Category 12 Excitation Cocao Nib Espresso Stout

c12-excitation-bottle-c-1Brewer: Category 12, Victoria, BC
Style: Stout
ABV: 6.4%
IBUs: 30

Description: This latest installment from Category 12 takes the English-style of stout and enhances it with cold pressed, organic espresso and raw cacao nibs. Combined with a mild hopping, and what are clearly Belgian yeasts (thought they won’t say so!), this beer is both a compliment and a twist on the traditional stout.

Tasting Notes: Category 12 has tackled the venerable style of stout at last! And as always, they bring a touch of the classically-inspired and Belgian to the mix. Roasted espresso and cacao nibs add some additional depth to the dark malt flavors, and Belgian yeasts add some yeasty bite to the mix!

Appearance: Black as tar, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Toasty malts, roasted espresso, dark chocolate
Taste: Roasted malt, hint of espresso, dark chocolate, Belgian yeast
Aftertaste: Lingering espresso and roasted malt, yeastiness
Overall: 9/10

Category 12 ZRA Zombie Repellent Ale

c12-zra-bottle-cBrewer: Category 12, Central Saanich,
Style: Dark Ale (hard to place, really)
ABV: 6.9%
IBUs: 49

Description: This latest seasonal release from C12  – which is located right in my backyard! – is what they describe as being an “anti-pumpkin ale”. This brew is named in honor of its combination of Zythos hops, CaraRed malt, and Azacca hops, which are augmented by the addition of Fennel and Sweet Orange and then fermented using their proprietary strain of Belgian yeast. The end result is a dark ale designed to “snap any mindless, pumpkin spice zombie out of their trance and back to reality”. Really not a fan of pumpkin ales, huh?

Tasting Notes: I for one do not support the political agenda inherent in this beer! Okay, mandatory disclaiming done, now let’s get to this beer! I found this brew to be brilliantly experimental and very tasty. The dark malt, Belgian yeast, and combination of hops provides a malty, spicy and crisp base. The addition of fennel and orange add to the pleasant spiciness and soften things a bit with some additional sweetness. A balanced, tasty, and very interesting brew!

Appearance: Deep brown/ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich fennel spice, Belgian yeasts, pepper, hint of citrus, dry herbal hops
Taste: Crisp malt, malt sweetness, yeast bite, dry herbal hops, fennel spice, orange
Aftertaste: Lingering spice, dry herbs, yeasty bitterness
Overall: 9.5/10

Category 12 Dry-Hopped Sour

c12-bottle-shot-DryHoppedSour-20160608-ABrewer: Category 12 Brewing,
Style: Sour
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 14

Description: The latest in C12’s Elemental Series, this limited summer release is soured with a Lactobacillus culture and then fermented with Saccharomyces Trois wild yeast. It is then dry-hopped using new German hop varieties Mandarina Bavaria and Huell Melon for balance.

Tasting Notes: This is definitely a summer seasonal, since it calls to mind backyard lemonade, made from squeezed lemons and ice water. It is quite mild and clean, but just like unsweetened lemonade, it has has some serious tartness that somehow manage to slake your thirst. Add to that a yeasty backbone which brings the lactic acid, and some mild notes of tropical fruit, and you’ve this experimental ale.

Appearance: Light yellow, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malt, yeasty, dry, tart, melon, lemony nose
Taste: Mild malt, immediate acidity, tart lemon, yeast and lactic acid
Aftertaste: Lingering lemon and yeasty flavor
Overall: 8/10

C12 Barrelholder Belgian Golden Strong Ale

c12-bottle-shot-BGSA-20160608-ABrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Belgian Golden Strong
ABV: 10.6%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: The Belgian Strong is one of C12’s experimental brews, which made an appearance last year in limited quantities. This latest incarnation is part of their Barrelholder Program – a crowdfunding effort to procure barrels for the sake of produce barrel-aged beers. As their first installment in this program, this beer combines a strong malt base, Hallertau hops, and is fermented using the brewery’s proprietary Belgian yeast. And of course, the end product is matured in red wine barrels.

Tasting Notes: This beer is exactly what one would expect and hope from a beer bearing the name of “wine-barrel aged golden strong”. For starters, it has a rich malty profile that is typical of a Belgian Strong, not to mention some serious alcohol content. However, this is, as advertised, quite deceptive, smoothed over by the effects of red wine tannin and oak. And these come through quite well in the finish. It reminded me in many ways of Russel’s Nectar of the Gods, which happened to be one of my favorite beers of 2014. So good job on the first Barrelholder release, C12!

Appearance: Rich amber, semi-cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, sugars, yeast, notes of oak, red wine tannin
Taste: Rich malt, sugars, yeasty effervescence, notes of red wine, tannin and oak
Aftertaste: Lingering oak and red wine flavor, alcoholic warmth and yeast
Overall: 9/10

Category 12 Wild IPA

C12_wildIPABrewer: Category 12, Victoria, BC
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.9%
IBUs: 68

Description: This latest release is part of C12’s Elemental Series, a grouping of experimental, limited release beers. It is so named because of the use of wild yeast strain known as Saccaromyces trois. And as an IPA it also combines a generous dose of pale malt which is then bittered with experimental El Dorado and Azacca hops and then served unfiltered.

Tasting Notes: An interesting brew, one which combines tropical fruit hop flavor with a yeast that imparts tropical fruit aromas. The end result is a beer that has a good West Coast IPA flavor with distinct Belgian undertones, which include a yeasty backbone. a cloudy profile, and some serious yeasty sediment.

Appearance: Deep Orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, rich tropical fruit nose, pineapple, passion fruit, yeasty 
Taste: Crisp start, immediate notes of pineapple, pine, yeast, bitter hop finish
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, tropical fruit flavor
Overall: 8.5/10

Category 12 Transmutation Specialty Belgian Ale 2016

C12_transmutationBrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Belgian Tripel
ABV: 9.6%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: Transmutation is a limited release that did very well the last time it was around. And so they’ve decided to bring it back into circulation. And just like last time, this Belgian-style Tripel is brewed using Superior Pilsner and Belgian Caravienne malts, which are them fortified with amber Candi sugar that is made in-house. It is then bittered with a modest amount of Hallertauer and Norther Brewer hops.

Tasting Notes: This beer has once again excited and surprised me. It has the distinct notes of a Belgian Tripel, which include a strong malt base and some serious alcohol! At the same time, you’ve got Belgian Strong notes, in the form of burnt sugar flavor. And again, there are the Saison notes, in the form of some spicy, sharp, yeasty notes. And the end result is a big pleasure, and my favorite creation of theirs. I’m very glad they brought it back.

Appearance: Solid amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt base, citrus and orchard fruit, candy floss, spicy yeast
Taste: Strong malt, slightly coarse, burnt sugar, alcoholic bite, yeasty notes
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt, burnt sugar, alcohol
Overall: 9/10

Category 12 Induction Dubbel

c12-bottle-shot-INDUCTIONBrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Central Saanich, BC
Style: Dubbel
ABV: 7.5%
IBUs: 19

Description: The latest from C12, and a testament to their commitment to Belgian-style ales, is a traditional Dubbel. And consistent with this, the brew is made using plenty of dark malt, handcrafted dark candi syrup (which they made themselves), and a mild hopping.

Tasting Notes: The Induction was actually a little different than what I am used to. Whereas your usual Dubbel has some very syrupy and sweet malts with plenty of dark fruit flavor, the Induction is a bit lighter and has a flavor profile that starts smooth and subtle but ends with notes of phenols (aka. tannin) and caramelized sugar. A bit different, but definitely interesting and creative!

Appearance: Brown/ruby red, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, minerals, fruity esters, caramelized sugar
Taste: Smooth malt, syrup, tannin, hint of dark fruits and caramelized sugars 
Aftertaste: Lingering dark malt flavor and tannin, relatively clean finish
Overall: 8.5/10

On a side note, this is my 500th post on the GCBS! Woohoo!