Two Victorian Maibocks

maibocks

Hello all and welcome to another two-fer. Today, as I get ready to head back to the Sunshine Coast Trail with my darling wife, I am reviewing two beers that are both of the Maibock variety. Ever since I tried my first, which was Holstein’s own, I was a fan of the seasonal beer that combines slightly sweet, heavier malts and sugars with mild hops and a generally refreshing quality. And in addition to including a beer that I’ve been meaning to review for some time, I managed to grab a new and surprising limited release. Here’s what they were and what I had to say about them…

Lighthouse Mountain Goat Maibock:lighthouse_maibock_3weeds
At long last, I’m getting around to giving this beer its due with a fitting review. I believe I’ve sampled this beer three times at this point, and enjoyed it every time, but never had I been able to take down its particulars and give it the four point assessment. And I’ve been meaning to, since I was quite impressed with it the first time and have remained so since.

Much like all of Lighthouse’s limited releases, this beer has legs and some genuine signs of craftbrewing quality. And like a good Maibock, its got a good balance of sweet malts, mild tang, light hops, and a good long, semi-bitter finish. It also boasts an interesting balance of fruit and honey, both in terms of scent and taste. And all of this rounds out quite nicely in the finish, which is long but ultimately refreshing.

Appearance: Light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sweet malts, mild hops, notes of mango and honey
Taste: Immediate sweetness, honey, mild tang, mild hops
Aftertaste: Mild cloying quality, lingering coarseness
Overall: 9/10

Moon Under Water Brewvic Maibock:moonunderwater_maibock
The second sample comes from one of my favorite local operations. Moon Under Water began as a purveyor of sessional ales, but then switched over to a more diverse and challenging array of beers shortly thereafter. And I’ve had nothing but good things to say about their old and new lineup. And now that they are creating seasonal and limited release beers, I’d say the circle is now complete. And how fitting that the first of these be a Maibock, a venerable brew that’s in time for summer?

And overall, I was quite pleased. Thought this one leaned towards the lighter end of things, in all departments, it remained a balanced and appealing example of a Maibock. And I was quite impressed that the Moon Under Water brewery has branched out to seasonal releases so soon after releasing an entirely new lineup, which already consisted of four really good beers! So really not a bad start to an expanded repertoire, and I look forward to their next one.

Appearance: Amber-gold, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sweet, slightly cloying nose, mild hops
Taste: Immediate burst of mild sweetness, giving way to tang and dry hops
Aftertaste: Slight coarseness, lingering bitterness
Overall: 8/10

Advertisements

Longwood Berried Alive Raspberry Ale

longwood_berried_aliveHello folks. Today, I managed to snag another brew from one of my favorite Island operations, and one which has been undergoing a bit of rebranding as of late. I refer of course to the Longwood Brewery located in Nanaimo, BC, a venerable brewpub that has been expanding its distribution in the past year and creating some new brands to share. I was quite excited to hear about this, since its damn near impossible to find any Longwood products outside of the Nanaimo area.

berried-alive-bottle-isolatedHowever, that excitement has since abated somewhat due to a number of reasons. For one, I still await the arrival of the free samples of the full lineup that were promised to me months ago. Back then, I was contacted by an advertiser who works with the brewery who offered to ship me some; and to this date, none have arrived. Second, thus far, the majority of their beers I have managed to get my hands on have been very light, mild, and generally in tune with British-style ales and not so much the Pacific Northwest.

Here on the West Coast, we tend to like our beers hoppier, stronger and more flavorful than your average British operation. I can certainly see the value in trying new things, but I would like to remind Longwood that Moon Under Water did the same thing with their sessionals, and that didn’t go so well. However, this does not meant that I’ve been unimpressed with their newer brews, and the lineup is still evolving, so its really too soon to assume what direction the brewery is taking. And with this latest sample, I am just one beer short of having tried everything they’ve produced so far. Here’s what I thought:

Appearance: Dark red, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Tart berry nose, mild malts
Taste: Immediate tartness, slight transition to mild wheat malts
Aftertaste: Mild bitterness and lingering tart berry flavor, quite clean
Overall: 7.75/10

Overall, it was a refreshing and fruity brew, but again, a little light for my taste. This is due to the combination of wheat and barley malts, which lends it a mixed malty profile that is neither particularly effervescent, yeasty, or syrupy. This certainly works in the refreshing department, but leaves it a little high and dry in the flavor department. In terms of fruit, there’s plenty of tartness, but very little sweetness or complexity. In short, it’s good, but I think they can do better.

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!

More Summer Beer Additions!

summer-beerOnce in awhile, I find myself coming back from the beer store with a number of similar selections from different breweries. These I generally buy because they are limited releases, share a common theme, or are beers I simply haven’t tried yet. A few weeks ago, I made such a selection, recorded my observations, but then forgot to share them! Alas, I discovered my error and am now correcting that, and bringing to you some summer beers that are sure to still be available.

They are VIB’s Vicfest and Granville Islands Cloak and Dagger, both of which I found while rummaging around the Cook St. Liquor Store. Every time I go in there, I feel like a kid in a candy store and cant seem to make a decision of what to boy. But since VIB and Granville Island have a few things in common – large-scale breweries that are located here in BC, but who are committed to their craft brewing roots – these two limited releases seems like a good buy. And here is what I thought…

Vancouver Island Brewery Vicfest Festival Ale:
Vicfest-650-Bottle-Mock-FLATInteresting case of timing here, since Vicfest is just a week away. However, VIB and the people of Vicfest teamed awhile back and begin brewing this beer well in advance for this summer’s Vancouver Island Cultural Festival. According to a statement released by the brewery, they were going for something that captured the light, rhythmic sense of the island festival and the people who regularly attend. Or as they put it:

This festival ale is brewed in celebration of the amazing art, music and culture here on Vancouver Island. We’re proud to support local cultural events like VIC Fest that strengthen our island’s unique collection of bouncing souls and kindred spirits. Brewed with a rhythmic blend of malts and lightly riffed hops this beer is a thirst quenching and sensory expanding experience. Turn it up and enjoy.

And I’d say that’s what they wound up with as an end result. Though an west coast ale, the light, crisp and clean quality of the beer is more reminiscent of a lager or altbier. And as such, its quite consistent with warm weather, the outdoors, and summery evenings.

Appearance: Light gold, clear, mild foam and good carbonation
Nose: Light malts, mild hops, lager-like
Taste: Crisp, mild malts, Munich-style hops, trace minerality
Aftertaste: Clean finish, mild hops
Overall: 8/10

Almost as good was sample number two, otherwise known as …

Granville Island Cloak & Dagger Cascadian Dark Ale:
cloak&dagger_cascdarkHere we have a limited released that was produced by the folks at Granville Island Brewing as past of their Black Note Book Series. And as has been increasingly the fashion with GIB of late, they’ve been getting in on the craft brewing train with a long lineup of small batch beers, all of which appear to be consistent with the latest Northwest trends. This Cascadian Dark Ale, which combines aspects of a stout, IPA, is no exception, being a rather popular style of late.

And for the most part, I found this one enjoyable and flavorful, though it was slightly on the light side. With a malt profile of a stout or dark ale and the hoppiness of an IPA, one expects a bit more challenge and flavor. However, the Cloak and Dagger remains a very pleasant spring beer and I hope to see it again.

Appearance: Black, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark toasted malts, bitter citrus hops
Taste: Immediate burst of bitter hops, mild tang, relatively light, smooth malts
Aftertaste: Mild and lingering bitterness, otherwise clean aftertaste
Overall: 7.5/10

That’s all for now. Soon enough, I will be back with more seasonal brews, strictly summer one this time! And given the sheer supply of breweries and styles that are in vogue this season, I’m not sure what to expect. But that’s part of the fun of beer shopping, the selection!

Parallel 49 Humphrey Biere de Garde

parallel49As anyone familiar with BC craft beers would know by now, the Vancouver-based Parallel 49 brewery is renowned for their interesting and weird combinations, producing beer that is both appealing to drink and esoterically complex. And they seem to know no limits when it comes to variation and experimentation, combining different processes, ingredients, and merging disparate styles to create something new every few weeks. And whenever they decide on a new combination, it comes in the form of a limited release.

P49_humphreyThe latest is Humphrey’s Biere de Garde, a malt-forward twist on a traditional style of beer that, similar to Saison, is a farmhouse beer that comes to us from northeastern France. A cottage industry for the longest time, large-scale breweries have taken to producing Biere de Gardes in recent years, especially craft-brewing operations. So it is little wonder why Parallel 49 chose to tackle this beer, which is also a seasonal variety that was typically brewed during the spring and stored for the summer months. The twist, which is to be expected when dealing with P49, comes in the form of rosewater, which was added to provide another dimension of flavor. Typically used to scent and flavor foods, perfumes and ointments, the admixture of this syrupy, fragrant liquid provides for a drinking experience which is at once traditional and at the same time odd and interesting…

Appearance: Amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malts, hint of sweetness
Taste: Semi sweet malts, syrupy and viscous, slight floral, herbal infusion,
Aftertaste: Lingering sweetness, chewy mouthfeel, relatively clean
Overall: 8/10

As you may be able to tell, it was quite difficult to describe the flavor of this beer. All throughout, I had the feeling that I was getting notes of something sweet, distinct, and not really consistent with malt or hops. I wasn’t sure how to describe this, and didn’t want to fall back on the all-too-convenient “like rosewater”, especially since I’ve never tasted it before. But the end result of this beer is certainly something that most beer drinkers will at least partially recognize – a malt forward beer that is reminiscent of a nice amber ale that also comes with a herbal/floral taste provided by a rosewater tincture. Not P49s best beer by my measure, but definitely worth sampling.

Okaganagan Apricot Summer Weizen

okanagan_summerweizenAnother wheat beer from another long-standing BC brewery, and just in time for summer. Truth be told, I haven’t really been paying much attention to Okanagan Spring in recent years. After a few years of living here, and being able to find much of their lineup back in Ontario, I felt I had sampled everything they had to offer. It’s always good to see that the craft brewing bug is getting around!

okanagan_summerweizen1 A fitting wheat, this limited release is apparently the brewery’s tribute to the Okanagan’s “fruitful history”, which I can only assume refers to its vast fruit-cultivating operations. And consistent with what one would expect from a good wheat, it is golden orange in color, appropriately yeasty, highly fruity, and refreshingly smooth. I have yet to divine the exact combination, but in conjunction with the wheat malt and yeast, it boasts a variety of fruit flavors. Along with my parents and darling bride, I managed to get a glass of this after watching them compete in some Dragon Boating down at the Gorge. And it was a pretty good drink to accent a rather hot and sticky day!

Appearance: Golden orange, cloudy, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Multiple fruits, banana, passion fruit, apricot
Taste: Light and clean, mild yeast, traces of orchard/passion fruit
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast, mild fruit, refreshing and clean
Overall: 8.5/10

Overall, not a bad wheat. Granted, McAuslan Breweries did this one already, and made a pretty good go of it, there is nothing wrong with a little imitation. And whereas McAuslan’s St. Amboise Apricot Wheat was a kristalweizen – clear, and light and fruity – this beer is an unfiltered heffeweizen – yeasty, cloudy, smooth and fruity.

Suddenly, I find myself interested in some of their other labels as well now. Apparently, there is a specially series of brewmaster favorites, which includes a specially Hopped Lager and a Brewmaster’s Black lager, both of which sound like they might be pretty enjoyable. We shall see…

Driftwood The Heretic Tripel

driftwoodDue to the sheer volume of good beer and great limited releases they’ve produced over the years, I think it’s safe to say that Driftwood has become one of my favorite breweries of all time. In addition to their Fat Tug IPA, Naughty Hildegarde, Twenty Pounder IPA, and many Flanders-style sour ales (the epitome of brewing perfection!), they’ve also been known to produce some excellent Belgian-style ales as well.

???????????????????????????????The lastest is known as The Heretic, a Belgian-style Tripel that is the second in a series made using locally grown, Saanich peninsula barley. And since the last one was a Dubbel (the Clodhopper), it only made sense to up the ante with this one! In addition, Heretic is brewed using candy sugar, a tradition that is employed in several strong Belgian ales to increase their alcohol content, the most renowned being Duvel. The end result is a beer that is light in color, heavy on alcohol (8% alc/vol), and boasts some strong, coarse, and spicy malts with an infusion of herbal hops. And I can honestly say, as a man who’s not normally a fan of this type of beer, that this one was most inoffensive and actually quite appealing.

Appearance: Light blonde, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild yeast culture, distinctly Belgian malt, mild sweetness
Taste: Strong, accented malts, coarse and spicy
Aftertaste: Lingering yeasts and coarse malts, mild bitterness
Overall: 8/10

In truth, and with all due respect to the venerable brewery, Duvel was never a favorite of mine. In fact, I’ve never been much of a fan of the particular style of Belgian strong ale that involves added sugar. Though I am a big fan of powerful ale, somehow, beers made in this fashion always seemed too light and too coarse for me. And yet, this Driftwood product managed to not only nail the recipe but still remain appealing to my palate. Good job, guys! Looking forward to the next limited release!