Granville Island Auld Skill Scottish Ale

granvilleisland_auldskoolBrewer: Granville Island Brewery, Vancouver, BC
Style: Scottish Ale
ABV: 6.25%
IBUs: 20

Description: This Scottish-style ale is part of Granville Island’s Black Notebook Series – a series of small-batch, limited-release beers. In honor of Robbie Burns Day, this beer is brewed in the traditional Scottish Ale-style, consisting of darker, richer malts that are subjected to a longer boil and a mild hopping.

Tasting Notes: Like most of GI’s Black Notebook Series, this brew was a somewhat subdued, but definitely landed in the requisite flavor departments. These included the darker, heavier malt base, the notes of sugar and dark fruits, and the hint of peat moss and general smokiness. Definitely a solid Scottish Ale for those who want a milder variant.

Appearance: Amber-brown, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich, sweet malts, mild smoke and peaty aroma, dark fruits and caramelized sugar
Taste: Semi-sweet malt, burnt sugar, mild tang, hint of smoke, peat moss, dates, raisins
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, sugars, minerals
Overall: 7.8/10

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Spencer Trappist Ale

spencer_trappistBrewer: Spencer Trappist Ales/St. Joseph Abbey, Spencer, MA
Style: Trappist Ale
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: Unlisted (mild)

Description: This brew is the Abbey’s only brew, and is made in the Trappist fashion using a proprietary blend of 2 row and 6 row malted barley, and some caramel Munich specialty malt from Wisconsin for color. It is then bittered using a combination of Willamette, Nugget, and other hops from Washington state’s Yakima Valley. It is then unpasteurized and unfiltered with active yeast still in the bottle.

Tasting Notes: This brew was a fortunate find. It definitely has the character of a Trappist ale, possessing that same oaky, yeasty flavor that I have come to associate with beers like Orval and Chimay. But it is also delightfully subtle and lightly colored, and comes with notes of fruit – the foremost being cherry and apricot – that you don’t usually get from a Belgian Trappist. I will be definitely be seeking more in the future.

Appearance: Golden orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt base, floral hop bouquet, traces of citrus and orchard fruit
Taste: Smooth malt, hints of oak, mild traces of cherry, apricot, yeast
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, oak, yeasty aftertaste, quite clean
Overall: 9.5/10

Coal Harbour Blackwing Baltic Porter

CoalHarbor_blackwingBrewer: Coal Harbour Brewing, Vancouver, BC
Style: Baltic Porter
ABV: 7.5%
IBUs: 30

Description: Brewed in the style of an Easter European Porter, this beer was inspired by the thousands of Still Creek Crows that fly over the brewery to their nightly roost. True to its style, it is fashioned using a deeply roasted malt base that is fermented longer to give it greater potency and alcoholic strength.

Tasting Notes: I have a bit of a block when it comes to strong porters and stouts, mainly because I’ve had a few too many licorice-heavy ones (not my thing). However, this Porter was surprisingly smooth, and managed to have all the right notes, but in a slightly subdued form. As such, it was really quite drinkable.

Appearance: Black, translucent, mild foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malt base, hints of coffee beans, roasted nuts. mild herbs
Taste: Smooth roasted malt, notes of espresso, hint of licorice, mild hop bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, roasted nuts and coffee
Overall: 8/10

Longwood Wild Child Ale

longwood_wildchildBrewer: Longwood Brewery, Nanaimo, BC
Style: Wild Fermented Ale
ABV: 7%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: Wild Child is essentially Longwood’s Brewery’s version of a sour ale, aka. one fermented using naturally-occurring yeast. It is also the first in Longwood’s new “small batch series”, a series of one-off limited release ales that are experimental in nature.

Tasting Notes: As wild-fermented ales go, this was interesting, but a little unbalanced. The wild yeast flavor comes through with some rather tart raspberry notes, but the malt base is decidedly very light. So its a little weak in one respect and a little overpowering in another.

Appearance: Dark amber, translucent, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, powerful notes of raspberry, wild yeast and lactic acid
Taste: Gentle malt start, immediate yeasty tones, tart raspberry, lactic acid 
Aftertaste: Lingering tart fruit, yeasty aftertaste, slightly watery
Overall: 7.3/10

Image credit: uptappd.com