(Editor’s Note: Guest Bloggers A & P literally begged to have this week included, so despite our usual practice of only doing the daily foods, we include this tribute to our microbrewing friends down south)

When B, D and E explained their idea for this blog to me I immediately started to look for an excuse to do a guest entry about my favorite food group, microbrewed beer.  Yes, it has its own food group, as do wine and bacon… mmm bacon 🙂

The first beer-related item on the 365 foods list turned out to be American Beer week (second week of October for those looking to celebrate next year) and my tasting partner P was concerned.  Being a good Canadian boy, his exposure to American beer was limited.  He was worried our night would be filled with comparing and contrasting Michelob to Coors or the ever-popular Bud (shudder).  P suggested we ought to expand it to North American Beer Week.  This belief that American beer is flavourless water is a widely-held one up here in the wintery north.  The adage is that American beer is like making love in a canoe; they are both f@@@ing close to water.

No, the dark secret many Canadians don’t know is that the ability to brew good quality, full flavoured beer does not get stopped at the border like a letter from Marc Emery.  Yankees can brew.  The only trouble up here is getting a hold of the good stuff; however, after a trip to 3 different liquor stores, I think I put together an adequate lineup to taste.

RogueThe first up was Rogue Dead Guy Ale, brewed in Oregon.  A German-style Maibock named after the Mayan Day of the Dead celebrated on November 1st.  The colour is a nice deep orange with a good head.  The taste had a good hit of peach with a balanced citric acidity from the hops and a full mouth feel.  Ideal season: Fall.

Next up was Hebrew Genesis Ale, a kosher beer by Shmalz HebrewBrewing, New York City.  Seriously.  I suppose just because you’re kosher doesn’t mean you have to drink bad beer.  I must admit a little trepidation after having some horrible kosher wine in my distant past.  But we tasted it… and it was good.  They call it the Chosen Beer, and I have to say I would choose it any day.  Despite the gimmicky name and theme, this is in fact a very nice beer, well-balanced hop and malt flavour and full mouth feel. Nice work guys… l’chaim!  Ideal season: Fall.

AnchorThen we tried Anchor Steam Beer by Anchor Brewing in San Francisco.  According to Anchor, “steam” was slang for West Coast beer in the 19th century.  They claim to be very traditional in their brewing techniques.  This is a good idea generally, but in this case we decided they missed the mark.  This beer basically lacked flavour.  P said it could have been a Michelob (shudder).  Ideal season: Spring Break in Mexico.

To wash the taste (or lack of taste) out of my mouth we switched to Sierra Nevada ESB (Early Spring Beer).  This is a very nice bitter in the West Coast tradition.  Copper-coloured and with a good hit of floral citrus from the hops.  While this is an excellent beer, I’ve noticed that my notes have gotten sparse by this point.  Hmmm, perhaps fewer beers to taste next time. Ideal Season: Early spring.

The penultimate brew we chose was Mirror Pond Pale Ale.  I think this turned out to be one of P’s favourites.  Its strong and aromatic hop character was well balanced by the malt.  Almost done… notes getting shorter.  Season: Yes.Mirror_Pond

Our final brew was Moylan’s Irish Red Ale.  This was a classic Irish ale with a full-bodied caramel flavour.  As with most Irish ales, this one is not heavily hopped, which why I tend not to choose them (I likes me my hops).  Moylan’s manages to pull it off with a caramel malt flavour that manages to avoid the sickly sweet taste trap most fall into.  Whew, done…  Season: Fall/Winter/Early spring.

Wow, ok.  Definitely fewer beers for my next tasting.  Excellent quality stuff for the most part, and I hope P and I did our part in improving Canada-US relations (think big picture here, people).  I’m going to bed.

A. & P.