Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale

rogue_morimotoBrewer: Rogue Brewery, Portland, OR
Style: Buckwheat Ale
Alc/Vol: 5%
IBU: 30

Description: This beer is a specialty release from the brewery, part of their Morimoto series that pays homage to Japanese brewing. The name Soba refers to the addition of roasted buckwheat, which is combined with 2-Row, C15, Munich, and Rogue Farms proprietary Dare and Risk Malts and Rebel Hops.

Tasting Notes: I can recall having this beer over a year ago, but I never quite got around to doing a proper review. And just as I remember it, this beer was a crisp, mildly hopped ale that retains characteristics of a sharp Pilsner or a good, dry pale. The addition of roasted buckwheat adds another dimensions of flavor – one of nuts and mild sweetness – that compliments the Munich malts and hops quite well.

Appearance: Amber/Orange, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sweet, grainy, Munich malts, notes of buckwheat, mild hops
Taste: Immediate crisp malt, tang, notes of nuts, hint of sweetness, dry, bitter hops
Aftertaste: Lingering hops, malts and nutty soba flavor
Overall: 8.5/10

The Bruery Oude Tart

oude_tartBrewer: The Bruery, Placentia, CA
Style: Flemish Red Ale
Alc/Vol: 7.5%

Description: This Belgian-Style ale is part of The Bruery’s special collection of limited release beers and is named Oude Tart (Flemish for “Old Tart”) in honor of the traditional Flemish Red (aka. sour ale). Consistent with this style, the beer is brewed with wild yeast strains that lead to the accumulation of lactic acids and then aged in red wine oak barrels for 18 months before bottling. The Oude Tart is also the 2010 and 2012 Gold Medal winner at the World Beer Cup in the Flanders Style Oud Red or Oud Brun category as well as the 2011 Gold Medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival in the same category.

Tasting Notes: This is my second sampling from The Bruery, and I picked it specifically because of my love for the style. However, I have to say that this is not the most appealing Flemish Red I’ve ever tasted. While it is faithfully brewed and aged to achieve that characteristic tart and sour flavor, this comes through in a rather intense way and there’s little else to balance it out. However, it is possible I picked up a bottle that was a little young and required some aging. I shall try again in the future, as it really did seem like this brewery knows what it’s doing when it comes to Belgian-style ale.

Appearance: Dark brown/red, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sour nose, strong lactic acid, sour cherry and oak
Taste: Strong acid, intense tartness, yeast, sour cherries, oak and tannin flavor
Aftertaste: Lingering tartness and lactic acid
Overall: 7.5/10

I also came across this video from their website, where Tyler King – the Sr. Director of Brewing Operations – explains the creation process behind this ale. Enjoy!

The Bruery Saison Rue

bruery_saisonrueBrewer: The Bruery, Placentia, CA
Style: Farmhouse Ale
Alc/Vol: 8.5%

Description: Made with malted rye and bottle conditioned using the wild brettanomyces yeast strain, this unfiltered Belgian/French-style farmhouse ale is brewed in both the sour and saison fashion. The result is a highly complex ale that is available year round.

Tasting Notes: This is my first sampling from this brewery from Orange County. And it was quite the intro, embracing two styles that I’ve become accustomed to and rather fond of in recent years. And it retains strong elements of both, containing subtle, slightly bitter malts, and at the same time noticeable fruit esters and notes of sour cherries. And of course, it packs some powerful yeasts all throughout.

Appearance: Golden-orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wild yeast nose, sour, fruity esters, dry backbone
Taste: Immediate burst of yeast, mild hints of sour cherries, mild rye bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering rye malt bitterness, yeast and sour flavor
Overall: 9/10

Deep Cove Trapper John’s Lager

trapper johns lager for clientBrewer: Deep Cove Brewery, North Vancouver, BC
Style: Lager
Alc/Vol: 5%
IBU: 48

Description: As part of Deep Cove’s seasonal lineup, this beer is available for winter purchase and was inspired by the history of the pre-prohibition style lagers that were brewed in south of the border. What this amounts to is a Bavarian-style lager with a solid malt base and good, crisp West Coast hops.

Tasting Notes: As lagers go, this beer was very consistent with a good Bavarian-style Lager or Pilsner. In addition to its crisp, malty base, it has a discernible hop presence that peaks of an infusion of West Coast influence. And of course, it finishes very clean and is quite refreshing. Not a bad second installment in my ongoing mission to sample from the Deep Cove Brewery!

Appearance: Light golden, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Pilsner malt, grainy, mild dose of hop bitterness
Taste: Crisp malts, hint of sweetness, mild, citrus and herbal hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, very clean finish
Overall: 8/10

Deep Cove Loud Mouth Pale Ale

label_loudmouth-300x300Brewer: Deep Cove Brewery, Vancouver, BC
Style: Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 5.5%
IBU: 56

Description: The Loud Mouth Pale Ale is one of Deep Cove’s year round products and is a blend of English and West Coast influences. This results in an ale that is initially malt-forward, but is hopped to a respectable 56 IBUs to achieve a balance of flavor.

Tasting Notes: As the first beer that I’ve ever tried from Deep Cove, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I could definitely sense the English influence as I drank it, which is present in the form of subtle but ever-present malts and the notes of toffee and caramel. However, there was also enough of a hop presence that one can detect the West Coast influence, which comes through in a slightly bitter, citrusy, and herbal accompaniment. It then finishes quite clean, with lingering notes of both malt and hops on the palate that further enforce its balanced character. Definitely a good intro to this brewery from North Vancouver!

Appearance: Deep amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt presence, notes of toffee and shortbread, mild hops
Taste: Good malt, mild tang, notes of toffee, caramel, slightly bitter citrus, herbal hops
Aftertaste: Relatively clean, lingering toffee malts and mild bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Granville Island Shamrocker Potato Stout

shamrocker_stoutBrewer: Granville Island Brewery, Vancouver, BC
Style: Stout
Alc/Vol: 4.8%
IBU: 35

Description: Released just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, this limited release from Granville Island Brewing combines Crystal and base Stout malts with Delta hops and an infusion of potato to create a stout that the brewery describes as “a medley of Celtic proportions.”

Tasting Notes: As stouts go, this one was a little light in alcohol content and flavor, and put me in mind of an auburn ale (another Irish classic!) in a few respects. At the same time, it managed to achieve a nice balance between roasted malts, an hint of espresso bitterness, and the earthy flavor that comes from Delta hops and the addition of potatoes. This last ingredient also came through with the pervasive starchy, slightly sweet essence I noticed throughout. All of this makes for a rather interesting drinking experience, and a welcome addition to St. Patrick’s Day. Slainte!

Appearance: Black, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Roasted malt, hint of espresso, smokey aroma
Taste: Light malt flavor, hint of starch, tang, espresso, smokey, earthy hop finish
Aftertaste: Lingering earthy flavor and hints of espresso and malt
Overall: 8.5/10

Alameda Barn Owl Imperial Brown Ale

alameda_barnowlBrewer: Alameda Brewery, Portland, OR
Style: Imperial Brown Ale
Alc/Vol: 7.9%

Description: A seasonal ale, this southern English-style brown ale is an enhanced version of the original (being an Imperial). This includes particularly strong brown malts, an alcohol strength of 7.9% alcohol, and an IBU rating that is clearly in the 70s or 80s.

Tasting Notes: Compared to your conventional brown ale, this beer basically the nutty flavor and hop flavor and shoves a hot pepper up its tail pipe! This is both appealing and unappealing, depending on your point of view. On the one hand, the flavor of roasted walnuts, coffee and chocolate are quite appetizing, but the level of bitterness is a bit intense for the uninitiated. Personally, I don’t mind so much, but others (aka. the weak of taste buds) might.

Appearance: Dark brown, translucent, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Brown, roasted malts, roasted nuts, hop bitterness
Taste: Immediate malt bitterness, roasted walnuts, strong hops, coffee, bitter chocolate
Aftertaste: Lingering hops, nutty flavor, and coffee bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Green Flash Palate Wrecker Hamilton’s Ale

palate_wrecker_release_partyBrewer: Green Flash Brewery, San Diego, CA
Style: Imperial India Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 9.5%
IBU: 100+

Description: Palate Wrecker was originally brewed for the Hamilton’s Tavern 2nd Anniversary celebration, and has since been made available as part of their regular lineup due to popular demand. A traditional West Coast-style IPA, it was also the recipient of the 2011 Michael Jackson American Cask Ale Award at the British Beer Festival and the Bronze Medal for Imperial IPA category in the 2012 World Beer Cup.

Tasting Notes: This is only the second beer I’ve had from Green Flash, and the first experience (their Le Freak Ale) is one I feel I need to retry since my tasted have evolved since 2010 when I tried it. But regardless of that, I found this Imperial IPA to be most satisfying and worthy of the name “Palate Wrecker”. But with an alcohol content of 9.5% and a hop strength that exceeds 100 IBUs, that should come as no surprise. But then again, I am a notorious hop-lover, and this brew hits me where I live!

Appearance: Dark ruby/amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong floral, citrusy, hoppy notes
Taste: Strong, sweet and coarse malt, powerful hop bitterness, citrus and passion fruit
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and coarse malts
Overall: 9.5/10

Hoyne/Driftwood Rock Bay Mashup Baltic Porter

driftwood_hoyne_rockbayBrewer: Hoyne Brewing/Driftwood Brewing, Victoria BC
Style: Baltic Porter
Alc/Vol: 8%

Description: This beer is a collaborative effort between Victoria’s own Hoyne Brewing and Driftwood Brewing, which are situated next door to each other in the industrial district of Rock Bay (hence the name). As a Baltic Porter, it is a high alcohol, malt-forward beer that originated in the Baltic states that is quite similar to a Russian Imperial Stout.

Tasting Notes: Ordinarily, I’m not that big a fan of Baltic Porters or Imperial Stouts, due to the fact that the rather robust and sweet tasting malts are a little out of my comfort zone. But this collaborative brew, which brought together two of my favorite breweries, managed to create something truly appealing and appetizing. While it manages to capture all the renowned characteristics of a Baltic Porter – high alcohol content, dark malts, toasted malt, sweetness – it was also very smooth, balanced, and varied in flavor. I’ve yet to try anything these guys made that didn’t please me!

Appearance: Deep black/brown, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Toasted malt, baked bread, hint of smoke and coffee
Taste: Deep, rich malts, tang, hint of sweetness, smoke, banana and licorice
Aftertaste: Lingering malt, banana and licorice flavors

Overall: 9/10

Breakside Wanderlust IPA

wanderlust-ipa-breakside-23608-1zBrewer: Breakside Brewery, Portland, OR
Style: India Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 6.7%

Description: This India Pale Ale is part of the brewery’s regular lineup and is a signature example of a hop-forward fresh-hopped Pacific Northwest IPA. Compared to other IPAs, its malts are slightly subdued and its color lighter than usual. In terms of bitterness, it has a potent, but altogether drier and subtler hop profile.

Tasting Notes: This beer was definitely one of the lighter-tasting IPAs I’ve ever had. Its lower gravity – which resulted in malts that were not particularly coarse or sugary – combined with fresh hops, produced a less intense, but still potent, citrus flavor. All in all, I found it a highly pleasant beer and a interesting change of pace from IPAs that tend to be both sweet and profoundly bitter.

Appearance: Light golden/amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong bouquet of grapefruit, floral and citrusy
Taste: Subtle malts, strong hops, hints of grapefruit, passion fruit, pine resin
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, relatively clean malt finish
Overall: 9/10