Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve Ale

santas_private_reserveBrewer: Rogue Brewery, Portland OR
Style: Red Ale
ABV: 5.1%
IBU: 65

Description: A double-hopped red ale, the Santa’s Reserve is part of Rogue’s winter seasonal lineup. It is brewed using a combination of 2 Row, Munich, C15, C40, C75 and Rogue Farm’s own Dare & Risk Malts; then bittered using Rogue Farm Newport, Rebel & Freedom hops.

Tasting Notes: This seasonal brew was a bit of a surprise, in that it didn’t have the spiced, sweet profile one tends to expect from a Christmas beer. But it was certainly pleasant, and packed the usual red ale characteristics. This includes some dry hop flavor and malts that are more on the sharp side than the rich and sweet. This led to an overall refreshing experienced, despite the presence of plenty of hop bitterness.

Appearance: Deep ruby, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, dry hops, mild grass and pine aroma, hint of peat
Taste: Sharp, tangy malts, immediate dry hop flavor, grass and herbal bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering dry hop bitterness and sharp malt
Overall: 7.8/10

Bomber Blood From a Stone Red Rye IPA

Blood-from-a-stoneBrewer: Bomber Brewery, Vancouver BC/ Stone Brewery, San Diego CA
Style: Rye India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.6%

Description: A collaboration brew between Vancouver-based Bomber and San Diego-based Stone, Blood from a Stone is a rye-based India Pale Ale that combines hops and yeast from the US, malted barley and rye from Canada, Australian hops, and German and Belgian malts to achieve a beer that is truly international in character.

Tasting Notes: As combination beers go, this was definitely an unusual experience. It started with a fruity, richly malty nose which gave way to an unusual flavor. Here, the combination of rye and European malts, along with a heavy dose of Australian hops, made for a beer that had tons of grassy hop flavor, but also had some discernibly dry, ESB-like characteristics.

Appearance: Deep ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Good malt, notes of baked bread, citrus, pineapple, dry hop aroma
Taste: Sharp malt, good tang, mild citrus and strong grassy, dry hop finish
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, strong grassy notes
Overall: 8.3/10

Prohibition Lawless IPA

prohibition_ipaBrewer: Prohibition Brewing, Kelowna BC
Style: West Coast IPA
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 60

Description: This is the breweries second regular release, and represents their take on a traditional IPA. The brew combines a pale malts base with a generous dose of Perle, Magnum, Cascade and Cluster hops.

Tasting Note: This IPA is a bit was a departure for me, and was my long-overdue introduction to this brewery and its wares. Whereas most West Coast IPAs seem to be hopped with the 3 Cs these days – Cascade, Centennial and Columbus, which culminate in a mix of citrus and tropical fruit flavors – this one has some decidedly dry bitterness that put me in mind of an Imperial Pilsner or an ESB. Altogether, it manages to do the job of a good IPA, balancing a strong malt backbone with some rich, hoppy bitterness!

Appearance: Light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, strong hop nose with lots of grassy, citrus, and pine notes
Taste: Good malt base, hint of sweetness, tang, strong citrus, pine, and resin bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, citrus rind and dry hop finish
Overall: 7.8/10

Driftwood Entangled Hopfenweisse

entangled-circular-logoBrewer: Driftwood Brewery, Victoria BC
Style: Hefeweizen/IPA
ABV: 7%

Description: This Fall limited release combines a Hefeweizen base that employs wheat malts and Hefeweizen yeast, along with a generous dosing of North American hops (what I assume are Centennial, Cascade and Columbus – the 3 Cs) to create a fusion brew the combines a German Wheat beer with a West Coast IPA.

Tasting Notes: This brew was quite delicious, combining the smooth drinkability and yeasty backbone of a Hefeweizen with a serious infusion of fruity, floral and bitter West Coast hops. Definitely an improvement on the many Belgian IPAs that have been fashionable these past few years. I do hope this is the beginning of a trend.

Appearance: Orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, rich hop nose, strong citrus, tropical and passion fruit notes
Taste: Smooth malt, strong tang, yeast, notes of grapefruit, passion fruit, pineapple
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, citrus rind, yeast bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Muskoka Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout

muskoka_beardBrewer: Muskoka Brewery, Bracebridge ON
Style: Strong Stout
ABV: 8%

Description: Muskoka’s Winter seasonal beer, this stout is brewed using dark roasted chocolate malts which are then infused with cocoa, 70% dark chocolate, and freshly harvested local cranberries. The result is a strong stout with hints of sweetness and a smooth backing.

Tasting Notes: This is one of those “long time coming” drinking experiences. I can recall seeing this beer on the shelves back when I visited Ottawa, and made a mental note to try it once I saw that it was available here in BC. It took awhile, but I finally managed to get my hands on one and give it a go. And the combination was pretty pleasing. Tart and sweet cranberry flavor play well with a strong stout, cutting the bitter malt flavor, while chocolate provide an undertone of smoothness.

Appearance: Black, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich, roasted malt, chocolate, hint of espresso, licorice
Taste: Dark, rich malts, cocoa and espresso, hint of tartness and sugary finish
Aftertaste: Lingering roasted malt flavor, chocolate and espresso, licorice
Overall: 8.5/10

Driftwood New Growth Pale Ale

Driftwood_newgrowthBrewer: Driftwood Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Session Ale
ABV: 5.5%

Description: Driftwood second seasonal release using Sartori harvest hops, which like its predecessor was made in honor of the return of locally brewed, hand-crafted ales. This time around, the beer is a sessional pale ale that is bittered using a combination of Centennial and Newport hops.

Tasting Notes: One can immediately taste the presence of Sartori Centennial hops in this brew, which came through in the noticeably aromatic and powerful herbal taste, not to mention the notes of pine, citrus and grass present throughout. The addition of Newport hops, on the other hand, offers  a layer of piney, resiny flavor not found in their Sartori Harvest IPA or in other Sartori-hopped ales. A good beer and definitely a must try for the hop heads out there!

Appearance: Light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Light malt, good nose of citrus, grassy hops
Taste: Smooth malt, good tang, herbal hops, piney, resiny, and citrus finish
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, citrus rind
Overall: 7.8/10