Central City Bolg Belgian Style Tripel

Central-City-Bolg-TripelBrewer: Central City Brewing, Vancouver, BC
Style: Belgian Tripel
ABV: 9.5%
IBU: 35

Description: The third installment in Central City’s The Hobbit series, this beer is appropriately made in the Belgian Tripel-style and is named in honor of the third film’s chief protagonist.

Tasting Notes: I was quite torn by this beer. On the one hand, like every beer in this series, it’s endorsing movies I don’t like, and it all seems a bit crass and consumerish. On the other, it’s nice to see a Canadian brewery snagging a lucrative cross-promotion like this. And above all, the beer itself is quite good! A strong malt base, some coarseness, the notes of candi sugar and Belgian yeast, and a good alcoholic punch. Definitely comparable to some of the better Tripels I’ve had in recent years.

Appearance: Deep golden, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, sugar, yeast, honey, floral bouquet
Taste: Strong malt, candi sugar, yeast, coarse finish, alcoholic bite
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt, alcohol and yeast flavor
Overall: 8.5/10

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

Central City The Hobbit Smaug Stout

smaug_stoutBrewer: Central City Brewing, Surrey, BC
Style: Stout
ABV: 8.5%

Description: As one of three beers released in time for the premier of the final movie in the Hobbit Trilogy, Smaug Stout pays tribute to the namesake of the second installment in the trilogy – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The beer combines chili peppers with a strong stout base, resulting in a brew that is both potent and spicy.

Tasting Notes: I’m often not a fan of the Baltic Porters or Imperial Stouts, so this beer already had a strike against it. And while I’m not a fan of the Hobbit Trilogy, I still respect what they’ve done with this particular beer. The combination of a strong stout and a kick of chilis is interesting, as are the earthy tones and mild burn that come through in the end. Well paired thematically with a Tolkienesque dragon.

Appearance: Black, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich, dark malty nose, notes of licorice, coffee
Taste: Strong malt, mild sweetness, hint of licorice, coffee, strong hop, earthy finish
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, mild chili spice burn
Overall: 7.5/10

Central City/Elysian I-5 Amarillo Ale

Central-City-Elysian_Amarillo_I-5Brewer: Central City Brewing, Vancouver BC, Elysian Brewery, Seattle WA
Style: American-Style Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 5%
IBU: 35

Description: Brewed in tandem by Elysian and Central City, and as part of the cross-border effort Brewers Without Borders, this pale ale is crafted specifically for Joey Restaurants in Canada, WA and soon CA. Brewed using Munich malts and all Amarillo hops, it is available on tap at Joey locations and in 650ml bottles as a limited release.

Tasting Notes: As a single malt, single hop combination, there’s very little that is obscure or complex about the taste of this pale ale. However, it still manages to have a layered profile, with a good malt base that calls to mind baked bread and biscuits, and hops that provide a dry, citrusy and slightly peppery flavor that is not unlike an ESB. Definitely a good collaboration brew and an example of what brewers all over the Pacific Northwest can do.

Appearance: Amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Biscuity malts, dry, grassy, citrusy hop notes
Taste: Good malt, tang, baked bread, burst of dry hop flavor, herbs, citrus, pepper
Aftertaste: Lingering dry hop finish, herbal taste
Overall: 8.5/10

Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine

thors-hammer-bottleBrewer: Central City Brewing, Vancouver BC
Style: Barley Wine
Alc/Vol: 11.5%

Description: This award-winning barley wine is an annual release from Central City, and is an especially strong take on this traditional English-style. In addition to choice malt, it is hopped using a combination of German Magnum, Horizon, Centennial, and Cascade, and then bottle conditioned for a year before release.

Tasting Notes: As barley wines go, this one was a real ass-kicker in all departments. That includes malt strength, sweetness, and alcoholic strength. In addition, it delivers in all the key aspects of flavor, which includes a rich, malt-forward character, strong notes of brown sugar and molasses, dark fruits, and a slightly hoppy finish. It’s high time that I got around to sampling this one!

Appearance: Mahogany-brown, very cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sweet, slightly coarse malts, molasses, raisins, plums
Taste: Sugars, slight tang, brown sugar, molasses, dark fruit and walnuts
Aftertaste: Lingering molasses, smokiness, coarse malt and citrus
Overall: 9/10

Central City Imperial IPA

Back from Ladysmith for the weekend, and I just happened to find myself some new beers while making a routine stop at one of Duncan’s many liquor stores. Man, that town is stocked! And this time around, I discovered a special feature. Brewed by Central City from Surrey, BC (the same makers as the famous Red Racer lineup), their Imperial IPA is what you might call an IPA on steroids, or a very strong IPA. Either description would be apt.

As an Imperial IPA, it is strong in terms of its alcohol content (9.5% alc/vol), hop content (90 IBU’s), and malt flavor. The end result is something that can be a bit overwhelming for the uninitiated, but which is a rewarding experience for fans of strong ales and IPA’s alike. And in many ways, the different strengths serve to round each other out, providing a drinking experience that is both challenging, yet strangely balanced.

Appearance: Deep amber, consistent with a true IPA
Nose: Scents of heavy malts, rich and toasted, mixed with a heavy floral hop presence
Taste: Sweet and heavy malts giving way to complex hops, viscous and syrupy
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness giving way to even more lingering malt flavor
Overall: 8/10

In the end, this beer lives up to the advertising. When a beer includes the term “Imperial” in its title, it means a beer of greater strength and density. As such, one can expect a beer with some strong, coarser malts and real toasty flavor. And where IPA’s are involved, one can also expect plenty of hops and a flavor that gravitates between the floral, bitter and citrusy. And that’s exactly what this beer has going on! If you’re a fan of the strong, challenging, sweet, and bitter, pick yourself up a bottle before it goes back to the mainland.