (Wheat Beer) Side Launch Brewing Company

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Side Launch Wheat (front)Stats: Wheat Beer. 5.3% ABV. Collingwood, Ontario.
Size: 473mL can
Colour: Muted, unfiltered straw blonde
Mouth Feel: Medium carbonation with a spicy but dry finish.
Purchased: LCBO
Price:
 $2.70
Pairing Notes: Grilled Chicken
→ 87 points

Third up on the “CAN”-do count-down is a wheat ale from the small Georgian Bay community of Collingwood known more for its spas and shopping and ‘mountain’ vista than anything … but also increasingly becoming known for its emerging distilling industry and now craft brew making as well.

Side Launch Wheat (side)I have to say say, I’m intrigued — greatly intrigued — at the relief map and compass coordinates festooned all over the can. It’s an unusual and quite attractive package, that’s for sure.

Pour the beer, and Bavarian sunshine flows into the glass … appropriate for a wheat beer brewed in the German style — which if you recall from recent posts on wheat ales (see Orange Weisse) means that this uses malted wheat as the principle ingredient. So yes, this is probably a beer those avoiding gluten should shun. If, however, you’re like me and love gluten, well, dive in and enjoy these flavourful malts. However, given its German influence, it may surprise this has Belgian resemblance. This is surprising because the Belgians are often spiced (e.g. coriander; anise; clove; orange peel) whereas the German’s don’t. Nevertheless, this beer is spicy off the nose and even more in the mouth where the clove and mace round out the middle tastes. Bookending these flavours — which are well profiled on the can — are certainly some upfront citrus on one side and an ending where the malts, in nice balance with the hops, bring a touch of sweetness in the form of banana.

Side Launch Wheat (back)The beer certainly pours with ample head, but it disappears relatively quickly and drains off the sides of the glass like the waters of carwash off a windshield. Still, the bitters are there and in the right quantity for the style.

How does a brewery only a year old pull off such a remarkable and refined beer? Well, one of the secrets lies in the fact that this is not really a ‘new’ beer; though Side Launch has only been around since 2013, they in fact ‘merged’ or absorbed a previous Collingwood brewery called Denison’s and, in doing so, chose to maintain their well-regarded weissbier which they rebranded and relaunched as their own. The result is a beer with a lot of history and not surprisingly a lot of flavour. All in all, this is very tasty, not overly crazy example of a wheat ale that should have a huge cross appeal for its balance: sweet but dry, flavourful yet subtle. Well-worth a visit especially if wheat ales are your ‘thing.’ I’ll definitely be revisiting this when the warm weather re-arrives next year.

CSA Adventures … Mystery #6

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CSA_Mystery_no6_3From green, to red, from orange to yellow, the colours of the garden are breathtaking, like a dissected fall foliage that you can eat. How great is that?

CSA_Mystery_no6_1However, it would seem the mysteries of the CSA are getting better — and tougher? — or someone has disconnected my mic. “Hello … is this thing on?”

CSA_Mystery_no6_4Or perhaps the real mystery for my readers isn’t what it is … but what will become of this beautiful harvest. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised and hopefully you’ll be able to secure your own to try this treat … because a huge treat it was indeed. I wish I had more of this from Roots and Shoots Farm to repeat the Recipe Revealed here.CSA_Mystery_no6_2

 


 

 

An Enduring Bloom

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 Enduring Bloom© Dale Schierbeck 2014

Flower blooms are often ephemeral, lasting for a few short days or weeks, but the orchid, for all its delicate folds and appearance of fragility is an amazing flower that can endure for months at a time. This bloom has been providing me warmth since late winter where it sits next to me on my desk. All to say, you don’t have be big to be strong … and, indeed, as any distance athlete will attest, endurance has little to do with big muscles. It’s about the strength of the heart and the perseverance of the spirit that will bring you to the finish line.

See more of from other’s submissions to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance.

See more of my own photography here ….

White Barszcz with Sorrel

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White Barszcz with Sorrel (Plated)With the end of summer and the inevitable approach of fall, a young man’s fancy does surely turn to soup.

… And one of the soups I fancy most is a soup I fell in love with during my three years of living in Poland. If I quizzed you on Polish soups, many would say “borscht” — though flaki (flaczki) is perhaps the more quintessential, but polarizing, Polish soup with tripe at its foundation. And no, this recipe isn’t about tripe or flaki — don’t panic. When people say “borscht” however, they’re probably describing a personal version of this central/eastern European soup containing beetroots that shows up from Germany through to Russia and everywhere in between and is also central in many Jewish cookbooks. But when you say Barszcz, (pronounced “barr-shhh-CH”), you’re clearly in Poland. The thing is, even the Poles don’t have a single version of barszcz. And while the Poles do eat versions of barszcz which are full of vegetables and meat, it is Barszcz Czysty Czerwony which translates as “clear red barszcz” that is a symbolic part of every Polish Christmas (Eve) dinner (think in iconographic terms and you’ll know why). It is a purely delicious soup especially when accompanied by the little “dumplings” in it that make many people very happy, including me.

White Barszcz with SorrelThis blog recipe is not about any of those soups. No, the soup I get most sentimental about when I think of Poland is a soup that goes by two names and which is technically two different soups: Żurek and barszcz biały, which translates as “white” barszcz. Both soups are “sour” in taste and off-white in colour and neither really bears any resemblance to a traditional borscht made with beets — there are no beets in white barszcz or zurek (which may be a relief to some of you). Both use different “souring” techniques to accomplish a similar goal. Zurek uses a sourdough starter made from fermented rye meal. White barszcz traditionally uses wheat as the starter. As such, neither are gluten-free. There are thousands if not millions of variations on both of these soups with other techniques to sour the soup, including sour cream or even sauerkraut is used as the souring agent. But traditionally, it is a grain.

Polish BaconThe stock can vary widely as well. Often, as in this case, it is uses sausage and/or bacon as the base — and I’m not talking about cheap, run-of-the-mill bacon, I’m talking about the good stuff, like that seen here. And, not to be outdone in terms of symbolic importance, the white barszcz is central to the Polish Easter meal … which is why at the centre of the soup is usually placed a boiled egg, symbolic of regeneration, new life, hope.

All of these soups are delicious — even flaki (if you like tripe). The thing is, if you’re not Polish or don’t have access to a Polish household, you probably haven’t had these soups … and I haven’t eaten most of these since I returned to Canada. It makes their nostalgic draw, all the stronger. So this year, I decided to tackle the problem of the missing white barszcz … and see if I might only make here, but also make it in a way that was gluten-free.

Sorrel in Garden

Sorrel in my Garden

The solution was really the collision of another longstanding desire to make a sorrel soup … and it’s been on my list of to-do’s since I made scallops with sorrel butter earlier this summer (god those were good). If you weren’t part of that previous post, what makes sorrel unique as a vegetable/herb is its sour flavour. Why couldn’t I, then, use the sorrel leaves to do for the white barszcz what the sourdough starter would also do? Or, in essence, could I fuse together a classic French sorrel soup with a classic Polish barszcz biały?

The answer lies before you … and I have to say, as I person who loves barszcz biały, soup took me back to the ‘milk bars’ of Warszawa where a young man first took his fancy.

Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  30 minutes + 30 minutes simmer

Total Time:  90 minutes
Servings:     8

Optional: Serve with rye bread or your favourite gluten-free bread.

White Barszcz with Sorrel

INGREDIENTS:

  • Polish White Sausage1 tablespoon (15mL) butter
  • 2 cups (500mL), or 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1lb (450g) white Polish sausage (approximately 3 links)
    → substitute any white sausage like bratwurst
  • 1/4lb (110g) bacon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4-5 grains allspice
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup (250mL) carrot, ‘cubed’ or diced
  • 6 cups (1½ litres) fresh sorrel, washed, leaves removed from stems, packed chiffonade
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup (125mL) whipping cream
  • 1½ tablespoons (20mL) cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper to taste
    → Be careful since there is salt in bacon and sausage
  • 2 tablespoons (30mL) fresh dill, chiffonade
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs cut into quarters
  • Marjoram for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. To begin, first hard boil your eggs. Place 4 eggs in a medium pot of cold water and fill above the eggs 1-inch. Bring the water to boil and let boil for 2 minutes. Remove pot from burner and let eggs sit in the hot, hot water for 15 minutes. Then pour the water from the pot and run cold water in the pot until water stays cold. Let eggs sit in this water for 5 minutes. Remove from water, dry, and place in the fridge until ready.
    Boil Eggs for Soup
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot, begin by sautéing onions in butter for about 10 minutes, until translucent.
    Saute Onions for BarszczChop up the bacon and add it to the onions and continue to fry until bacon is cooked (not crisp), about 5 minutes.
    Add bacon to BarszczSlice the white sausage into bite sized pieces and add them along with the garlic to the pot and continue to cook until they’re browned completely (another 5-7minutes).
    Add sausage to barszcz
  3. When the meat is fully cooked, begin to deglaze the pan of any ‘brown’ bits by slowly stirring in the water and scraping the bottom of the pan as you do so.
    Add water to barszczPeel and chop the carrots and potato and add them to the barszcz.
    Add carrots to barszcz Add potatoes to barszczAdd the seasonings to barszcz (pepper, allspice, bay leaves)
    Add seasonings to the barszcz
    Clean the dill and then remove the fronds from the stems by sliding your fingers down the stem. Coarsely chop the dill and add it to the soup.
    Add dill to barszczIn a small bowl, measure in the cornstarch. Add a few tablespoons of soup stock to the bowl and blend in with the cornstarch. Gradually add a few more tablespoons at a time to the cornstarch until it is liquid … then quickly stir it into the soup to prevent clumping. Add the cream now as well.
    Add cream to barszcz
  4. While soup simmers, finally prepare the sorrel and note, 6-cups of prepared sorrel is a lot.
    Sorrel Before

    Sorrel Before

    Sorrel After

    Sorrel After

  5. Remove the leaves from the sorrel stems by holding the stems at the ‘root’ end and, cupping your hand around the leaves, slide towards the top: the leaves will come loose from the stems. Wash them well and then rolling them together in batches, chiffonade them and ‘pack’ them in a measuring cup until you have 6-cups.
    Chiffonade SorrelAdd this to the soup and watch it almost melt in and dissolve in the broth.
    Add sorrel to barszczStir it in and let simmer while adjusting for salt and pepper.
  6. Meanwhile, peel the eggs and carefully cut them into quarters, lengthwise. Place 3-4 pieces in the bottom of each bowl.
    Place eggs in each bowlAnd when the soup is ready, laddle some into each bowl.
    Serve with rye bread (toasted if you prefer) and enjoy on a cool fall day or spring …
    White Barszcz with Sorrel and Rye Toast

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Endurance ~ My Best Friend

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Endurance(m) © Dale Schierbeck 2014

At 18½ years of age, my very special best friend, Benjamin, endures like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. Wrestled from the streets of Warsaw as a pup, he has endured a life with me that has taken him half-way across the world and then to Canada’s North and then again half way across Canada. Two weeks ago, I thought he was leaving me very soon — but he continues to endure, continues to fight the fight of his life.

Endurance8 © Dale Schierbeck 2014

Endurance5© Dale Schierbeck 2014

Endurance4© Dale Schierbeck 2014

Endurance13 © Dale Schierbeck 2014

Endurance3 © Dale Schierbeck 2014

See more of from other’s submissions to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance.

See more of my own photography here ….

And read about Ben’s beginnings here ….

“Nickel Brook Headstock” (IPA) Better Bitters Brewing Co.

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Nickel Brook Headstock (front)Stats: IPA. 7.0% ABV. 80 IBUs. Burlington, Ontario.
Size: 473mL can
Colour: Golden straw (chardonnay) — clear except for profusion of heavy particulate that grows with the pour.
Mouth Feel: Medium, very natural carbonation; light start and a refreshingly bitter finish.
Purchased: LCBO
Price:
 $2.85
Pairing Notes: n/a
→ 84 points

Penny for Your Thoughts ♦ Nickel for Your Thirst

Next up on my Getting Canned tour is this very nice craft beer from the alliterative tongue-twister of beer makers, Better Bitters Brewing.

As a novice guitar player, I am happy to riff on this psychedelically adorned can for more than a few minutes. It’s really hard to smell anything inside an aluminum can (so that’s a clear beef I have with aluminum packaging) but pour it out of the can and you’re in for a treat here. You’re going to experience a full west-coast hop presence in all its glory: citrus through with strong hints of grapefruit and orange followed a tropical backing of mango. For the fruit lovers out there, this is an IPA you’ll love.

Nickel Brook Headstock (back)Don’t get distracted by the precipitate in the beer. One: it’s only an aesthetic facet and Two: it’s indicative of the fact that this beer is “naturally carbonated” (read: fermented on the lees). So take a sip of this beer that pours a beautiful tight shaving-foam of a head and your tongue is given a wash of Seville orange and grapefruit before a tasty bit of pine washes over the middle along with the malts. Speaking of the malts, they bring excellent backup vocals with a bit of burnt orange (caramel) that plays well in the middle to bring balance to a beer that is bitter from start to finish.

So if you got detoured in the middle and thought the bitters were upfront, the ending is a full-on, Pete-Townsend-smashing-guitar on the tongue with a some intense bitters and a lot of grapefruit peel. The ending is uncharacteristically flavourful, but with those strong bitters at the end comes also the less grace’ful’ note of astringency which will suck your tongue dry. Truly, the grapefruit is as prominent in this beer as I’ve tasted and for something that actually doesn’t have grapefruit in it, it nevertheless reminds me of actual grapefruit ales; quite the stellar hops here.

As for the coda in this fine tuned beer, I’m more than happy to give this brewer more than a penny for my thoughts: superb. Will definitely buy this again and recommend it to any Ontario hop-heads looking for a great, hopped-up beer.

Read more Beer Reviews here.

 

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