Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic Bio

Cantillon_kriek-500x500Brewer: Cantillon Brewery, Brussels, Belgium
Style: Kriek Lambic
Alc/Vol: 5%

Description: The Cantillon Brewery is a family business run by the Van Roy-Cantillons of Belgium. Committed to producing traditional Lambics, Krieks, Guezes and other traditional Belgian beers. Much like all Krieks, the beer is made using a Lambic base and then infused with sour Morello cherries, bottle-fermented, and then aged for three to five months to achieve perfect saturation.

Tasting Notes: This beer was a fitting and faithful example of a Kriek. The nose and flavor were packed with sour cherries, discernible sour yeasts, and some serious oaky flavor. For many, the potent, tart flavor might be a bit off-putting or overwhelming, but I’ve always been a fan. The rich aroma and flavor are intoxicating, exciting, and linger on the palate for some time afterwards.

Appearance: Deep burgundy, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong cherry notes, tartness, rich oak, lactic acid and yeast
Taste: Immediate burst of sour cherry, tartness, wild yeast and oak flavor
Aftertaste: Long lingering sourness and cherry flavor
Overall: 9.5/10

Breakside Liquid Sunshine Pilsner

breakside-pilsner-breaks-22863-4zBrewer: Breakside Brewery, Portland OR
Style: Pilsner
Alc/Vol: 5.1%

Description: Located in Portland (with a second taproom/brewery in Milwauki, OR), the Breakside Brewpub has been making handcrafted beers for many years and has created a wide variety in that time. The Liquid Sunshine Pilsner is part of their current, regular lineup and is available year-round on tap at both of their locations, as well as for commercial sales and export.

Tasting Notes: This Pilsner was exceptionally crisp and refreshing and had a nice finish to it that was clean without being watery. The flavor profile was also very consistent with a good Pilsner, calling to the mind the grainy flavor of Munich malts and the sharp, grassy flavor of Saaz and Hallertau hops. Definitely a good hot weather beer, or just something for when you’re craving a good, clean lager.

Appearance: Light golden, cloudy, medium foam retention and good carbonation
Nose:  Gentle smell of Munich malts and Noble hops
Taste: Light grainy malt flavor, mild tang, crisp hop bite, mild bitterness and grassyness
Aftertaste: Mild lingering bitterness and malt flavor, very clean and refreshing
Overall: 9/10

Serendipity No.8 Whiskey Barrel Aged Beer

Tree-Serendipity 8x325Brewer: Tree Brewery
Style: Whiskey barrel-aged Raspberry Ale/Black IPA
Alc/Vol: 7%

Description: The second beer in Tree’s limited-run barrel-aged series, Serendipity is a combination of their Wild Ruby Raspberry Ale and Black IPA, which is then aged for 169 days in whiskey barrels.

Tasting Notes: This beer is a bit of an enigma to this Beer Snob. For one, combining two very disparate styles (a raspberry ale and a black IPA) can only be expected to yield strange combination. But to then age them in a whiskey barrel to further enhance/influence the flavor, that’s just plain nuts! Luckily, this gambit seems to have paid off with the Serendipity. The Black IPA provides a good firm malt base while the Raspberry Ale manages to smooth out the rough edges. This is then complimented to a good extent by the presence of smokey, peaty whiskey flavor. Not a conventional brew by any standard, but one that works.

Appearance: Dark brown-amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark malts, mild fruit, whiskey infusion, smoke, peat moss
Taste: Hint of smoke, whiskey, mild raspberry tartness, tang, hop bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering smoke and peat moss flavor
Overall: 8.5/10

Gahan Island Red Ale

gahan_redaleBrewer: Gahan Brewery, Charlottetown PEI
Style: Amber Ale
Alc/Vol: 5.3%

Description: Established in 1997 in Charlottetown, the Gahan Brewery and House Pub is the only brewery on Prince Edward Island that brews handcrafted, small batch beer. The Island Red is an English-style amber ale, and the flagship brew of their operation. It was the Gold Medal winner for the 2011 Canadian Brewing Awards.

Tasting Notes: This beer is entirely new to me, and was quite the lovely introduction to this Maritime brewery. The malt profile and hop profiles are quite subtle, calling to mind traditional English ambers, and is made using what I assume are pale malt, Golding and/or Fuggles hops. This results is an ale that is malt-forward, subtle and smooth, and has flavors of baked bread and dry herbs.

Appearance: Dark amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Syrupy, rich malts, mild, dry hops
Taste:
Rich pale malt, baked bread, hint of sweetness, subtle, herbal hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor and mild bitterness
Overall: 9/10

New Belgium Rewind India Pale Ale

New-Belgium-Rewind-India-Pale-Ale1Brewer: New Belgium, Fort Collins, CO
Style: India Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 7%
IBUs: 64.5

Description: As part of their Hop Kitchen series, the Rewind IPA is brewed and named in honor of the brewery’s roots and the heyday of craft brewing during the early 90’s. Maris Otter and Special B malts give this beer its malt base, while Horizon, Willamette and Galena hops provide the hop flavoring. 

Tasting Notes: As India Pale Ales go, this beer is quite different, being rather subtle and complex at the same time. Rather than the sweet and coarse profile one typically expects from an American IPA, the Rewind has slight, subtle, and mildly syrupy malts. The hop pallet is also quite complex, combining earthy tones, grassiness, and traces of orchard fruit. I’m tempted to say it’s more akin to a British IPA, but its more of a standalone example really, and a quite interesting one.

Appearance: Deep amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malts, grassy and floral hops, notes of peach and orchard fruit
Taste: Subtle malt flavor, slightly syrupy, apricots, peaches, grassy, earthy hops
Aftertaste: Relatively smooth finish, lingering hop flavor and mild fruit
Overall: 8.5/10

Double Mountain Fa La La La La Winter Ale

DoubleMountain_WinterBrewer: Double Mountain, Hood River, OR
Style: Winter Warmer Ale
Alc/Vol: 7.5%
IBU: 85

Description: One of Double Mountain Brewery’s older seasonal beers, the Fa La La La is a Winter Warmer brewed annually for the holiday season. Like a traditional Winter Ale, it has a slightly sweet and coarse malt profile. But the ale also has some distinct Northwestern characteristics, which in this case takes the form of a generous dose of Centennial hops.

Tasting Notes: This beer was a bit of a surprise, taking what is typically a malt-forward variety of beer and adding some serious, bitter hop flavor. The end result was not so much balanced as conflicted, lovely in appearance and bouquet, but somewhat muddled in the flavor department. Initially, it is slightly sweet and floral, but becomes quite strong towards the end with a heaping dose of bitter grapefruit flavor. A good beer, but perhaps a little heavy on the IBUs, under the circumstances.

Appearance: Dark red-amber, translucent, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich hop nose, sugary, floral and citrus notes
Taste: Rich malts, slightly coarse, hint of brown sugar, raisins, citrus rind
Aftertaste: Lingering citrus rind and coarse malt bitterness
Overall: 7.5/10

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

Hoyne Helios Golden Lager

hoyne_helios_labelBrewer: Hoyne Brewery
Style: Dortmunder Export Lager
Alc/Vol: 6%

Description: The Helios is the latest limited release by Hoyne Brewing, brewed in the style of a Dortmunder Export, which is a slightly stronger and darker malt-forward take on the traditional lager. According to the brewmaster himself (Sean Hoyne) it is made using Vienna, Munich and other German malts and bittered with a variety of Hallertau hops.

Tasting Notes: I am a big fan of Marzen, Oktoberfest, and other forms of stronger, maltier lagers. And this beer was definitely no slouch when it came to delivering on the quintessential flavors these beers are famous for. In addition to its smooth and slightly tangy start, the malt flavor really comes through in the middle with characteristically grainy and slightly sweet Vienna and Munich accents. It then accompanies this with an infusion of subtle, dry and bitter Noble hops. A clean finish and a beautiful orange hue make it a delight all around. I strongly recommend beer lovers in the Victoria area get a growler of this lager while they can. Limited releases tend to run out after just two weeks at the Hoyne brewery, so be quick about it!

Appearance: Golden-orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Discernible Munich-style malts, grainy, subtle notes of Noble hops
Taste: Grainy start, slight tang, hint of sweetness and syrupy malt, dry, herbal hops
Aftertaste: Mild, lingering hop bitterness, mainly clean finish
Overall: 9.5/10

 

Westmalle Trappiste Dubbel

Westmalle-dubbelBrewer: Westmalle
Style: Double Ale
Alc/Vol: 7%

Description: An Abbey ale, brewed by Trappist monks since 1856, Westmalle Dubbel is a double fermented ale that is one of two beers that is brewed year round and commercially available. In 1926, the monks changed the recipe to its current, heavier-tasting recipe.

Tasting Notes: This beer is one of the best Dubbel’s I’ve ever tasted, even after many years of sampling. Like a barley wine, it has a strong malty flavor that is rich, sugary and loaded with fruit. The lacy head and yeasty flavor are distinctive and firmly identify this beer as a Trappist product. However, unlike barley wines or other strong ales, at no point is the malt flavor or alcohol content overwhelming or coarse. While I have always been partial to their Tripel, this one is still a top contender for a spot on my all-time favorites list.

Appearance: Dark brown, opaque, strong, lacy foam and good carbonation
Nose: Rich malty nose, light hop aroma, raisins and sugars
Taste: Strong malt backbone and yeasts, notes of brown sugar, raisins, figs and oak
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast, malt flavor and oak
Overall: 10/10

Russell Nectar of the Gods Wheat Wine

Russell_nectarBrewer: Russell Brewing
Style: Wheat Wine Ale
Alc/Vol: 10%
IBUs: 70

Description: As part of the brewery’s Specialty Series, this extra strong ale is fashioned using fifty-percent wheat malts and fifty-percent Munich malts. The end product is then aged for four months in Tennessee Bourbon Barrels and is available seasonally.

Tasting Notes: This beer is wonderfully complex, delivering strong fruit esters, notes of vanilla and a smokey, whiskey finish. Wheat and Munich malts provide a smooth, semi-sweet base, while the presence of tannin and fruit flavors provide a lovely complexity. The process is then completed by the presence of vanilla and smokey bourbon flavor, which compliments the sweetness and fruit flavor exceptionally. Definitely one of the best beers I’ve had so far this year.

Appearance: Soft amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Fruity nose, strong esters, cherry, vanilla, oak, and hint of whiskey
Taste: Smokey and sweet start, mouth-popping cherry and oak, strong bourbon
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, smokiness and bourbon flavor
Overall: 10/10