Brewer: Parallel 49 Brewing, Vancouver BC Style: Imperial India Pale Ale/Wheat Ale ABV: 9.2% IBU: 76
Description: This seasonal release from Parallel 49 celebrates winter in a rather cheeky fashion, which is very befitting of this brewery! The beer is a combination wheat and barley malt Imperial IPA, with high alcohol content and plenty of citrus, grass and piney notes brought on by a generous dose of Citra and Nelson Sauvin hops.
Tasting Notes: As usual, Parallel 49 manages to combine some interesting styles into a single brew, and said styles certainly come through in the flavor. This is characterized by a semi-sweet and coarse malt palate, some smooth wheat malts, and plenty of hop flavor that rings true with notes of grass, pine, and citrus. Once again, a combination that works.
Appearance: Dark gold, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation Nose: Rich malts, strong hop nose, citrus, pine, tropical fruit Taste: Sweet and slightly coarse malt, hint of smooth wheat malt, citrus bite, grassy, pine Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, clean wheat and slightly coarse malt finish Overall: 9/10
Brewery: Dageraad Brewery, Burnaby, BC Style: Blonde Ale ABV: 8.3%
Description: Brewed in time for the holiday season, Anno 2014 is a strong Belgian-style blonde ale infused with Indian coriander spice and pears harvested from Sanderson Farm in Keremeos, BC. It is then refermented in the bottle for extra strength and effervescence.
Tasting Notes: I’ve been impressed with what the Dageraad Brewery has produced thus far, and this beer was certainly consistent with my expectations. It has a good malt base, is delightfully effervescent, has a sharp notes of spice and yeast flavor, and the mild notes of sweet pear help rounds things out quite nicely.
Appearance: Golden/orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation Nose: Rich malt, sugars, pear, yeast Taste: Sharp malt, tang, yeasty effervescence, hint of sweetness, pear, coriander finish Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, yeast, fruit and spice Overall: 8.5/10
Brewer: Category 12 Brewing, Central Saanich, BC Style: Black IPA ABV: 6.7% IBU: 77
Description: Category 12, which is located just up the road from me, has recently opened its doors and began distributing. This is their second release, and my first sampling. The Black IPA is made using Carafa and Munich malts and then bittered with Simcoe, Cascade, and Columbus hops.
Tasting Notes: This beer delivered in all the expected departments. On the black side of things, it had dark roasted malts that were reminiscent of a good stout or porter. On the IPA side of things, it had a good dose of citrus and herbal hop flavor that lingered long after the initial tasting. A good start for this hometown brewery, and a good intro for me.
Appearance: Black, translucent, good foam retention and carbonation Nose: Roasted malt, hint of espresso, strong notes of citrus and pineapple Taste: Toasted malt, mild espresso, citrus rind, herbal hops Aftertaste: Lingering herbal flavor, malt and hop bitterness Overall: 8/10
Brewery: Fernie Brewing, Fernie, BC Style: Winter Black Ale ABV: 8% IBU: 25
Description: This winter ale began production in winter of 2013 in honor of Fernie Brewing’s 10th anniversary. It is brewed with chocolate malt and spiced with an infusion of cocoa and curacao orange peel before being lightly hopped.
Tasting Notes: This beer put me in mind of other well-known black BC brews, not the least of which are VIB’s Hermann’s Dark Lager and Hoyne’s Dark Matter. The dark, roasted malt comes through with notes of chocolate and espresso, while the curacao peel lends it a mildly sweet, slightly citrus taste that compliments the roasted flavor quite well. Not a bad seasonal at all, and definitely a good winter warmer.
Appearance: Black, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation Nose: Roasted malt nose, notes of espresso and dark chocolate Taste: Roasted malt, hint of sweetness, dark chocolate, espresso, mild citrus Aftertaste: Lingering chocolate and espresso, roasted malt flavor Overall: 8.5/10
Brewer: Driftwood Brewery, Victoria BC Style: Barleywine ABV: 13.1% IBU: Unlisted (best guess, 60 – 80 range)
Description: This is Driftwood’s 7th Vintage of this annual December release beer. This year, the Old Cellar Dweller is even stronger, with five times the malt and three times the hops of regular beer, and an alcohol per volume rating of over 13%. It also consisting of 98% Pale Malt and a bag of CaraMunch thrown in for color, and a single hop variety (Columbus) in heavy concentrations.
Tasting Notes: Much like last year’s offering, this year’s OCD (ha!) was more akin to an Imperial IPA than a barleywine. It’s malt is rich and delicious (though a bit lightly colored), but the hop-forward nature really comes through with overwhelming notes of pineapple. It’s also quite smooth despite its strength, and very pleasant-tasting, but not exactly reminiscent of an English-style barleywine. Top marks for drinkability, minor deduction for mislabeling.
Appearance: Dark amber/brown, clear, medium foam retention and carbonation Nose: Rich malt, floral hops, notes of citrus and tropical fruit Taste: Strong malt, alcohol, overwhelming notes of pineapple and tropical fruit Aftertaste: Lingering hop and malt bitterness, alcohol Overall: 8.5/10
Description: Brewed in the Vienna-style tradition of lager, this beer is Brooklyn’s flagship creation. This starts with American 2 Row, Caramel, and Munich malts, which are then hopped with Hallertauer Mittelfrueh, Vanguard, Cascade, Saphir, and Williamette hops, and then dry-hopped again.
Tasting Notes: This lager is one I’ve had a few times, but never in the context of a review. Luckily, a couple distributors in my area have taken to stocking it and I grabbed a few. As lagers go, this one is quite light and refreshing, but packs some interesting hop flavor and traces of fruit. An all-around nice drinking experience from a renowned microbrewery.
Appearance: Deep gold, mildly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation Nose: Gentle malt, honey, hint of pineapple and tropical fruit Taste: Mild malt, tang, mild grassy hops and pine, passion fruit and pineapple Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, hint of honey and malt flavor Overall: 8/10
Brewer: Spinnakers Brewery, Victoria BC Style: Kolsch ABV: 4.5%
Description: A limited release that is brewed for the holidays, the Honey Kolsch is a twist on the popular Cologne-style of ale. In addition to Canadian Pilsner malt and a touch local honey, the end product is lagered, cold fermented, and on the lighter side as far as alcohol content is concerned.
Tasting Notes: While very refreshing, this beer was a little on the light side for my taste. While the honey certainly comes through in the delightful scent, there was little honey flavor to speak of. What’s more, the hop flavor is muted, which leaves the drinker with a malt base that tastes less like champagne (which is what they were going for) and very much like mineral water. A refreshing brew, and well-paired with spicier dishes, but not what I would expect from a holiday beer.
Appearance: Light golden, clear, good foam retention and carbonation Nose: Light malt, notes of honey, mild hops, minerals Taste: Gentle malt, mild tang, reminiscent of mineral water, touch of honey Aftertaste: Lingering mineral flavor, tang and malt flavor Overall: 7.5/10
Brewer: Stone Brewery, Escondido, CA Style: Strong Dark Ale (bit indeterminate) ABV: 7.2% IBU: ??? (high)
Description: First brewed back in 1997, Arrogant Bastard Ale was a tribute to craft brewing and a giant middle finger in the face of mass brewing and generic beer. Employing strong malts, a high alcohol content, and a hefty dose of unidentified hops, this beer defies convention and classification.
Tasting Notes: This beer is aptly named, and I do feel like it was brewed with people like me in mind! I mean, just look at the name on my blog. And I have been hearing its name uttered for quite some time by craft beer enthusiasts, so its high time I drank some. In terms of taste, it comes off in the vicinity between a strong dark ale and an IPA, with a darkly roasted malt base and a hefty dose of hops. It’s not exactly well-balanced, or easy-drinking, but it makes its point, and without a hint of subtlety!
Appearance: Dark reddish-brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation Nose: Roasted malt, grassy, herbal notes, floral and citrus hops Taste: Rich malt, hint of sweetness, strong notes of dry, herbal and citrus hop flavor Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, citrus rind and malt flavor Overall: 8.25/10
Brewer: Hoyne Brewery, Victoria BC Style: Winter Ale ABV: 9%
Description: Hoyne is back with there third annual Gratitude Winter Warmer, which began as a holiday expression of gratitude to all those who’ve supported them. As with previous years releases, this special limited-release comes in individual bombers wrapped in paper.
Tasting Notes: This is the third sampling I’ve done of Gratitude, and I have noted that the recipe has been changing over the years. Either that, or my tastes have been evolving and I’ve been noticing different things. In any case, this year’s offering seemed lighter than the previous two. While it maintains its smooth malty base, a hint of spice and a very well-balanced character, it was more reminiscent of a Marzen to me than a Christmas ale (though I did get some traces of Urbock as well). For the third time, a big hit and one I would like to try again before it goes out of stock!
Appearance: Dark amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation Nose: Rich malt, minerality, mild sugars, allspice, mild hops Taste: Smooth malt, mild tang, hint of sweetness, brown sugar, allspice Aftertaste: Lingering tang and minerality, lingering spice palate Overall: 8.75/10
Brewer: Le Trou Du Diable, Shawinigan, QC Style: Hopfenweisse ABV: 6.5% IBU: 42
Description: A combination of wheat and barley malt, German yeast, and West Coast Chinook hops, this hopfenweisse-inspired ale is dedicated to Prime Minister Chretien – Canada’s Prime Minister for ten years and who hails from Shawinigan.
Tasting Notes: This brew was an interesting break from my usual samplings of West Coast IPAs and Belgian strong ales. Ironic that it combined elements of both then! On the one hand, it has the smooth malt backing and fruit flavor of a good heffeweizen, and just enough bitterness and tropical flavor of a West Coast ale.
Appearance: Yellow/orange, cloudy, heavy foam retention and carbonation Nose: Mild malt, strong notes of peach, passion fruit, yeast Taste: Smooth start, yeast bitterness, notes of peach, banana and cloves Aftertaste: Lingering yeast bitterness Overall: 9/10