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

Moa Noir Dark Lager

Moa_NoirBrewer: Moa Brewing, Marlborough, NZ
Style: Dark Lager
Alc/Vol: 5%

Description: A traditional European-style Munchner Dunkel, the Noir is a bottle fermented, bottle conditioned, and malt-forward take on a dark lager. It is one of several European-style beers produced by this renowned and award-winning New Zealand brewery.

Tasting Notes: This beer was rather unique and interesting as far as dark lagers go. It was reminiscent of a stout in many ways, packing some serious chocolate and coffee notes, but still having the lighter, crisper taste of a lager. But what really surprised me were the smokey notes, which reminded me of my cigar-smoking days. I swear, the taste of tobacco was in the nose and the malt profile, and that threw me just a little. A very interesting beer and one which entices me to sample more from the brewery, but not my favorite Dunkel import.

Appearance: Deep brown/black, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark malts, coffee, dark chocolate, smoke and tabacco
Taste: Dark roasted malts, bitter coffee and chocolate, smokey flavor
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, coffee and smoke
Overall: 7.75/10

Rogue Beard Beer

beardbeer-draft-printBrewer: Rogue Brewery, Newport, OR
Style: American Wild Ale
Alc/Vol: 5.6%
IBU: 25

Description: Beard Beer is brewed with a yeast created from Rogue Brewmaster John Maier’s own beard. Using this wild yeast strain, the brewery fashioned a wild ale, similar to what brewer’s have been doing for centuries prior to the invention of pasteurization and the rationalization of the industry.

Tasting Notes: This beer was very reminiscent of a farmhouse ale, which stands to reason. The addition of wild yeast, even if it does come from a brewmaster’s beard, is what gives a farmhouse that characteristic, yeasty and effervescent flavor. And this brew has all that in spades, along with the notes of coriander and mild bitterness. The brewery was right when they said in the description that this beer “will surprise you”.

Appearance: Orange/golden, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malts, yeasty, hints of spice
Taste: Slightly bitter, strong effervescence, tang, yeast, hint of coriander spice
Aftertaste: Lingering tang, yeast and spice notes
Overall: 8.5/10

P49 Robo Ruby Imperial Red IPA

P49_roborubyBrewer: Parallel 49, Vancouver, BC
Style: Imperial Red India Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 9.3%

Description: The latest release from Parallel 49’s ample array of limited releases, the Robo Ruby is another combination of brewing styles. This time around, they have merged an Imperial Red Ale with an India Pale Ale to create a beer that is employs deep, rich malts and a significant hop content. The end result is something particularly malty, sweet, and with a bitter finish.

Tasting Notes: This latest limited release deliver quite well on what one would hope from the specific combination of styles. As an imperial red, it has the enhanced maltiness, sweetness and coarseness one would expect. At the same time, the hoppiness of an Imperial IPA comes through quite well, with hints of citrus and herbal hops. I remain convinced that there was some dry hopping involved as well, since the hop profile is somewhat dry in addition to its strength.

Appearance: Dark ruby brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark, syrupy and coarse malts, sugars, floral hops, mild citrus
Taste: Sweet, dark, syrupy, and slightly coarse malt, dry citrus and herbal hops
Aftertaste: Lingering roasted malt flavor and hop bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Lighthouse Sauerteig Farmhouse Ale

photo (2)Brewer: Lighthouse Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Farmhouse Ale
Alc/Vol: 7%

Description: Named after the rye flour that is used to make sourdough bread, this farmhouse ale is made using rye, wheat and barley flakes, malted wheat and rye, spelt flour and sauerteig prepared by Byron Fry at Fry’s Red Wheat Bakery. Done in the Farmhouse style, the beer is unfiltered and fermented using Belgian yeast.

Tasting Notes: This latest installment from Lighthouse was consistent with the quality I’ve come to expect from them with their seasonal and limited releases. As a farmhouse, it has a distinctly Belgian flavor which is due to the choice yeasts that impart spicey notes reminiscent of coriander. The combination of starches and malts also lends it a particularly malty, but smooth and complex flavor. And despite the presence of rye malts and flour, it is somewhat subtler and cleaner than most farmhouse ales I’ve tried.

Appearance: Medium gold, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Distinct Belgian yeasts, baked bread, coriander spice
Taste: Smooth, flavorful malts, strong yeast, mild rye bitterness, discernible spices
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, yeasts and rye flavor, light and refreshing
Overall: 8.5/10