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

Advertisements

Dieu du Ciel Herbe à Détourne New World Triple

Dieuduciel_HerbeDetourneBrewer: Brasserie Dieu du Ciel, Montreal, QC
Style: Triple Ale
ABV: 10.2%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This beer is part of Dieu du Ciel’s Rotation series, a limited-release that is available from January to April. As the name suggests, it is a North American take on the traditional Belgian Tripel, combining American Citra hops with pale malt and Belgian yeast. The beer takes its name from the French Canadian legend of the Herbe à Détourne, which makes one lose their way should they happen upon it.

Tasting Notes: Quite the powerful triple! This beer has a rich malt base and the telltale flavor of candi sugar to boot! This leads to a rich and coarse malt flavor, a yeasty backbone, and some serious alcoholic warmth to finish. The addition of Citra hops also imparts a nice citrus twist.

Appearance: Golden orange, cloudy with sediment, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, candi sugar, strong yeasts, alcoholic bite, citrus
Taste: Strong, coarse malt, sugars, yeasty effervescence, citrus, alcoholic warmth
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt, sugars, and alcoholic bitterness
Overall: 9/10

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

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

Spencer Trappist Ale

spencer_trappistBrewer: Spencer Trappist Ales/St. Joseph Abbey, Spencer, MA
Style: Trappist Ale
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: Unlisted (mild)

Description: This brew is the Abbey’s only brew, and is made in the Trappist fashion using a proprietary blend of 2 row and 6 row malted barley, and some caramel Munich specialty malt from Wisconsin for color. It is then bittered using a combination of Willamette, Nugget, and other hops from Washington state’s Yakima Valley. It is then unpasteurized and unfiltered with active yeast still in the bottle.

Tasting Notes: This brew was a fortunate find. It definitely has the character of a Trappist ale, possessing that same oaky, yeasty flavor that I have come to associate with beers like Orval and Chimay. But it is also delightfully subtle and lightly colored, and comes with notes of fruit – the foremost being cherry and apricot – that you don’t usually get from a Belgian Trappist. I will be definitely be seeking more in the future.

Appearance: Golden orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt base, floral hop bouquet, traces of citrus and orchard fruit
Taste: Smooth malt, hints of oak, mild traces of cherry, apricot, yeast
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, oak, yeasty aftertaste, quite clean
Overall: 9.5/10

Category 12 Induction Dubbel

c12-bottle-shot-INDUCTIONBrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Central Saanich, BC
Style: Dubbel
ABV: 7.5%
IBUs: 19

Description: The latest from C12, and a testament to their commitment to Belgian-style ales, is a traditional Dubbel. And consistent with this, the brew is made using plenty of dark malt, handcrafted dark candi syrup (which they made themselves), and a mild hopping.

Tasting Notes: The Induction was actually a little different than what I am used to. Whereas your usual Dubbel has some very syrupy and sweet malts with plenty of dark fruit flavor, the Induction is a bit lighter and has a flavor profile that starts smooth and subtle but ends with notes of phenols (aka. tannin) and caramelized sugar. A bit different, but definitely interesting and creative!

Appearance: Brown/ruby red, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, minerals, fruity esters, caramelized sugar
Taste: Smooth malt, syrup, tannin, hint of dark fruits and caramelized sugars 
Aftertaste: Lingering dark malt flavor and tannin, relatively clean finish
Overall: 8.5/10

On a side note, this is my 500th post on the GCBS! Woohoo!

Category 12 Simplicity Ale

c12-bottle-shot-SIMPLICITYBrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Central Saanich, BC
Style: Saison
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 16

Description: This brew was originally one of C12’s many R&D batches, one which they chose to revisit in September of this year and has since been made available in bottles. Combining organic spelt with Saison yeast and a mild hopping, this “Ancient Grain Saison” is a new (or old, depending on your point of view) twist on a classic Belgian beer.

Tasting Notes: I had a chance a chance to try this beer out of the keg months back. But as tradition dictates, I prefer to do a review based on drinking it from the bottle. In any case, this beer is what would expect from a classic Saison, with a sharp yeasty underdone and some spicy, fruity notes. But the spelt malt base is particularly smooth and very light in color, with a hint of nuttiness and a refreshing aftertaste and finish.

Appearance: Straw gold, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: mild malt, grainy, saison yeast, hint of spice, coriander, floral hops
Taste: Smooth malt, mild yeast bitterness, coriander spice, hint of nutty flavor
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, mild yeasts, clean finish
Overall: 8/10