Saint Sylvestre 3 Monts Ale

st-sylvestre_3montsBrewer: Brasserie de Saint Sylvestre, Cappel, France
Style: Strong Ale
ABV: 8.5%

Description: This ale, which hails from the Flanders region of northeastern France, is Saint Sylvestre’s flagship beer. Brewed in the traditional way, it combines a pale malt base with hearty Flemish hops, fermented using top-fermented yeasts, and then conditioned in wooden barrels. The name itself (3 hills) refers to the three hills in Flanders – Mont Noir in Belgium and Mont Cassel & Mont des Cats both on the French side of the border.

Tasting Notes: This brew as a lucky find, which I happened at one of the better purveyors in Victoria (they are good at stocking what one might consider obscure brews). It also quite the pleasant sampling, consisting a crisp, bubbly, but also smooth and refreshing beer, that has an oaky profile that is reminiscent of a stiff white wine. The flavors also call forth a good northern French ale, with a firm and fruity malt base, a mild hoppy kick, and champagne-like effervescence. Given my fascination with Belgian and Flanders beers, I will be seeking out more of this brewery’s products!

Appearance: Straw golden, clear, thick, bubbly head, good carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, hint of oak, mild herbal hop notes, Flemish yeast 
Taste: Crisp, slightly fruity malt, mild herbal hops, strong oak, yeasty effervescence
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, slightly bitter, lingering oak
Overall: 8.3/10

Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

elysian_pumpkinBrewer: Elysian Brewing, Seattle, WA
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 6.7%
IBUs: 18

Description: Elysian’s Fall Seasonal Pumpkin Ale is brewed using Pale, Munich, Crystal malts, which are then lightly bittered with Magnum hops. Roasted and raw pumpkin seeds are then added to the mash, while pumpkin flesh is added in the mash, in the kettle, and during fermentation.

Tasting Notes: This is a good take on the Pumpkin Ale. The nose is indistinguishable from pumpkin pie, and the flavor is not far behind. There’s plenty of pumpkin flesh to complement the smooth malt and just sweet enough malt flavor, and the spice comes through nicely without being overpowering.

Appearance: Amber-orange, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Pumpkin pie nose! Allspice, smooth malts, cinnamon and nutmeg
Taste: Smooth malt, pumpkin pie, mineral tang, mild sweetness, ginger, allspice
Aftertaste: Lingering spice flavor, sweet and smooth malt, minerals
Overall: 8/10

Powell Street Fresh Hop IPA 2016

powellst_freshhopBrewer: Powell Street Craft Brewery, Vancouver, BC
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6%
IBUs: Unlisted (mild to moderate)

Description: This limited seasonal release is made with fresh hops sourced from the Fraser Valley. The pale malt base is bittered using a combination of Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops, making for a smooth and refreshing India Pale Ale.

Tasting Notes: I was actually surprised to learn this beer was an IPA. Between its light-color malt, mild bitterness and easy-drinking, it seemed so much more like a pale ale. However, being on the light side (at least in terms of bitterness) is to be expected where fresh hops are concerned. And its crisp, clean taste are where its strengths lie, since they are what make it a refreshing brew.

Appearance: Golden, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, hint of herbal hops, mild mineral nose
Taste: Smooth malt, mineral tang, gentle notes of grassy hops, mild citrus
Aftertaste: Lingering smooth malt flavor, tang, and mild hops
Overall: 8/10

Tree Kim-Ach-Touch Ale

tree_kimachtouchBrewer: Tree Brewing, Kelowna, BC
Style: Brown Ale/Dopplebock
ABV: 6.4%
IBUs: 42

Description: Named in honor of the Okanagan word for “Brown Bear”, and inspired by the story of early settler August Gillard, this beer combines the brewery’s Dopplebock and Brown ale. It is fashioned using Pale, Munich, ESB, Crystal, and Chocolate malts, and is then bittered with a combination of Tettnang, Cascade, Crystal, Centennial, and Summit hops.

Tasting Notes: The commercial description certainly does this beer justice. Basically, you have all the aspects of a Dopplebock and a Brown Ale adding up. This includes sweet and toasty malt flavors, some minerals and roasted nuts, and a solid hop backing. This adds up to an interesting beer that is both sharp and strong and sweet and refreshing.

Appearance: Dark ruby-brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Toasted malt, minerals, roasted nuts, hint of grassy, piney hops
Taste: Combination sweet-sharp malt, mineral tang, grassy and herbal hop bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering hop and toasted malt bitterness, hint of sweetness
Overall: 8.5/10

Fuggles and Warlock Rei Boysenberry Sour

fuggleswarlock_reiBrewer: Fuggles and Warlock Craftworks, Richmond, BC
Style: Kettle Sour
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 7

Description: True to form for F&G, this limited-release beer is a rather interesting combination of styles and tastes. It combines wheat and barley malts, which are then brewed in the Kettle Sour fashion to create a mild sour ale that is then fortified with boysenberries to become especially tart and refreshing.

Tasting Notes: This is my first review for Fuggles and Warlock, though not the first beer I’ve tried by them. And this beer was a nice departure from some of the more overpowering sours I’ve tried lately. The malts makes for a smooth and refreshing base, while the wild yeast and boysenberry add up to a tart finish that is tart and fruity without being overpowering. Like sour lemonade, its good at slaking thirst!

Appearance: Rudy-pink, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle wheat malts, wild yeast, tart, acidic fruit
Taste: Smooth malts, tart fruit, lactic acid, yeasty effervescence
Aftertaste: Lingering tart fruit, smooth malts, quite refreshing
Overall: 8/10

Vichtenaar Flemish Ale

vichtenaarBrewer: Brouwerij Verhaeghe, Vichte, Belgium
Style: Flemish Red-Brown Ale
ABV: 5.1%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: Named after the town in which it is brewed, this beer is brewed in the tradition of Flemish reds. This includes combining deeply burned malt, spicy and fruity hops, and soft water pumped from a local well. It then undergoes primary fermention using wild yeast strains, a second lagering, and then a third fermentation in oak casts, where it matures for several months.

Tasting Notes: This beer get solid marks for its commitment to tradition, but I deducted several because of the flavor, which was far too vinegary for my taste. When you initially smell it, you get strong traces of apple cider vinegar and sugar. When you taste it, you realize that’s pretty much all its got going on. In many ways, it reminded me of Krampus, another vinegar-heavy sour ale that really didn’t do much for me.

Appearance: Deep red-brown, clear (appears opaque at first), mild foam and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, yeast
Taste: Smooth start, sugars, vinegary bite, yeasty effervescence
Aftertaste: Lingering sweetness and vinegar flavor
Overall: 7/10

Swan’s Pumpkin Ale 2016

swans_pumpkinBrewer:Swan’s Brewpub, Victoria, BC
Pumpkin Ale
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: Swan’s seasonal ale is back, and this year’s Pumpkin ale is fashioned in the usual way. Pale malts are combined with a mild hopping, then spiced with nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cinnamon. And of course, there’s the fresh baked pumpkin to finish the mix.

Tasting Notes: A nice, balanced pumpkin ale that has a smooth start, some powerful (but not overpowering) spice notes, and a lingering, spicy finish. I remember this one from year’s back and it’s still a nice way to ring in the Fall season.

Appearance: Deep amber, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Smooth malt, rich notes of allspice, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie
Taste: Smooth, crisp malt, ginger zest, cinnamon snap, allspice, pumpkin flesh
Aftertaste: Lingering pumpkin and spice flavor, mild ginger bitterness
Overall: 8/10