Tree Kim-Ach-Touch Ale

tree_kimachtouchBrewer: Tree Brewing, Kelowna, BC
Style: Brown Ale/Dopplebock
ABV: 6.4%
IBUs: 42

Description: Named in honor of the Okanagan word for “Brown Bear”, and inspired by the story of early settler August Gillard, this beer combines the brewery’s Dopplebock and Brown ale. It is fashioned using Pale, Munich, ESB, Crystal, and Chocolate malts, and is then bittered with a combination of Tettnang, Cascade, Crystal, Centennial, and Summit hops.

Tasting Notes: The commercial description certainly does this beer justice. Basically, you have all the aspects of a Dopplebock and a Brown Ale adding up. This includes sweet and toasty malt flavors, some minerals and roasted nuts, and a solid hop backing. This adds up to an interesting beer that is both sharp and strong and sweet and refreshing.

Appearance: Dark ruby-brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Toasted malt, minerals, roasted nuts, hint of grassy, piney hops
Taste: Combination sweet-sharp malt, mineral tang, grassy and herbal hop bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering hop and toasted malt bitterness, hint of sweetness
Overall: 8.5/10

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Fernie Hot Saw India Brown Ale

Fernie_hotsawBrewer: Fernie Brewing, Fernie, BC
Style: IPA/Brown Ale
ABV: 7%
IBUs: 60

Description: This is a Winter/Spring seasonal by Fernie, available between the months of January and March. And as the name suggests, it combines the brewing styles of a brown ale with an IPA. A dark malt base is combined with hop back and dry hopping methods to create a balance of toasted malts with hoppy bitterness.

Tasting Notes: I was a little late to this brew, but was glad I caught up with it. A Brown IPA combines many aspects that are pleasing to the discerning beer-drinker. Notes of caramel, coffee, licorice, and roasted nuts combine with a hoppy profile that create a balanced but powerful brew.

Appearance: Dark brown, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Toasted malt, roasted nuts, coffee, licorice, caramel, citrus, piney hops
Taste: Dark, rich malt, roasted nuts, notes of coffee, licorice, piney hops
Aftertaste: Lingering roasted malt and pine hop bitterness
Overall: 8.3/10

Alameda Barn Owl Imperial Brown Ale

alameda_barnowlBrewer: Alameda Brewery, Portland, OR
Style: Imperial Brown Ale
Alc/Vol: 7.9%

Description: A seasonal ale, this southern English-style brown ale is an enhanced version of the original (being an Imperial). This includes particularly strong brown malts, an alcohol strength of 7.9% alcohol, and an IBU rating that is clearly in the 70s or 80s.

Tasting Notes: Compared to your conventional brown ale, this beer basically the nutty flavor and hop flavor and shoves a hot pepper up its tail pipe! This is both appealing and unappealing, depending on your point of view. On the one hand, the flavor of roasted walnuts, coffee and chocolate are quite appetizing, but the level of bitterness is a bit intense for the uninitiated. Personally, I don’t mind so much, but others (aka. the weak of taste buds) might.

Appearance: Dark brown, translucent, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Brown, roasted malts, roasted nuts, hop bitterness
Taste: Immediate malt bitterness, roasted walnuts, strong hops, coffee, bitter chocolate
Aftertaste: Lingering hops, nutty flavor, and coffee bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Two Pumpkins!

pumpkin-ales-in-sniftersAs it is the season, and in honor of this past Halloween, I decided to get my hands on some bottles of this year’s batch of pumpkin ale. The first two come from right here in beautiful British Columbia, specifically from the Longwood and Central City Brewery. And, as might be predicted, the results were a little mixed. Whereas one was a combination of styles that didn’t yield the best results, the other was a straightforward pumpkin with no surprises, but plenty of appeal.

Longwood Full Patch Pumpkin Ale:
longwood_fullpatch
I have to admit that what I have tried from the Longwood brewery, as opposed to the brewpub which is still only available within Nanaimo, has been kind of hit or miss for me. And this beer falls into the latter category. As a strong, pumpkin Saison ale, it seems to be attempting to do many things at once. And unfortunately, this leads to some degree of confusion in terms of the beer’s taste, smell, and general character. To look upon it, one would get the impression it was a brown ale. The nose is distinctly that of pumpkin ale, boasting the same spice palate as pumpkin pie. But in the flavor department, it packs some heavily roasted malt, reminiscent of baked bread and a hint of caramel, but is then overpowered by its alcohol content. And that impression lingers, right until the end!

Appearance: Dark brown, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malts, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
Taste: Strong, roasted malt, allspice and pumpkin, bitter alcohol bite
Aftertaste: Lingering malt and alcoholic bitterness
Overall: 7/10

Red Racer Pumpkin:
redracer_pumpkinRed Racer is a brewery that I’ve come to count on to get things right, really, really right in fact. And their pumpkin ale was certainly no exception, as it had all the right features of this seasonal ale. A good orange-amber hue, a varied nose packed full of pumpkin pie and allspice, and a flavor to match. Admittedly, it was somewhat light in this last department, at least when compared to what I’ve come to expect from a pumpkin ale. These tend to be slightly sweeter, maltier and spicier than your average pale ale. But this beer managed to pull that off well enough while also being very clean-tasting and refreshing. And after the rather heavy-hitting customer that preceded it, the value of this was certainly not lost on me!


Appearance:
Deep orange-amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation

Nose: Mild malts, hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
Taste: Smooth malt, light tang, hints of pumpkin and mild spice
Aftertaste: Lingering malts, clean finish
Overall: 8.5/10

More to follow from this year’s batch of pumpkin ales, and some more installments on my beery adventures from Ottawa. Stay tuned!

Deschute Fresh Squeezed IPA

deschutes-fresh-squeezedAs the summer comes to an end, it seems fitting to get in as many seasonal beers as I can before they cease to be available. Might as well since I’m sure to have my hands full with Marzens, Browns, Pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers. So I decided to start my evening with an IPA that once again comes from south of the 49th – Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA. I’ve seen it around my local beer store for many weeks now, and thanks to the endorsement from my friend at I think about beer, I finally decided to give it a try.

Though my range of sampling has been limited with Deschutes, I have come to expect a very high standard from them. My introduction came back in 2004 when I was visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Oregon and he introduced me to some of the local brews. Mirror Pond Pale Ale, their flagship production, just happens to be one of his favorites. And for me, it has come to be represent what brewing in Bend and Portland is all about, or at least a big part of it.

In any case, I found this version of an India Pale Ale to be quite faithful and very pleasant to drink. Pouring a deep orange color, the beer is clear and has a relatively good head. Citra hops are clear on the nose and come through especially well on the tongue, and the addition of the Mosaic hops add an added dimension of rich tropical flavor.

Appearance: Deep orange-amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Good citrus and floral hop aroma, tropical fruits
Taste: Immediate hop burst, citrus and pineapple, mango and passion fruit
Aftertaste: Lingering tropical, mild sugars and sweet malt
Overall: 8.5/10

All in all, its quite the delicious beer, consistently hoppy, but not overwhelmingly so. Not a bad intro to the Deschutes Seasonal lineup, or their Bond Street Series. No doubt, I am going to take this as an invitation to start cruising their other products. But when did I ever NOT want to drink more of what a brewery has to offer?

Lighthouse 15th Anniversary Ale

Lighthouse_15thanniversaryAs promised, I’m back with one of Victoria’s most important and summer limited releases. It seems that this year marks the Lighthouse Brewing Company’s 15th anniversary. And to celebrate, they have produced an anniversary ale which was clearly made with the brewery’s history in mind. I say this because over the years, the brewery has shown quite the range when it comes to producing different styles of beer. This has included the standard lineup, consisting of your typical British and American-style ales, but has also extended to include continental and time-honored varieties that are sightly more esoteric.

And it seems that all of these have gone into the creation of this ale, which interestingly enough, names no specific variety on the label. And you’ll understand why as soon as you taste it. It’s dark and possesses some of the toasted, subtle tones of a brown, but is packed with some discernable sugars and is potently strong. And then there’s the hops and yeast, distinctly British in origin, and the Maibock like tang and sweetness that lingering on the palate. It is a brown? It is a barely wine? Is it a bock? Is it a bitter? Well… yes, and no, and all the above.

Appearance: Dark brown, transparent, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dry English hops, light, nutty brown malts, sugars
Taste: Immediate burst of roasted malts, tang, notes of brown sugar and dry, bitter hops
Aftertaste: Lingering sweetness and tang, similar to Maibock, and dry hop bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Not a bad way to mark 15 years of brewing: produce a beer that cuts across styles and traditions and offers some very varied taste. And of course, Lighthouse is no stranger to this trend, as exemplified by their Big Flavor series. Here, they would combine two distinct styles to produce some rather powerful and flavorful beers. This time around, they appear to have combined about four that I can discern, and with some rather flavorful results. Get some before its gone!

Oh, and Happy Birthday Lighthouse!

The Six Pack Project: BC!

6pack-logo1Today, I have honor of taking part in something new. Specifically, its a project that brings beer snobs and lovers from across the continent – and indeed, the world at large – together in our shared fondness for one of mankind’s oldest spirituous beverages. It’s known as the “Six Pack Project”, a campaign that was started by blogger Bryan Roth who shares his love of beer through his website This Is Why I’m Drunk.

And the rules of the project are really quite simple. Every month, six bloggers are featured where they select six beers that they feel best represents their locality and/or its beer culture. The selections must be brewed in-state (or in my case, province) and should be year-round varieties as much as possible, though seasonals are also acceptable. With these basic criteria in mind, I set about trying to select six beers that I felt best represents British Columbia’s brewing culture.

And here’s what I came up with, a list not only of individual brews but the varieties I wanted to cover. As anyone who has ever experienced BC’s beer culture knows, we produce a wide variety of styles, which is very much reflective of our cultural diversity and heritage. As such, the styles I felt I should cover needed to include the best local representations of British, American and Continental European brewing. And so, here are my six choices for BC brewing styles and the beers that I feel best represents them:

India Pale Ale – Central City Red Racer IPA:
red_racer_ipaDefinitely a contender for the best India Pale Ale in BC, if not the entire country, Central City’s Red Races has everything that a fan of Pacific Northwester IPAs have come to expect. This includes a rich amber hue, a strong and floral hop aroma, and a taste that proceeds in waves. This begins with a syrupy, slightly sweet malt flavor, then gives way to a citrusy blend hops that are highly reminiscent of grapefruit before finishing with a lingering bitterness. Strong, yet balanced, it also manages to be quite refreshing, which is not easy when dealing with your maltier, hoppier brand of India Pale Ale. So really, what you get is a very well rounded beer with a wonderful balance of characteristics. Add to that a respectable alcohol content of 6.5 % per volume and you’ve got a winner!

Brown Ale – Cannery Naramata Nut Brown Ale:
Naramata
British Columbia is renowned for producing some mighty fine brown ales, but Cannery’s Naramata Nut Brown remains one of the smoothest and pleasing ones I’ve had to date. Dark and almost stout like in its appearance, this brown is very smooth to taste, but packs a viscous, chewy mouth feel and some very toasty malts that do a nice dance on the tongue. All of this is then rounding out with a nice hop finish and some well-placed chocolate notes. And consistent with its name, it also has a slight nutty profile that calls to mind the taste of cashews and other roasted, harvest nuts.

Session Ale – Lighthouse Tasman Ale:
tasman_aleProduced by Victoria’s own Lighthouse brewery, the Tasman is an session ale that is brewed with local malts but has the distinction of being flavored with hops imported from the Tasman region of New Zealand – hence the name and label art. The result is an light amber-colored ale with a light head that is reminiscent of both a good Northwestern Pale Ale and an ESB. This comes through in the slightly sweet, syrupy malts and the hop profile that is at once citrusy, subtle, multilayered and reminiscent of a dry-hopped bitter. On top of that, it maintains a respectable 5% alc/vol, despite being a session ale, and finishes quite clean and refreshing, making it an all-around pleaser!

Flanders Red – Driftwood Belle Royale Sour Cherry Ale:
bellelogo-sour
As part of Driftwood’s Bird of Prey series, Belle Royale is the third Flanders-style sour ale produced by this brewery. And in my opinion, it is the best so far. This may have to do with the fact that in all previous cases, I was automatically reminded of the tart taste of sour cherries when I sampled them. So it seemed ridiculously appropriate that they chose to fashion one that actually incorporated the fruit this past year. Combined with an oak barrel-aging process and the addition of specialized yeast that brings out the lactic acid, this beer has several layers of flavor which the accomplished beer drinker will enjoy sorting through. It begins with a burst of tart cherries, then proceeds to an oaky  flavor similar to a dry red wine, and then on to a lingering flavor of mild sugars, yeasts and tart fruit flavor. And at 8% alc/vol, it also packs quite the punch!

Belgian Triple – Townsite YOGN 82 Belgian Triple:
townsite_yogn82
Located in Powell Rivers’ historic Townsite district, this brewery is the chief purveyor of beer to the Sunshine Coast, and arguably one of the best breweries in all of BC. And it is without exaggeration that I say that their YOGN 82, the second beer in their Hulk Series, is one of the better Belgian Triple’s that I’ve ever had. Between its golden blonde hue, distinctive Belgian nose, strong malts, hints of banana, and an oaky aftertaste, it has just about everything I have come to know and love about this distinctive style of beer. But one difference which sets it apart is the added kick of citrus and sugary malts, which add some more dimension to the flavor. And like all good Triples, it weighs in at a hefty 9% alc/vol. To be nurtured slowly, and with care!

Hefeweizen – Moon Under Water Victorious Weizenbock:
logo_weizenbock2
Last, but certainly not least, is my current favorite wheat beer that is brewed right here in-province. Produced by Moon Under Water, another brewery located in the heart of Victoria, the Victorious Weizenbock is also my favorite beer out of their entire lineup. Basically, it incorporates the styles of a hefeweizen and a bock to produce something that is truly interesting and harmonious. This comes from the combination of Canadian wheat, German Munich and Chocolate malts, along with New Zealand hops, specialized yeast, and a bock lagering process. And what comes out of all this is a beer that is smooth and tawny at first, then transitions into the sweet and rich, and has notes of banana, clove spice, chocolate, and a nicely spicy, yeasty aftertaste to round it all out. And at 8.2% alc/vol, it’s no slouch in the strength department!

Believe me when I say this was a tough process and I had some hard calls to make. If I could expand on this, I definitely would. But what can you do? Rules are rules, and there’s only so many spots for top contenders. Here’s hoping it helps some people out there in their ongoing quest to find new and interesting beers to try!

More Six Pack Projects from around the world:

  • Connecticut by Kristen at Now Beer This!
  • Indiana by Rebecca at The Bake and Brew
  • Maine by James at Insurance Guy Beer Blog
  • Minnesota by Paige of Alcohol by Volume
  • Montana by Ryan of Montana Beer Finder
  • Oregon by Chris at I Think About Beer

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