Dieu du Ciel Rosée d’hibiscus

dieuduciel_roseeBrewer: Dieu du Ciel Brewery, St. Jerome, QB
Style: Belgian Wit
Alc/Vol: 5.9%

Description: Rosée d’hibiscus (Pink hibiscus) is aptly named, being a wheat ale that is infused with hibiscus leaves that give it a deep pink color and a fruity aroma and taste. First brewed in May of 2006, this beer is available in 341ml bottles year round, but is appropriately marketed as a summer beer.

Tasting Notes: This is my first sampling from the Dieu du Ciel brewery, and one which is frankly overdue considering that many of their products are available here in BC. And it was certainly an interesting intro, one that reminded me of Sorrel – one of Jamaica’s most famous beverages (also brewed from plant leaves). The wit base is certainly there, coming through with smooth, yeasty malts, which are then accented by a mildly acidic, slightly tart and fruity flavor. Certainly an interesting take of a Belgian-style infused wheat beer, and definitely a great accompaniment to the coming summer days!

Appearance: Deep pink/ruby, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Discernible wheat malt, yeasts, hints of cherry fruit and blossoms
Taste: Immediate tartness and tang, yeast and wheat malt, cherry fruit
Aftertaste: Clean finish, lingering traces of tartness and fruit, very refreshing
Overall: 9.5/10

Parallel 49 Banana Hammock Summer Hefeweizen

parallel49Summer is in full swing and I’m back with more summer beer! Today, I have the honor of sampling Parallel 49′s latest limited release, a summer Hefeweizen which they have – as always – given a clever, punny name! Banana hammock… yeah, that doesn’t elicit images of ugly speedos in your mind, does it? But you have to admit, it gets your attention when you’re beer shopping! And so I picked up the bottle, unsure what to expect from this brewery that is used to throwing curve balls!

wheatbeerAnd I have to admit that I was surprised to see Parallel 49 create something so conventional, at least by their standards. From their Salty Scot ale that combined actual sea salt and caramel with a “Wee Heavy” ale, to their Humphrey Biere de Garde, a farmhouse beer with added rosewater, very few things seem off limits to these people, and no combination appears too strange. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this beer contained no actual banana or other assorted ingredients.

But of course, the end result is a very good brew, consistent with a true Munich/Bavarian wheat ale that contains a fruity, banana-like flavor with yeasty notes and clove-like spice. It began as somewhat light, but this may have been due to the fact that it was served ice cold. I found the flavors asserted themselves at warmer temperatures, the fruit and spice working their way into my palette the more I drank.

Appearance: Deep golden orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Yeasty, notes of banana and cloves
Taste: Light burst of banana followed by yeasts, mild clove spice
Aftertaste: Lingering yeasty flavor and mild sweetness, quite clean
Overall: 8.5/10

Not at all bad, and they did without any strange additives or stylistic crossovers. I’m impressed all around! Until next time, have a great summer and be sure to compliment this warm weather with a cold brew, preferably on a patio with plenty of friends and food!

Lighthouse 3 Weeds Belgian Wit

lighthouse_maibock_3weedsHello folks. Today, I come to you with a review of a beer that I’ve been neglected for a few weeks now. While this beer has been available, at least in my area, since May, I’ve been hesitant due to the sheer number of Belgian Wits and other assorted wheat beers that have been making the rounds lately. But of course, I am a fan of the variety and I really can’t stand letting a limited release pass me by, so I decided to get on it!

It’s known as the 3 Weeds Belgian Wit, and much like their recent Mountain Goat Maibock (which I have tried a few times but have yet to review), was released in May in honor of spring. Brewed in the traditional Belgian wheat style, it combines pilsner and wheat malts with rolled oats, hops and a dose of coriander spice and ginger. This makes for a brew that can rival the better wits I’ve tried, boasting a gentle malt profile, a yeasty backing, and a some spicy notes that are varied and complimentary.

Appearance: Golden, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Spicy nose, yeast, discernible coriander
Taste: Immediate burst of yeast and mild fruit, pineapple, citrus, spiciness
Aftertaste: Lingering spice and yeast flavor, ginger tang
Overall: 8.5/10

Overall, I enjoyed this beer quite a bit. And I was especially intrigued by the addition of ginger, which manages to compliment the coriander quite nicely. Whereas most Wits rely on orange rind or some other citrusy addition to do this, here you get a more layered spicy flavor in the end. It’s especially good as a warm weather beer, but was well-paired with the spicy food that I ate alongside it. I’m actually sorry I resisted it for as long as I did. This and the Maibock would have made a great two-fer review!

Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier

800px-Wening_weihenstephanNot that long ago, I discovered a that one of my local purveyors of beer just happened to stock a special German import. What made it special was the fact that this particular beer came from what is recognized as the oldest brewery in the world. For those who don’t know, that would be the Weihenstephan Abbey located in Freisberg, Germany. Established by Benedictine Monks in 768 and licensed to brew beer in 1040, it is officially recognized as the world’s longest continually-operating brewery.

weihenstephanerWell it just so happens that my local beer store, the same place that offered their dark wheat (hefeweisenbier dunkel) has since expanded their inventory and brought in another label from this venerable operation. This time around, it was their flagship wheat beer, the hefeweissbier (or regular wheat) that caught my eye.

Much like their dunkel, it is a refreshing wheat beer that is very yeasty in terms of taste and smell. But unlike the dunkel, it pours a golden straw hue, is light on the palate, possesses light notes of fruit and spice, and finishes very clean. This is to be expected from a standard hefeweizen, which do not boast highly roasted malts or particularly smoky flavors. And given the meal I paired it with, I’d say it’s a top contender for my “Beer That Tames The Fire” list – aka. beer that goes really good with spicy fare! And in addition to its appearance and flavor, it’s also comparatively light on alcohol, weighing in at an even and balanced 5.4% alc/vol.

Appearance: Deep straw gold, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Very yeasty, distinct nose of Bavarian-style wheat malts
Taste: Immediate burst of yeast, mild traces of banana and clove spice
Aftertaste: Clean finish, barely a trace of aftertaste
Overall: 8.5/10

Overall, this beer was a nice, light sampler that is very refreshing and perfect for easy drinking or as an accompaniment to spicy food and lighter fare. And I would say it measures up well to other personal favorites, such as Schneider Weisse and Erdinger – beers that are renowned for clean flavor and bubbly goodness! Now I just need to see if I can find some of their Festbier or Korbinian, their Oktoberfest and double-bock beer, respectively. I know someone’s got to have some somewhere in this town…

And be sure to check out the company website to learn more about this historic brewery: http://weihenstephaner.de/

Moon Under Water The Victorious Weizenbock

MoonLogo1

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…

Chatoe Rogue Roguenbier Rye Ale

Rogue-Logorogue_ryeRye beer is one of those rare treats that few breweries ever attempt, except those that are really adventurous or dedicated to experimentation. So it was little surprise when I learned that Rogue had included a rye ale in their GYO (Grow Your Own) Chatoe Rogue series, a special lineup dedicated to farmers, fermenters and brewers that uses almost exclusively homegrown ingredients.

This is the second GYO beer that I’ve sampled now, the last being their Dirtoir Black Lager, which was quite the experience in itself. This one was a fine follow-up, being very much unique, experimental, and yet very true to the best traditions of craft brewing. In addition to using homegrown rye, Rogue also employed several of their own proprietary malts, hops, and a Weizen yeast, giving it a flavor that is something of a witbier, a dark ale, and a loaf of rye bread.

Appearance: Dark brown/amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wheat-like malt aroma, sourness, hint of rye bread
Taste: Light, foamy malts, slight sourness, dark tawny notes, slight rye bitterness
Aftertaste: Yeasty finish and lingering bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Yes, quite the experience indeed! I look forward to sampling other beers in this lineup, provided I can find them of course. Might just be time for another road trip to Seattle!

G. Schneider und Sohn Wiesen Edel-Weisse

schneider_und_sohnWhat a day it’s been! After a rather long and weird haul, I was afforded a trip to my favorite liquor store in the downtown Victoria area, also known as Cook Street Liquor. Once more, I found the selection there quite impressive, coming many of the more inaccessible favorites I’ve come to know and love with plenty of brand names I have never heard of. Trust me when I say that there will be several interesting reviews to follow!

schneider_edel-weisseAnd this was one such find. While I’ve been raving about Schneider und Sohn’s Aventinus for quite some time, I never knew they also produced an organic wheat and barley-based beer that incorporates Cascade and Hallertauer hops. Apparently, this beer is brewed in honor of Georg Schneider himself, and commemorates the fact that he was able to take part in the world famous Munich Oktoberfest until 1942, when his renowned “Weisse Brauhaus im Tal, Munich” was destroyed. And I can honestly say that it is quite the interesting and unique drinking experience, delivering a beer that consists of light wheat malts, a piney, spruce-like hint of  flavor, and plenty of yeasty foam and carbonation.

Appearance: Amber golden, very cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wheat malts, yeasty, trace hoppiness
Taste: Slight hint of spruce and pine, light wheat malts, mild tang and hint of lactic acid
Aftertaste: Lingering sourness and yeast, highly clean and refreshing
Overall: 8.5/10

It always appeals to me when I am able to find my way to some of the more obscure and rare treats in this wide, wide place known as the world of brewing! And I especially enjoy it when a local store chooses to stock plenty of these alongside my usual favorites. Given their track record, I wish I could find my way to all of G. Schneider und Sohn’s products, such as their Hopfeinweisse, Unser Original, and Kristall. I can’t tell you how appealing a stronger, hoppier, or clear wheat beer would be alongside everything else they make! Perhaps I should start lobbying to get more of their catalog imported. After all, I do claim some credit for getting Aventinus admitted to the region ;)

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 :)

Beachcomber Summer Ale

In honor of the fast-approaching summer season, I decided to pick up a case of Vancouver Island’s Beachcomber! This, as it turns out, is the breweries latest release and a seasonal summer ale. In addition, it seems to be part of growing lineup of traditional craft beers produced by the good folks at VIB.

Yes, much like many their competitors over at Lighthouse, and Granville Island Brewery (both of which are major BC breweries) VIB seems to be getting back into the craft brewing groove after years in the wilderness! And, as with these other breweries, it seems that seasonal and specialty beers are the means through which they intend to express this creative impulse. Smart, considering that occasional beers can and must be made in smaller quantities, affording attention to detail and more exacting standards. But I digress. Onto the beer!

Appearance: Golden orange and opaque, unfiltered
Nose: strong wheat malts, citrus notes, pineapple and/or passion fruit
Taste: slightly coarse, touch of orange peel, cloves and slightly bitter hop bite
Aftertaste:
relatively clean finish, lingering taste of foamy malts and hop bitterness
Total: 8/10

Overall, I found myself being reminded of Blanche de Chambly, another winner when it comes to the heffeweizen circuit! Much like its predecessor, it is a fitting summer ale that is well paired with bbq, corn on the cob and just about any other summery food, or enjoyed on its own while sitting on a shady patio! Put away your rain coats and snow suits, people! Summer’s here!

Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel

Wow, a name like that doesn’t exactly roll of the English tongue now does it? But amongst German beer enthusiasts, its kind of a big deal! Referring to the Weihenstephan Abbey, which is located in Freising district of Bavaria, Weihenstephan brewery is actually the world’s oldest commercially brewery. No kidding! Established in 725 by Benectine Monks, the monastery opened a commercial brewery in 1040 and has been a purveyor of beers ever since, making it the oldest brewery in the world that is still in operation.

It is even has its own entry on History of Beer archive, being a nexus between the ancient times when brewing was a cottage industry and modern Europe where it had grown into a full-blown enterprise. Today, they make a dozen varieties, most of which are wheat based, and export to thirty-five countries across the world. However, it is their Hefeweissbier Dunkel (Dark Wheat) which concerns me today, so let’s pack up the history lesson and get to some sampling.

Hefeweissbeir Dunkel: Upon opening the bottle, my nose was immediately graced by notes familiar to a weissbier. Smooth, malty, and yeasty, and with a deep color that was quite appetizing. But of course, being a wheat beer, it was also cloudy and translucent, a very good combination! And ultimately the flavor was a perfect combination of the Dunkel and Weiss, being both tawny and smooth, but also malty with a hint of fruit. the only thing that was lacking was spice; this beer has no traces of cloves, coriander or any of the other trace attributes other weissbiers are known for. However, this allows for an especially clean finish, so it all works out just fine! Perfect when enjoyed in a Hofbrauhaus mug, and since it comes in half liter bottles, I was able to fit two bottles to a stein quite perfectly (minus a little foam overflow of, course). If you can find it, try it! You shant be sorry! 4/5

An engraving of the brewery by Michael Wening, dating from about 1700:

And of course a link to the breweries website:
Weihenstephan Brauerei