Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale

bearrepublic_redrocket_aleBrewer: Bear Republic, Healdsburg, CA
Style: Scottish/American Amber Ale
Alc/Vol: 6.8%
IBU: 67

Description: In what is described as a “bastardized” version of the traditional Scottish Red, the Red Rocket is  an amber ale with West Coast twist. This comes in the form of a generous hopping, and which is unfiltered and bottle conditioned to boot.

Tasting Notes: The combination of influences and styles in this beer was something I genuinely approved of. The Scottish Red comes through in the rich malt and notes of peat moss and smoke, while the West Coast-style hopping brings a nice, citrusy kick to the mix that balances things out well. In many ways, I was reminded of 5 AM Saint by Brewdog, which is one of my all-time favorite amber ales.

Appearance: Dark brownish-red, very cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong, coarse malt nose, notes of peat moss and citrus
Taste: Rich, coarse malt, tang, brown sugar, smoke, citrus hops
Aftertaste: Lingering hop and malt bitterness
Overall: 9/10

The Bruery Oude Tart

oude_tartBrewer: The Bruery, Placentia, CA
Style: Flemish Red Ale
Alc/Vol: 7.5%

Description: This Belgian-Style ale is part of The Bruery’s special collection of limited release beers and is named Oude Tart (Flemish for “Old Tart”) in honor of the traditional Flemish Red (aka. sour ale). Consistent with this style, the beer is brewed with wild yeast strains that lead to the accumulation of lactic acids and then aged in red wine oak barrels for 18 months before bottling. The Oude Tart is also the 2010 and 2012 Gold Medal winner at the World Beer Cup in the Flanders Style Oud Red or Oud Brun category as well as the 2011 Gold Medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival in the same category.

Tasting Notes: This is my second sampling from The Bruery, and I picked it specifically because of my love for the style. However, I have to say that this is not the most appealing Flemish Red I’ve ever tasted. While it is faithfully brewed and aged to achieve that characteristic tart and sour flavor, this comes through in a rather intense way and there’s little else to balance it out. However, it is possible I picked up a bottle that was a little young and required some aging. I shall try again in the future, as it really did seem like this brewery knows what it’s doing when it comes to Belgian-style ale.

Appearance: Dark brown/red, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sour nose, strong lactic acid, sour cherry and oak
Taste: Strong acid, intense tartness, yeast, sour cherries, oak and tannin flavor
Aftertaste: Lingering tartness and lactic acid
Overall: 7.5/10

I also came across this video from their website, where Tyler King – the Sr. Director of Brewing Operations – explains the creation process behind this ale. Enjoy!

The Bruery Saison Rue

bruery_saisonrueBrewer: The Bruery, Placentia, CA
Style: Farmhouse Ale
Alc/Vol: 8.5%

Description: Made with malted rye and bottle conditioned using the wild brettanomyces yeast strain, this unfiltered Belgian/French-style farmhouse ale is brewed in both the sour and saison fashion. The result is a highly complex ale that is available year round.

Tasting Notes: This is my first sampling from this brewery from Orange County. And it was quite the intro, embracing two styles that I’ve become accustomed to and rather fond of in recent years. And it retains strong elements of both, containing subtle, slightly bitter malts, and at the same time noticeable fruit esters and notes of sour cherries. And of course, it packs some powerful yeasts all throughout.

Appearance: Golden-orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wild yeast nose, sour, fruity esters, dry backbone
Taste: Immediate burst of yeast, mild hints of sour cherries, mild rye bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering rye malt bitterness, yeast and sour flavor
Overall: 9/10

Lagunitas Brewing (Updated!)

Back with some new installments, this time from further down south! During one of my many recent trips to the watering hole, the friendly staff recommended I check out the Lagunita’s brewery, an operation that comes to us from Petaluma California. Naturally, I was interesting seeing as how the farthest south I’ve ever drunk was San Francisco, and that came in the form of Anchor Steam. So on her recommendations, I picked up a few bottles and gave them a round.

Apparently, this brewing company is known for taking their share of hard knocks. After years of honing their craft, being evicted, landing in Petaluma, and slowly building a market, they’ve gone on to achieve international renown. Another thing, they are known for producing beers that are classified as both odd and exceptional. It’s little wonder then why their products show up here in BC!

Anyway, here is what I tried and what I thought of it…

Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale: This was the first beer I was recommended to try, based on both staff and customer reviews. And I had to say it was both interesting and pleasantly surprising. Immediately, one notices a strong hop aroma which is complimented by a quick, sharp citrusy burst. Bitterness gives way to herbal notes and then turns into a touch of sweetness that lingers on with the hoppy aftertaste. All this is apparently due to the curious combination of wheat malts with 80 IBU’s worth of hops, making it a sort of krystalweizen/IPA crossover. An interesting idea, and quite tasty, if somewhat unusual. 4/5

Bavarian-Style Doppel Weizen: My second run at the Lagunita operation, this beer appealed to me because it combined two of my favorite beer-related words into one label: Doppel, and heffeweizen. Yes, this beer is not only wheat based, but double fermented, resulting in a beer that is darker than your average wheat and stronger. This beer was apparently a collaborative effort between the brewers and the people who built their new brewing apparatus, and who supplied them with a traditional Bavarian yeast-strain, which they applied generously! Hence the added alcohol content and the Bavarian-style designation. As already noted, this beer is darker than your average wheat, being a cloudy orange rather than golden straw. The nose is rich with wheat malts and a slight nuttiness which also comes through in the taste. Strong notes of banana compliment the malts and nutty flavor, adding a touch of sweetness to it that is reminiscent of banana bread before finishing with a light hop touch. A nice experience, and one I intend to repeat if possible. Limited releases tend to be hard to come by! 4/5

Lagunitas IPA: My third and final sampling, which I unfortunately had to resample due to a bad bottle. Luckily, I found myself another tall boy and gave it a second chance. Glad I did too! Much like their other creations, this beer balances some rich malts with a complex, mixed hop profile. Clear and deep amber in color, it has a nose that contains some spicey, herbal notes. The taste comes on smooth, giving way to hop bitterness and finishing with a slight touch of sweetness. I’m glad I went back for seconds, otherwise I might have made the mistake of thinking these guys missed with one of the most popular beers in their lineup! 4.5/5

Well, that was my Californian sampling for this month. I hope to compliment this again soon when my wife and I do our summer road trip. As it stands, we were thinking of touring the Pacific Northwest so we might experience the plethora of Cascadian craft-brewers firsthand! Looking forward to it…

Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Ale

Back with another Lagunitas product! This time around, it’s one of their specialty ales, known as the Hop Stoopid, that’s under scrutiny! Though not officially classified as an IPA, this is definitely part of the pale ale family and fits the basic requirements of an India Pale. By that I mean that in addition to a generous dose of hops, its also pretty strong (8% alc/vol).

And overall, I was pretty pleased with this ale. In fact, part of the reason I picked it up, in addition to wanting to expand on their extensive lineup, was to see if my experience with their regular IPA was a fluke. Chances are, when one beer stinks (literally!) but the others excel, you must have picked up a skunky batch and should probably give them another chance. And that’s exactly what I plan to do just as soon as I can get back to big liquor depot downtown.

In the meantime, here is what I thought of the Hop Stoopid Ale, specifically that is:

Appearance: Light gold, clear and transparent
Nose: Rich floral nose, notes of tropical fruit, sweet and summery
Taste: Rich malts, giving way to bittersweet and herbal hop bite, notes of melon and a slight sweetness
Aftertaste: Gentle and lingering, mild bitterness and crisp hop finish.
Total: 8.5/10

All told, I’ve now sampled Lagunitas Doppel Weizen, Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale, IPA (to be resampled) and the Hop Stoopid. Four down, four to go, and about eight seasonals which I may or may not be able to find. Oh the things I do for beer 😉