Category 12 Excitation Cocao Nib Espresso Stout

c12-excitation-bottle-c-1Brewer: Category 12, Victoria, BC
Style: Stout
ABV: 6.4%
IBUs: 30

Description: This latest installment from Category 12 takes the English-style of stout and enhances it with cold pressed, organic espresso and raw cacao nibs. Combined with a mild hopping, and what are clearly Belgian yeasts (thought they won’t say so!), this beer is both a compliment and a twist on the traditional stout.

Tasting Notes: Category 12 has tackled the venerable style of stout at last! And as always, they bring a touch of the classically-inspired and Belgian to the mix. Roasted espresso and cacao nibs add some additional depth to the dark malt flavors, and Belgian yeasts add some yeasty bite to the mix!

Appearance: Black as tar, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Toasty malts, roasted espresso, dark chocolate
Taste: Roasted malt, hint of espresso, dark chocolate, Belgian yeast
Aftertaste: Lingering espresso and roasted malt, yeastiness
Overall: 9/10

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Phillips Trainwreck Oak Aged Barley Wine 2016

phillips_trainwreckBrewer: Philips Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Barley Wine
ABV: 10%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: Phillips annual winter seasonal ale is back for another season! And this time around, they have chosen to age their barley wine in French and American oak. Basically, for 2016, they’ve brought back the barrels, but ditched the bourbon! However, this beer still packs a punch, and is recommended best served at cellar temperatures (8 °C).

Tasting Notes: This year’s Trainwreck was quite delightful! I have only ever had nice things to say about their barley wine on its own, and mixed things when it came to the bourbon-barrel aged variant. But an oak-aged Trainwreck certainly manages to get the job done and doesn’t offend along the way. In fact, its natural sugars and maltiness do well with some natural oak flavor, which restrains the sweetness but doesn’t overpower the flavor.

Appearance: Dark amber/brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, brown sugars, raisins, dates, minerals, oak
Taste: Strong malt, oakiness, brown sugar, raisins, dates, mineral tang, alcoholic bite
Aftertaste: Lingering mineral tang, alcohol and oak notes
Overall: 8/10

Steel and Oak Beechwood Smoked Honey Doppelbock

steelandoak_doppelbockBrewer: Steel and Oak Brewing, New Westminster, BC
Style: Smoked Doppelbock
ABV: 7.9%
IBUs: 20

Description: This seasonal release is lovely combination, where a venerable style of German lager meets a rauchbier (smoke beer). It is brewed using honey and beechwood-smoked malt, which is then double-fermented and mildly hopped. This creates a beer that is smooth, rich, smokey and tangy, and nicely refreshing!

Tasting Notes: Smoke beers are generally kind of hit and miss for me. But this one has a range of flavors that manage to complement each other quite nicely. The smoked malt go well with the doppelbock’s natural tang, which are cut nicely by the natural malty flavor and the addition of honey.

Appearance: Amber/orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, honey, smoke, mild hops
Taste: Smooth malt, hint of smoke, mineral tang, touch of honey sweetness
Aftertaste: Lingering smoke minerals and mild malt sweetness
Overall: 9/10

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

Swan’s Pumpkin Ale 2016

swans_pumpkinBrewer:Swan’s Brewpub, Victoria, BC
Style:
Pumpkin Ale
ABV:
6%
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