Big Rock Monkey’s Fist Imperial IPA

big-rock-iipaBrewer: Big Rock Brewery, Calgary, AB
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 7.5%
IBUs: 73

Description: This brew comes as part of the Family Jewels pack, and is otherwise known as their Dead Reckoning Imperial IPA when part of their Brewmaster’s Edition. In the traditional of Imperial IPAs, this brew is fashioned from a combination of Maris Otter, Caramel and Black malts, while bittered with English East Kent Golding, Challenger and Progress hops.

Tasting Notes: This is the last of my new samplings from the Big Rock’s Family Jewels pack. And similar to the others, it was somewhat lighter than what I am accustomed to of late. Being English in style, this brew had a good malt base and some varied but comparatively subtle hop flavor. This came through in some sugary, coarse malt and some strong citrus notes and deep earthy flavor. And yet, it finishes rather clean and mild.

Appearance: Deep amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, burnt sugar, citrus and earthy hops
Taste: Strong malt, mild coarseness tang, citrus rind, dry hops, earthy tones
Aftertaste: Lingering citrus rind hop bitterness, malt flavor
Overall: 7.8/10

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Unibroue Seigneuriale

Unibroue_seigneurieleBrewer: Unibroue Brewery, Chambly. QC
Style: Strong Ale
ABV: 7.5%
IBUs: 33

Description: This is the latest special release by Unibroue, a strong ale which pays homage to the Seigneuriale system and the role it played in the settlement of “New France”. Like all Unibroue’s products, it is brewed in the Belgian-style and refermented in the bottle with active yeast cultures.

Tasting Notes: This brew was best described as a stronger version of their Blanche de Chambly, a Belgian-style wheat. Much like the Blanche, it has some strong wheat malts, a yeasty backbone, and some coriander and orange zest. However, this one adds to that with some notes of pineapple in the nose and stronger, slightly sweeter malts.

Appearance: Deep orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wheat malt, yeast, pineapple, hint of coriander spice
Taste: Crisp malt, tang, yeast, caramelized sugar, mild orange zest and spicy finish
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, yeast bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Stone Ruination IPA

stone_ruination_ipaBrewer: Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 8.2%
IBUs: 100+

Description: As part of their regular lineup, the Ruination IPA (so named because of its strength and intense hop flavor) is basically the same recipe as their Stone IPA, but with an extra-large helping of malt and a very large dose of of Magnum, Chinook and Centennial hops.

Tasting Notes: This is only my second sampling from the Stone Brewery, which began with their Arrogant Bastard Ale. And again, it seems they’ve got me pegged with their wares! Comparable to the better Imperial IPAs I’ve had, this brew has a strong malt base (minus the sweetness I’ve become accustomed to) and some truly decent hop flavor that combines intense grassy, citrus and piney flavors. I have to say, I highly approve of the hop-forward nature of this beer, and their choices of hops since it lends it a distinctly dry and bitter flavor.

Appearance: Light gold/amber, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Light malt, strong notes of grassy, herbal, citrus and piney hops
Taste: Smooth malt, tang, plenty of herbal, grassy, dry hop flavor, citrus notes
Aftertaste: Lingering dry hop and herbal/grassy bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Ommegang Valar Morghulis Dubbel Ale

ommegang_valar_morghulisBrewer: Ommegang Brewery, Cooperstown, NY
Style: Dubbel Ale
ABV: 8%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: As part of Ommegang’s limited edition Game of Thrones theme, this beer’s name is a tribute to the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, specifically the continent of Essos where these words are a popular saying (meaning “all men must die”). This beer is brewed in the Belgian Dubbel-style, employing a dark, rich malt base and fermented in the bottle with active yeast cultures.

Tasting Notes: This is my third sampling from the GOT lineup, which has now grown to five beers. And it was really quite good, and consistent with what a Belgian Dubbel usually has to offer. The dark malts possess a rich, brown sugar-like sweetness and a slight mineral tang, plenty of yeasty goodness and some trace amounts of spice. And of course, there were lots of dark fruit esters to accompany it. It was smoother than I am used to, but this was hardly a bad thing. Looking forward to the next two!

Appearance: Deep amber.brown, clear, thick foamy head, good carbonation
Nose: Smooth malt, yeast, oak, hint of spice, cherry and dark fruit, minerals
Taste: Rich malt, mild tang, brown sugar, plums, raisins, yeast, hint of clove, minerality
Aftertaste: Lingering malt, yeast, and mineral finish, quite smooth
Overall: 8.5/10

Big Rock Scottish Style Heavy Ale

big-rock-scottishBrewer: Big Rock Brewery, Calgary, AB
Style: Wee Heavy Ale
ABV: 7%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: As part of their Signature Series, this Scottish ale is brewed in the “Wee Heavy” tradition, employing a combination of Pale, Caramel, Munich and Peated malt, and then bittered with Northern brewer hops.

Tasting Notes: This is my second sampling from the Family Jewels pack, and is one which I have had before (but didn’t review). Again, a but on the light side, but this brew certainly comes through in the flavor department. Like a good Wee Heavy, it has some rich malts, a touch of sweetness, hints of peat moss and whiskey, and a respectable 7% alcohol.

Appearance: Deep red, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, syrup, sugars, smoked peat, whiskey
Taste: Sweet malt, hint of peat, syrup, biscuits, smoky tang
Aftertaste: Lingering malt, peat flavor, smoky and tangy finish
Overall: 8/10

Big Rock Gerstenmeister Marzen

big-rock-family-jewels_baseBrewer: Big Rock, Calgary AB
Style: Marzen
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: Consistent with the popular Oktoberfest-style of German Lager, the Gerstenmeister combines (what I believe are) Munich malts with a mild hopping, which is then aged for six months of cool confinement to effect a rich, malty, and mildy hoppy flavor.

Tasting Notes: As Marzen’s go, this beer was a little light for my taste. Still, it had all the right things going for it – a rich malt, base, smooth character, a light tang, and some sweet notes that reminded me of shortbread and toffee. And despite generally being on the lighter side, I have found Big Rock’s wares always comes through where it counts. This beer is the first sampling from my most recent procurement from the local beer stores post-holiday surpluses. It’s known as the Family Jewels Pack, and stay tuned, because there are a few more to come!

Appearance: Orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, biscuits, toffee, mild floral hops, minerals
Taste: Sweet malt, mild tang, shortbread, toffee, mild dry hops, minerals
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, minerals and mild tang
Overall: 7.8/10

Central City Bolg Belgian Style Tripel

Central-City-Bolg-TripelBrewer: Central City Brewing, Vancouver, BC
Style: Belgian Tripel
ABV: 9.5%
IBU: 35

Description: The third installment in Central City’s The Hobbit series, this beer is appropriately made in the Belgian Tripel-style and is named in honor of the third film’s chief protagonist.

Tasting Notes: I was quite torn by this beer. On the one hand, like every beer in this series, it’s endorsing movies I don’t like, and it all seems a bit crass and consumerish. On the other, it’s nice to see a Canadian brewery snagging a lucrative cross-promotion like this. And above all, the beer itself is quite good! A strong malt base, some coarseness, the notes of candi sugar and Belgian yeast, and a good alcoholic punch. Definitely comparable to some of the better Tripels I’ve had in recent years.

Appearance: Deep golden, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, sugar, yeast, honey, floral bouquet
Taste: Strong malt, candi sugar, yeast, coarse finish, alcoholic bite
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt, alcohol and yeast flavor
Overall: 8.5/10