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

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Parallel 49 Rye The Long Face Imperial Rye IPA

p49_ryethelongfaceBrewer: Parallel 49 Brewing, Vancouver BC
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: 86

Description: Part of Parallel 49 Spring Seasonal lineup, this Imperial IPA combines a hefty combination of pale and rye malts, and is then bittered using a similarly robust amount of Chinook, Simcoe, Amarillo and Centennial hops.

Tasting Notes: As Imperial IPAs go, this beer was quite smooth and drinkable. Surprising considering its strength and the hefty dose of rye. And yet, the rye malts and heavy helping of Pacific Northwest hops balance out to create a pretty subtle but complex brew.

Appearance: Deep orange, mildly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: rich malt, rye notes, citrus, pineapple, and passion fruit hops
Taste: Smooth, slightly crisp malt, notes of herbs, citrus, peach, pineapple
Aftertaste: Lingering tang, citrus and tropical fruit and rye bitterness
Overall: 8.3/10

Stone Ruination IPA

stone_ruination_ipaBrewer: Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 8.2%
IBUs: 100+

Description: As part of their regular lineup, the Ruination IPA (so named because of its strength and intense hop flavor) is basically the same recipe as their Stone IPA, but with an extra-large helping of malt and a very large dose of of Magnum, Chinook and Centennial hops.

Tasting Notes: This is only my second sampling from the Stone Brewery, which began with their Arrogant Bastard Ale. And again, it seems they’ve got me pegged with their wares! Comparable to the better Imperial IPAs I’ve had, this brew has a strong malt base (minus the sweetness I’ve become accustomed to) and some truly decent hop flavor that combines intense grassy, citrus and piney flavors. I have to say, I highly approve of the hop-forward nature of this beer, and their choices of hops since it lends it a distinctly dry and bitter flavor.

Appearance: Light gold/amber, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Light malt, strong notes of grassy, herbal, citrus and piney hops
Taste: Smooth malt, tang, plenty of herbal, grassy, dry hop flavor, citrus notes
Aftertaste: Lingering dry hop and herbal/grassy bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Le Trou Du Diable Shawinigan Handshake

Latroudediable_shawiniganBrewer: Le Trou Du Diable, Shawinigan, QC
Style: Hopfenweisse
ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 42

Description: A combination of wheat and barley malt, German yeast, and West Coast Chinook hops, this hopfenweisse-inspired ale is dedicated to Prime Minister Chretien – Canada’s Prime Minister for ten years and who hails from Shawinigan.

Tasting Notes: This brew was an interesting break from my usual samplings of West Coast IPAs and Belgian strong ales. Ironic that it combined elements of both then! On the one hand, it has the smooth malt backing and fruit flavor of a good heffeweizen, and just enough bitterness and tropical flavor of a West Coast ale.

Appearance: Yellow/orange, cloudy, heavy foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, strong notes of peach, passion fruit, yeast
Taste: Smooth start, yeast bitterness, notes of peach, banana and cloves
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Fernie Rockpile Red IPA

Fernie_rockpileBrewer: Fernie Brewing, Fernie BC
Style: Red India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.2%
IBU: 80

Description: This beer is the first in Fernie’s 2014 IPA Bucket List – a repeat of last year’s tribute to IPA’s – with seasonal availability from Nov to Dec. This brew is fashioned using Caramel and Crystal Malts, and then bittered with a large dose of Admiral, Ahtanum and Chinook Hops.

Tasting Notes: This IPA is an interesting combination, being rather malt-forward in character despite its high IBU rating. The rich red malts are immediately apparent in the lacy head it creates, and the flavor is reminiscent of baked bread, caramel and toffee, and with a slight, mineral tang. The hop flavor comes through with notes of grass, pine and herbs, but which are decidedly dry. All of this strikes a nice balance, and which provides a good intro to the 2014 Bucket List.

Appearance: Deep ruby, clear, good, lacy foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Deep roasted amber, caramel, minerals, dry hops
Taste: Sharp malt, sweet bread, caramel and toffee, grassy, piney, dry hop finish
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, hint of citrus, grass and herbs
Overall: 8.5/10

Parallel 49 Sahti Claws Finnish Sahti

p49sahti_clawsAnother seasonal beer has arrived in time for the holidays! And in true Parallel 49 fashion, their latest limited release is an interesting mix of brewing traditions, the likes of which I have tried only once before (that would be Odin’s Gift Juniper Pale Ale). It’s known as a Finnish Sahti, a Scandinavian style of beer that is made with rye, barley and juniper berries and served unfiltered. The good folks at P49 then added a dose of piney Chinook and Simcoe hops.

And of all their experimental brews, this is definitely one that works very well. The dose of piney hops are very complimentary to the crisp, bitter flavor provided by the rye and juniper. This is further complimented by the use of Pilsner, Munich, Crystal and Wheat malt, which provide a light, smooth backbone to it – which is surprising given its strength (7.7% alc/vol). It tops it all off with a smooth and creamy finish, and the cloudy, dark amber color is very appealing to the eye. Definitely a nice spin on the Sahti, combining this traditional style with some a little Pacific Northwest character.

Appearance: Dark amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Piney hops, dry, crisp rye notes
Taste: Immediate tang, smooth malt, piney hops, strong bitterness of rye and juniper
Aftertaste: Mild and varied bitterness, creamy finish
Overall: 9/10

Holiday drinking has been good so far! In the coming weeks, I will be getting into that pack of Historic Scottish Ales, McAuslan’s 2013 Millennial Ale, and grabbing as many limited holiday releases as possible. ‘Tis the season, after all!