P49 Flanders Red Sour Ale

p49_flandersredBrewer: Parallel 49 Brewing, Vancouver, BC
Style: Flanders Red
ABV: 6.7%
IBUs: 6

Description: This beer is P49’s latest installment in their barrel-aged series. Accordingly, it is brewed in the fashion of Flanders Red ales, which means it is fermented using wild strains of Brettanomyces and lactic yeast, and then aged in oak barrels (previously used to store Cabernet Sauvignon).

Tasting Notes: This beer may or may not be a response to Driftwood re-releasing their Flanders Red (renamed Latus), or it could just be the inevitable result of all the experiments they’ve been doing with sours and barrel-aged beers lately. Either way, I was less than happy with it. Whereas a good Flanders Red has a strong malts and some serious oaky notes to round out the sourness, this beer’s is quite overpowering in the sour department. It is at once too light and too sour, and the red wine notes add some serious tartness on the aftertaste.

Appearance: Dark ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Powerful notes of sour fruit, yeast, lactic acid 
Taste: Mild malts, sour cherry, yeast, hint of oak, tart fruit and red wine tannin finish
Aftertaste: Lingering lactic acid, tart sour cherry and red wine flavor
Overall: 6/10

Image courtesy of scoutmagazine.ca

Bornem Dubbel

bornem-dubbelBrewer: Brasserie Van Steerberge, Ertvelde, Belgium
Style: Dubbel
ABV: 7.2%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This abbey ale is made in the traditional Belgian double-style, employing a rich, darkly roasted malt base that undergoes primary fermented in the barrel. It undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle (or the barrel) with active yeast culture.

Tasting Notes: This beer is rather mild and easy drinking as dubbels go. It has all the expected elements, like a rich, sweet malt base, notes of dark fruits, brown sugar, some minerals and and some yeastiness. But it finishes quite mild and does a pretty good job of concealing its alcohol. Glad I found it!

Appearance: Deep brown, translucent, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Smooth, rich malts, dark fruit, brown sugars, minerals
Taste: Smooth malt, mineral tang, mild brown sugar, raisins, dates, yeast, mild hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, fruit and sugars, minerals
Overall: 8/10

Stone Stochasticity Project “Your Father Smelt of Elderberries”

stone_elderberries_bottleBrewer: Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA
Style: Elderberry Ale
ABV: 10.3%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This beer is part of Stone’s Stochasticity series, a limited-release series that celebrates “exotic notions, ingredients and ideas”. Named in honor of the classic line from Monty Python’s and the Holy Grail, this beer is brewed in the medieval English-style, using 2-Row Pale, Mild Ale, and Amber malts, as well as peated and flaked oats. It is then bittered using English, Golding and Target hops, and then fortified with elderberries.

Tasting Notes: This was definitely an interesting concept, and one which I fell for like a total sucker! And the experimentation was certainly there in spades! Basically, you have the elements of a barley wine, some whiskey-like flavor, and an ancient ale all mixed into one. While it’s not exactly for the faint of heart (some serious alcoholic punch here!) it does get top points for being interesting and inspired!

Appearance: Reddish/brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, cassis, blackberries, alcohol, peat, smoke
Taste: Coarse malt, alcohol, peat moss, notes of cassis and blackberries 
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt, alcoholic bite, peat and fruit flavor
Overall: 8.5/10

Dieu du Ciel Solstice d’hiver

Dieuduciel_solsticehiver_verreBrewer: Brasserie Dieu du Ciel, Montreal, QC
Style: Barley Wine
ABV: 10.2%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This beer is part of the brewery’s Momentum Series, which is an annual cycle of twelve seasonal releases. As their winter release, this traditional English-style barley-wine style ale celebrates the winter solstice with a winter warmer.

Tasting Notes: I’m a fan of barley wine, and I considered trying the Solstice d’hiver necessary having sampled the Solstice d’ete not that long ago. But I have to say this particular barley wine was too on the coarse and strong side for me. It’s got the usual notes of dark fruit and sugars and is a shade of brown so deep and opaque that it could easily pass for a stout. But the alcohol in this beer is so potent that it overpowers just about everything else.

Appearance: Dark brown, translucent, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark malt, raisins, dates, sugars, strong alcoholic bite
Taste: Strong, coarse malt, hints of dates and raisins, brown sugar, alcoholic bite
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt and alcoholic bite
Overall: 7.5/10

Dieu du Ciel Herbe à Détourne New World Triple

Dieuduciel_HerbeDetourneBrewer: Brasserie Dieu du Ciel, Montreal, QC
Style: Triple Ale
ABV: 10.2%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This beer is part of Dieu du Ciel’s Rotation series, a limited-release that is available from January to April. As the name suggests, it is a North American take on the traditional Belgian Tripel, combining American Citra hops with pale malt and Belgian yeast. The beer takes its name from the French Canadian legend of the Herbe à Détourne, which makes one lose their way should they happen upon it.

Tasting Notes: Quite the powerful triple! This beer has a rich malt base and the telltale flavor of candi sugar to boot! This leads to a rich and coarse malt flavor, a yeasty backbone, and some serious alcoholic warmth to finish. The addition of Citra hops also imparts a nice citrus twist.

Appearance: Golden orange, cloudy with sediment, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, candi sugar, strong yeasts, alcoholic bite, citrus
Taste: Strong, coarse malt, sugars, yeasty effervescence, citrus, alcoholic warmth
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt, sugars, and alcoholic bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Driftwood Latus 2016 Sour Ale

Driftwood_LatusBrewer: Driftwood Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Flanders Red
ABV: 6.8%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: Latus is Driftwood’s latest relaunch, this time of the beer that launched their Bird of Prey series. Superior Pilsen, Cara 33, Cara 120, Cara Pils, Aromatic Malts, and is then bittered using Hersbrucker Hallertauer hops. And of course, this is then fermented using wild lactobacillus yeast and aged in American and French oak barrels for a year.

Tasting Notes: This was my favorite of the Bird of Prey of series. It is also the beer that started my love affair with sours, which has turned a bit (ahem!) sour of late. So I was quite pleased to see they brought it back. Much like its original incantation, this beer packs a lot of sour cherry, plums and apricot flavor into the mix, as well as a discernible oaky flavor that is reminiscent of a robust red wine. It was a bit lighter than I remember (and possibly lower in alcohol content), but still very appetizing!

Appearance: Deep crimson/brown, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation 
Nose: Rich malt, yeast sour cherries, orchard fruit, oak and red wine tannin
Taste: Sour fruit, cherries, plums, apricots, yeasty effervescence, oak and red wine flavor
Aftertaste: Lingering tartness and sour fruit flavor, yeasty spice
Overall: 9/10

Category 12 Dry-Hopped Sour

c12-bottle-shot-DryHoppedSour-20160608-ABrewer: Category 12 Brewing,
Style: Sour
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 14

Description: The latest in C12’s Elemental Series, this limited summer release is soured with a Lactobacillus culture and then fermented with Saccharomyces Trois wild yeast. It is then dry-hopped using new German hop varieties Mandarina Bavaria and Huell Melon for balance.

Tasting Notes: This is definitely a summer seasonal, since it calls to mind backyard lemonade, made from squeezed lemons and ice water. It is quite mild and clean, but just like unsweetened lemonade, it has has some serious tartness that somehow manage to slake your thirst. Add to that a yeasty backbone which brings the lactic acid, and some mild notes of tropical fruit, and you’ve this experimental ale.

Appearance: Light yellow, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malt, yeasty, dry, tart, melon, lemony nose
Taste: Mild malt, immediate acidity, tart lemon, yeast and lactic acid
Aftertaste: Lingering lemon and yeasty flavor
Overall: 8/10