Hoyne Hard Rain Double IPA

hoyne_poster_hardrain-01Brewer: Hoyne Brewing, Victoria BC
Style: Imperial India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.6%
IBUs: Not Available (High!)

Description: This latest limited release by Hoyne, this double IPA is named in honor of Victoria’s reputation for prolonged, wet weather. Befitting that is an IPA of increased strength and intense bitterness, made possible by a hefty dose of finishing hops that are added late in the boil.

Tasting Notes: This is the second ale I’ve had recently that took advantage of finishing hops to achieve extra bitterness. And I have to say, I’m not a huge fan. While the craft of this brew and its makers’ talent cannot be denied, it just wasn’t that pleasing to drink. The hop flavor is intensely bitter in a way that obscures the malt base and doesn’t provide any fruity notes to balance out the bitterness. Sorry, but this is one trend I’m not able to get behind just yet.

Appearance: Strong amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt nose, strong dose of hops, grassy, herbal and citrus peel
Taste: Immediate burst of hop bitterness, herbal, hints of grass, powerful citrus rind
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, citrus rind, and herbal notes
Overall: 7.5/10

Barkerville 18 Karat Ale

barkerville_18karatBrewer: Barkerville Brewing, Quesnel BC
Style: Amber Ale
Alc/Vol: 4.9%
IBUs: 33

Description: Named in honor of the Gold Rush, this amber ale is the flagship beer produced by the recently-opened Barkerville Brewing Company. Employing a pale malt base and a descent hopping, the beer aims for a balance in flavor and a consistently amber-gold color.

Tasting Notes: This beer was a good introduction to this brewery’s wares, though I neglected to give it a review at the time. This beer is quite balanced, combining a relatively crisp malt base with a varied hop palette that includes notes of grass, resiny pine, citrus, and some lingering bitterness. Quite pleasing. I look forward to seeing and sampling more from this interior-BC brewery!

Appearance: Golden amber, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Balanced malt, bread, good dose of grassy, resiny, piney hops
Taste: Crisp malt, slight tang, grassy hop flavor, citrus, bitter pine
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, smooth malt finish
Overall: 7.8/10

Brouwerji Van Steenberge Gulden Draak

gulden_drakBrewer: Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V., Ertvelde, Belgium
Style: Dark Triple Ale
ABV: 10.5%

Description: This brew takes it name and logo from the dragon that sits atop the Belfry of Ghent, one of three medieval towers that overlook the old city center of Ghent, Belgium. This dark triple is one of several beers brewed by the Van Steenberge brewery in the town of Ertvelde and uses dark malts, a mild dose of hops, and wine yeast for secondary fermentation in the bottle.

Tasting Notes: I first tried this beer back in Ottawa, many years ago. Lucky for me I found a steady supply again and decided to give it a proper review, for I seriously forgot what it tasted like, which is pretty fantastic. Rich, sugary malts packed with notes of dark fruits combine with a yeasty backbone, resulting in a tasty, velvety flavor that is surprisingly smooth in spite of the alcohol content. Definitely something that requires re-re-sampling!

Appearance: Dark brown/amber, very cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark malt, yeasty, demerera sugar, white wine
Taste: Smooth malt, brown sugar, flavors of dates, raisins, grape, yeasty effervescence
Aftertaste: Lingering malt and yeasty notes, hint of spice
Overall: 9.5/10

Unibroue Grande Reserve 17 (2014)

Unibroue_17Brewer: Unibroue, Chambly, QC
Style: Extra Strong Dark Ale
ABV: 10%
IBUs: 35

Description: This limited release from Unibroue comes but once a year to mark the brewery’s anniversary. The first batch of the Trappist-inspired ale was created in 2007 to mark their 17th, and the name has stuck since. Rich, dark malts are aged in French oak barrels, and then refermented in the bottle with active yeast culture.

Tasting Notes: The last time I sampled a Grand Reserve 17 was 2012, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the flavor has changed somewhat with the passing of time. It could be the result of better aging with this bottle, but the sugary notes were more subdued this time around. While I got a whiff of brown sugar, the overall malt flavor was much more coarse. What really came through was an effervescent, yeasty quality with a nice, spicy finish. And of course, there was the notable alcoholic punch, but which was nicely rounded out. All in all, I was reminded of both Chimay and Trois Pistoles – two other fine examples of Belgians and the Belgian-inspired!

Appearance: Dark brown, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, brown sugar, effervescent, yeasty, floral hops, alcohol
Taste: Strong malt, oaky, tang, caramelized sugar, yeasty, spicy finish, alcoholic bite
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness and alcohol
Overall: 8.5/10

Lagunitas The Hairy Eyeball Ale

lagunitas_hairy-eyeballBrewery: Lagunitas Brewing, Petaluma, CA
Style: Dark Ale
ABV: 9.4%
IBUs: 56.66

Description: A limited release that is available for the Fall season, this strong dark ale is named and brewed in honor of hangover cures! Employing rich, dark malts with a good dose of hops, this beer is intended to be the “hair of the dog” that beats the hair eyeballs.

Tasting Notes: I was strongly reminded of a bock beer with this one, a style that I love. The strong malt, dark color, notes of molasses, minerals and herbal notes were all consistent with a bock’s flavor. Having not been hungover when I drank it, I cannot attest to its hangover-arresting qualities. It is however a great accompaniment to food or just casual drinking!

Appearance: Deep brown/amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark malt, notes of molasses, chocolate, espresso, and minerals
Taste: Roasted malt, brown sugar and molasses, good tang, strong herbal notes
Aftertaste: Lingering tang, roasted malt flavor and bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Barkerville Prospector’s Peril Blonde Ale

Brew_HahaBrewer: Barkerville Brewing, Quesnel, BC
Style: Blonde Ale
ABV: 5.4%
IBUs: 24

Description: As part of the brewery’s regular lineup, this Belgian-style Blonde Ale is named in honor of another aspect of the Gold Rush – which was the risk prospector’s ran of going mad. Pale malt is combined with Belgian yeasts and a mild hopping to effect a light, refreshing golden ale.

Tasting Notes: This beer actually put me in mind of some of my favorite Belgian blondes. Sharp yeasts combine with a hint of sweetness, notes of honey, and mild hop bitterness to create a very refreshing and drinkable brew.

Appearance: Deep golden, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, strong honey notes, Belgian yeast
Taste: Grainy, crisp malt, mild sweetness, yeast, mild hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malt and yeast bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Barkerville Wandering Camel IPA

barkerville_ioaBrewer: Barkerville Brewing, Quesnel, BC
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 48

Description: Names in honor of the camels that brought supplies to Barkerville during the Gold Rush, this IPA is part of the brewery’s regular lineup. Brewed in the style of an English India Pale Ale, this brew is unfiltered and is bittered with (what I assume are) Chinook and Centennial hops.

Tasting Notes: This IPA was a nice change of pace, as it was not too heavy in either the malt or hop department. The crisp malt are nicely balanced with notes of pine, citrus, and tropical fruit, creating an IPA that is just strong enough while still being quite quaffable.

Appearance: Golden-orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Crisp malt, floral hops, notes of citrus and pine
Taste: Crisp malt, hint of passion fruit, strong citrus, grapefruit and pine notes
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, pine and citrus rind
Overall: 8/10

Big Rock Anthea Wet Hop Ale 2014

bigrock_antheaBrewer: Big Rock, Calgary, AB
Style: Wet Hopped Pale Ale
ABV: 6%
IBUs: 39

Description: As part of the Alchemist Edition, a series of one-off, very limited release small batch brews, the Anthea is Big Rock’s contribution to move towards locally-sourced, wet-hopped beers. The name means “blossom” in Greek, and the brew is fashioned from Pale and Caramel Malt with Fresh Cascade hops sourced from the Yakima Valley in Washington state.

Tasting Notes: It’s rather difficult for me to find anything from Big Rock’s limited releases out here, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found this. Like most wet-hopped ales I’ve had, this one was rather subtle and easy drinking. The relatively crisp and smooth malt is balanced by hop flavor that has discernible citrus and grassy notes that are understated, but present throughout.

Appearance: Golden amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malts, mild floral and citrus hop notes
Taste: Crisp malt, hint of grapefruit, gentle hop bite, grassy and citrus notes
Aftertaste: Mild lingering hop flavor, crisp malt, refreshing finish
Overall: 7.7/10

Moon Under Water Oud King Crow Barrel Aged Sour Ale

Moon_under_water_sourBrewer: Moon Under Water Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Sour Are
ABV: 9%

Description: The latest in their Storefront Special series, this year’s offering from Moon Under Water is a sour ale with a twist. In addition to being bottle-conditioned with brettanomyces, it is aged in Pinot Noire oak barrels. Apparently, this is a one-time offering, so get it soon!

Tasting Notes: This was definitely an interesting twist on the traditional sour, but a very fitting one. I’ve often felt that your Flemish Reds are reminiscent of a dry, red wine. As such, aging one in a red wine oak barrel seems to compliment the flavor quite well. The infusion of oak and red wine manage to smooth out the yeasty and tart fruit notes, and does a pretty good job of concealing the strong alcohol content. Still tart and full of sour cherry flavor, but in highly smooth and drinkable package.

Appearance: Dark purple, opaque, mild foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dry, brettanomyces yeast, red wine, orchard fruit, oak
Taste: Light malt, effervescent yeast, sour cherries, oak, dry red wine
Aftertaste: Lingering red wine flavor and tart fruit
Overall: 8.2/10

Alameda Klickitat Pale Ale

alameda_klickitat-Brewer: Alameda Brewing, Portland OR
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.3%
IBU: 36

Description: Named in honor of the Klickitat people of the Pacific Northwest, this pale ale is part of Alameda’s regular lineup. It is fashioned using Caramel and Munich malts, and then bittered with 3 different additions of Northwest-grown Cascade hops to emphasize the different aspects of their flavor.

Tasting Notes: All told, this was a very descent and well-balanced pale ale. The mouthfeel and smooth malt flavor reminded me a red ale, but the hop bitterness – which really comes through in a variety of flavors – was that a good solid pale. Added to that is the nice amber hue and a cloudy profile that makes it an all around pleasurable drinking experience!

Appearance: Amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, baked bread, herbal hops, grassy and citrus notes
Taste: Smooth malt, chewy mouthfeel, grassy and piney hops, mild citrus bite
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, citrus rind, smooth malt finish
Overall: 8.5/10