Townsite Barrel Aged Cardena Belgian Quad 2016

townsite_barrelagedBrewer: Townsite Brewery, Powell River, BC
Style: Quadruple Ale
ABV: 10.5%
IBUs: 30

Description: The third installment in their “Hulk Series” – named for the decommissioned vessels that make up the floating breakwater in Powell River – Cardena is a Belgian-style Quadrupel ale. And since 2015, they have be re-releasing this ale as part of the breweries new barrel-aged lineup, where established brews are aged in whiskey barrels.

Tasting Notes: I loved Cardena when I first tried it. In fact, it would be fair to say that it was one of the best beers I had in 2014. So I was a little intrigued and surprised by the addition of the barrel-aging process, which I’ve had mixed experiences with. In this case, the end resuilt was interesting, but a bit perplexing. On the one hand, you have all that was great about the Cardena. A strong Abbey-style ale rich with notes of brown sugar, dates, raisins, and figgy pudding.

But add to that the bite of whiskey and the end result was (and I’m not bullshitting here) a bit like blue cheese! It was the oddest thing, getting a taste I immediately recognized but couldn’t quite place. And then I remembered the last time i had hot wings or a spinach salad! Ordinarily, I love blue cheese, but not so much in my beer. So I had to give this one a slightly mixed review. Great to be branching out, but 2016’s Barrel aged Cardena is not quite what I was hoping for.

Appearance: Deep brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, brown sugar, whiskey, dark fruits, spices, alcohol, yeast
Taste: Rich malt, immediate whiskey bite, blue cheese, sugar, dark fruits, alcoholic bite
Aftertaste: Lingering whiskey, malt, cheesy flavor, alcoholic warmth
Overall: 7.2/10

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Townsite Cardena Belgian Quad

https://i2.wp.com/townsitebrewing.com/wp-content/uploads/CARDENA-web.pngBrewer: Townsite Brewery, Powell River, BC
Style: Quadruple Ale
Alc/Vol: 10.5%
IBU: 30

Description: This is the third beer in the Hulks Series named for the decommissioned vessels that make up the floating breakwater in Powell River. Brewed in the Abbey ale-style, the Cardena is a quadruple. And consistent with this style, it employs a strong malt base with a high alcohol content.

Tasting Notes: It’s always a delight to try one of Townsite’s specialty brews. Without exception, they’ve done great things with their Hulk Series and this one was no exception. In addition to being deliciously malty, dark, fruity and sugary, it’s got a well balanced flavor due to just enough citrus hop bitterness. It’s a lot like a barley wine, but except with the infusion of the telltale Belgian yeasts that give it an added distinctive flavor. Like Kerstmis in the glass!

Appearance: Deep amber/brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, dark fruits, brown sugar, yeast, hops
Taste: Rich malt, raisins, dates, sugar, good tang, yeast, snap of citrus hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, fruit and yeast
Overall: 10/10

Westmalle Trappiste Dubbel

Westmalle-dubbelBrewer: Westmalle
Style: Double Ale
Alc/Vol: 7%

Description: An Abbey ale, brewed by Trappist monks since 1856, Westmalle Dubbel is a double fermented ale that is one of two beers that is brewed year round and commercially available. In 1926, the monks changed the recipe to its current, heavier-tasting recipe.

Tasting Notes: This beer is one of the best Dubbel’s I’ve ever tasted, even after many years of sampling. Like a barley wine, it has a strong malty flavor that is rich, sugary and loaded with fruit. The lacy head and yeasty flavor are distinctive and firmly identify this beer as a Trappist product. However, unlike barley wines or other strong ales, at no point is the malt flavor or alcohol content overwhelming or coarse. While I have always been partial to their Tripel, this one is still a top contender for a spot on my all-time favorites list.

Appearance: Dark brown, opaque, strong, lacy foam and good carbonation
Nose: Rich malty nose, light hop aroma, raisins and sugars
Taste: Strong malt backbone and yeasts, notes of brown sugar, raisins, figs and oak
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast, malt flavor and oak
Overall: 10/10

Dead Frog Valiant Belgian IPA

dead_frogvaliant-belgian-ipaDead Frog is back with another limited release, arriving on the heels of their Brazen IPA, Winter Beeracle and Fearless IPA. And with the exception of the Brazen, which I have yet to try, these limited releases have been quite impressive, in my opinion. Basically, they show that the spirit of craft brewing and experimentation are alive and well in yet another big Pacific Northwestern brewery.

As for this latest experiment in craft brewing, the Valiant is a twist on your classic Belgian Abbey ale, relying on Belgian yeast and a lengthy fermentation process to achieve a distinctly strong and flavorful ale. At the same time, they’ve incorporated a good dose of hops, the classic Pacific Northwestern IPA varieties of Centennial and Columbus, to achieve a strong bittering effect.

Appearance: Golden-orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Distinct Belgian yeast, notes of citrus hops
Taste: Immediate notes of wheat malt and yeast intermixed with hop bitterness 
Aftertaste: Tang and lingering bitterness, traces of Belgian yeast
Overall: 8.5/10

The result is something that is becoming increasingly common here in the Pacific Northwest, a merger between disparate traditions that work great on their own and are… interesting when combined. Like most Belgian IPA’s I’ve had, I found this one a little odd at first, but grew to like it with each sip. In the end, it really captured the essence of a strong Belgian Ale, and the bitter finish offers enough of a compliment without getting in the way.