Hop City Barking Squirrel Lager

hopcity_lagerBrewer: Hop City Brewing, Brampton, ON
Style: Lager
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 24

Description: This lager, which is Hop City’s flagship beer, is brewed using a combination of of Pale Two-Row, Crystal, Dark Crystal , Munich, and Torrified Wheat malts, which are then bittered with Hallertau Mittelfrueh and Saaz hops.

Tasting Notes: This is the second time I’ve sampled Barking Squirrel, the first time being during my 2013 trip to Ottawa. Somehow, my review card was full and I neglected to give it a proper write-up, which I am corrected now! This is very much a good, clean-drinking lager, with some maltier notes that are reminiscent of a good Marzen. A crisp and slightly sweet malt base with notes of sweet bread and caramel combine with a dry, noble hop flavor to create a very quaffable and drinkable lager.

Appearance: Amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sharp and grainy malt nose, noble hops, dry grasses and herbs
Taste: Clean, crisp malts, sweet bread, caramel, grassy and herbal hops, minerals
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, grainy and sweet malt flavor
Overall: 8/10

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Category 12 Insubordinate Session IPA

c12_insubordinateBrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Central Saanich, BC
Style: Session IPA
ABV: 4.5%
IBUs: 58

Description: In what is Category 12’s latest seasonal release, the Insubordinate is a sessional take on the Pacific Northwestern India Pale Ale. Crystal and Vienna malts provide the base, which is then bittered using Centennial and Columbus hops, along with an infusion of Zythos for some extra dry-hopping.

Tasting Notes: Given that this brewery is right here in my neighborhood, I was able to snag some bottles of this brew direct. And while sampling, I was even able to guess the hops used (well, it took a few guesses to get all three). In any case, this brew is a good addition after the powerhouse that was their Transmutation, employing a lighter malt base with a good hopping that employs both a bitter, citrus and tropical fruit start with a herbal, dry hop finish. An all around crisp and refreshing take on the Pacific Northwestern IPA.

Appearance: Amber/orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malt, tropical fruit nose, pineapple, passion fruit, herbal infusion
Taste: Crisp malt, citrus, pine, herbs, dry hop bitterness, mineral tang
Aftertaste: Lingering dry hop bitterness, herbs, citrus rind, quite refreshing
Overall: 8.5/10

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

Longwood The One That Got Away Red Wheat Ale (2014)

https://d1c8v1qci5en44.cloudfront.net/photo/2014_08_15/d7333af8244a89b47e52a55c4b9438ce_640x640.jpgBrewer: Longwood Brewery, Nanaimo BC
Style: Wheat Ale
Alc/Vol: 6%

Description: Inspired BC Tough’s annual West Coast Tuna Shootout, a fishing derby that takes place in the wild waters off Bamfield, BC, this wheat ale is crafted using 50% Wheat and a healthy dose of Crystal Malt. The end result is a copper colored, unfiltered ale that is cloudy, malty, and effervescent.

Tasting Notes: Last summer, I had my first sampling of this beer and was not very pleased. I chose to not to review it that time, thinking it might be a bad bottle. However, a subsequent tasting confirmed that the beer was in fact quite coarse and somewhat metallic-tasting. However, this latest batch, recently released with a new bottle (as you can see from the picture above) was surprisingly better. While it still has that characteristic, slightly bitter tang to it, this is nicely balanced amidst flavors of yeast, some tart fruit esters, and a bubbly character. I am therefore upgrading this beer a full point!

Appearance: Dark amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wheat malt, tart and bitter fruit esters, minerality, yeast
Taste: Wheat malts, tartness, yeasty effervescence, sour cherry, citrus
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, minerals and yeast
Overall: 8.5/10

4 Mile Brown Ale

4mile_brownBrewer: 4 Mile Brewing, Victoria BC
Style: English-style Brown Ale
Alc/Vol: 5.3%
IBUs: 40

Description: This English-style brown ale is crafted using five different types of malt, including crystal, chocolate & roasted barley. The result is a dark, full-bodied malty beer with a discernible bitter hop finish.

Tasting Notes: This is my second sampling from the 4 Mile Brewery, and the English inspiration was once again very much apparent. The strong notes of roasted barely and baked bread are immediately apparent upon opening the bottle, and carry on through from the first sip to the last. These are further balanced out with some hop bitterness and malty notes of coffee, caramel and cocoa. A truly lovely beer-drinking experience!

Appearance: Deep brown, clear, mild foam retention and good carbonation
Nose: Toasted malt, baked bread, caramelized sugar, mild coffee
Taste: Dark roasted malts, tang, slight caramel sweetness, notes of coffee, cocoa
Aftertaste: Lingering roasted malt bitterness, hints of coffee and cocoa
Overall: 9/10

Big Rock Fowl Mouth ESB

fowl_mouth_esbBrewer: Big Rock, Calgary AB
Style: Extra Special Bitter
Alc/Vol: 5.5%

Description: Part of the brewery’s Brewmaster Series, the Fowl Mouth is made in the “Cornish Bitter” fashion and combines Pale and Crystal malts with East Kent Golding and U.K. Fuggle Hops to create a dry-hopped English-style pale ale.

Tasting Notes: It’s been some time since I enjoyed a Big Rock beer. I can remember quite fondly when they first began to appear in pubs in Ottawa in the late 90s, and enjoyed many a pint of their Traditional Ale as they years went on. And these days, their product catalog only seems to be expanding, so I knew I had to start catching up. And as far as ESBs go, this one was quite refreshing, had a lovely malt profile, and was surprisingly fruity, in addition to the subtle, dry-hop profile. I definitely want to see more from the Brewmaster Edition and will do my best to review in the future.

Appearance: Copper, clear, milder foam retention and  carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, notes of orchard fruit, English hops
Taste: Smooth crystal malt, mild tang, sweet bread, hint of blackcurrant, dry hop finish
Aftertaste: Lingering malt, chewy bread, mild citrus and dry hop flavor
Overall: 9/10