Sometimes I wish I had more stuff….

You’d think my years at Pearson would help to subside my consumerist tendencies. I guess this is not the case. Because I want a digital camera. I want one so I can photograph the latte art I have been putting out. I’m not nearly at the standards of some of the experienced pros out there like the guys at Victrola… see their photostream on Flickr. They know what they’re doing. But, my art has come quite a long ways I think, since the good old days of pouring Christmas tree-like designs, or watching Jon put out something resembling a cactus. I think a rosetta I poured on Saturday had upwards of 20 leaves, if not more (in a 10 oz cup). Those cups we have are pretty conducive to art though, being bowl shaped and quite large in diameter. It’s fun. (For all you über-purists out there, no worries, I’m still ensuring my shots are top notch!)

In coffee news, I’ve been visiting Alistair’s Elysian Room as usual, where he kindly offered samples (of both coffee and beans) of a very high quality Kenya lot he had come in from Hines, though I unfortunately forgot the name of the farm. It was, as Alistair predicted, the best Kenyan I’ve had. A very clean, bright and fruity cup, similar to most quality Kenyans, but magnified. I had a total of 3 presses of it, and all 3 shone with the same characteristics.

On the beer front, I stumbled across a beer from France in a BC liquor store. It was at the till, with a sign simply stating it was a “one-time buy” and it received 96 points from some beer championship. I looked at the line behind me, and thought “why not?” It was after all, only $3.45 for the 33 cL bottle. I had never come across it on Beer Advocate, but I haven’t come across a lot of beers before. This was the La Choulette Ambrée. Must be a one-time buy, since the label is entirely in French (except for some Italian on the side), and importers usually add the English label before selling.

When I got back, I put it in the fridge and looked it up on BA. Sure enough, it was rated pretty well, and it was a style I had not yet attempted: Saison. This got me excited, because Saison is a Belgian farmhouse style ale and is quite rare these days. The BA rating was 88, a score that’s pretty good, and consistent with my favorite beers from Unibroue and a lot of Belgian Brasseries. Anything above 85 is, for the most part, a very palatable beer.

Opening it up, it didn’t have the tendrils of vapor typical of other Belgian styles. No problem there though. So, I poured it into my glass and admired the color. It was as the label said, “Ambrée”. Beautiful. The head was huge and persistent, and it appeared to prevent a fair bit of volatiles and aromatics from escaping. It had a nose of a beer darker than itself, with notes of molasses, raisins (though not of the strength of the Thomas Hardy’s Ale barleywine) and a bit of spice (nutmeg?). Tasting it, it had one of the best mouthfeels of any beer I have had. It was extremely smooth with very little carbonation evident on the tongue. The taste was similar to the nose, and was quite dry. Not much sweetness in this one, which makes Saison somewhat unique stylistically. There was a bit of nuts in the finish, which I found to be hazelnut, but Alex said it was more along the lines of cashew or brazil nuts.

If you are in Vancouver, go to the Arbutus liquor store and buy some. You will not regret it. I would put it as one of the top beers I have had in awhile, beating out some Trappist and Trappist-style ales. It’s too bad there’s only a case of this stuff.

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On tap

49th Parallel El Salvador La Montaña
Excellent coffee for everyday drinking. Well expressed acidity and classic El Salvador profile.

Bulleit Bourbon
By far the best bourbon available in BC for the price. $35 for a bottle gets you the highest rye content bourbon on the market. Lots of spice and typical bourbon corn sweetness. Excellent on its own, but also makes a mean Old Fashioned. Better than Knob Creek in my books and pretty close to Woodford Reserve.

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