Deep Cove Sun Kissed Tea Saison Ale

sunkissed_saisonBrewer: Deep Cover, Vancouver, BC
Style: Saison
Alc/Vol: 5%

Description: A summer seasonal release, this pale ale is made in the Belgian farmhouse Saison style, and is then infused with a blend of apple, mango and papaya Rooibos teas.

Tasting Notes: As Saisons go, this one was a rather interesting mix and was definitely very refreshing, not to mention a good accompaniment to the coming summer weather. In addition to the mild malt, hints of spice and yeast, it has a delicate infusion of fruit flavor and a tea backing that plays nicely on the tongue, and a nice refreshing finish to boot.

Appearance: Golden orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Grainy malt, yeast, mild hints of apple and tropical fruits
Taste: Light malts, discernible yeasts and spice, hint of apple and mango
Aftertaste: Mild malt and yeast aftertaste, some tea, clean finish
Overall: 8.5/10

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VIB Thirty Years Imperial Red Ale

Thirty-Years-Bottle-Mock-smBrewer: Vancouver Island Brewery
Style: Imperial Red Ale
Alc/Vol: 8.5%

Description: A limited release brewed in honor of the brewery’s thirtieth anniversary, this beer pays homage to their Piper’s Pale Ale by ramping up the recipe. This includes Two-Row, Crystal and Chocolate Malts with Northern Brewer, Perle and Hallertau hops, but brewed to extra extra strength.

Tasting Notes: This beer was highly reminiscent of an Irish Red, given that it has that characteristic syrupy malt and chewy mouthfeel. And of course, there was a noticeable citrus hop backing. However, the overriding characteristic of this beer is the intense malt flavor and the alcohol content, which create a heavy, slightly sweet, smokey, and coarse profile that lingers on the tongue..

Appearance: Dark amber, dense, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich red malts, baked sweat breads, mild citrus
Taste: Immediate burst of rich malt, tang, coarseness, viscous malts, hint of bitter hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malts, slight tang and coarseness, chewy mouthfeel
Overall: 7.75/10

Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine

thors-hammer-bottleBrewer: Central City Brewing, Vancouver BC
Style: Barley Wine
Alc/Vol: 11.5%

Description: This award-winning barley wine is an annual release from Central City, and is an especially strong take on this traditional English-style. In addition to choice malt, it is hopped using a combination of German Magnum, Horizon, Centennial, and Cascade, and then bottle conditioned for a year before release.

Tasting Notes: As barley wines go, this one was a real ass-kicker in all departments. That includes malt strength, sweetness, and alcoholic strength. In addition, it delivers in all the key aspects of flavor, which includes a rich, malt-forward character, strong notes of brown sugar and molasses, dark fruits, and a slightly hoppy finish. It’s high time that I got around to sampling this one!

Appearance: Mahogany-brown, very cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sweet, slightly coarse malts, molasses, raisins, plums
Taste: Sugars, slight tang, brown sugar, molasses, dark fruit and walnuts
Aftertaste: Lingering molasses, smokiness, coarse malt and citrus
Overall: 9/10

La Chouffe Blonde D’Ardenne

lachouffe_largeBrewer: Brasserie d’Achouffe, Achouffe, Belgium
Style: Blonde Ale
Alc/Vol: 8%

Description: The flagship beer of the Achouffe brewery, this blonde ale is unfiltered and re-fermented in the bottle after the initial fermentation takes place in the keg. Consistent with a Belgian-style blonde, it is malt-forward and spiced with coriander.

Tasting Notes: This beer was quite the surprise for me. Ordinarily, I expect Belgian-style blondes of this strength to be rather coarse or saccharine. However, this one was quite balanced, with relatively smooth malts, gentle traces of coriander spice and hops, and some serious notes of honey. It was more like drinking mead than ale, and definitely a good way to round out my sampling Achouffe’s regular lineup – at least those that are available here in Canada.

Appearance: Amber/orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malts, notes of apricots, honey, citrus and spice
Taste: Smooth malts, slight coarseness, mild tang, honey and coriander spice
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malts, honey and spice
Overall: 8.5/10

Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel

ChouffeHoublon330mlBrewery: Brasserie d’Achouffe, Achouffe, Belgium
Style: India Pale Ale/Tripel
Alc/Vol: 9%

Description: This crossover British and Belgian-style ale was brewed for the first time in 2006. In addition to employing three types of hops, which provide a marked bitterness, the beer is re-fermented in the bottle to provide its tripel strength and malt profile.

Tasting Notes: I was surprised to see the description of this beer, but I found the flavor quite familiar and enjoyable. It was a fitting example of a Belgian Tripel, and in many ways reminded me of Duvel because of its strong, slightly coarse malt flavor. However, this was rounded out somewhat by the hop flavor and what I assume is a lack of candi sugar in the fermentation process.

Appearance: Golden blonde, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Coarse, grainy malts, yeast, slight sugars, hints of citrus hops
Taste: Coarse malts, yeast, mild tang, hints of citrus and hop bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering malt and hop bitterness, citrus rind
Overall: 8/10

Dieu du Ciel Rigor Mortis ABT

dieuduciel_rigormortisBrewer: Dieu du Ciel Brewery, St. Jerome, QB
Style: Quadruple
Alc/Vol: 10.5%

Description: This Ale Brune Tres Fort (very strong brown ale) is brewed in accordance with the qaudrupel tradition, in honor of the Belgian Trappist monks who invented it. Consistent with this style, the beer is extra strong, very malty, and has a distinct spicy quality due to the type of yeast used in fermentation. It is brewed only once a year and sold in winter from January until stocks run out.

Tasting Notes: This beer was very reminiscent of a barley wine, figgy pudding, and Christmas, all rolled into one. In short, it was a perfect example of an Abbey-style Quadrupel, packing the sugary and slightly coarse malt, the notes of raisins, plums and other dark fruits, the yeasty backbone, and a slightly spicy compliment to finish it all off. Yes, I think its fair to say at this point that I am fast becoming a fan of Dieu du Ciel!

Appearance: Deep ruby-brown, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malts, brown sugar, molasses, hint of allspice
Taste: Sweet and slightly coarse malt, sugars, raisins, plums, yeast, spicy finish
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt, sugars and spice
Overall: 9.5/10

Vanderghinste Oud Bruin

Vanderghinste_Oud_BruinBrewer: Bockor Brewery, Belgium
Style: Flanders Brown
Alc/Vol: 5.5%

Description: Established in 1892 in the village of Bellegem in the West Flanders region of Belgium, the Bockor Brewery has a long history of small batch brewing according to traditional recipes. Their Oud Bruin (Flemish for “Old Brown”) is the result of blending a wheat and barley ale with a lambic beer aged in oak for 18 months, resulting in this specific style of West Flanders Brown beer.

Tasting Notes: Admittedly, this Bruin was both consistent and different with what I’ve come to expect from a Flanders Brown. In addition to boasting some serious tartness and acidity, it also had a sweet and sour quality that put me in mind of apple-cider vinegar. And of course, there was the noticeable yeasts, which gave it an effervescent quality, also reminiscent of cider. But of course, this little village’s take on the Bruin is certainly different from what I’m used to, so some divergence is to be expected.

Appearance: Dark brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Roasted malt, lactic acid, hints of balsamic apple-cider vinegar
Taste: Cider-like sweetness and effervescence, giving way to sour and acidic notes
Aftertaste: Lingering apple-cider vinegar and lactic acid
Overall: 8/10