Beer of the Month: Marzen Revisited

I was delighted to find that this month’s beer deliver contained a beer from the Black Creek Historic Brewery.   I’ve written previously about my love for the fact that their beers are brewed based on archival recipes from the 1800s.  I love the idea of using beer and food generally as a way to explore the past and connect present day people to history.

When I went back to read my recollections on the Black Creek Brewery I realized that I’d had their “Marzen” beer before, which is the one that was included in this month’s delivery.  This particular selection is brewed in the style of something from 1860s and I enjoyed it the first time.

My opinion of the beer has stayed fairly similar – I loved the balanced hop and malt notes in this beer.  It pours a dark amber that is almost brown, is unfiltered, and has minimal head. It’s a bit of a heavier beer which makes it a bit of an outlier for the traditional Marzen style, but despite that heaviness it is still smooth drinking.  I would definitely recommend this and buy it again.

Watching – Power of the Daleks

Animated Daleks

Animated Daleks

This year marked 50th anniversary of the Doctor Who story Power of the Daleks.  The original footage of this story has been lost and the hopes of finding it aren’t all the high.  Given the anniversary and the missing footage BBC opted to celebrate by creating an animated version of the story. It was aired on BBC stations, iplayer, and in theaters.  Since it wasn’t available on Canadian television I opted to attend the local Cineplex screening of the story.

I know it’s a bit of an obscure thing – an animation of a 50 year old TV program – but I was really surprised by the dismal turnout in the local theater.  There was a whole five us.  Despite that lack luster crowd I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  This was the first time I was able to see any form of Doctor Who on the big screen and it was a neat experience.  The animation was interesting to watch and it did really bring to life a solid story.

That being said watching a six part story in theater is not at all how the original content was meant to be viewed.  It was produced as a weekly serial and the animation probably would have been viewed that way — which BBC America was airing it in six parts, which might have been a better watching experience.  One thing I wish the film version had of done was include quick fade to blacks or the episode titles in the longer version.  The sense that this was a six part story was completely lost in the film version and the cliffhangers that were built into the original story were greatly diminished in not giving the episodes space  – even if that space was seconds, I think it would have worked better.

In terms of the animation, the daleks were wonderful.  The TARDIS, Vulcan planet scenery, and the design of the regeneration sequence were solid.  The human characters were a bit less so.  The animation was done in a very realistic style but the physical movement of the people was a bit clunky.  It also seemed as though substantially more time was put into drawing and animating the Doctor with companions Polly and Ben feeling very one dimensional in their drawing and the other characters even more so. That being said it’s a solid story and the animation doesn’t hinder it in any way.  There was moment where a group of characters kind of side shuffle of screen that caused me to laugh out loud because of the awkward nature of the animated movement, but otherwise it mostly blended into the story.

I was also really impressed by the sound quality of the production.  The sound was remastered from a fan created audio recording from the original airing.  A recent Radio Free Skaro interview with Mark Ayres goes into detail about how this process took place and is a really fascinating look at how the audio for this project came together.

Overall I think this was a really interesting bit of the Doctor Who universe that’s been formatted in a new way and made more accessible to a wider audience. Plus seeing the classic Doctor Who opening and theme song on the big screen really made my day – it pretty much instantly put me a good mood.

The Pilsners Continue: Pickup Truck Pilsner

Pïckup truck Pilsner

Pïckup Truck Pilsner

Another LCBO grab bag selection and another pilsner style beer.  The Pickup Truck Pilsner is brewed by the Thornbury Village Cidery and Brewery.  I hadn’t tried any beer or cider by Thornbury prior to this surprise selection and didn’t really know anything about the brewery or their reputation.

The Pickup Truck Pilsner is brewed in the Czech pilsner style which has some overlapping characteristics with the German pilsner style – especially when those styles are interpreted by North American breweries.

The beer poured a light clear yellow with minimal short lived froth.  The beer is a nice mixture of malt and traditional Czech style hops with both a grassy and spicy flavor.  I enjoyed this and it would definitely be my preferred pick out of the two pilsners in the grab bag.

Polly Want a Pilsner

Polly Want A Pilsner

Polly Want A Pilsner

It’s beer and it has a punny name.  Winning all around! A friend recently gave me a LCBO craft grab bag which included four cans of beer, including a  can of “Polly Want A Pilsner” by Hop City Brewing Company. I’ve previously tried Hop City’s Barking Squirrel Lager and their Hopbot IPA – it’s been awhile in both cases but I remember them being decent beers.

Polly Want A Pilsner is brewed in the German Pilsner style and poured a dull straw yellow colour with an inch or so of white froth, which dissipated pretty quickly. There’s a mild hop smell that carries over to the taste.  The beer was on the medium bodied side of things but still smooth drinking.  Basically it’s a well made albeit fairly typical North American brewed pilsner.  I’d have it again.

Beer of the Month: Absolute Altitude Saison

I’ve been a bit on the slow side posting about the most recent shipment of beer of the month selections.  As I mentioned earlier I wasn’t a fan of the Break of Dawn Session IPA that was in this batch and we’ve been a bit hesitant to try the other selections.

Beer two of three in this set was the Absolute Altitude Saison from Barnstormer Brewing Company.  Every time I have a beer from Barnstormer I really want to like it – mainly because it is a Barrie brewery and I have fond feelings for that region.

The Absolute Altitude had a slight citrus note but didn’t have a ton of complexity beyond it.  It was missing some of the spiciness that is typical of the Saison style.  It was a good tasting beer but didn’t really set itself apart as something wonderful.

Watching – Class

On Saturday October 22, 2016 Class, a Doctor Who spinoff, premiered in the UK and Canada. Written by Patrick Ness and set in Coal Hill School (revamped as Coal Hill Academy for Class) this is a Young Adult series that has tangential links to the Doctor Who universe.  With so little actual Doctor Who right now Class is filling a huge gap in programming and is bound to be watched by so many fans looking for anything Who related.  Andrew can attest to my excitement – there was much clapping, some jumping up and down, and general squee.

To me the show felt somewhere in between Doctor Who and Torchwood.  It had adult themes, gore (a lot of gore at points), and sexuality all built into the first two episodes.  Though set tangentially in the DW universe Class has a distinct feel and vibe that is completely different than DW.  It feels more raw and like it has a completely different set of rules than the traditional Doctor Who episode.

For me the highlights of the first two episodes were the witty one liners and abundance of snark combined with a diverse set of characters.  Two of the lead actors are PoC and within the first episode we get an example of a queer relationship and see a person with a physical disability on screen.  I only hope that this representation continues in a meaningful way and that the characters are well developed beyond standard tropes.

Listening – Web of Queer

I listen to a lot of podcasts.  The android app I use called “podcast addict” might be an apt description for my recent consumption of them.  A lot Almost all of the podcasts I listen to are Doctor Who related.  I’ve been listening to new and back catalogue episodes of Verity!, Radio Free Skaro, the Memory Cheats, and the Tin Dog Podcast for months now.  Despite all this fan inspired podcast listening I hadn’t stumbled on Web of Queer until fairly recently.

I’ve been binge listening to Web of Queer ever since this discovery. Web of Queer is comprised of a group of queer folks from a wide range of geographic backgrounds, ages, with varying experiences with Doctor Who and podcasting. The podcast is a great mix of reviews and discussions, often looking at bits of Doctor Who or media from a queer perspective. Reviews range from New to Classic to Big Finish to Books and the occasionally tangentially related media.

Some of my favourite episodes are the ones where the group has an in-depth discussion about queer representation on Doctor Who or about the use of gender and sexuality labels in fandom.  A lot of these discussions are also a great starting point for anyone who is interested in learning more about the importance of language, representation, and the queer community.  These discussions are also often accompanied by links to other relevant background reading. The episodes also include time stamps to you can skip to the discussion if you would prefer not to listen to a review as well. Some highlights include:

Local Beer: Union Jack Brewery

unionjackAndrew and I recently got around to trying a couple of different selections from one of the local breweries. The Union Jack Brewing Company opened in May 2015.  Initially their beers were only available in-house but they just recently managed to get their beers into the Beer Store.  A number of local restaurants also offer their beer on tap.

Algoma Pale Ale

The first Union Jack Beer I tried was a tall can of their Algoma Pale Ale.  Given my love of IPA style beers I was excited to try this selection though a bit leery given how many overwhelmingly hoppy beers have been labeled as IPAs recently.  Thankfully this wasn’t a beat you over the head with hops situation – the Algoma Pale Ale was well balanced with notes of hopes, malt, and subtle pine.  I really enjoyed this selection and it would be something I would definitely pick up again.

1870 Amber Ale

Andrew and I both tried this selection on draught at a local restaurant.  Though described in the style of an American pale ale, this felt more like a traditional amber selection to me.  I’ve really been enjoying the complexity but smoothness of amber ales recently and this was a good example of something simple but tasty.  Malty undertones and little to no hop taste.

Rapid River Cream Ale

Only Andrew has tried this one so far (okay, I stole a sip of his beer but not enough to comment on it).  It was a number of weeks ago that he had this particular beer – but remembers liking it if nothing else.  I figure that just means we have to try it again to confirm that it was good.

Beer of the Month: Break of Dawn IPA

Some how two months have already flown by and another beer shipment arrived in the mail this week.  The month’s selection includes three beers beers from three different breweries – four bottles of each beer.  The first one we’ve tried is the Break of Dawn Session IPA by Black Oak Brewing Co.

Black Oak is a craft brewery that was originally started in Oakville in 1999.  It now calls Etobicoke home and the brewery prides itself in brewing in small batches.

The beer poured a slightly hazy golden colour. The Break of Dawn beer is described by Black Oak as having notes of grapefruit and mango with a hoppy finish.  I found there was a very subtle citrus taste but there was way too much hop for my preference.  There seems to be a trend recently to make every IPA style beer overwhelmingly hoppy.  I love hops. But I like when they are subtle and you can still taste other flavours in a beer.  Needless to say I wasn’t a huge fan of this selection and unfortunately there are three more bottles of it still.

Great Lakes Brewery: Pumpkin Ale

PumpkinAleIt’s fall! My favourite time of year.  I love the changing colours in the trees, the approach of Thanksgiving, cozy warm sweaters, boots, and pumpkin pie.  My love of pumpkin is pretty deeply rooted – it has been my go to request instead of cake at my birthday for as long as I can remember.  Conveniently, my birthday is right around Canadian Thanksgiving so pumpkin pie is usually easy to come by.

In recent years there has been a bit of an explosion of pumpkin spice or pumpkin flavoured things.  Hot and cold pumpkin beverages abound – though I’ve found they often miss the mark in taste and pumpkin qualities.  Despite former letdowns I recently picked up a Pumpkin Ale by Great Lakes Brewery.

The beer poured a slightly orange-red colour with minimal head. It smells like a great mixture of pumpkin and spices – namely nutmeg, cinnamon and clove. The taste wasn’t bad, it didn’t fall into the common pumpkin beer problem of being a mouthful of way too many spices.  The pumpkin wasn’t all the prominent but it was a good tasting beer with a slightly pumpkin note.  This was surprisingly light and subtle a good beer if you’re looking for something fall inspired but not hit you in the face pumpkin.

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