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

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Longwood Wild Child Ale

longwood_wildchildBrewer: Longwood Brewery, Nanaimo, BC
Style: Wild Fermented Ale
ABV: 7%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: Wild Child is essentially Longwood’s Brewery’s version of a sour ale, aka. one fermented using naturally-occurring yeast. It is also the first in Longwood’s new “small batch series”, a series of one-off limited release ales that are experimental in nature.

Tasting Notes: As wild-fermented ales go, this was interesting, but a little unbalanced. The wild yeast flavor comes through with some rather tart raspberry notes, but the malt base is decidedly very light. So its a little weak in one respect and a little overpowering in another.

Appearance: Dark amber, translucent, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, powerful notes of raspberry, wild yeast and lactic acid
Taste: Gentle malt start, immediate yeasty tones, tart raspberry, lactic acid 
Aftertaste: Lingering tart fruit, yeasty aftertaste, slightly watery
Overall: 7.3/10

Image credit: uptappd.com

Dageraad 8°

Dageraad_8Brewer: Dageraad Brewing, Burnaby, BC
Style: Brune
ABV: 8.9%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This brew is part of Dageraad’s Single Batch Series, and is fashioned in the Brune style, a Belgian brew native to the West Flanders region. In accordance with this tradition, but leaving some room for experimentation, this brew employs English crystal malt, wheat, date sugar, and a mild hopping before being feremented and then referemented in the bottle with Lactobacillus yeast.

Tasting Notes: This beer was a bit of a stumper. On the one hand, its got all of the wonderful aspects of a good Brune going it (with some intrusions into the Dubbel) front, but also has the smooth milky flavor brought about by lacto-fermentation. So in the end, its a smooth-drinking, malt forward beer with notes of plums, dates, raisins, brown sugar, and figgy pudding. And it finishes with a nice, rounded smoothness of supple mouthfeel. One would think a “milk beer” and a Belgian Brune didn’t belong together, but they kinda work!

Appearance: Deep brown/amber,cloudy, thick lacy head, good carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, strong notes of dark fruit, sugars, milk
Taste: Smooth, sweat malt, notes of brown sugar, dates, figs, raisins, smooth finish
Aftertaste: Lingering sweet malt flavor, sugars and fruit, milky smoothness
Overall: 8.5/10

Spinnakers Sooke Harvest

Spinnakers_Sooke_HarvestBrewer: Spinnakers Brewpub, Victoria, BC
Style: Fresh-Hopped Pale Ale
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 40

Description: This fresh-hopped ale is brewed using a combinatio of Pale and Crystal malts, then bittered using late addition Cascade, Chinook and Willamette hops, all of which are freshly picked from hop farms in the Sooke region.

Tasting Notes:  Spinnakers, it seems, is getting on the fresh-hopped game. And their offering is quite good, consisting of a nice, balanced pale ale with a hint of sweet bread flavor, and a nice, dry hop backing that has hints of West Coast flavors – i.e. herbs, grass and citrus.

Appearance: Deep ruby, clear, lacy foam retention, good carbonation
Nose: Rich pale malt, sweet bread, mild citrus, grassy and herbal hop notes
Taste: Smooth malt, hint of sweetness, dry hops, herbal and grassy, mild citrus
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness and malt flavor
Overall: 8.2/10

Category 12 Subversion Imperial IPA

c12-bottle-shot-SUBVERSIONBrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Central Saanich, BC
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.7%
IBUs: 85

Description:  This latest release from Category 12 is the brewery’s shot at what is currently one of the most popular styles of West Coast ale. It is fashioned using plenty of (what I can only assume are) pale and Crystal malts, then generously hopped with Mt. Hood, Cascade & Centennial hops for an intense flavor – like a good IIPA!

Tasting Notes: Let me just say I’m very proud of C12 and the work they’ve been doing of late. This brew is just one of a few new concoctions they have come up, and intend to review them all. In any case, this beer was a faithful example of a West Coast Imperial IPA, employing a strong, slightly sweet and coarse malt base and an intense hop flavor that has notes of citrus, pine, passion fruit and dried herbs. And yet, despite it power, it manages to finish quite nicely and cleanly. Not what you’d generally expect from a Imperial IPA.

Appearance: Deep amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, good hop nose, notes of citrus, pine, tropical fruit, grass
Taste: Strong malt, slightly sweet and coarse, notes of pine, passion fruit, herbs
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, malt coarseness and sweetness
Overall: 9.5/10

Red Arrow Threesome Ale

redarrow_threesomeBrewer: Red Arrow Brewing, Duncan, BC
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.3%
IBUs: 23

Description: This beer made its debut during the Great Canadian Beer Festival, and is now available as a limited release. As the name suggests, the beer employs three special ingredients, which include hemp, hibiscus and honey.

Tasting Notes: This brew was perhaps a bit light for my taste. With ingredients like hibiscus, hemp and honey, I was expecting a bit of a more robust flavor. Still, the beer it does come through in the refreshing and clean tasting departments. A smooth malt base is nicely accented by fruity esters, nuts and some herbal, citrus notes.

Appearance: Ruby red, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Light malt, rich herbal and mild floral notes, citrus
Taste: Smooth malt base, hint of hibiscus, tart fruit, herbal hops, hint of nuts
Aftertaste: Very clean finish, mild malt flavor, herbs
Overall: 7.7/10

Russel Peaks and Valleys Extra Pale Ale

Russel_peaks&valleysBrewer: Russel Brewing, Surrey, BC
Style: Extra Pale Ale
ABV: 5.7%
IBUs: 40

Description: In the tradition of locally-sourced, craft beer, Russel’s Peaks and Valleys (a limited release), is made entirely from malt and hops from interior BC. This includes Centennial hops grown by Chilliwack Hop Farms in Chilliwack, BC, and malts produced by Gambrinus Malting in Armstrong, BC. The end product is an extra pale ale that is dry-hopped and unfiltered, and perfect for summer.

Tasting Notes: This beer was a bit of the light side in terms of malts, and a tad on the dry bitter side, at least as far as extra pale ales go. Nevertheless, hoppy without being overwhelming, and smooth enough to be an easy-drinking pale ale. But most of all, it is a testament to the move towards locally-sourced craft brewing that is sweeping the world!

Appearance: Mild amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt,s dry hop nose, citrus, grass, hint of lemon and pine
Taste: Crisp malt, dry hop bitterness, notes of citrus rind and grass
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, dry herbs and citrus rind
Overall: 7.8/10