Spinnakers Sooke Harvest

Spinnakers_Sooke_HarvestBrewer: Spinnakers Brewpub, Victoria, BC
Style: Fresh-Hopped Pale Ale
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 40

Description: This fresh-hopped ale is brewed using a combinatio of Pale and Crystal malts, then bittered using late addition Cascade, Chinook and Willamette hops, all of which are freshly picked from hop farms in the Sooke region.

Tasting Notes:  Spinnakers, it seems, is getting on the fresh-hopped game. And their offering is quite good, consisting of a nice, balanced pale ale with a hint of sweet bread flavor, and a nice, dry hop backing that has hints of West Coast flavors – i.e. herbs, grass and citrus.

Appearance: Deep ruby, clear, lacy foam retention, good carbonation
Nose: Rich pale malt, sweet bread, mild citrus, grassy and herbal hop notes
Taste: Smooth malt, hint of sweetness, dry hops, herbal and grassy, mild citrus
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness and malt flavor
Overall: 8.2/10

Dead Frog Big Stump Spruce Golden Ale

deadfrog_bigstumpBrewer: Dead Frog Brewery,
Style: Spruce Pale Ale
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 26

Description: A summer seasonal that celebrates the summer on the West Coast, this brew combines spruce tips with Prairie 2 Row, Maris Otter, Cara 30, White Wheat malts and is then hopped with a combination of Simcoe, Northern Brewer, and Cascade hops.

Tasting Notes: I’ve come to enjoy Spruce ales in recent years. There’s just something about those sprigs that imparts a refreshing flavor to beer. And this brew did a good job of balancing those with a good malt base and some mild hopping that leads to some varied flavor. A good summer drinker!

Appearance: Amber, cloudy, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Pale malt, citrus, pine, resin, tropical fruit, rich spruce notes
Taste: Crisp malt, hint of sweetness, spruce notes, citrus rind, pine and resin
Aftertaste: Lingering spruce flavor and citrus rind, mild malt finish
Overall: 8.5/10

Steamworks Imperial Red

steamworks_imperialredaleBrewer: Steamworks Brewery, Vancouver, BC
Style: Imperial Red Ale
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: 80

Description: One of Steamworks seasonal releases – available only in Spring – this Imperial Red Ale combines Maris Otter, Munich, Caramalt. Crystal, and Simcoe malts in significant quantities to achieve a strong, malty base. It is then bittered using significant amounts of Cascade, Centennial & Simcoe hops, dry-hopped, and then bottled unfiltered.

Tasting Notes: This Imperial Red was a bit more subtle than I expected. Normally, one expects some sweet, coarse malts balanced out by strong hops. However, this time around, the strong malt base was balanced by a strong and varied hop mixture, plus some dry-hopping that made everything a bit more downplayed. Basically, despite its strength, this brew is both balanced and subtle.

Appearance: Dark copper, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, citrus, floral, grassy and piney hop notes
Taste: Strong, syrupy malt, citrus rind, fruity esters, dry herbs, alcoholic bite
Aftertaste: Lingering dry hop and citrus bitterness, dry hops, coarse malt
Overall: 8/10

Four Winds Saison

Fourwinds_saisonBrewer: Four Winds Brewing, Delta BC
Style: Saison
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 30

Description: As part of this mainland BC-based brewery’s Standard lineup, this beer is brewed with a combination of pale malt, then bittered with Noble and Pacific Northwest Cascade hops, then fermented using Belgian Saison yeasts.

Tasting Notes: This beer came highly reviewed from my local watering hole, and is perhaps one of the better Saisons I’ve had in recent years. A good, crisp malt base is augmented by a varied hop profile which gives it some citrusy, lemony notes. A strong yeast backbone lends it a degree of effervescence, strong carbonation, and finishes things off with a spicy, fruity finish. Definitely a great operation and one I need to learn more about!

Appearance: Golden, cloudy, very good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, floral hops, citrus, yeasty, spicy
Taste: Crisp malt, notes of lemon and honey, yeasty effervescence
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast and malt flavor
Overall: 9.5/10

Tree Rickshaw Raspberry IPA

tree_rickshawBrewer: Tree Brewing, Kelowna, BC
Style: Fruit-infused India Pale Ale
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 64

Description: A spring/summer seasonal beer, Tree’s Rickshaw combines traditional lager malt (Pilsner and Vienna) with a significant dose of Northwestern hops (Centennial, Cascade, Columbus, and Crystal) and an infusion of fresh raspberries.

Tasting Notes: As combinations go, this one seemed a bit odd and quite gutsy. For instance, I would have expected an IPA to employ a pale malt base rather than ones consistent with a lager. That, and the combination of raspberries with an IPA-size dollop of hops seemed especially gutsy. But guts aside, the end result seemed mainly skunky and bitter, with very little raspberry to speak of and not as much refreshment as say a raspberry wheat, pale or lager. Not a bad idea, but needs a reboot!

Appearance: Deep ruby/orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Crisp, skunky malt, notes of herbal hops, hint of raspberry
Taste: Smooth malt, strong hop bitterness, citrus rind, skunk, light raspberry finish
Aftertaste: Lingering skunky malt and citrus rind bitterness, hint of fruit
Overall: 7.2/10

Category 12 Critical Point Pale Ale

C12_criticalpointBrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Central Saanich, BC
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 49

Description: The latest in Category 12’s lineup, this Northwestern-style Pale Ale is brewed with a combination of Superior Pale Ale and Crystal malts and fermented using American Ale yeast. It is also bittered with Cascade and Falconer’s Flight hops, some of which added late in the boil to boost its hoppy profile.

 

Tasting Notes: This beer was quite an enjoyable pale ale. When it was first released, I had a chance to sample it at the brewery (located right in my neighborhood). At the time, I was admittedly turned off a little by the sheer bitterness of it. However, after rebooting the recipe a bit, this brew and its brewmaster have struck a pretty good balance. The late-boil addition of hops does make things a bit heavy on the bitter citrus side, but it is still wonderfully hoppy overall with a good, crisp malt base.

Appearance: Deep amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Crisp malt nose, grassy, piney and resiny hops
Taste: Crisp malt, immediate dose of bitter citrus, grass and pine hops
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and citrus rind
Overall: 7.8/10

Central City Red Racer ESB

red_racer_esbBrewer: Central City, Surrey, BC
Style: Extra Special Bitter
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 60

Description: This brew, which is part of their regular Red Racer lineup, is Central City’s take on the classic English ESB. It combines with UK Maris Otter and Superior Pale Ale malts with a blend of Crystal malts, and is then bittered using a combination of German Magnum, Horizon, Centennial and Cascade hops.

Tasting Notes: I’ve come to expect good things from Central City, and the ESB has been something I’ve been meaning to review for awhile now. Like a classic bitter, it has the smooth malt base and the dry hop flavor. But owing to a combination of British and Pacific Northwest influences, it also has some a nice balance of citrus, grassy and herbal notes, and a hint of sweet malt flavor that rounds everything out nicely.

Appearance: Ruby amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, mild citrus, dry hops, grassy, herbal, minerals
Taste: Smooth malt, mild sweetness, dry hop flavor, grapefruit, citrus rind, grassy, herbal
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, grapefruit and herbal hops
Overall: 9/10