Phillips Anxiety Ale Belgian Quad

phillips_anxiety-bottle-shot-300x400Brewer: Phillips Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Belgian Quadruple Ale
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This seasonal release honors the holiday season, specifically the stress that is too commonly involved! Brewed in the traditional style of Belgian Quadruple Ale (with a twist) it employs barley and wheat malts that are then fortified with Candi sugar.

Tasting Notes: I was a bit perplexed by this ale. Sure, the bottle says Quadruple, but between the alcohol strength (Belgian-style Quadruples are usually in the 10-13% range), and its taste, it seemed far more akin to a strong Marzen, or possible a Dubbel. A nice and highly drinkable beer, but one which feels mislabeled.

Appearance: Deep amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich, toasty malts, mild sugars, hint of minerals,  
Taste: Rich malt, chewy mouthfeel, minerals and mild caramelized sugars
Aftertaste: Lingering caramelized malt, minerals, mild alcohol bite
Overall: 7.8/10

Category 12 Anomaly Bourbon Barrel Aged Belgian Ale

c12-anomaly-bottle-aBrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Belgian Strong Ale
ABV: 8.7%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This is the latest installment in Category 12’s Barrelholder Series, which specializes in barrel-aged beers. This time around, they have taken a Belgian-style ale that is reminiscent of a Quadruple, fortified it with Candi sugar they made in house (much as they did with their Transmutation Ale), and aged it in bourbon barrels.

Tasting Notes: This beer is one I found myself comparing to Russel’s Nectar of the Gods, one of my favorite beers in recent years. And I can honestly say that it manages to capture the strength of that brew, while also boasting some independent strengths of it own. The bourbon flavor plays very well with the strong malts and Candi sugar, not to mention the alcoholic warmth. The flavors of raisins, dates and other dark fruits also come through with some general spiciness, creating a medley of flavors that are very appropriate for the holiday season.

Appearance: Deep brown/ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich dark malt, fruity esters, dark fruit, brown sugar, bourbon
Taste: Rich coarse malt, espresso, vanilla, cloves, sugar, dates, raisins, bourbon
Aftertaste: Lingering alcoholic bite and warmth, bourbon, sugar, spice and fruit
Overall: 10/10

Twin Sails Roggenweizen

twinsails_roggenBrewer: Twin Sails Brewing, Port Moody, BC
Style: Rye-wheat ale
ABV: 6.7%
IBUs: 12

Description: This limited release by Twin Sails is a German-style hefeweizen brewed with a combination of wheat, rye and caramel malts. This results in slightly sweeter and maltier take on your conventional hefeweizen, which is then mildly hopped and served unfiltered.

Tasting Notes: This beer has all the benefits of a hefeweizen, which include a smooth wheat malt base, yeastiness and a refreshing aftertaste. The addition of caramel and rye malts also add some depth of flavor and color, giving it some added some sweetness to go with the banana and natural spice flavor.

Appearance: Red, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle wheat malt, hefeweizen yeast, banana, hint of clove spice
Taste: Smooth wheat malt, hint of sweetness, yeasty effervescent, banana, hint of spice
Aftertaste: Lingering maltiness, cloves, banana, yeasts
Overall: 8.5/10

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

P49 Flanders Red Sour Ale

p49_flandersredBrewer: Parallel 49 Brewing, Vancouver, BC
Style: Flanders Red
ABV: 6.7%
IBUs: 6

Description: This beer is P49’s latest installment in their barrel-aged series. Accordingly, it is brewed in the fashion of Flanders Red ales, which means it is fermented using wild strains of Brettanomyces and lactic yeast, and then aged in oak barrels (previously used to store Cabernet Sauvignon).

Tasting Notes: This beer may or may not be a response to Driftwood re-releasing their Flanders Red (renamed Latus), or it could just be the inevitable result of all the experiments they’ve been doing with sours and barrel-aged beers lately. Either way, I was less than happy with it. Whereas a good Flanders Red has a strong malts and some serious oaky notes to round out the sourness, this beer’s is quite overpowering in the sour department. It is at once too light and too sour, and the red wine notes add some serious tartness on the aftertaste.

Appearance: Dark ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Powerful notes of sour fruit, yeast, lactic acid 
Taste: Mild malts, sour cherry, yeast, hint of oak, tart fruit and red wine tannin finish
Aftertaste: Lingering lactic acid, tart sour cherry and red wine flavor
Overall: 6/10

Image courtesy of scoutmagazine.ca

Stone Stochasticity Project “Your Father Smelt of Elderberries”

stone_elderberries_bottleBrewer: Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA
Style: Elderberry Ale
ABV: 10.3%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This beer is part of Stone’s Stochasticity series, a limited-release series that celebrates “exotic notions, ingredients and ideas”. Named in honor of the classic line from Monty Python’s and the Holy Grail, this beer is brewed in the medieval English-style, using 2-Row Pale, Mild Ale, and Amber malts, as well as peated and flaked oats. It is then bittered using English, Golding and Target hops, and then fortified with elderberries.

Tasting Notes: This was definitely an interesting concept, and one which I fell for like a total sucker! And the experimentation was certainly there in spades! Basically, you have the elements of a barley wine, some whiskey-like flavor, and an ancient ale all mixed into one. While it’s not exactly for the faint of heart (some serious alcoholic punch here!) it does get top points for being interesting and inspired!

Appearance: Reddish/brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, cassis, blackberries, alcohol, peat, smoke
Taste: Coarse malt, alcohol, peat moss, notes of cassis and blackberries 
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt, alcoholic bite, peat and fruit flavor
Overall: 8.5/10

C12 Barrelholder Belgian Golden Strong Ale

c12-bottle-shot-BGSA-20160608-ABrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Belgian Golden Strong
ABV: 10.6%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: The Belgian Strong is one of C12’s experimental brews, which made an appearance last year in limited quantities. This latest incarnation is part of their Barrelholder Program – a crowdfunding effort to procure barrels for the sake of produce barrel-aged beers. As their first installment in this program, this beer combines a strong malt base, Hallertau hops, and is fermented using the brewery’s proprietary Belgian yeast. And of course, the end product is matured in red wine barrels.

Tasting Notes: This beer is exactly what one would expect and hope from a beer bearing the name of “wine-barrel aged golden strong”. For starters, it has a rich malty profile that is typical of a Belgian Strong, not to mention some serious alcohol content. However, this is, as advertised, quite deceptive, smoothed over by the effects of red wine tannin and oak. And these come through quite well in the finish. It reminded me in many ways of Russel’s Nectar of the Gods, which happened to be one of my favorite beers of 2014. So good job on the first Barrelholder release, C12!

Appearance: Rich amber, semi-cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, sugars, yeast, notes of oak, red wine tannin
Taste: Rich malt, sugars, yeasty effervescence, notes of red wine, tannin and oak
Aftertaste: Lingering oak and red wine flavor, alcoholic warmth and yeast
Overall: 9/10

Spinnakers Quince Sour Saison

Spinnakers_quincesourBrewer: Spinnakers Brewery
Style: Sour Saison Ale
ABV: 5.0%
IBUs: 5

Description: Brewed in honor of Spinnaker’s 32nd anniversary, this sour ale is made using backyard quince fruit, which is then fermented with wild yeast strains and aged in tequila barrels.

Tasting Notes: I say this all the time, but this beer is an interesting combination. At first, I was turned off by the label, being somewhat tired by all the sour offerings of late, and not  a huge fan of tequila. And the first sip was heavy on the sour side. However, this beer does grow on you with each successive drink. In the end, what you get is an ale with strong notes of sour lemon, a hint of saison spicy yeast, a hint of dry apple, and some smooth tequila backing. Definitely a gamble that paid off!

Appearance: Yellow-amber, very cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong notes of acid, lemon juice, yeast, spice
Taste: Mild malt, strong yeast tang, sour lemon, yeast, hint of tequila
Aftertaste: Lingering sour lemon flavor, yeasty bite
Overall: 8/10

Driftwood Drawn to Light Abbey Ale

Driftwood_Drawn-To-Light-q256Brewer: Driftwood Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Belgian-style Pale Ale
ABV: 7%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This latest limited release by Driftwood is brewed in the tradition of a Belgian, Abbey-style pale ale. It is brewed using a combination of Pilsner, Dark Wheat, Cara 33 malts, and is then bittered using fresh, young Houblons hops. Wild yeasts are then added, including Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces, to give it a crisp and slightly sour flavor.

Tasting Notes: This was an interesting combination, and one which sort of transcended styles. On the one hand, its got the conventional sour ale properties (Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces yeasts), but tastes more akin to a saison. But at the same time, some genuine pale ale flavors come through. And the end result of all this is quite refreshing and crisp tasting. Glad to be back sampling Driftwood’s latest limited releases.

Appearance: Dark golden/orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, hint of baked bread, sharp yeast nose, notes of citrus, spice, floral
Taste: Sharp start, saison-like yeast notes, hints of citrus, dry, grassy, herbal hops
Aftertaste: Lingering yeasty bite, spice, lingering bitterness
Overall: 8/10