Driftwood Blackstone Porter

Driftwood_porterBrewer: Driftwood Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Porter
ABV: 5%
IBUs: Unspecified

Description: As one of the breweries regular-lineup creations, this London-style Porter is brewed with a combination of caramel, black and chocolate malts. As was relatively common with pre-Industrial Porters, the brewers also added partial sour mash to the mix, creating a beer that combines a slight tartness with chocolaty malts.

Tasting Notes: This Driftwood brew has been a standout for me, at least as far as reviews go. It is a weakness of mine, I tend to avoid porters and stouts because they are not my favorites. And yet, I can always find things to rave about when one is done right; and this would be one such case. The Blackstone came highly reviewed by peers of mine so I decided it was high time to sample it again. The subtle nature of the sour mash, combined with rich dark malts that elicit flavors of roast espresso and bitter chocolate are quite lovely.

Appearance: Tar black, opaque, thick foam retention and good carbonation
Nose: Rich, dark malt, sour notes, notes of coffee and chocolate
Taste: Rich, roasted malt, mild tartness, notes of espresso and bitter chocolate
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, coffee and hint of licorice
Overall: 8.25/10

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Big Rock Monkey’s Fist Imperial IPA

big-rock-iipaBrewer: Big Rock Brewery, Calgary, AB
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 7.5%
IBUs: 73

Description: This brew comes as part of the Family Jewels pack, and is otherwise known as their Dead Reckoning Imperial IPA when part of their Brewmaster’s Edition. In the traditional of Imperial IPAs, this brew is fashioned from a combination of Maris Otter, Caramel and Black malts, while bittered with English East Kent Golding, Challenger and Progress hops.

Tasting Notes: This is the last of my new samplings from the Big Rock’s Family Jewels pack. And similar to the others, it was somewhat lighter than what I am accustomed to of late. Being English in style, this brew had a good malt base and some varied but comparatively subtle hop flavor. This came through in some sugary, coarse malt and some strong citrus notes and deep earthy flavor. And yet, it finishes rather clean and mild.

Appearance: Deep amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, burnt sugar, citrus and earthy hops
Taste: Strong malt, mild coarseness tang, citrus rind, dry hops, earthy tones
Aftertaste: Lingering citrus rind hop bitterness, malt flavor
Overall: 7.8/10

Big Rock Scottish Style Heavy Ale

big-rock-scottishBrewer: Big Rock Brewery, Calgary, AB
Style: Wee Heavy Ale
ABV: 7%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: As part of their Signature Series, this Scottish ale is brewed in the “Wee Heavy” tradition, employing a combination of Pale, Caramel, Munich and Peated malt, and then bittered with Northern brewer hops.

Tasting Notes: This is my second sampling from the Family Jewels pack, and is one which I have had before (but didn’t review). Again, a but on the light side, but this brew certainly comes through in the flavor department. Like a good Wee Heavy, it has some rich malts, a touch of sweetness, hints of peat moss and whiskey, and a respectable 7% alcohol.

Appearance: Deep red, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, syrup, sugars, smoked peat, whiskey
Taste: Sweet malt, hint of peat, syrup, biscuits, smoky tang
Aftertaste: Lingering malt, peat flavor, smoky and tangy finish
Overall: 8/10

Big Rock Anthea Wet Hop Ale 2014

bigrock_antheaBrewer: Big Rock, Calgary, AB
Style: Wet Hopped Pale Ale
ABV: 6%
IBUs: 39

Description: As part of the Alchemist Edition, a series of one-off, very limited release small batch brews, the Anthea is Big Rock’s contribution to move towards locally-sourced, wet-hopped beers. The name means “blossom” in Greek, and the brew is fashioned from Pale and Caramel Malt with Fresh Cascade hops sourced from the Yakima Valley in Washington state.

Tasting Notes: It’s rather difficult for me to find anything from Big Rock’s limited releases out here, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found this. Like most wet-hopped ales I’ve had, this one was rather subtle and easy drinking. The relatively crisp and smooth malt is balanced by hop flavor that has discernible citrus and grassy notes that are understated, but present throughout.

Appearance: Golden amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malts, mild floral and citrus hop notes
Taste: Crisp malt, hint of grapefruit, gentle hop bite, grassy and citrus notes
Aftertaste: Mild lingering hop flavor, crisp malt, refreshing finish
Overall: 7.7/10

Brooklyn Lager

brooklyn-lagerBrewer: Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
Style: Lager
ABV: 5.2%
IBU: 30

Description: Brewed in the Vienna-style tradition of lager, this beer is Brooklyn’s flagship creation. This starts with American 2 Row, Caramel, and Munich malts, which are then hopped with Hallertauer Mittelfrueh, Vanguard, Cascade, Saphir, and Williamette hops, and then dry-hopped again.

Tasting Notes: This lager is one I’ve had a few times, but never in the context of a review. Luckily, a couple distributors in my area have taken to stocking it and I grabbed a few. As lagers go, this one is quite light and refreshing, but packs some interesting hop flavor and traces of fruit. An all-around nice drinking experience from a renowned microbrewery.

Appearance: Deep gold, mildly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malt, honey, hint of pineapple and tropical fruit
Taste: Mild malt, tang, mild grassy hops and pine, passion fruit and pineapple
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, hint of honey and malt flavor
Overall: 8/10

Canuck Empire Pumpkin Patch Ale

canuckempire_pumpkinBrewer: Canuck Empire, Aldergrove, BC
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 6%

Description: A seasonal Fall brew, this pumpkin ale is made using a combination of 2-Row, Munich, Aromatic, Caramel, & Wheat malts, then hopped with Magnum and Perle hops. The beer is then flavored with pumpkin and maple syrup, and spiced with a combination of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.

Tasting Notes: This is my first time sampling a beer from Canuck Empire, another brewery from the lower mainland that I’ve been noticing around these parts. And for the most part, this beer was exactly what I would expect from a good pumpkin ale. Smooth, pale malt interacts with pumpkin flesh and a pumpkin pie palette to deliver “Fall in a glass”. However, this one was a bit different in that it incorporated ginger, which I initially mistook for clove spice. This added a bit of a bite and a slight bitterness to the mix, which worked well in the end. Still a good brew and a good intro!

Appearance: Amber/orange, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malt, pumpkin pie, notes of allspice and cinnamon
Taste: Smooth malt, pumpkin, burst of ginger spice, allspice and cinnamon
Aftertaste: Lingering ginger and spice flavor, mild malt bitterness
Overall: 8/10

Dubussion Scaldis Ambrée

Scaldis-Ambree-bout-verre-270x400Brewer: Dubussion, Pipaix, Belgium
Style: Belgian Amber
Alc/Vol: 11.8%

Description: The Scaldis amber is an unfiltered, high fermentation beer fashioned exclusively made from caramel malt, hops, natural sugar, water drawn from the brewery’s basement and an exclusive yeast. The end result is then stored for a period of 4 to 6 weeks to achieve its characteristic combination of dense malt, smooth flavor and the highest alcohol content of any Belgian beer (11.8% ABV).

Tasting Notes: The Scaldis Ambrée is another first for this Beer Snob, and apparently a rather significant one as it is apparently Belgian’s strongest. It was also quite fitting as a extra strong amber, bringing that characteristic combination of maltiness, sugary sweetness and fruity esters one would expect. What was surprising for me was the level of smoothness. Given the alcohol content, I expected it to be far more coarse. Still, the alcohol does comes through with the rather delightful warming sensation it finishes with. This beer is recommended as an aperitif or digestif, and I can attest to it being well-suited to the latter.

Appearance: Amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich and coarse malt, sugars, notes of cherry, fruity esters, caramel
Taste: Smooth malt, slight tang and coarseness, syrupy sweetness, warm alcohol finish
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt flavor, sugars, cherry and fruit esters
Overall: 9/10