Brewer: Driftwood Brewing, Victoria, BC
Malts: Pilsner, CaraMunich, Munich, Aromatic, and Dark Wheat
Yeast: Brett Brux
Description: A massive dose of Morello cherries gives a rich red hue, and complemented by the cherry pie notes courtesy Brett Brux, this rich, complex-yet-dry sour beer delivers layers of fruit and funk. Aged for a year in used French Oak wine barrels. This beer is cellarable and will appreciate with age.
Tasting Notes: The Belle Royale was definitely one of my favorite of the Bird of Prey Series, which specialized in sours of different varieties. Since its re-release, it has been relabelled as a Kriek, owing to its combination of Morello cherries and wild yeast. And the product is just as good as I remember – rich, robust, sour, with a strong nose and flavor smacking of sour cherries, tart lactic acid, and an oaky aftertaste.
Brewer: Tofino Brewing, Tofino, BC
Style: Imperial Ale
Description: To celebrate 5 years of brewing beer in Tofino, we bring you the Super Tuff. This is an Imperial take on our brewery staple, the Tuff Session Ale.
Tasting Notes: This is another limited release that I’ve been long on wanting, slow on trying. And it is what is advertised – an imperial version of their session ale. The beer pours of a deep ruby-brown, has a rich malt nose and powerful notes of west coast hops, and packs a punch in the flavor department. Like a good barely wine and/or imperial ale, this is characterized by sweet/coarse malt that has notes of syrup, caramelized sugar, and notes of tropical fruits.
Brewer: Driftwood Brewing, Victoria, BC
Description: The Last Aurochs Weizenbock takes a traditional approach to the Weizenbock style, mixing hefeweizen yeast with the classic Bock malt profile for a bold, powerful beer. Complex flavours of dark fruit, spice and banana bread round out it’s effervescent body and deliver a delicious finish.
Tasting Notes: Weizenbock is one of my favorite styles, and this brew is a reminder of why that is. It pours a dark brown, smells of roasted malt and banana, and has smooth velvety mouthfeel, hints of banana, brown sugar, and plenty of date and raisin notes in the mouth. Another limited release that knocks it out of the park, and by a brewery that is renowned for them.
Brewer: Unibroue, Chambly, Quebec
Description: This saison ale was brewed at the request of Dave Mustaine, lead singer of heavy metal band Megadeth. It uses a cold (aka. dry) hopping technique and, to date, has the lowest alcohol content of any Unibroue beer.
Tasting Notes: This is not the first Saison I’ve had by Unibroue (the other being their Blonde de Chambly), but it is one of just a few new beers that I’ve sampled from this brewery in recent years. And it was a bit light in terms of alcohol and flavor – which is surprising, given the brewery’s reputation. But certainly came through in terms of it being crisp and refreshing. It also has the characteristic yeasty effervescence of a Saison, with hints of spice, lemon and a bitter soapy finish.
Addendum: This beer recently won a gold medal by the Beverage Testing Institute. With a score of 93 points, the beer qualifies as “Exceptional”.
Brewer: Moon Under Water, Victoria, BC
Style: Old Ale
Description: “For 9000 years our history has been shaped by the myriad of ingredients used to create fermented beverages. This series pays homage to the variety of starches, spices, fruits and whatever else civilizations of the past have used to satisfy humanity’s lover affair with alcohol.”
This year’s installment to their Ancient Ale Series is decidedly Irish in style (as the name would suggest). And consistent with brewing done at the beginning of the 18th century, it is made using smoked and peated malts, is not bittered with hops, and is then fermented with different strands of yeast, and then barrel-aged for a year.
Tasting Notes: This beer has some familiar notes for those accustomed to craft brewing, and have sampled some of the recent revitalized styles. For instance, you have notes of sour fruit and lactic acid (consistent with wild yeast sours), a hint of smoke and peat that is consistent with Rauchbier (smoke ale) and/or a good Scottish ale, and some oaky flavor that is consistent with barrel aging. Altogether, quite smooth and not overly acidic or overpowering.