Scandal Paricutin Rye Triplebock

photo (1)Brewer: Scandal Brewing, Prince George, BC
Style: Triple Bock
Alc/Vol: 9%

Description: The fourth installment in Scandal Brewing’s Seven Wonders of the Beer World series, the Paricutin Rye Triplebock takes it name from the Mexican volcano that erupted in 1943 and devastated the town situated at the foot of it. The beer is brewed using five different kinds of organic barley, Hallertau Tradition hops and a special Belgian yeast for secondary bottle fermentation. Like all Scandal products, it is also made using spring water from the source the brewery is located on top of.

Tasting Notes: This beer is definitely an interesting take on the traditional bock. In addition to its enhanced strength and rye flavoring, it also has some distinct Witbier characteristics that come across in the noticeable yeast and hint of banana flavor. Other than that, it is what one would expect from a good bock, containing notes of raisins, dates, and a hint of brown sugar, and balancing all that out with more yeast flavor and a hint of rye. This is my second sampling from the Seven Wonders of the World lineup, and it’s definitely made me curious to continue.

Appearance: Dark brown, heavily translucent, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malts, rye bread, dark fruit, yeasty backbone
Taste: Syrupy malt flavor, distinct Witbier yeastyness, raisins, dates, banana
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ftertaste: Lingering rye flavor, yeast and mild fruit
Overall: 8.5/10

Philips Twisted Oak Rye Bock

whiskey_barellI’m back with another limited release from Philips ample and ever-expanding stock of small-batch beers. And this time around, its another installment in the Twisted Oak series that I managed to procure. This is the third beer in that lineup, and I’m quite proud that I’ve been able to keep pace with their releases. Between the Scotch Ale, the Red Ale, and now the Rye Bock Ale, I’ve now tried them all, and have been pretty pleased.

Twisted-Oak-Rye-BockThe first installment was a bit of a misfire for me, an imperial Scotch ale where the whiskey infusion managed to overpower the rest of the flavors. And then there was the Red Ale, which was aged in rum barrels and achieved a rich, malty, vanilla-like flavor. This one I was quite impressed with, as it was very smooth flavor, but with a certain candy-like flavor without the addition of any added sugars.

As for this installment, I have to say that I was similarly impressed. Combining a bock-style beer with a rye whiskey barrel-aging process, they managed to create a beer that is possessed of the usual sweet, malty flavors and multi-layered nature of a bock with (once again) a certain vanilla-like, smokey flavor. All of this is quite pleasing to the palate without being overpowering. A hit for me, like their Red Ale, and an example that oak barrel-aging can work.

Appearance: Dark brown-amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malts, mild vanilla, brown sugar
Taste: Mild tang, notes of whiskey, sweet malt and sugar
Aftertaste: Mild bitterness, hint of vanilla and smokey flavor
Overall: 8.5/10

Slowly, but surely, I am coming around to barrel-aged beer! It seems that everyone and their brother was doing the bourbon barrel-thing in 2012 and I had few nice things to say. But it seems Philips is determined to make this a regular thing, and is getting better at it all the time…

Moon Under Water The Victorious Weizenbock

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logo_weizenbock2

Finally, at long last and after months of stalling, I have managed to procure the the fourth and final beer in the new Moon Under Water lineup. I can remember long ago, back when the brewery underwent a change and released its four newest brews, how I had managed to obtain a bottle of each. But for reasons I prefer to keep to myself, the Weizenbock was lost and did not get its due!

Luckily, I managed to get a fresh bottle during my latest visit to one of my favorite beer stores and have sat down to give it a comprehensive tasting and review. And let me tell you, this fourth and final installment in their new lineup may very well be the best of the lot! It’s up against some stiff competition, but after sampling this beer and assessing its characteristics, I have to give it top marks for ingenuity and taste.

Appearance: Amber-brown, very cloudy, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Gentle notes of wheat malt, toasted sugary malt, clove spice
Taste: Bursts of banana, chocolate, cloves, spice, wheat malts and yeast
Aftertaste: Lingering tang, dance of spice and fruit notes on the tongue
Overall: 9.5/10

In short, the label claims its a combination hefeweizen/bock, and when you taste it, that’s exactly what you experience. In addition to dark, rich malts that are smooth, tawny and delicious, you also get a heaping of banana, clove spice, and the yeasty effervescence that wheat beers are famous for. And at 8.2% alc/vol, its also packs a pretty good punch, but concealed within a velvety glove. And as this beer snob will tell you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of that!

Yes, I think I have a new favorite from this Victoria-based brewery, and possibly a contender for a best wheat as well. Only time will tell…

Aventinus, Found At Last!

Rejoice, beer snobs, for this is great new indeed! After years of fruitless searching, trying in vain to find a supplier of beer that carried the venerated Schneider und Sohn Aventinus Heffeweizen Doppelbock, I was about ready to give up. Be it a private liquor store or the province-run BCL, again and again I was told that they either did not carry this product, that it was not something I was likely to find in BC, or they just looked at me blankly like they didn’t have the slightest idea what I was talking about.

But after six years of searching and waiting, I finally found someone who came through! And would you believe it, it was a restaurant of all places! Yes, the good folks at The Rathskeller Schnitzel House here in beautiful Victoria BC that were able to procure a shipment of this premium Bavarian beer. And good on them, since this is something that beer drinkers all across the province should be getting their hands on. A dark, double-fermented, bock-style wheat beer that boasts smooth, rich malts and a fruity, spicy palate with hints of chocolate and bananas, this beer remains one of the best I have ever had! The only one to do better no longer exists, so I guess that makes this beer my number one favorite ;)

I can remember fondly being introduced to this beer roughly a decade ago. It was my first time walking into Vineyard Bistro, located in the heart of the Bytown Market in Ottawa. Unfamiliar to the territory and still only a beer snobblet, I asked the barkeep for something tall, dark, German and strong, emphasizing that I was talking about beer. He immediately handed me a bottle of this and a tall, fluted glass. It took me a few samplings to appreciate the taste of the bock-style wheat, but once I acquired it, I was hooked!

Since that time, I never miss an opportunity to pick up an Aventinus whenever I find myself in Ottawa or anywhere in Ontario. You can’t imagine how crestfallen I was when I first moved to BC and found that it simply didn’t exist here, a fact which still makes no sense to me. Schneider-Weisse, the more well-known wheat beer that is brewed by the same brewery, is readily available in BCL liquor stores. So is their Eisbock for that matter. That seem right to you?

So… expect a full and complete review to be coming just as soon as I can get out to the Haus and pick me up a case! Though I have raved long about the virtues of Aventinus, I don’t think I’ve ever described it any real detail (not the four point breakdown at any rate). And if you get a chance, get out to Rathskeller and ask them for a bottle. You won’t be sorry :)

Niagara Brewery

And I’m back with another installment in the “beers from the East” series. That’s what I’ve decided to call it, since calling it “Beers from Ottawa” would hardly be accurate. In truth, much of what I enjoyed when I lived there was from all over Southern Ontario, not to mention Quebec, the Maritimes, continental Europe and the US. However, whereas I still have access to most of those out-of-the-country varieties, I have next to no access to my old Ontario favorites.

Now where is the logic in that? How is it that I can walk over to my local BCL and buy any number of European brews, but a couple dozen of beers from a few provinces away are inaccessible? Sure, some would say its the convoluted issue of globalized brewery ownership that’s to blame, but believe it or not, old prohibition laws have way more to do with it. But that’s something for another post. Right now, I want to honor another of my old favorites.

So here she is: The Niagara Falls Brewery, located in Brampton Ontario! This beer has been around for several decades and made an impact on me on a few occasions. In addition to being a local favorite, it was also a purveyor of good, hoppy, and uniquely flavored beers.

Pale Ale: As Pale Ales go, Niagara’s is one of the cleaner one’s I’ve ever tasted. This is to say that it is less hoppy than you might expect, but also malty and slightly viscous, with a clean finish that is somewhat reminiscent of lager. Combined with a nice red-orange hue, it was one of the better taps that I enjoyed at my favorite pub in Ottawa (the Manx!). Can’t wait til I’m back on those velvet benches, drinking off those copper-skinned tables. I just hope this beer is still on tap! 4/5

Gritstone Premium Ale: The name kind of spoke to me once I had my first taste of this beer. With a name like Gritstone, you expect the beer to taste… I don’t know, gritty! And it does! In fact, much like their pale ale and strong, this beer has a tawny, almost sedimentary taste that makes you think of unfiltered/bottle fermented ale. Mildly hopped and also malty, its a highly enjoyable and quite unique experience, as ales go. 4/5

Olde Jack Strong Ale: An old favorite. This beer is dark, strong, highly malty, and with a toasty taste of tannins that lingers on the tongue. Toasty taste of tannins, try saying that three times fast! Also lightly hopped, this beer’s main strength comes from the rather unique flavor that makes one think of stone-ground bread and roasted barley soup, albeit with a smooth, stout-like quality. Definitely hope I can find this one again! 4.5/5

Millstone Lager: Admittedly, not one of my favorites. For some reason, many of my favorite breweries make lagers that just don’t seem to cut it with me. Perhaps its the fact that the lagers taste a little too malty and sweet to be thought of as true lagers, which in my opinion, must always be clean, sharp, and distinctly hoppy. Anything else, and you should have stuck to ale! Ah well, still a good beer, the Millstone is merely a bit light on the hops and sweet on the malts for my taste. Others may certainly enjoy though, as it is purely inoffensive and goes well with food! 3/5

Eisbock: This beer I discovered at the  same time as Creemore Urbock, and it went hand in hand with that beer in educated me on the subtleties and complexities of Bock beer. In conjunction with Bock beer, this number is produced during the winter months using select hops and barley and fermented at ice cold temperatures, resulting in a beer that is mildly syrupy, semi-sweet, quite strong, and just the slightest bit brackish tasting. This last aspect kind of bothered me, as it rendered the beer a little watery in the beginning, but sweet and syrupy in the end. You might say I thought this was a tad inconsistent. However, since this is a seasonal beer, my experience was limited to the earlier 2000 and something releases. Later vintages could and probably were entirely different. And overall, the Eisbock was a tasty and educational experience, and I’ve not hesitated to pick this one up an several occasions when I needed something festive for a party! 3.75/5

Naturally, there are only the beers that I can recall drinking. In total, Niagara Falls Brewery produced over a dozen brand names, some of which were ahead of their time. They included an Apple Ale, a Best Bitter, a Brown Maple Wheat, a Saaz Pilsner, a Scotch Ale, and a seasonal Weisse. However, it seems that in recent years they were forced scale back. In fact, upon writing this, I’m not even sure they are still in operation. What info I could find on them indicated that they were bought out by Moosehead some time ago, that their variety and standards seemed to have dropped, and at present, they don’t appear to have an operational website.

Could it be that the worse has happened? Could they have gone the way of Hart, first being bought out, then forced to purvey run of the mill beers, only to get axed anyway in the long run? Oh God, I hope not! But until I get to Ottawa and am able to ask/interrogate some people over at the local LCBO, I will know for sure! Niagara, if you’re out there, hang on a little longer! I have yet to re-sample thee and will be there soon!