Postmark Winter Red

postmark_winterredBrewer: Postmark Brewing, Vancouver, BC
Style: Red Ale
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 23

Description: Brewed for the winter season, this red ale is made using Red X Malt and bittered with Perle Hops. Fermentation is then done using a special strain of Belgian Ardennes yeast, which highlights fruit flavors and adds a spicy aroma.

Tasting Notes: This is definitely one of the better beers I’ve had in recent months. As a fan or red ales, I do enjoy it when someone does one right. This beer strikes a very nice balance between a rich, deep malt flavor, fruity notes and earthy hops flavor, with a mild spicy yeast finish..

Appearance: Deep ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich, deep malt nose, notes of sweet bread and orchard fruit, earthy hops
Taste: Sweet, syrupy malts, fruity esters, grassy, earthy hops and minerals, hint of spice
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, earthy hops
Overall: 9/10

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Spinnakers Sooke Harvest

Spinnakers_Sooke_HarvestBrewer: Spinnakers Brewpub, Victoria, BC
Style: Fresh-Hopped Pale Ale
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 40

Description: This fresh-hopped ale is brewed using a combinatio of Pale and Crystal malts, then bittered using late addition Cascade, Chinook and Willamette hops, all of which are freshly picked from hop farms in the Sooke region.

Tasting Notes:  Spinnakers, it seems, is getting on the fresh-hopped game. And their offering is quite good, consisting of a nice, balanced pale ale with a hint of sweet bread flavor, and a nice, dry hop backing that has hints of West Coast flavors – i.e. herbs, grass and citrus.

Appearance: Deep ruby, clear, lacy foam retention, good carbonation
Nose: Rich pale malt, sweet bread, mild citrus, grassy and herbal hop notes
Taste: Smooth malt, hint of sweetness, dry hops, herbal and grassy, mild citrus
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness and malt flavor
Overall: 8.2/10

Driftwood De Auras Wheat Sour

driftwood_deaurasBrewer: Driftwood Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Sour Wheat Ale
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: Unspecified

Description: Released in time for the Fall harvest season, this sour wheat ale is the latest in Driftwood’s Bird of Prey sour ale series. It is fashioned using a combination wheat malt, raw wheat, hops, and three different kinds of yeast – brettanomyces, lactobactillus, and pediococcus, all lactic-acid producing strains.

Tasting Notes: This was definitely a nice combination, one which I have to admit that I’m not typically crazy about. But in this case, the gentle wheat malt base does well when combined with a whole lot of sour yeasts, adding dimensions of fruit flavor that are reminiscent of sour cherries and tart fruit. And I definitely prefer it to their last offering as well, Oscuritas. Looking forward to what’s next!

Appearance: Amber/orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle wheat malt, lactic acid, sour cherry, orchard fruits
Taste: Smooth wheat malt, fruity esters, sour cherry, lactic acid, clean finish
Aftertaste: Lingering sourness and lactic acid, gentle malt flavor
Overall: 8.25/10

Hoyne’s Appleton Extra Special Bitter

Hoynes_Appleton_ESBBrewer: Hoyne Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Extra Special Bitter
ABV: 5.2%
IBUs: Unspecified (but I’m guessing 40s range)

Description: This brew is Hoyne’s latest limited release, which pays homage to Frank Appleton, the man who taught Sean Hoyne the art of brewing and started many breweries. Much like the Swan’s ESB that bears his name, and brewed is the tradition of the classic English Extra Special Bitter, this brew combines (among other things) Thomas Fawcett Golden Promise, Bairds, and Crystal malts with Fuggles and East Kent Golding hops.

Tasting Notes: Buckerfield’s ESB was one of my favorites when I was known to frequent Swan’s brewpub. And I’m happy to see that Sean Hoyne, who apprenticed with Appleton at Swan’s, is carrying on in that tradition, making a clean-tasting, crisp, and dry-hopped ale! Like a kick-ass ESB, it has a good malt base that is slightly sweet and reminiscent of sweet bread, and is packed with dry hops that have notes of grass, dried herbs, and a nice mineral tang to finish it all off.

Appearance: Amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich pale malt, sweet breads, notes of dry hops, grassyand dry herbs
Taste: Crisp malts, good tang, hint of sweetness, dry hops, hints of grass, herbs, minerals
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, mild malt sweetness
Overall: 9/10

Old Abbey Ales Flemish Brett Brown

Old_Abbey_logoBrewer: Old Abbey Ales, Abbotsford, BC
Style: Flemish Brown Ale
ABV: 7.7%
IBUs: 35

Description: This beer is part of Old Abbey’s Innovation Series, a series of limited release experimental beers that is always changing. For their latest, brewmaster Tony Dewald has created Flemish-style Brown ale (Bruine) complete with the wild brettanomyces strain.

Tasting Notes: This is my first visit to the wares of Old Abbey, and I felt quite privileged to be sampling their latest experimental brew – the results of which were quite impressive. This beer packs a lot of Bruin flavor, consisting of dark, toasty malts with lots of roasted nut, coffee and chocolate flavor. But at the same time, the use of Belgian brettanomyces yeast ensures a hint of sour cherry and some dark fruit flavor that really sets it off.

Appearance: Brown, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Roasted malts, hints of coffee, roasted nuts, fruits and sugars
Taste: Smooth malt, roasted nuts, mild espresso, dark chocolate, raisins, dates, hint of sour cherries
Aftertaste: Lingering roasted malt aftertaste, malt bitterness, coffee
Overall: 9/10

Le Trou du Diable Dubaï Pillée

TDD_Dubaipillee-334x1024Brewer: Le Trou du Diable, Shawinigan, QC
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9%
IBUs:

Description: This Double IPA – which has a curious alien-invasion theme going – is one of Le Trou’s seasonal releases, making the rounds for the Winter-Spring season. A double dose of malts and a significant hopping make it a potent and flavorful beer. And its accolades include being declared Canada’s Best Imperial IPA at the 2015 World Beer Awards in the UK.

Tasting Notes: I am still scratching my head as to what inspired this beer – which takes its theme from a fictitious invasion of Dubai (ca. 1954) where aliens stole our beer… and are coming back! Even so, one does need excuses in order to brew a good double IPA. This beer delivers, offering a rich, syrupy malt base, and a varied hop finish that has notes of citrus, passion fruit, mango and peaches.

Appearance: Amber/orange, cloudy, thick lacy foam, good carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, sugars, citrus, tropical fruit, piney hops
Taste: Rich, slightly coarse malts, notes of citrus and pine, mango, passion fruit, peach
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, tropical fruits, coarse malt flavor
Overall: 9/10

St. Ambroise 2014 Millésimée Vintage Ale

st.ambroise_millesime1Brewer: McAuslan Brewing, Montreal, QC
Style: Extra Strong Ale
ABV: 10%
IBUs: 58

Description: The 2014 St. Ambroise Vintage Ale carries in the tradition of McAuslan’s Millésimée series, a once a year, seasonal vintage ale that is a little different every time. The 2014 is brewed using a combination of Munich and wheat malts, bittered with Cascade and Golding hops, and then served unfiltered.

Tasting Notes: In what is fast becoming a tradition, I picked up a bottle of the 2014 Vintage Ale. And in honor of my recent trip to Ottawa, I thought I would make time for a review in between my usual rundown of Ottawa microbreweries and Ontario beers. I was definitely impressed with this year’s offering, which reminded me of last year’s. A strong malt base, which manages to still be drinkable and smooth, is packed with the flavor of brown sugar, dates and dark fruits, and has some accompanying notes of tropical fruit, made possible by a good hopping. Looking forward to next year’s!

Appearance: Deep ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, brown sugar, dark fruit, floral hops and citrus, alcohol
Taste: Strong, coarse malt, good tang, alcoholic bite, brown sugar, dates, passion fruit
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, coarse malt flavor and alcohol
Overall: 9/10