Lagunitas Brewing (Updated!)

Back with some new installments, this time from further down south! During one of my many recent trips to the watering hole, the friendly staff recommended I check out the Lagunita’s brewery, an operation that comes to us from Petaluma California. Naturally, I was interesting seeing as how the farthest south I’ve ever drunk was San Francisco, and that came in the form of Anchor Steam. So on her recommendations, I picked up a few bottles and gave them a round.

Apparently, this brewing company is known for taking their share of hard knocks. After years of honing their craft, being evicted, landing in Petaluma, and slowly building a market, they’ve gone on to achieve international renown. Another thing, they are known for producing beers that are classified as both odd and exceptional. It’s little wonder then why their products show up here in BC!

Anyway, here is what I tried and what I thought of it…

Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale: This was the first beer I was recommended to try, based on both staff and customer reviews. And I had to say it was both interesting and pleasantly surprising. Immediately, one notices a strong hop aroma which is complimented by a quick, sharp citrusy burst. Bitterness gives way to herbal notes and then turns into a touch of sweetness that lingers on with the hoppy aftertaste. All this is apparently due to the curious combination of wheat malts with 80 IBU’s worth of hops, making it a sort of krystalweizen/IPA crossover. An interesting idea, and quite tasty, if somewhat unusual. 4/5

Bavarian-Style Doppel Weizen: My second run at the Lagunita operation, this beer appealed to me because it combined two of my favorite beer-related words into one label: Doppel, and heffeweizen. Yes, this beer is not only wheat based, but double fermented, resulting in a beer that is darker than your average wheat and stronger. This beer was apparently a collaborative effort between the brewers and the people who built their new brewing apparatus, and who supplied them with a traditional Bavarian yeast-strain, which they applied generously! Hence the added alcohol content and the Bavarian-style designation. As already noted, this beer is darker than your average wheat, being a cloudy orange rather than golden straw. The nose is rich with wheat malts and a slight nuttiness which also comes through in the taste. Strong notes of banana compliment the malts and nutty flavor, adding a touch of sweetness to it that is reminiscent of banana bread before finishing with a light hop touch. A nice experience, and one I intend to repeat if possible. Limited releases tend to be hard to come by! 4/5

Lagunitas IPA: My third and final sampling, which I unfortunately had to resample due to a bad bottle. Luckily, I found myself another tall boy and gave it a second chance. Glad I did too! Much like their other creations, this beer balances some rich malts with a complex, mixed hop profile. Clear and deep amber in color, it has a nose that contains some spicey, herbal notes. The taste comes on smooth, giving way to hop bitterness and finishing with a slight touch of sweetness. I’m glad I went back for seconds, otherwise I might have made the mistake of thinking these guys missed with one of the most popular beers in their lineup! 4.5/5

Well, that was my Californian sampling for this month. I hope to compliment this again soon when my wife and I do our summer road trip. As it stands, we were thinking of touring the Pacific Northwest so we might experience the plethora of Cascadian craft-brewers firsthand! Looking forward to it…

Cannery Brewery

Here we have yet another brewery that’s been right under my nose for years. And wouldn’t you know it, I’ve sampled most of their beers over the years. Fortunately, I managed to procure some samples a few weeks ago and began resampling them, one by one, to discern their distinctive characteristics.

But first, a little background on this fine brewery. Located in Penticton, BC, the Cannery Brewery is named in honor of the Old Aylmer Fruit and Vegetable Cannery where it is located. Since it first opened in 2001, they’ve graduated from selling growlers and single liter bottles to exporting a regular lineup of cans and tall boys and their lineup has become quite respectable. Thus far, here’s what I’ve managed to sample:

Anarchist Amber:
One of Cannery’s first creations, this beer is a fitting example of a smooth and malty West Coast pale ale. Light, reddish and clear in hue, this amber boasts a subtle malty aroma. It comes on smooth and tawny with a slight syrupy feel and then finishes with a hop bite that is slightly bitter and lingering. 7.5/10

Blackberry Porter:
Well, this beer is about what one would expect from one bearing its description. But given what that is, this is a good thing! For starters, it combines the smooth, mellow and slightly bitter taste of a porter with a subtle, sweet tang of blackberries. These also linger on the tongue long after the hop bitterness and tawny malts have faded, leading to an all-around pleasurable drinking experience. 8.5/10

Cannery IPA:
One of two IPA’s to be produced by Cannery in recent years, this one is rather unique, blending the characteristics of a strong ale and and India Pale. For starters, it is a clear and amber in color, similar to an IPA, but has a sweet nose that is reminiscent of a barley wine. The flavor is rich and malty, boasting a heavy, syrupy and viscous profile that contains a touch of sweetness, again reminiscent of barley wine. This gives way to a bitter after taste, due to the combination of four Northwestern hop varieties, which help accentuate the malts and give it a floral, citrusy finish. 8.5/10

Lakeport Lager:
Brewed in tribute to the S.S. Sicamous, which was in operation from 1914 to 1935, this vessel is one of Penticton’s historical landmarks and the largest of four steam-driven stern wheeled lake vessels that have been restored in Canada. What’s more, it is a fitting example of a light golden lager, one that boasts some discernible Munich-style yeast and hops and some slight notes of apple. It manages to finish quite clean, with some lingering hop flavor. 7.5/10

Naramata Nut Brown:
Another one of Cannery’s original creations, this beer was also the silver medalist in the 2010 Canadian Brewing Awards. It’s also one of the smoothest browns I’ve had to date, and was a personal favorite of my darling bride! Dark and almost stout like in color, this brown is very smooth, does the tawny dance on the tongue and rounds out the hop finish with some well-placed chocolate notes. And consistent with its name, it also has a slight nutty profile that calls to mind the taste of cashews. 9/10

Wildfire IPA:
And last, but certainly not least, we have the Wildfire IPA, a black India Pale that honors BC’s firefighters and which is fittingly black as night. Alongside Tree Brewery’s own Black IPA, this is fast becoming a trend with BC brewers, and I’m happy to be getting in on the ground floor! In short, this black IPA combines the characters of an IPA, being heavily hopped and stronger in alcohol content, with a dark ale’s smooth profile and rich, tawny flavor. The end result is a beer that comes on with smooth malts, has a good hop kick, then lingers between the sweet and tawny and bitter for some time to come. Definitely a worthy combination! 8/10

Well that’s one more BC brewery down. Who’s next? Well, I actually have that planned. In honor of the summer season which appears to be on us, I intend to dedicate the coming weeks and months to summer brews and hot weather appropriate beers. And if there’s time and I’m not too hungover, maybe I’ll cover Phillips, Dead Frog and a few others I’ve been meaning to cover. Happy Summer Season to all!

Flying Tanker White IPA

A weizenbier, India Pale Ale combination… I’ll be honest, I had my doubts. Though I’ve recently become quite fond of how Vancouver Island Brewery and its colleagues have been using their seasonal lineups to experiment, I really thought they were off their rocker with this one. And yet, the final product was actually quite tasty, not to mention consistent from a paired-characteristics point of view.

For example, wheat beers are typically brewed with citrus and spices in order to achieve a more complex palette. At the same time, IPA’s boast a rich hop flavor which is usually described as citrusy and fruity. So really, merging the two is not that big a stretch. In the end, what you get is something that combines the rich malts of a wheat with the natural citrus-flavored bite of an IPA.

Appearance: Deep golden amber, cloudy and translucent
Nose: Sweet, malty aroma typical of a wheat, slight floral touch of hops
Taste: Smooth wheat profile, giving way to strong citrus bite reminiscent of fresh grapefruit
Aftertaste: Bitter and lingering, the taste of grapefruits staying on the tongue for some time to come.
Total: 8/10

Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Ale

Back with another Lagunitas product! This time around, it’s one of their specialty ales, known as the Hop Stoopid, that’s under scrutiny! Though not officially classified as an IPA, this is definitely part of the pale ale family and fits the basic requirements of an India Pale. By that I mean that in addition to a generous dose of hops, its also pretty strong (8% alc/vol).

And overall, I was pretty pleased with this ale. In fact, part of the reason I picked it up, in addition to wanting to expand on their extensive lineup, was to see if my experience with their regular IPA was a fluke. Chances are, when one beer stinks (literally!) but the others excel, you must have picked up a skunky batch and should probably give them another chance. And that’s exactly what I plan to do just as soon as I can get back to big liquor depot downtown.

In the meantime, here is what I thought of the Hop Stoopid Ale, specifically that is:

Appearance: Light gold, clear and transparent
Nose: Rich floral nose, notes of tropical fruit, sweet and summery
Taste: Rich malts, giving way to bittersweet and herbal hop bite, notes of melon and a slight sweetness
Aftertaste: Gentle and lingering, mild bitterness and crisp hop finish.
Total: 8.5/10

All told, I’ve now sampled Lagunitas Doppel Weizen, Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale, IPA (to be resampled) and the Hop Stoopid. Four down, four to go, and about eight seasonals which I may or may not be able to find. Oh the things I do for beer 😉