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.

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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

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