Category 12 ZRA Zombie Repellent Ale

c12-zra-bottle-cBrewer: Category 12, Central Saanich,
Style: Dark Ale (hard to place, really)
ABV: 6.9%
IBUs: 49

Description: This latest seasonal release from C12  – which is located right in my backyard! – is what they describe as being an “anti-pumpkin ale”. This brew is named in honor of its combination of Zythos hops, CaraRed malt, and Azacca hops, which are augmented by the addition of Fennel and Sweet Orange and then fermented using their proprietary strain of Belgian yeast. The end result is a dark ale designed to “snap any mindless, pumpkin spice zombie out of their trance and back to reality”. Really not a fan of pumpkin ales, huh?

Tasting Notes: I for one do not support the political agenda inherent in this beer! Okay, mandatory disclaiming done, now let’s get to this beer! I found this brew to be brilliantly experimental and very tasty. The dark malt, Belgian yeast, and combination of hops provides a malty, spicy and crisp base. The addition of fennel and orange add to the pleasant spiciness and soften things a bit with some additional sweetness. A balanced, tasty, and very interesting brew!

Appearance: Deep brown/ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich fennel spice, Belgian yeasts, pepper, hint of citrus, dry herbal hops
Taste: Crisp malt, malt sweetness, yeast bite, dry herbal hops, fennel spice, orange
Aftertaste: Lingering spice, dry herbs, yeasty bitterness
Overall: 9.5/10

Advertisements

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

Double Mountain Pale Death Belgian-Style Imperial IPA

doublemountain_paledeathBrewer: Double Mountain, Hood River, OR
Style: Belgian-Style Imperial IPA
ABV: 9.3%
IBUs: 93

Description: This apocalyptic-themed ale features a combination that is growing in popularity of late – the fusion of Pacific Northwestern and Belgian-style ales. In this case, pale malt and a very generous dose of Northwestern hops co-mingle with strains of Ardennes yeast to create a beer that is very powerful, but strangely balanced.

Tasting Notes: I was a little wary of this beer to begin with. An Imperial IPA that embraces elements of an extra strong Belgian ale is sure to be powerful and potentially overwhelming, maybe to its own detriment. But I really like the way that Pacific Northwest hops (Cascade, Centennial and/or Columbus for sure) play well with Belgian flavors. You’ve got the citrusy and tropical fruit flavors of of a Northwestern IPA, which are nicely balanced by the spicy, citrusy flavor of Belgian yeast. And the strength, while considerable, doesn’t intrude on the flavor. Things finish smoothly and warmly!

Appearance: Amber, cloudy, sediment, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, citrus, passion fruit, pineapple, spicy yeast, coriander
Taste: Strong malt, citrus bite, grassy, piney, yeasty, orange peel, coriander, alcoholic bite
Aftertaste: Lingering spice, yeast, alcoholic and hop bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Muskoka Legendary Oddity

muskoka_oddityBrewer: Muskoka Brewery, Bracebridge ON
Style: Vintage Ale
Alc/Vol: 8%

Description: This limited release Spring-seasonal ale pays homage to the legends of the lumberjacks and furtraders who experienced the mysterious culture and wildlife of the North during the 1800’s. Brewed in the Belgian style, it brings together a combination of North American malts, Noble hops, heather tips, juniper berries and sweet orange peel shavings, before being fermented with Belgian yeast and fortified with Candi sugar. The end results is then bottled and cellar aged to bring the flavors together to maturity.

Tasting Notes: This beer brought to mind many drinking experiences, all of them pleasant. First, there are the distinctive Belgian-style elements, which are similar to a good Tripel; a barley-wine in terms of the sweet and sugary notes; and a juniper pale ale with the infusion of gin-like flavor and a crisp finish. I am always happy when I get to reconnect with breweries from back east that I don’t always have access to. And this beer was definitely a lovely and worthy addition to Muskoka’s lineup.

Appearance: Gold/orange, clear with sediment, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, sugary nose, barley wine-like, floral, citrus, Belgian yeasts
Taste: Strong malts, sugars, Belgian yeast, citrus rind, crisp finish, hint of juniper
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt and yeast bitterness, juniper berry, citrus rind
Overall: 9.5/10

Goose Island Sofie Farmhouse Ale

GooseIsland_SofieBrewer: Goose Island Brewery, Chicago IL
Style: Farmhouse Ale
Alc/Vol: 6.5%
IBUs: 20

Description: Crafted in the Belgian/French Farmhouse fashion, this beer is fashioned using 2 Row, Pilsen, and Wheat malts and is then bittered and flavored with Amarillo hops and hand-zested orange peel. The brew is then bottle-conditioned for up to five years to create a well-balanced, yeast, effervescent ale.

Tasting Notes: This is my second installment in the Goose Island Brewery tour, and after the first, I was expecting something less impressive. Surprisingly, this beer was equally amazing. A champagne-like effervescence accompanies the farmhouse-style flavor of sharp malt and spicy yeast, and fruity esters mix with citrus to create an all-around complex and refreshing profile that is slightly sweet, tangy, bubbly and refreshing.

Appearance: Light golden, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malts, slightly sour, fruity esters, yeasty, hint of citrus and tropical fruit
Taste: Sharp malt, yeasty, good tang, fruity esters, pineapple, orange
Aftertaste: Lingering sourness, yeast, and tart fruity notes
Overall: 9.5/10

Goose Island Matilda Belgian Style Pale Ale

GooseIsland_MatildaBrewer: Goose Island Brewery, Chicago IL
Style: Belgian-style Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 7%
IBUs: 26

Description: Inspired by the legend of the grateful Countess Matilda who founded a monastery where, over centuries, monks have been brewing ale unique in character. In the character of a Trappist Ale, the Matilda is crafted using 2-Row and Caramel malts, bittered with Styrian, Pilgrim, Golding Celeia, and Saaz hops, and fortified with Candy Sugar. It is then fermented using the wild Brettanomyces yeast and bottle-conditioned for up to five years.

Tasting Notes: The inspirations were certainly clear in this bottle. Immediately, I got flavors that reminded me of a Flemish Red and a Trappist beer, combining the telltale sourness of the former with the solid malt and oaky undertones of the latter. I was not surprised at all to learn that this beer has brought home two silver medals and a gold from the World Beer Cup Awards.

Appearance: Amber, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Smooth malt, peach, yeasts, hint of sourness, oaky overtones
Taste: Strong malt, yeasty tang, burst of lactic acid, peach, sour cherries, oaky finish
Aftertaste: Lingering oak, fruity esters, yeast and bitterness
Overall: 10/10

P49 Sun of Hop Belgian Summer Ale

P49_sonofhopBrewer: Parallel 49 Brewing, Vancouver BC
Style: Belgian-style Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 5.1%
IBUs: 26

Description: Another Parallel 49 seasonal release, this summer ale brings together Belgian Pilsner and Aromatic malts along with a combination of Willamette, Styrian Goldings and Sorachi Ace hops. It is then fermented using a Belgian strain of top fermenting yeast to achieve a summery, smooth flavor with a mixed hop palate.

Tasting Notes: Very little that Parallel 49 does manages to surprise me anymore. In fact, I feel like I’m beginning to become familiar with some of their niches. These include doing crossovers that merge Belgian, English/American and German styles, and the inclusion of hop varieties that normally aren’t associated with the style in question. And this is certainly no exception, employing a Belgian malt base, Belgian yeast, and a combination of American, English and Japanese hops. The end result, as expected, is a smooth, crisp ale that has a yeasty backbone and subtle but complex hop flavor.

Appearance: Light golden, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Grainy malt, Belgian yeast, hint of lemon and herbs
Taste: Crisp, Pilsner-like malt, mild tang, Belgian yeast, mild herbal and lemony hops
Aftertaste: Lingering tang, Pilsner malt, yeasts and mild hop finish
Overall: 8/10