Parallel 49 Brews Brothers Vol. 3

What’s Golden East Meets West IPA:

Collaborator: Green Flash Brewing, San Diego, CA
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: Straight from their third collaborative effort with other North American brewries – aka. Brews Brothers Vol. 3 – the East Meets West IPA is a golden India pale ale that combines east and west coast influences. Like the other installments in this year’s series, this beer is hip-hoped themed, and named in honor of the Jurassic 5’s famous single, “What’s Golden”.

Tasting Notes: This brew definitely has all the right elements that make west coast and east coast IPAs so palatable. That includes a nice and cloudy golden-orange hue, a nose with grassy/piney hops and citrus fruit, and plenty of the same hop flavor. The flavor department is where it is especially decent, mixing drier east coast hops with your more fruity and citrusy west coast varieties. And it rounds it all out nicely with a refreshing, just-bitter-enough finish!

Blazing Arrow, a Tawny IPA:

Collaborator: Gigantic Brewing, Portland, OR
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.0%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description:  Done in collaboration with Gigantic Brewing’s Ben Love. This beer is brewed in the style of an American India Pale Ale, and so-named because of its deep copper color. The name is a shout out to rap artist Blackalicious’ song of the same name.

Tasting Notes: This beer strikes a nice balance between maltiness, hop bitterness and hop fruitiness. A generous dose of West Coast hops comes through, bringing plenty of dry bitterness and complexiy. The beer pours a deep copper, has notes of grass, herbs, pineapple and peach on the nose, and more of the same on the palate.

Baby Got Back, a Hoppy Hefeweizen:

Collaborator: Scuttlebutt Brewing, Everett, WA
Style: Hefeweizen
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: Done in collaboration with Scuttlebutt Brewing’s Matt Stromberg. This is a traditional style hefeweizen brewed with a modern breed of hops hailing from Germany. And of course, it is named in honor of the classic ode to big backsides by Sir Mixalot.

Tasting Notes: This beer pours a nice golden-orange, is cloudy and has a lacy head. It has notes of banana, clover and citrus on the nose, and has plenty more of that in the flavor department. It also has a discernible mineral tang and a bitter, yeasty finish.

Gettin’ It, a Northern Farmhouse Style Beer:

Collaborator: 49th State Brewing, Anchorage, AL
Style: Saison
ABV: 7.0%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description:  Done in collaboration with 49th State Brewing’s Greg Mills. This unique beer was brewed with a Scandinavian farmhouse yeast cultivated in Norway. Tart in flavour, this ale offers aromas of orange peel contributed by the yeast and Amarillo hops.

Tasting Notes: This is a nice, light twist on the Saison. It pours a deep gold, is slightly cloudy, and produces a lacy foam head. It has a light nose with hints of yeast, melon, spices and bread. The flavor is much the same, with a  notes of melon, grains, minerals, and the mild but funky and effervescent yeast flavor that makes Saisons famous.

Driftwood Belle Royale Kriek

Brewer: Driftwood Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Kriek
ABV: 7.6%
IBUs: Unlisted

Malts: Pilsner, CaraMunich, Munich, Aromatic, and Dark Wheat
Hops: Hallertauer
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.

Tofino Super Tuff Imperial Session Ale

Brewer: Tofino Brewing, Tofino, BC
Style: Imperial Ale
ABV: 10%
IBUs: Unlisted

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.

Driftwood The Last Aurochs Weizenbock

Brewer: Driftwood Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Weizenbock
ABV: 8%
IBUs: Unlisted

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.

Unibroue A Tout le Monde Megadeth Saison

Brewer: Unibroue, Chambly, Quebec
Style: Saison
ABV: 4.5%
IBUs: Unlisted

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”.

Moon Under Water Ancient Ale Series Gaelic Ale (ca. 1700)

Brewer: Moon Under Water, Victoria, BC
Style: Old Ale
ABV: 6.9%
IBUs: Unlisted

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.

Townsite/Gladstone Algerme Collaboration No. 1

townsite_gladstone_algermeBrewer: Townsite Brewing, Powell River, BC/Gladstone Brewing, Courtenay, BC
Style: Belgian Single
ABV: 5.8%
IBUs: 38

Description: This beer was a collaborative effort, produced by Townsite and Gladstone Brewing, located just across the water from each other. This ale is brewed in the Belgian Single style (i.e. a Belgian pale ale) that is then bottle conditioned with brettanomyces yeast.

Tasting Notes: This beer is definitely reminiscent of a good farmhouse ale. It is golden in hue, cloudy, and forms a good, thick head. In terms of taste, it starts with a smooth malt base, spicy yeast notes, and a thick, foamy finish that is the result of bottle conditioning.

Beau’s The Tom Green Beer! Milk Stout

tom-green-beerBrewer: Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co., Vankleek Hill, ON
Style: Milk Stout
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 27

Description: Beau’s and Canadian actor and comedian Tom Green have collaborated to create The Tom Green Beer. A milk stout, The Tom Green Beer displays flavours of chocolate and coffee, while delivering a creamy, velvety texture, and finishing with a mild sweetness. Malts: 2 Row, Munich, Oats, Caramel 120, Roasted, Chocolate, Black; Hops: Perle, Hersbrucker.

Tasting Notes: This was a relatively light beer, as milk stouts go. It pours a black that is not opaque and smells of toasted malts, dark chocolate and espresso. And it has a taste that is both smooth, but possessed of the chocolate and espresso notes. Still, the end result is quite refreshing and nicely balanced.

Unibroue Grande Reserve 17 2016

unibroue_17_2016Brewer: Unibroue, Chambly, Quebec
Style: Extra Strong Ale
ABV: 10%
IBUs: 35

Description: This Trappist-style ale is a limited release which is put out every year to mark the brewery’s anniversary. In 2014 (the last time I tried it), it garnered a number of accolades, which include two Gold medals from the 2014 World Beer Championship (for vintage 2013 and 2014), a Gold Medal from the World Beer Awards (2013).

Tasting Notes: The 2016 Reserve was an definite improvement over the last I tried, which was in 2014. Consistent with the previous vintages, it packed some strong malt, alcoholic warmth, notes of raisins, brown sugar, and some yeasty effervescence. But this time around, it was also less coarse tasting and has a subtler malt base. This made for an all-around more pleasant drinking experience.

Appearance: Dark brown, cloudy, thick lacy head and strong carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, brown sugar, dark fruits, strong yeasts
Taste: Smooth, sweet malts, brown sugar, raisins, dates, yeasty effervescence
Aftertaste: Lingering sweet malt flavor, alcohol, yeasts
Overall: 8.8/10

Driftwood Old Cellar Dweller Barley Wine 2016

driftwood_ocd2016Brewer: Driftwood Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Barley Wine (apparently)
ABV: 11.2%
IBUs: Unlisted (but damn high!)

Description: This is the latest release of the Old Cellar Dweller, which is not quite seasonal, but intermittent throughout the year. The 2016 release coincides with the holiday season, and is brewed using a combination of Pale, Pilsner, Crystal malts, and then heavily bittered using Columbus and Cascade hops.

Tasting Notes: This year’s Old Cellar Dweller has been in keeping with what they’ve been doing in recent years, which is to produce an Imperial IPA and call it a barleywine. As is stated on their website –  “When young, it is a hoppy treat with plenty of citrus and pine; cellared for a few years and Cellar Dweller gracefully ages into a rich, round reward for patience, hinting at flavours of tawny port.” However, offering that were from 2012 and earlier were not required to undergo aging before they began to resemble actual barleywine. So… why do we wait for it to mature? And what’s with the mislabeling?

Appearance: Strong orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malts, strong notes of citrus, pine and tropical fruit
Taste: Sweet and coarse malt, tang, notes of pine, pineapple, passion fruit
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt, hop bitterness, alcoholic warmth
Overall: 8/10