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

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Howe Sound Anvil Island Dark Lager

Anvil+Island+with+Pint+GlassBrewer: Howe Sound Brewery, Squamish, BC
Style: Dark Lager
Alc/Vol: 5.5%
IBU: 21

Description: As part of their series of limited release beers, the Anvil Dark Lager takes its name from the third-largest island in Howe Sound, and is made using dark crystal malts as well as German and Polish hops. Consistent with their reputation for bringing home awards, the Anvil Dark Lager won the gold medal from the North American Beer Awards in the Munich-style Dark category.

Tasting Notes: I’ve rarely met a Howe I didn’t like. And unfortunately, I’ve been somewhat negligent in my sampling from this brewery in recent years. Anyway, as dark lagers go, this beer was no slouch and had all the right things going for it. These included toasted malts, hints of chocolate and coffee, a light hop and roasted malt bitterness, and a nice, clean finish. Definitely one of their hits!

Appearance: Dark brown/red, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Deep roasted malt, hints of smoke, coffee, leather
Taste: Toasted malts, mild tang, hints of smoke, coffee, crisp hop bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering roasted malt flavor, coffee, but otherwise clean
Overall: 9/10

VIB Thirty Years Imperial Red Ale

Thirty-Years-Bottle-Mock-smBrewer: Vancouver Island Brewery
Style: Imperial Red Ale
Alc/Vol: 8.5%

Description: A limited release brewed in honor of the brewery’s thirtieth anniversary, this beer pays homage to their Piper’s Pale Ale by ramping up the recipe. This includes Two-Row, Crystal and Chocolate Malts with Northern Brewer, Perle and Hallertau hops, but brewed to extra extra strength.

Tasting Notes: This beer was highly reminiscent of an Irish Red, given that it has that characteristic syrupy malt and chewy mouthfeel. And of course, there was a noticeable citrus hop backing. However, the overriding characteristic of this beer is the intense malt flavor and the alcohol content, which create a heavy, slightly sweet, smokey, and coarse profile that lingers on the tongue..

Appearance: Dark amber, dense, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich red malts, baked sweat breads, mild citrus
Taste: Immediate burst of rich malt, tang, coarseness, viscous malts, hint of bitter hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malts, slight tang and coarseness, chewy mouthfeel
Overall: 7.75/10

Granville Island Shamrocker Potato Stout

shamrocker_stoutBrewer: Granville Island Brewery, Vancouver, BC
Style: Stout
Alc/Vol: 4.8%
IBU: 35

Description: Released just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, this limited release from Granville Island Brewing combines Crystal and base Stout malts with Delta hops and an infusion of potato to create a stout that the brewery describes as “a medley of Celtic proportions.”

Tasting Notes: As stouts go, this one was a little light in alcohol content and flavor, and put me in mind of an auburn ale (another Irish classic!) in a few respects. At the same time, it managed to achieve a nice balance between roasted malts, an hint of espresso bitterness, and the earthy flavor that comes from Delta hops and the addition of potatoes. This last ingredient also came through with the pervasive starchy, slightly sweet essence I noticed throughout. All of this makes for a rather interesting drinking experience, and a welcome addition to St. Patrick’s Day. Slainte!

Appearance: Black, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Roasted malt, hint of espresso, smokey aroma
Taste: Light malt flavor, hint of starch, tang, espresso, smokey, earthy hop finish
Aftertaste: Lingering earthy flavor and hints of espresso and malt
Overall: 8.5/10

Two Beers Forester Double IPA

forester_doubleipaBrewer: Two Beers Brewery, Seattle WA
Style: Double IPA
Alc/Vol: 7.8%
IBU: 92

Description: The Forester Double IPA is a seasonal beer and the brewery’s expansion on their Evo IPA. And as the name suggests, is naturally stronger, maltier, and hoppier than the original. In terms of malts, it employs Base, Crystal, Vienna, Munich, and Carapils, and is bittered using Simcoe, Amarillo, Centenniel, and Super G hops.

Tasting Notes: I’ve had many India Pale Ales in my time and more than a few doubles. But this was definitely one of the better ones. In addition to not being terribly high in alcohol content or very coarse, the hop flavor was also just bitter enough, and plenty diverse. It’s the mark of a good double IPA that it can be strong all around, but maintain a nice balance. Looking forward to the next one!

Appearance: Orange-amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malts, strong hop nose, citrus, grassy, and piney
Taste: Strong, semi-coarse malts, rich hop flavor, resin, pine, citrus rind
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, coarse malt flavor
Overall: 9/10

Parallel 49 Lord of the Hops

parallel49And we’re back with another installment in the coming of spring beer lineup, which today comes from Parallel 49. And despite that my last tasting from their brewery didn’t go quite so well (see Vow of Silence Quadruple), I’m always interested to see what they do next. Not only do the 49ers know their craft, they can always be counted on to be experimental and cutting edge!

But of course, they’ve been known to be pretty damn good when it comes to your more basic, straightforward products as well. And this IPA would definitely fall into that latter category. In terms of color, head, scent and taste, it has the aromatic and deliciously hoppy nature India Pale Ales are known for. What appear to be crystal malts provide for a rich, semi-sweet malt flavor. And a hefty dose of what is clearly Cascade and other Pacific Northwest varieties of hops provide for an abundance of citrus fruit and passion fruit that is delightful.

Appearance: Golden-amber, slightly cloudy, mild foam and carbonation
Nose: Very hoppy and floral, distinct tropical notes as well
Taste: Immediate hit of citrus and grassy hops, notes of passion fruit
Aftertaste: Slightly bitter finish, some herbal traces
Overall: 9/10

Good job, Parallel 49. You kind of had me worried with that last showing. I was starting to think you’re were getting into some weird territory there. Lucky for me, you guys seem to know you’re way around that area, and you also seem to know your way back!

Salt Spring Island Snug IPA and Whale Tail

saltspring_alesToday, while I take a short break from my winter beer series, I thought I might publish two reviews that came pretty close together and were from the same brewery. And so I thought I’d a two-fer on the Salt Spring Island Brewery, which is, I have to admit, a craft brewing operation I have not sampled from for awhile.

So it’s fitting that I found two of their newest products at my local beer store recently and decided to partake. These would be the new Snug IPA and Whale Tail Amber, respectively. Both were fine products and indicative of their dedication to quality and organic ingredients. Basically, they are what one would expect from a Salt Spring Island operation.

saltspring_snugipaFirst up, their Snug IPA. Much like their other beers, I found this one quite light and smooth, entirely inoffensive, but still in keeping with what an IPA is all about. This included a strong, citrus profile indicative of cascade hops and a smooth, slightly sweet taste that’s telltale of crystal malts done right. And of course, it has a nice bitter finish, as any IPA worth a damn should! All around, a good balance of malt and hops and an overall clean character. Definitely a repeat purchase.

Appearance: Dark amber, slightly cloudy, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Mild floral, citrusy scent
Taste: Smooth malts, semi sweet, touch of caramel, notes of citrus and pine
Aftertaste: Mild bitterness, lingering malts and citrus rind
Overall: 8.5/10

saltspring_whaletaleNext up is their Whale Tale Amber ale, which was similarly good, and much like the rest, light and smooth. However, this ale is decidedly more complex than the others. For example, the malts are gentle and slightly sweet, delivering notes of caramel, toffee and sweet bread, and the hop profile provides a combination of slight bitterness and citrus along with a dry hop flavor that is more varied. Apparently, this is the brew masters favorite, which frankly seems like a likely story!

Appearance: Dark amber-brown, transparent, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Syrupy malts, mild hops, touch of citrus
Taste: Smooth malts, light body, dry hop taste and mild citrus flavor
Aftertaste: Lingering bitter finish
Overall: 8/10

And that concludes this two-fer! I do believe this constitutes the entire lineup of Salt Spring Island Ales, though I must admit, I don’t seem to have provided a review for their Fireside Ale or their Porter. Guess I’ve have to remedy that, and soon! Why, their Fireside is a Winter Warmer after all, and that seems like something I’d want to include in this years winter series! Back to the beer store it is!