Hoyne Wolf Vine Pale Ale 2014

hoyne_wolfvineBrewer: Hoyne Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 5.3%

Description: Hoyne’s fall seasonal release is back, employing fresh Centennial and Cascade hops from Sartori Farms to create a “wet-hopped” West Coast-style pale ale. Brewed in conjunction with the hop harvest, this beer is available for only a short time during the early Autumn.

Tasting Notes: This is my second sampling of the Wolf Vine, after it first premiered last year, and I was suitably impressed again. Much like its predecessor, this pale ale has achieves a nice balance between smooth pale malt and a lovely hop palette that is both varied and subtle. At once dry, citrusy, herbal and grassy, this brew is reminiscent of both a West Coast Pale and an ESB. Glad they chose to bring it back!

Appearance: Deep amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild pale malt, mild notes of dry citrus and herbal hops
Taste: Smooth malt, mild tang, dry, subtle notes of herbal, grassy, and citrus hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, and dry subtle hop flavor
Overall: 9/10

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Longwood Winter’s Own Weizenbock

longwood_wintersownBrewer: Longwood Brewery, Nanaimo, BC
Style: Weizenbock
Alc/Vol: 6.5%

Description: Longwood’s winter seasonal beer, the Winter’s Own is a German-style hefeweizen that is fashioned from a combination of 50% wheat and barley malt and brewed bock-style to create a slightly darker, stronger wheat ale.

Tasting Notes: This is a beer that has been difficult for me to get my hands on, due in part to seasonal availability and distribution. Luckily, while having lunch at Longwood’s this weekend with my folks (happy birthday Pop!), I managed to snag one. And I was a bit surprised by what I found. Typically, a weizenbock is a smooth, malty, and rich beer, combining the best of a German wheat and bock. Such a beer would certainly be a good winter warmer. However, this beer is fermented using what I can only assume is brettanomyces yeasts, which give it a sour, oaky punch, which when combined with a rather light malt base, leads to an entirely different experience. Not bad at all, just not what I would have expected given the style and the fact that its a winter seasonal release. I think this brew would have been better targeted to summer drinking. Still, good marks for taste and authenticity, but some deductions for missing the mark.

Appearance: Amber-orange, cloudy with sediment, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Light wheat malt, yeasty, sour cherry, apple cider, oak
Taste: Mild wheat malt, tang, hint of sour cherry, tart apple, oak, dry finish
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast bitterness, tang, and sour fruit flavor
Overall: 7.5/10

Driftwood Sartori Harvest IPA 2014

Driftwood_Sartori2014Brewer: Driftwood Brewery, Victoria BC
Style: India Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 7%

Description: This limited release IPA from the Driftwood Brewery is crafted once a year, immediately following the Centennial hop harvest of Satori Cedar Ranch, located near Chilliwack BC. Combined with Canadian grown base malt, this fresh-hopped IPA is a celebration of locally-grown hops and craft brewing!

Tasting Notes: Back in 2013, I was introduced to wet-hopped Sartori brews, thanks to Hoyne’s Wolf Vine Pale Ale and Philips Green Reaper IPA. However, I somehow missed Driftwood’s Sartori Harvest IPA, a mistake I remedied this year. Compared to its compatriots, this brew is heavily infused with herbal, citrusy hops, and weighs in at a heftier 7% alcohol per volume. Still, it is comparable in that it is subtler and more layered than your typical IPA, but still appropriately hoppy, citrusy and bitter!

Appearance: Golden, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Good malt, strong floral, herbal hops, notes of citrus
Taste: Smooth malt, tang, strong notes of grapefruit, herbs, grassy hops
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, citrus rind
Overall: 8.5/10

Longwood Stoutnik Imperial Stout

Longwood_stoutnikBrewer: Longwood Brewery, Nanaimo BC
Style: Imperial Stout
Alc/Vol: 7.5%

Description: One of the Longwood brewery’s signature releases, this stout is brewed in the Russian Imperial fashion and fashioned using a combination of Black Barley malt, Chocolate malt, and Stout malt to create an extra strong, complex brew that is packed with coffee and licorice notes.

Tasting Notes: Of all of Longwoods brews, this is one that I’ve admittedly been resisting for quite some time. This may have something to do with the fact that stouts have been a little hit or miss for me (especially imperial stouts). Alas, I decided to finally remedy this and just dive in, and I was suitably impressed. The Stoutnik has all the things going for it that one would expect from an Imperial Stout, combining roasted malts with notes of espresso, licorice, and a nice bitter finish. Definitely wish I had tried it sooner.

Appearance: Black, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Roasted malt, espresso, hint of licorice, mild hops
Taste: Dark malt flavor, good tang, notes of espresso, licorice, and grassy hops
Aftertaste: Lingering bitter malt and coffee flavor, licorice and mild malt sweetness
Overall: 8.25/10

Off To The Beer Seminar!

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Today is a great day for beer appreciation, because it is the day that I finally get to host my long-overdue beer-tasting and history of beer seminar. Ten participants have signed on, the space has been reserved, and in a few hours time, I will be giving the attendees a quick (well not too quick) run-down on the history of the brewing craft, coupled with some generous sampling.

I’ve prepared the following list based on what I could find and what seemed indispensable to me as far as representing the history and full range of brewing was concerned. All told, they are divided by style more than historical period, but I will be presenting them in this order since it gives a pretty good idea of how the art evolved over time.

Ancient Beers:
Heather: Salt Spring Island Heather Ale (5% / 650 ml)
(I desperately wanted to find a bomber of Gruit as well, but that variety of beer is both hard to find and hopelessly out of season right now)

Abbey Beers:
Blonde: Affligem Blonde (6.8% / 330ml)
Tripel: Townsite Charleston Tripel (9% / 650 ml)
Sour: Driftwood Belle Royale (8% / 650 ml)

Anglo-American Beer:
Pale Ale: Hoyne’s Down Easy (5.2% / 650ml)
India Pale Ale: Driftwood Fat Tug IPA (7% / 650 ml)
Stout: Hopworks 7-Grain Stout (5.3% / 650 ml)
Barley Wine: Howe Sound Wooly Bugger (10.5% / 375 ml)

German Beer:
Lager: Ayinger Dortmunder Lager (5.5% / 500 ml)
Oktoberfest: Russel Marzen (5.5% / 650ml)
Hefeweizen: Schneider Weisse (5.4% / 500 ml)
Bock: Schneider Weisse Aventinus (8% / 500ml)
Smokebeer: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier (6.6% / 500 ml)

The seminar will begin with where and how beer became a cornerstone of civilization – emerging alongside agriculture and sedentary communities some 8000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent. I will then go on to how the rise of wine making introduced a sense of cultural distinction during Classical Antiquity, and the influence was largely confined to the parts of Europe where the Roman Empire had influence (France, Spain, Italy, the Mediterranean, but not Germany, the Low Countries, Eastern Europe, or the British Isles).

Then comes the Middle Ages, the establishment of Abbey/Monastery Brewing, the rise of hop use, the advent of Lager and the growing professionalization of the industry. Which then gives way to the industrial revolution and the emergence of brewing as a big business, followed of course by the modern era and the resurgence in craft brewing. It promises to be interesting, I just hope I can keep it down to 20 minutes. Leaves more time from sampling!

I’ll be sure to let you all know how it goes and I hope to repeat it in the very near future with some other (and larger) groups of people.

4 Mile Summer Wheat Ale

4Mile_summerwheatBrewer: 4 Mile Brewing Company, Victoria, BC
Style: Wheat Ale
Alc/Vol: 4.5%
IBUs: 24

Description: A summer seasonal beer, and what I believe is the first limited release from the brewery, this wheat ale is a mild brew that is decidedly English in inspiration. This translates to a sessional-style wheat with mild malts, a lower alcohol content, and a mild hopping that results in a smooth, refreshing taste and little aftertaste.

Tasting Notes: When it comes to wheat ales, I tend to expect some banana flavor, some coriander spice, a little orange zest, some serious yeasts, or some tangy fruit flavor to offset a milder malt. However, this is due to my being accustomed to strong hefeweizens and Belgian wits, and that really didn’t diminish this beer’s refreshing nature and smooth character. Mild wheat malts, a subtle yeast backbone, and a clean finish with a Pilsner-like grainy and herbal flavor characterize this beer. Definitely a good summer thirst quencher.

Appearance: Golden, slightly cloudy, mild foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild wheat malt, yeast, Pilsner-like graininess, herbal hops
Taste: Smooth malt, milt tang, hint of yeast, herbal (Noble) hops finish
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, yeasts and Noble hop notes
Overall: 8.3/10

This completes my sampling from the 4 Mile Brewery, either through their bombers or from tastings at the brewpub itself. I can’t wait for a Fall Seasonal or some more limited releases!

Philips Octofox India Pale Ale

Philips_octofoxBrewer: Philips Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: India Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 6.5%

Description: As part of their Area 52 series, the Octofox IPA comes straight from the Philips Brewery’s “hoptomology lab”, where the brewers combine different strains of hops to achieve unique IPA flavors. The Octofox was one of their earliest specimens, and for the first time is available in a bomber as a Fall limited release!

Tasting Notes: This is my first exposure to an Area 52 release, and hence the work of the Philips “hoptomologists”. The beer is what one could expect from a solid West Coast IPA, consisting of some good strong malt. And the hop profile is definitely varied and complex, consisting of citrus, tropical fruit and pine-resin flavors that come from what I can only assume is a blend that includes Zythos, Columbus, Centennial, Cascade and Amarillo hops.

Appearance: Light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, bright bouquet of floral hops, citrus, pine, tropical fruit
Taste: Strong malt, milt coarseness, strong notes of grapefruit, pineapple, and pine
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, citrus rind and pine and tropical fruit
Overall: 8.5/10