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

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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