30 January 2009

Seagram's Seven Crown

I love whiskey. That being said, I usually only have one criteria to judge any whiskey that I drink. That is, if you have to mix it with soda to make it taste good, it really isn't worth drinking to begin with. All of the whiskies I enjoy fit this criteria: Wiser's Deluxe, Crown Royal, Talisker, Aberlour, The Glenlivet.... The list goes on. However, Seagram's Seven Crown is not quite in the same league as these other excellent spirits, and I have pulled this bottle out from my collection and poured myself a glass so I can tell you exactly why.

This is not my run-in with Seven Crown. My father, who did a stint in the U.S. Army in the early 60's, told me many times that "7 and 7" (a mixture of Seven Crown and 7 Up) was a popular drink on base when he was in the service. Years later, I spotted this bottle in ABC Liquors in Melbourne, Florida and decided to see what one of the drinks my father liked in his youth might taste like. I brought the bottle home, poured a hefty shot and grabbed a can of Bud for a chaser. I remember kicking back the shot and having a taste so horrible assault my senses that it literally took me 5 minutes to swallow it. I promptly packed it in my suitcase, brought it back to Canada and offered my father a drink when I arrived home. Fortunately for him, common sense overrode any lingering sense of nostalgia and he refused the offer. As such, I have had the bottle ever since.

Tonight, I poured the shot into a glass and grabbed a bottle of water as a chaser (this is actually going to be Liquor Pig's first "live" tasting!). I am actually curious as to whether age may have mellowed this stuff, or if it still tastes something akin to what is used to kill rats en masse. I figure I will try it straight and if I can handle it, mix it with water much like I do my Scotch. The smell off the hooch is a mild grain alcohol... Not too hard on the senses. The taste is inoffensive and not bad for a blended whiskey at all. However, the afterburn of swallowing this crap is what killed me last time and it is working its voodoo again tonight. I can honestly say that I can imagine drinking Drain-O would have a similar effect. The burn starts slow, intensifies and lingers around far too long. The aftertaste of Seven Crown is also quite vile, and not at all like what was initially promised... Kinda like picking up that "cute" girl at last call and waking up the next day to find out she looks just like a Sasquatch/grizzly bear love-child (something any seasoned drunkard cannot honestly say they haven't done, but something not one of us is proud of doing).

The addition of cold water mellows the flavour a lot, and minimizes the whiskey burn. Still, basing my assessment on the initial full-flavoured mouthful, I can't say this is something I would ever want to get drunk on. Something about that hellish burn screams "5 Star Hangover" loud enough that I think I'll leave this one to the soldiers. Hell, even they had the smarts to at least mix it with 7 Up. Now I'm off to find some Aberlour to wash this taste out of my mouth.

28 January 2009

Harviestoun Old Engine Oil

Every once in a while, you get a surprise when on the hunt for bizarre liquor to try. I found this gem at the LCBO and immediately thought it would be another horrific nightmare for my tastebuds. First of all, it is brewed in Scotland where they deep-fry or pour a pound of sugar into everything they consume. Along with that, the words "Viscous - Chocolatey - Bitter" stood out like an al Queda operative in Sudbury. While I have seen chocolate and bitter used to describe several decent beers I have tried, I can't say I have ever seen the word viscous used in an alocohol marketing campaign. Undaunted, I paid for it and took it over to Brian's to see what he and Michelle thought of it.

Brian had as many reservations as me when he put the bottle in the fridge, and made a comment to Michelle about possibly dying as a result of drinking its contents. We let the bottle chill, then set out some glasses for the tasting. I cracked open the bottle and started pouring it into the glasses. I kid you not, this stuff looks exactly like what it is called. I have changed the oil in enough crankcases in my time to know when oil is past it's prime, and this beer looked exactly like it had been sitting in the engine of an old Gremlin since '78. Neither Brian nor Michelle looked impressed by this, and as I passed out the samples their expressions probably resembled those of the People's Temple members before drinking the poisonous kool-aid in Jonestown. Glancing at each other with a silent 'salut', we raised our glasses half-expecting this to be the most vile liquor reviewed yet. However, we were all pleasantly surprised to find this to be very inoffensive and actually a decent dark ale. It was viscous and somewhat chocolatety, but not too bitter at all. Fans of porter and stout should definately give this one a try. It was definately a decent dark beer for a cold winter's night.... even if it does look exactly like crankcase oil out of an old engine.

24 January 2009

La Fin Du Monde

First, I apologize for the lack of updates. I have been doing a ton of overtime at work that has interfered somewhat with my free time, and by extension has inhibited my ability to evaluate these fine and not-so-fine products. Of course, if someone would like to pay me, I would be more than happy to dedicate myself (and my liver) to this blog full-time! Now, on to the subject of today's entry.

Beer should not come in wine bottles. When it does, it is almost a guarantee that you are not going to enjoy it much. This assessment started to form back in my youth when we all went to Toronto to get tattoos. After getting tats, we all went on a drunken pub crawl that finished at some pub in the basement of Toronto's iconic Flatiron building. I ordered some kind of French beer who's name escapes me, and in my drunken stupor thought they had given me a bottle of cheap wine instead. It came in a wine bottle and tasted like a really winey-tasting malt liquor. Since that day, I have never trusted beer in a wine bottle. Looking back on my reviews of Chimay and Mort Subite Framboise there seems to be a very good reason for this, and I am happy to report that La Fin Du Monde continues that tradition beautifully.

When I arrived at Brian and Michelle's, they were wary of the LCBO bag. I handed it to Brian and he remarked something along the lines of "oh no, not another wine bottle". Apparently, he shares my lack of enthusiasm for beer in champagne-type packaging. We decided to put the bottle in the freezer and get it ice-cold for the tasting. La Fin Du Monde (literally "the end of the world"), is a strong beer made by Unibroue Breweries (or as I call them, Unibrow Breweries) in Quebec, Canada and has a 9% abv. Of course, being from Quebec this beer spawned a lot of new questions (or perhaps fears would be a better word). Judging by my previous run-ins with French and Belgian beers, would the tradition of horrible brewing carry over the pond to the Province of Quebec? What bottled nightmare awaited us in the freezer? We would soon find out!

After the beer had chilled down, we set out some glasses and sat down to try it. Much like its Belgian cousins, La Fin Du Monde came complete with the champagne cork/wire contraption that had to be removed to open the bottle. Honestly, why not use a simple bottle cap like the rest of the world? I untwisted the wire and pushed out the cork. Unlike Chimay, the cork did not shoot across the room like a paintball, but this may have been due to the temperature of the beer and not the pressure it was under. We poured out three samples and were somewhat taken aback by the cloudy-looking yellow-brown brew. I raised the glass and got an involuntary shiver as the pungent scent of this "beer" came into contact with my nasal passages. We all looked at each other nervously and drank. I can't even begin to quantify the flavour that hit my palate. In a way it was akin to Chimay, but with a vile spiciness running through the flavour profile that attcked your tastebuds like the Blitzkrieg over London. Michelle was the first to comment that "this is the worst one you have brought over yet!" In fact, she went further to state that this was even worse than the god-awful Corporal's Bitter Brown Ale (an assessment that I myself am not in agreement with - in my opinion the Corporal isn't fit for neither human nor animal consumption). Brian had to be talked into taking another drink from his glass, and immediately stated that this was absolutely hideous and tasted like "bio-sack juice from the bottom of the green bin". At least it lived up to its name... As we poured this one into the toilet, we all agreed the horrid taste would definately last until the end of the world.

11 January 2009

Coopers Sparkling Ale

A few years back, I was up at the cottage with my cousin and saw a bottle of Australian rum at the LCBO. Having never heard of Aussie rum, we bought it and took it home to drink. Now, I have no idea what they used to make it, but it did not taste like any rum I had ever drank before, and we had a hard time finishing it. The ironic part to this story is that the rum was made by the same people who brewed the subject of today's review.

When I first spotted Coopers Sparkling Ale at the LCBO, I was intrigued. The label was very similar to the abortion my cousin and I consumed a few years ago, but this one had other tell-tale signs of a train wreck in a bottle. The top of the bottle was sealed with what looked like cellophane tape over the cap. This was not just present on the bottle I purchased, but on every bottle of Coopers on the shelf. I picked one up for a closer inspection, and this is where it became obvious this needed a proper review.

When held up to the light, the bottle had what appeared to be Sea Monkeys suspended in it. At this point I was pretty sure any more pondering on the subject would lead to second thoughts, so I quickly paid for it and took it over to Brian's for an evaluation.

We cracked it open and Brian took a smell of the aroma coming off it. He seemed disappointd that the beer inside did not smell rancid. I can only assume that he figured the Sea Monkey effect was due to it sitting in a warehouse for many years, perhaps next to a nuclear power plant. Undaunted, he poured out two samples. The beer was a very murky brown colour, not at all "sparkling" as the label promised. Finally throwing all caution to the wind, we toasted Liquor Pig and drank. While not possessing a thoroughly unpleasant flavour (despite the granular texture of the Sea Monkeys), it became apparent that Coopers Sparkling Ale is simply homebrew in a fancy bottle. I have tasted many homebrews that were identical to this one. Not undrinkable, yet not really pleasant at the same time with a yeasty, malty flavour and a far from crisp finish. My advice if you are tempted to try this one is to buy a John Bull Homebrew Kit and make a vat of this crap for a fraction of the cost.

08 January 2009

1984 Drunken Father Ad

This was an ad that ran on Canadian television in the early 80's as part of a social awareness campaign to curb people's drinking habits. The father (who is obviously shmangled) cannot fix his son's General Lee car, and sends him to his room out of frustration. Many of my friends recall this ad and talked about it for years. Some thought it was a horrible scenario and felt bad for this kid. However, my sister and I thought this was uproariously funny and laughed every time it came on (which disturbed my mother to no end). What can I say? We were warped children.

Many thanks to Brian who found this nostalgic piece of my childhood on YouTube!

07 January 2009

Faxe Extra Strong Beer

Ahhh Denmark... A northern land famous for blondes, beer and marauding Viking hordes. Faxe Extra Stong is an exceptionally strong example of Scandanavian lager, and at a full-flavoured 10% abv puts most North American beers to shame. Surprisingly there is not discernable alcohol scent from it, and it has the general palate of traditional lager. However, it is reminiscent of Molson XXX in that it does have the kick to be expected from a beer this strong. One can almost imagine Viking hordes downing this stuff before setting out to raid coastal villages, or drunken Shwainites running amok down Simcoe Street after a Trooper concert at the GM Center. Not an offensive brew by any means, but it does pack a punch. Don't fool youself... One too many of these and you just might find yourself reaching for the battle axe and singing hymns to the forgotton heroes of Valhalla!


On New Year's Eve, I went to Brian's for the evening's festivities. Although it was promised that we would review a 20 year old bottle of Baby Duck Sparkling Wine, Brian honestly felt that it would probably kill us. Instead, we drank the aforementioned Newfie Duck at midnight. It was sickly sweet and honestly had no redeeming qualities aside from it's name. I likely could not even stomached it if not for a belly full of Schneider Wiess. Caveat emptor.

06 January 2009

The Red Binder™

A while ago, there was an email passed around the office featuring the ultimate stress-relief for the workplace: The Red Binder™. The Red Binder™ could be inconspicuously left on any office shelf, ready to be called upon in moments of undue stress (such as the announcement of company-wide layoffs) or moments of ultimate celebration (like the anouncement that smarmy jerk who works two cubicles over from you was canned for accidentally sending filthy midget porn to the boss). As you can see from the photo above, the Red Binder™ holds enough alcohol and glasses for a small office party. Obviously, this is something we could all use on the job.

Shortly after the Red Binder™ email was circulated, Brian found these products in an old 70's catalogue. It seems that the Red Binder™ is actually a variation of something that travelling executives and swingers like Plaid Stallions spokesmodel Brick Mantooth keep in trunks of their cars in the event that big deal (or big party) needs to be immediately celebrated with copious amounts of liquor.

These travelling bars are also the perfect solution for those of you that made ridiculous New Year's resolutions to curb your drinking while getting yelled at by your wife/girlfriend for getting pissed up on Grey Goose and making a complete ass of yourself. The "Perfect Travelling Companion For The Man On The Go" can be easily hidden with the family luggage, and called upon when you realize that promise to quit boozing was a little more difficult than you envisioned. The combination lock on some of these models is also a perfect way to keep your snooping kids or drunken in-laws from draining your stash while you are at work, shopping with the wife or any other activity that would make you thirst for a nice belt the moment you arrive home.

All in all, these are great throwbacks to a time when everyone took a fully stocked bar with them on the road, to the beach or to that barbeque at the swingers' place down the road. They are a lot nicer than the plain-jane Red Binder™ we are left with in modern times, and are much better choice for the travelling alcoholic.

05 January 2009

John Bull Ale

After crucifying the Belgians so badly for their lack of brewing expertise, I think it is time to focus on yet another country of mediocre ale. On the heels of yesterday's Tetley's review, we have another English beer: John Bull Ale. This ale has been brewed in the "heart of England" and is flavoured with "challenger" and "East Kent goldings" hops. The label states that crushed crystal malt is also used to give it its traditional London-style flavour.

I had my reservations about this one for several reasons. First of all, English ale tends to be bland (much like their food) and exciting as a rainy day in the English countryside. Additionally, John Bull was also ne of the main companies that put out those "home brewing in a can" kits that always resulted in overly malty, undrinkable results. Lastly, when I popped the can open, there was absolutely no fizz or internal pressure escaping the can. This proved to be classic foreshadowing, as I poured the overly dark beer into my glass, very little head formed. The taste was much like Tetley's, flat, bland and unremarkable. However, it was still miles above the John Bull "homebrew in a can" kits, and much like Tetley's English Ale, you could drink this all day if you had to. However, when there are so many better choices out there, why choose this?

04 January 2009

Tetley's English Ale

What is it with English ale? Granted they have a few good ones like Fuller's London Pride and Bass Pale Ale, but they seem to have far more mediocre beers than good ones. Tetley's English Ale would definately fall in the 'mediocre' category. It pours using the "smoothflow" system (similar to Pub Draught Guinness) that creates a smooth creamy head like that you get from draught ale. The dark colour seems to hint at a full flavour, but the taste is simply flat and unremarkable. As Brian stated, it is "bland and grey-tasting, almost like English weather. You could drink this all day if you had to while the rain pours down on the English countryside." However the question remains: why in the hell would you want to?

03 January 2009

Sir Perry

When I was in Ireland last spring, I saw a lot of these kinds of drinks for sale in the off-license. While apple cider seemed to be the most popular, there was quite a bit of pear cider available as well. Ironically, I brought this over to Brians the same day he had bought Rekorderlig to review. Both of these are "perries" or pear-cider beverages. However, while Rekorderlig is something that chicks would likely drink way too much of, this is definately something they would most likely avoid.

Years ago when I made a lot of homebrew, I tried my hand at making hard cider. While I can't say I liked it that much, it did not stop Mad Dog Johnny and I from drinking the entire cask in one night. Johnny went home and crashed. In the morning, he woke up and came downstairs into his kitchen. His mother, who was making coffee, asked if he was wearing some kind on new cologne. When he replied he wasn't, and that maybe it was the vinegar from the hot peppers we ate while we were drinking, she replied "no, this is definately alcohol based." The stench from this cider seeped out of his pores, leaving him smelling like a wino for three days. Ever since, neither of us have had the urge to get loaded on cider.

Sir Perry has the same dry taste as that ill-fated homebrew, and I assume would have the same effect. It is dry and bland. It is not offensive, it is just not very good. Michelle, who loved the Rekorderlig, tasted this one and exclaimed "that's yuck!" and Sir Perry became the second beverage to be sinked that night. I suppose suck drinks have their fans, but I think it is a fair assumption that they are about as rare as those who think the Detroit Lions have a shot at the Superbowl next year. This one was a disappointing glass of depression. Don't feed this to your date unless you want her to go home in a cab - alone.

02 January 2009

Rekorderlig Wild Berry

This is one that intrigued Brian while he was buying beer at the local LCBO. After all, any kind of liquor from a foreign country with an unpronouncible name deserves a proper review, and after the horror of Corporal's Brown Bitter Ale, we needed a change of pace. The description on the can states this product is "Swedish pear cider from Vimmerby. Wild berries flavoured. Serve well Chilled" and has an abv of 7%. From the description and alcohol content, I can only assume the name means "panty remover" in Swedish. After noticing the the blush wine colour and fuity smell, Michelle quickly grabbed a glass, drank and exclaimed "that's good!" (which somewhat confirmed my suspicions about the name of this drink). While it should be noted that even green NyQuil would taste good after the Corporal's Brown Bitter, Brian and I both agreed this is a total chick drink, and would be placed in the same catagory as high-sugar low-alcohol drinks that are popular with women, such as Arbour Mist and Alize. However, Michelle also stated that you could tell a night getting pissed up on this would result in a wicked hangover, and quite likely the embarassment of realizing you are no longer in possession of your panties (guys take note!).

01 January 2009

Corporal's Bitter Brown Ale

As it is New Year's Day and you are all likely recovering from nasty hangovers from the various debaucheries you took part in last night, I decided to start the year off with a beer that simple invokes that same mood of shot nerves and despair. Happy New Year!

Every once in a while, you come across a beer so hideous that you wonder if is actually a warehouse leftover that was brewed 50 years ago. Judging by the old-school stubby bottle, I could almost believe it is the case with this one if it weren't for the website for the black pit that actully produces this stuff. While looking over the site, I saw this ale was alternatively named "Coporal Punishment" which is far more fitting than "Corporal's Bitter".

I cracked this one at Brian and Michelle's, and immediately knew that something was very, very wrong. The smell off this crap alone was enough to wake the dead. I poured a good dose in some glasses and pondered the thick, black, foul-smelling brew. Michelle being the trooper (and equally likely as a show of "girl power") decided to drink first. Her immediate reaction was "just terrible!" Intrigued, I took a big mouthful and could not believe how horrible this crap is. It tastes like burnt malt with a healthy dose of smoke. This is not Islay-Scotch tasting smoke, it is more akin to the smoke that comes off burning plastic. Brian, who realized that we were both in literal agony from the taste, slowly raised his glass and took his fate like a man. He stated (when he could finally speak) that this beer tastes like "oven dripping sandwich - in a beer!" He further went on to describe the time he was deep-frying french fries and out of sheer curiosity, he ate that fry that always seems to escape from the basket and turns black as it slowly burns in the hot oil. This beer reminded him exactly of what that french-fry tasted like. Seriously, check the mug on the "corporal" from the label. Do you not think he looks pissed off at the world? Little wonder why this beer tastes exactly like some kind of hideous revenge plot by a psychotic soldier who spent too many days on a blood-soaked battlefield.


Happy New Year!!!

We here at Liquor Pig would like to take this time to wish you all a very safe and drunken 2009!

Also, should you drink too much tonight celebrating the end of 2008 and the coming of 2009, don't forget the advice given by this Soviet poster (tanslation by Oleg Stavrovsky):
"If you are hung over from drinking vodka, have some wine and beer!"