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

Alameda Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA

alameda_ipaBrewer: Alameda Brewing, Portland, OR
Style: Imperial India Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 8.2%
IBU: 103

Description: Since 1996, the Alameda Brewery has been producing a wide variety of craft beers in Northeast Portland. Their Golden Wolf Imperial IPA is hoppier and stronger than anything in either their regular lineup or their limited-release and seasonal releases. As one of their “House Beers”, it is available year-round.

Tasting Notes: This brew was a little different from what I’ve come to expect from Imperial IPAs. At 103 IBUs, it was certainly as bitter as I expected it to be, but the malt profile was decidedly light in terms of color and flavor. With a name like “Imperial”, one would expect the usual combination of sweet and coarse malts to be twice as potent. Still, this brew was strong and appetizing and did not slouch in the flavor department!

Appearance: Light golden/orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Passion fruit and citrus notes, grassy, piney hops
Taste: Subtle malts, dry hop flavor, passion fruit and bitter citrus
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and grapefruit rind
Overall: 8/10

Two Beers Forester Double IPA

forester_doubleipaBrewer: Two Beers Brewery, Seattle WA
Style: Double IPA
Alc/Vol: 7.8%
IBU: 92

Description: The Forester Double IPA is a seasonal beer and the brewery’s expansion on their Evo IPA. And as the name suggests, is naturally stronger, maltier, and hoppier than the original. In terms of malts, it employs Base, Crystal, Vienna, Munich, and Carapils, and is bittered using Simcoe, Amarillo, Centenniel, and Super G hops.

Tasting Notes: I’ve had many India Pale Ales in my time and more than a few doubles. But this was definitely one of the better ones. In addition to not being terribly high in alcohol content or very coarse, the hop flavor was also just bitter enough, and plenty diverse. It’s the mark of a good double IPA that it can be strong all around, but maintain a nice balance. Looking forward to the next one!

Appearance: Orange-amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malts, strong hop nose, citrus, grassy, and piney
Taste: Strong, semi-coarse malts, rich hop flavor, resin, pine, citrus rind
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, coarse malt flavor
Overall: 9/10

Russel Blood Alley ESB

bloodalley_esbBrewer: Russel Brewing, Surrey, BC
Style: Extra Special Bitter
Alc/Vol: 5.5%
IBU: 50

Description: This beer is named after the historic and notorious cobblestone laneway in Vancouver’s Gastown District where numerous butcher shops were located. Apparently, the laneway was also known for its many robberies, muggings and murders. As part of Russel’s Brewmaster Series, it only recently became available in six packs as well as 650 ml bottles.

Tasting Notes: Though it has a slightly higher IBU rating than most ESBs, the Blood Alley has the same subtle hop flavor due to the fact that they are added post-boil. They are also clearly local – most likely of the Cascade or Centennial variety –  imparting a slightly floral, citrusy flavor. The deep amber malts balance this out nicely and lead to an all around stronger, but faithful example of an ESB, albeit with a Pacific Northwestern twist!

Appearance: Deep copper/amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Deep, roasted, and syrupy malts, floral, citrusy hops
Taste: Smooth malt, hint of sweetness, baked bread, dry hops, subtle citrus bite
Aftertaste: Mild, lingering bitterness and dry hop flavor
Overall: 8.5/10