Category 12 Disruption Black IPA

C12_disruptionBrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Central Saanich, BC
Style: Black IPA
ABV: 6.7%
IBU: 77

Description: Category 12, which is located just up the road from me, has recently opened its doors and began distributing. This is their second release, and my first sampling. The Black IPA is made using Carafa and Munich malts and then bittered with Simcoe, Cascade, and Columbus hops.

Tasting Notes: This beer delivered in all the expected departments. On the black side of things, it had dark roasted malts that were reminiscent of a good stout or porter. On the IPA side of things, it had a good dose of citrus and herbal hop flavor that lingered long after the initial tasting. A good start for this hometown brewery, and a good intro for me.

Appearance: Black, translucent, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Roasted malt, hint of espresso, strong notes of citrus and pineapple
Taste: Toasted malt, mild espresso, citrus rind, herbal hops
Aftertaste: Lingering herbal flavor, malt and hop bitterness
Overall: 8/10

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Serendipity No.8 Whiskey Barrel Aged Beer

Tree-Serendipity 8x325Brewer: Tree Brewery
Style: Whiskey barrel-aged Raspberry Ale/Black IPA
Alc/Vol: 7%

Description: The second beer in Tree’s limited-run barrel-aged series, Serendipity is a combination of their Wild Ruby Raspberry Ale and Black IPA, which is then aged for 169 days in whiskey barrels.

Tasting Notes: This beer is a bit of an enigma to this Beer Snob. For one, combining two very disparate styles (a raspberry ale and a black IPA) can only be expected to yield strange combination. But to then age them in a whiskey barrel to further enhance/influence the flavor, that’s just plain nuts! Luckily, this gambit seems to have paid off with the Serendipity. The Black IPA provides a good firm malt base while the Raspberry Ale manages to smooth out the rough edges. This is then complimented to a good extent by the presence of smokey, peaty whiskey flavor. Not a conventional brew by any standard, but one that works.

Appearance: Dark brown-amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark malts, mild fruit, whiskey infusion, smoke, peat moss
Taste: Hint of smoke, whiskey, mild raspberry tartness, tang, hop bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering smoke and peat moss flavor
Overall: 8.5/10

Phillips Cabin Fever Imperial Black IPA

Cabin-Fever-Black-IPAIt’s a good thing when you and a major craft-brewery find yourself on the same page/ It seems that happened twice to me today, once with Driftwood’s latest release and again with Phillips. All this convergence which makes me wonder if some people in the local brewing industry have been reading my blog. I doubt it, but it’s nice to pretend. In any case, the second convergence between my thoughts and a brewers’ product came in the form of Phillips latest limited release, known as Cabin Fever Imperial Black IPA.

Brewed in honor of the change of the seasons, and consistent with Phillips time-tested philosophy of combining two or more styles together, this beer combines the deep roasted malt character of a black ale with the bitter, hoppy kick of an IPA. And to top it all off, they fermented it for an extended period of time to make it especially strong. Yes, on top of its  stout-like profile and heavily hopped character, it also weighs in at a hefty 8.5% alc/vol. And in the end, the flavors accent it each other very well, with the coffee notes of the dark ale playing well with the herbal, citrus bite of an IPA’s worth of hops.

Appearance: Black as tar, opaque, good foam retention and carbonationNose: Deep roasted malts, discernible bitter hop presence
Taste: Immediate burst of citrus malts, tawny malt flavor, herbal notes
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness of coffee-like malts and citrus rind
Overall: 8.5/10

All in all, this beer was quite the interesting combination, and certainly made for a good all around drinking experience. Though definitely not for the faint of heart or the delicate of palette, it was one of the best dark IPA’s I’ve had of late. As I’m sure I’ve said before, this sort of combination has become quite popular in recent years, but this has to be the first time that it was so thematically consistent with the time of its release. Strong dark ale, citrusy IPA, it’s like winter and spring all rolled into one!

The Season of IPA!

IPAMy apologies for the prolonged absence, fellow beer snobs. Unfortunately, the Spring season has not been kind to me, as it chose to greet me with the worst cold I’ve had in ages! Luckily, I’ve emerged from my self-imposed two week hiatus from all things alcoholic, and have chosen to do not one review, not a two-fer, but a three-fer! Alongside an older sampler from late last month, I managed to procure two entirely new beers that fit with my latest theme – Spring Seasonals. And since the venerable IPAs are now making the rounds, I thought I might also dedicate the rest of March to sampling as many new limited releases and old favorites as I can. Here’s what I’ve managed to try so far…

Driftwood Twenty Pounder IPA:
driftwood_20pounder_largeThis is now the third year in a row that Driftwood has released its signature double IPA. And lucky me, I finally got my hands on a bottle and sat down to give it a thorough tasting. Named in honor of Victoria’s proud naval tradition, where field guns that relied on 20 lbs cannon balls were deployed to defend the coast, this beer is an IPA that lives up to its name. Extra strong in alcohol content and employing a double dose of hops, it is surprisingly light in color but heavy on flavor and hardcore hop and citrus content!

Appearance: Light amber, transparent, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Highly floral and citrusy bouquet, notes of orange and grapefruit
Taste: Sweet malts, citrus hops, piney, touch of sweet grapefruit flavor
Aftertaste: Lingering piney bitterness, more notes of citrus
Overall: 9/10

Gigantic India Pale Ale:
Gigantic IPAThis beer and its brewery are entirely new to me, and comes to us from south of the border. Not surprisingly, it is brewed in Portland, Oregon, the state with more breweries per capita than any in the US. And what better place to start with their lineup, now that the season of IPA is upon us! And all in all, I was quite pleased with this beer. In every measurable way, it was a faithful and fitting example of a Northwestern IPA and craft brewing.

Appearance: Deep golden, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong hints of tropical fruit, light malts
Taste: Immediate burst of Cascade hop bitterness, light malts, little sweetness
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and taste of citrus rind
Overall: 8/10

Vancouver Island Absolute Darkness:
absolutedarknessLast but not least, there’s the latest release from Vancouver Island Brewery. As I’ve said before, I approve highly of the way they’ve started to incorporate limited releases into their lineup, effectively demonstrating a renewed committed to craft brewing. And with this beer, a combination Dark Ale, India Pale Ale, they’ve once again shown that they’re current. For the past few years, dark IPA’s (or Black IPAs as they are sometimes known) have been all the rage. And named in honor of Vancouver Island’s coal mining heritage, it combines stout-like characteristics with traditional IPA, resulting in a beer that is tawny, malty, hoppy, has some strong notes of coffee and some citrus.

Appearance: Deep black, good foam retention, dense with lower carbonation
Nose: Tawny malts, notes of coffee and Cascade hops
Taste: Immediate bitterness and citrus, giving way to coffee-like bitterness
Aftertaste: Long and lingering taste of dark toasted malts
Overall: 8.5/10