Big Rock Monkey’s Fist Imperial IPA

big-rock-iipaBrewer: Big Rock Brewery, Calgary, AB
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 7.5%
IBUs: 73

Description: This brew comes as part of the Family Jewels pack, and is otherwise known as their Dead Reckoning Imperial IPA when part of their Brewmaster’s Edition. In the traditional of Imperial IPAs, this brew is fashioned from a combination of Maris Otter, Caramel and Black malts, while bittered with English East Kent Golding, Challenger and Progress hops.

Tasting Notes: This is the last of my new samplings from the Big Rock’s Family Jewels pack. And similar to the others, it was somewhat lighter than what I am accustomed to of late. Being English in style, this brew had a good malt base and some varied but comparatively subtle hop flavor. This came through in some sugary, coarse malt and some strong citrus notes and deep earthy flavor. And yet, it finishes rather clean and mild.

Appearance: Deep amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, burnt sugar, citrus and earthy hops
Taste: Strong malt, mild coarseness tang, citrus rind, dry hops, earthy tones
Aftertaste: Lingering citrus rind hop bitterness, malt flavor
Overall: 7.8/10

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Big Rock Scottish Style Heavy Ale

big-rock-scottishBrewer: Big Rock Brewery, Calgary, AB
Style: Wee Heavy Ale
ABV: 7%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: As part of their Signature Series, this Scottish ale is brewed in the “Wee Heavy” tradition, employing a combination of Pale, Caramel, Munich and Peated malt, and then bittered with Northern brewer hops.

Tasting Notes: This is my second sampling from the Family Jewels pack, and is one which I have had before (but didn’t review). Again, a but on the light side, but this brew certainly comes through in the flavor department. Like a good Wee Heavy, it has some rich malts, a touch of sweetness, hints of peat moss and whiskey, and a respectable 7% alcohol.

Appearance: Deep red, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, syrup, sugars, smoked peat, whiskey
Taste: Sweet malt, hint of peat, syrup, biscuits, smoky tang
Aftertaste: Lingering malt, peat flavor, smoky and tangy finish
Overall: 8/10

Big Rock Gerstenmeister Marzen

big-rock-family-jewels_baseBrewer: Big Rock, Calgary AB
Style: Marzen
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: Consistent with the popular Oktoberfest-style of German Lager, the Gerstenmeister combines (what I believe are) Munich malts with a mild hopping, which is then aged for six months of cool confinement to effect a rich, malty, and mildy hoppy flavor.

Tasting Notes: As Marzen’s go, this beer was a little light for my taste. Still, it had all the right things going for it – a rich malt, base, smooth character, a light tang, and some sweet notes that reminded me of shortbread and toffee. And despite generally being on the lighter side, I have found Big Rock’s wares always comes through where it counts. This beer is the first sampling from my most recent procurement from the local beer stores post-holiday surpluses. It’s known as the Family Jewels Pack, and stay tuned, because there are a few more to come!

Appearance: Orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, biscuits, toffee, mild floral hops, minerals
Taste: Sweet malt, mild tang, shortbread, toffee, mild dry hops, minerals
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, minerals and mild tang
Overall: 7.8/10

Abandoned Abbey Belgian Style Dark Ale

bigrock_abbeyBrewer: Big Rock Brewery, Calgary AB
Style: Belgian Dark
ABV: 9.2%
IBU: 28

Description: As part of Big Rock’s Brewmaster’s edition, this dark ale is brewed in the venerable tradition of Belgian Abbeys and Monasteries. It is fashioned using Belgian Dark, Wheat, and Chocolate malts, then lightly hopped for a deep, rich, and complex brew.

Tasting Notes: Again, I am glad I was able to find a limited release beer from Big Rock, as its not readily available out here on Vancouver Island. And it was certainly enjoyable, reminding me of a good Belgian Dubbel with its rich malt, esters of dark fruit, notes of brown sugar, molasses, and plenty of yeast and spices.

Appearance: Deep brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt nose, molasses, sugars, yeast, dark fruits, spices
Taste: Rich malt, tang, yeasts, dates, raisins, brown sugar and molasses, spicy finish
Aftertaste: Lingering malts, spices, alcohol and yeasts
Overall: 8.2/10

Big Rock Anthea Wet Hop Ale 2014

bigrock_antheaBrewer: Big Rock, Calgary, AB
Style: Wet Hopped Pale Ale
ABV: 6%
IBUs: 39

Description: As part of the Alchemist Edition, a series of one-off, very limited release small batch brews, the Anthea is Big Rock’s contribution to move towards locally-sourced, wet-hopped beers. The name means “blossom” in Greek, and the brew is fashioned from Pale and Caramel Malt with Fresh Cascade hops sourced from the Yakima Valley in Washington state.

Tasting Notes: It’s rather difficult for me to find anything from Big Rock’s limited releases out here, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found this. Like most wet-hopped ales I’ve had, this one was rather subtle and easy drinking. The relatively crisp and smooth malt is balanced by hop flavor that has discernible citrus and grassy notes that are understated, but present throughout.

Appearance: Golden amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malts, mild floral and citrus hop notes
Taste: Crisp malt, hint of grapefruit, gentle hop bite, grassy and citrus notes
Aftertaste: Mild lingering hop flavor, crisp malt, refreshing finish
Overall: 7.7/10

Big Rock Fowl Mouth ESB

fowl_mouth_esbBrewer: Big Rock, Calgary AB
Style: Extra Special Bitter
Alc/Vol: 5.5%

Description: Part of the brewery’s Brewmaster Series, the Fowl Mouth is made in the “Cornish Bitter” fashion and combines Pale and Crystal malts with East Kent Golding and U.K. Fuggle Hops to create a dry-hopped English-style pale ale.

Tasting Notes: It’s been some time since I enjoyed a Big Rock beer. I can remember quite fondly when they first began to appear in pubs in Ottawa in the late 90s, and enjoyed many a pint of their Traditional Ale as they years went on. And these days, their product catalog only seems to be expanding, so I knew I had to start catching up. And as far as ESBs go, this one was quite refreshing, had a lovely malt profile, and was surprisingly fruity, in addition to the subtle, dry-hop profile. I definitely want to see more from the Brewmaster Edition and will do my best to review in the future.

Appearance: Copper, clear, milder foam retention and  carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, notes of orchard fruit, English hops
Taste: Smooth crystal malt, mild tang, sweet bread, hint of blackcurrant, dry hop finish
Aftertaste: Lingering malt, chewy bread, mild citrus and dry hop flavor
Overall: 9/10

Gahan Island Red Ale

gahan_redaleBrewer: Gahan Brewery, Charlottetown PEI
Style: Amber Ale
Alc/Vol: 5.3%

Description: Established in 1997 in Charlottetown, the Gahan Brewery and House Pub is the only brewery on Prince Edward Island that brews handcrafted, small batch beer. The Island Red is an English-style amber ale, and the flagship brew of their operation. It was the Gold Medal winner for the 2011 Canadian Brewing Awards.

Tasting Notes: This beer is entirely new to me, and was quite the lovely introduction to this Maritime brewery. The malt profile and hop profiles are quite subtle, calling to mind traditional English ambers, and is made using what I assume are pale malt, Golding and/or Fuggles hops. This results is an ale that is malt-forward, subtle and smooth, and has flavors of baked bread and dry herbs.

Appearance: Dark amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Syrupy, rich malts, mild, dry hops
Taste:
Rich pale malt, baked bread, hint of sweetness, subtle, herbal hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor and mild bitterness
Overall: 9/10