Old Abbey Ales Flemish Brett Brown

Old_Abbey_logoBrewer: Old Abbey Ales, Abbotsford, BC
Style: Flemish Brown Ale
ABV: 7.7%
IBUs: 35

Description: This beer is part of Old Abbey’s Innovation Series, a series of limited release experimental beers that is always changing. For their latest, brewmaster Tony Dewald has created Flemish-style Brown ale (Bruine) complete with the wild brettanomyces strain.

Tasting Notes: This is my first visit to the wares of Old Abbey, and I felt quite privileged to be sampling their latest experimental brew – the results of which were quite impressive. This beer packs a lot of Bruin flavor, consisting of dark, toasty malts with lots of roasted nut, coffee and chocolate flavor. But at the same time, the use of Belgian brettanomyces yeast ensures a hint of sour cherry and some dark fruit flavor that really sets it off.

Appearance: Brown, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Roasted malts, hints of coffee, roasted nuts, fruits and sugars
Taste: Smooth malt, roasted nuts, mild espresso, dark chocolate, raisins, dates, hint of sour cherries
Aftertaste: Lingering roasted malt aftertaste, malt bitterness, coffee
Overall: 9/10

Driftwood Obscuritas Dark Sour Ale

driftwood_obscuritasBrewer: Driftwood Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Sour Ale
ABV: 7.6%
IBUs: Unspecified

Description: The latest in Driftwood’s Bird of Prey Series, this particular bird of prey-themed beer is a dark version of the Wallonian style of sour ale. In keeping with this tradition, the ale is brewed using strains of wild brettanomyces yeast which causes the lactic acid to accumulate in the ale, giving it a strong, sour flavor.

Tasting Notes: I have to say that while I’ve been a loyal fan of the Bird of Prey series thus far, this one was not my favorite of the bunch. Ordinarily, what you get with a good Wallonian sour is a robust flavor that is reminiscent of sour cherries and a well-oaked red wine. However, this one had notes of balsamic and apple cider vinegar throughout which kind of threw me. Not bad, but not great.

Appearance: Deep brown/ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, lactic acid, sour cherry, oaky, yeasty
Taste: Smooth malty start, quick burst of sour cherry, yeasts, oak, apple cider vinegar
Aftertaste: Lingering lactic acid and apple cider vinegar flavor
Overall: 7.8/10

Four Winds Juxtapose Wild IPA

fourwinds_brettipaBrewer: Four Winds Brewery, Delta, BC
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 50

Description: As part of Four Winds Brewing’s Zephyrus Series, which focuses on hop-heavy West Coast-style ales, this IPA combines pale malts with a generous dose of Pacific Northwestern hops, and is fermented using wild brettanomyces yeast to achieve a layered flavor. It is also the Silver medal winner of the 2014 World Beer Cup Awards in the American-Style Brett Beer category, and the Bronze medal winner of B.C Beer Awards in the category of Belgian/French-style beers

Tasting Notes: This IPA definitely benefited from the addition of a little Brett, which I didn’t think would work, to be honest. And the strong herbal, citrus and grassy hops were well balanced by the crisp malt base and the subtle kick of sour cherry yeast flavor, with a nice lingering spicy finish to compliment the bitterness. Score another one for Four Winds!

Appearance: Golden/orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, herbal hops, fruity esters, notes of citrus and tropical fruit
Taste: Crisp malt, hop bitterness, dry, grassy, piney, citrus rind, hint of sour yeast
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, spicy yeast backbone
Overall: 9/10

Mikkeler Dry Stout BA Sauternes Edition

mikkeler_drystoutBrewer: Mikkeler Brewery, Copenhagen, Denmark
Style: Stout/Sour
ABV: 4.1%
IBUs: Unspecified (low)

Description: As part of the breweries Sour/Wild lineup, this stout is brewed at their branch plant in D’Proef, Belgium. It is fashioned using dark-roasted malts that are then fermented with brettanomyces yeast before being aged in Sauterne (French sweet wine) barrels for a complex flavor.

Tasting Notes: This was an odd combination, and one which works on some levels, but not others. It combines a stout base, with all the bitter notes of coffee and dark malt, and the addition of brettanomyces yeast adds a dimension of sour cherry and lactic acid that gives it a certain bite. These seem a bit at odds, and very little of the Sauterne wine comes through, except at the tail end of things. Not the best combination beer, in my humble opinion, but certainly an interesting one.

Appearance: Black, virtually opaque, medium foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark roasted malt, roasted espresso, brettanomyces
Taste: Rich malt, bitterness, notes of coffee, sour cherry, yeast, hint of sugars
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, sour yeast and coffee
Overall: 7.3/10

Mikkeler It’s Alive!

mikkeler_itsaliveBrewer: Mikkeler Brewing, Copenhagen, Denmark
Style: Sour/Amber Ale
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs:
Unspecified

Description: This beer is part of Mikkeler’s Sour/Wild lineup, and a tribute to Orval and Trappist brewing. Employing an amber malt base, the beer is also heavily hopped and bottle-fermented using wild stbrettanomyces yeast.

Tasting Notes: While this is a fitting tribute to Orval (they managed to imitate the taste and appearance quite closely) this brew is a bit heavy on the bitterness. However, it manages to grow on you, it packs the usual punch of a sour ale with notes of sour cherry and oak, and has the strong malt base and effervescence of a Trappist-style ale.

Appearance: Dark amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Coarse malt, strong notes of oak and brettanomyces
Taste: Crisp malt, oak, sour cherry, yeasty effervescence, hop bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, bitter yeast, oak flavor
Overall: 7.8/10

Moon Under Water Oud King Crow Barrel Aged Sour Ale

Moon_under_water_sourBrewer: Moon Under Water Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Sour Are
ABV: 9%

Description: The latest in their Storefront Special series, this year’s offering from Moon Under Water is a sour ale with a twist. In addition to being bottle-conditioned with brettanomyces, it is aged in Pinot Noire oak barrels. Apparently, this is a one-time offering, so get it soon!

Tasting Notes: This was definitely an interesting twist on the traditional sour, but a very fitting one. I’ve often felt that your Flemish Reds are reminiscent of a dry, red wine. As such, aging one in a red wine oak barrel seems to compliment the flavor quite well. The infusion of oak and red wine manage to smooth out the yeasty and tart fruit notes, and does a pretty good job of concealing the strong alcohol content. Still tart and full of sour cherry flavor, but in highly smooth and drinkable package.

Appearance: Dark purple, opaque, mild foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dry, brettanomyces yeast, red wine, orchard fruit, oak
Taste: Light malt, effervescent yeast, sour cherries, oak, dry red wine
Aftertaste: Lingering red wine flavor and tart fruit
Overall: 8.2/10

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