Les Trois Mousquetaires Grand Cuvee Porter Baltique

TM_PORTERBALTIQUEBrewer: Les Trois Mousquetaires, Brossard, QC
Style: Dark Lager
ABV: 10.5%
IBUs: 27

Description: This offering is a dark lager that was inspired by Porters of the Baltic Sea Region. It is fashioned using Pilsner, Munich, Cara 60/160, Wheat, Oat, Carafa, and Briess smoked malt (85% of which are sourced from Quebec), and bittered with a combination Perle, Centennial, and Summit hops. As part of their Edition Speciale 2015 (special edition), the beer is also aged for 3-5 years in bourbon and brandy barrels before being bottled.

Tasting Notes: This is the second Trois Mousquetairs product I have ever sampled, the first one being their Weizenbock, which I tried at the 2012 Winterlude Winter Beers and Ice Wines. Like that offering, this beer was mighty potent and very rich and malty. Beyond that, it was quite distinct. A dark lager base, which provides for a smooth start, quickly gives way to dark fruits, brown sugar, and notes of whiskey, all punctuated by a strong alcoholic punch to the gullet! These flavors linger for some time, and create to a general feeling of warmth and well-being. Just be careful, because nothing about this beer is for the faint of heart!

Appearance: Black as tar, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, brown sugar, dates, raisins, bourbon and alcoholic bite
Taste: Smooth malt start, alcohol, sugars, dates and raisins, bourbon whiskey finish
Aftertaste: Lingering sweetness, whiskey bite, and strong alcoholic bite
Overall: 8/10

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

Moa Noir Dark Lager

Moa_NoirBrewer: Moa Brewing, Marlborough, NZ
Style: Dark Lager
Alc/Vol: 5%

Description: A traditional European-style Munchner Dunkel, the Noir is a bottle fermented, bottle conditioned, and malt-forward take on a dark lager. It is one of several European-style beers produced by this renowned and award-winning New Zealand brewery.

Tasting Notes: This beer was rather unique and interesting as far as dark lagers go. It was reminiscent of a stout in many ways, packing some serious chocolate and coffee notes, but still having the lighter, crisper taste of a lager. But what really surprised me were the smokey notes, which reminded me of my cigar-smoking days. I swear, the taste of tobacco was in the nose and the malt profile, and that threw me just a little. A very interesting beer and one which entices me to sample more from the brewery, but not my favorite Dunkel import.

Appearance: Deep brown/black, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark malts, coffee, dark chocolate, smoke and tabacco
Taste: Dark roasted malts, bitter coffee and chocolate, smokey flavor
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, coffee and smoke
Overall: 7.75/10

The Six Pack Project: BC!

6pack-logo1Today, I have honor of taking part in something new. Specifically, its a project that brings beer snobs and lovers from across the continent – and indeed, the world at large – together in our shared fondness for one of mankind’s oldest spirituous beverages. It’s known as the “Six Pack Project”, a campaign that was started by blogger Bryan Roth who shares his love of beer through his website This Is Why I’m Drunk.

And the rules of the project are really quite simple. Every month, six bloggers are featured where they select six beers that they feel best represents their locality and/or its beer culture. The selections must be brewed in-state (or in my case, province) and should be year-round varieties as much as possible, though seasonals are also acceptable. With these basic criteria in mind, I set about trying to select six beers that I felt best represents British Columbia’s brewing culture.

And here’s what I came up with, a list not only of individual brews but the varieties I wanted to cover. As anyone who has ever experienced BC’s beer culture knows, we produce a wide variety of styles, which is very much reflective of our cultural diversity and heritage. As such, the styles I felt I should cover needed to include the best local representations of British, American and Continental European brewing. And so, here are my six choices for BC brewing styles and the beers that I feel best represents them:

India Pale Ale – Central City Red Racer IPA:
red_racer_ipaDefinitely a contender for the best India Pale Ale in BC, if not the entire country, Central City’s Red Races has everything that a fan of Pacific Northwester IPAs have come to expect. This includes a rich amber hue, a strong and floral hop aroma, and a taste that proceeds in waves. This begins with a syrupy, slightly sweet malt flavor, then gives way to a citrusy blend hops that are highly reminiscent of grapefruit before finishing with a lingering bitterness. Strong, yet balanced, it also manages to be quite refreshing, which is not easy when dealing with your maltier, hoppier brand of India Pale Ale. So really, what you get is a very well rounded beer with a wonderful balance of characteristics. Add to that a respectable alcohol content of 6.5 % per volume and you’ve got a winner!

Brown Ale – Cannery Naramata Nut Brown Ale:
Naramata
British Columbia is renowned for producing some mighty fine brown ales, but Cannery’s Naramata Nut Brown remains one of the smoothest and pleasing ones I’ve had to date. Dark and almost stout like in its appearance, this brown is very smooth to taste, but packs a viscous, chewy mouth feel and some very toasty malts that do a nice dance on the tongue. All of this is then rounding out with a nice hop finish and some well-placed chocolate notes. And consistent with its name, it also has a slight nutty profile that calls to mind the taste of cashews and other roasted, harvest nuts.

Session Ale – Lighthouse Tasman Ale:
tasman_aleProduced by Victoria’s own Lighthouse brewery, the Tasman is an session ale that is brewed with local malts but has the distinction of being flavored with hops imported from the Tasman region of New Zealand – hence the name and label art. The result is an light amber-colored ale with a light head that is reminiscent of both a good Northwestern Pale Ale and an ESB. This comes through in the slightly sweet, syrupy malts and the hop profile that is at once citrusy, subtle, multilayered and reminiscent of a dry-hopped bitter. On top of that, it maintains a respectable 5% alc/vol, despite being a session ale, and finishes quite clean and refreshing, making it an all-around pleaser!

Flanders Red – Driftwood Belle Royale Sour Cherry Ale:
bellelogo-sour
As part of Driftwood’s Bird of Prey series, Belle Royale is the third Flanders-style sour ale produced by this brewery. And in my opinion, it is the best so far. This may have to do with the fact that in all previous cases, I was automatically reminded of the tart taste of sour cherries when I sampled them. So it seemed ridiculously appropriate that they chose to fashion one that actually incorporated the fruit this past year. Combined with an oak barrel-aging process and the addition of specialized yeast that brings out the lactic acid, this beer has several layers of flavor which the accomplished beer drinker will enjoy sorting through. It begins with a burst of tart cherries, then proceeds to an oaky  flavor similar to a dry red wine, and then on to a lingering flavor of mild sugars, yeasts and tart fruit flavor. And at 8% alc/vol, it also packs quite the punch!

Belgian Triple – Townsite YOGN 82 Belgian Triple:
townsite_yogn82
Located in Powell Rivers’ historic Townsite district, this brewery is the chief purveyor of beer to the Sunshine Coast, and arguably one of the best breweries in all of BC. And it is without exaggeration that I say that their YOGN 82, the second beer in their Hulk Series, is one of the better Belgian Triple’s that I’ve ever had. Between its golden blonde hue, distinctive Belgian nose, strong malts, hints of banana, and an oaky aftertaste, it has just about everything I have come to know and love about this distinctive style of beer. But one difference which sets it apart is the added kick of citrus and sugary malts, which add some more dimension to the flavor. And like all good Triples, it weighs in at a hefty 9% alc/vol. To be nurtured slowly, and with care!

Hefeweizen – Moon Under Water Victorious Weizenbock:
logo_weizenbock2
Last, but certainly not least, is my current favorite wheat beer that is brewed right here in-province. Produced by Moon Under Water, another brewery located in the heart of Victoria, the Victorious Weizenbock is also my favorite beer out of their entire lineup. Basically, it incorporates the styles of a hefeweizen and a bock to produce something that is truly interesting and harmonious. This comes from the combination of Canadian wheat, German Munich and Chocolate malts, along with New Zealand hops, specialized yeast, and a bock lagering process. And what comes out of all this is a beer that is smooth and tawny at first, then transitions into the sweet and rich, and has notes of banana, clove spice, chocolate, and a nicely spicy, yeasty aftertaste to round it all out. And at 8.2% alc/vol, it’s no slouch in the strength department!

Believe me when I say this was a tough process and I had some hard calls to make. If I could expand on this, I definitely would. But what can you do? Rules are rules, and there’s only so many spots for top contenders. Here’s hoping it helps some people out there in their ongoing quest to find new and interesting beers to try!

More Six Pack Projects from around the world:

  • Connecticut by Kristen at Now Beer This!
  • Indiana by Rebecca at The Bake and Brew
  • Maine by James at Insurance Guy Beer Blog
  • Minnesota by Paige of Alcohol by Volume
  • Montana by Ryan of Montana Beer Finder
  • Oregon by Chris at I Think About Beer

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Phillips Dr. Funk Dunkel

As promised, a review of yet another Phillips limited release. Today, it’s Dr. Funk Dunkel, the funky dark Bavarian-style lager that is a testament to both Phillips long standing reputation for good beer and odd names!

According to Phillips website, this beer is being released yet again, so my (un)timely review hardly seems so important anymore! But then again, who wants to read about a beer that is no longer even available?  So naturally, I’ll be looking for it again, and I recommend others do the same. Recurring or not, it’s not a permanent part of Phillips lineup… yet.

Appearance: Quite dark, relatively transparent, slightly cloudy
Nose: Smokey and salty, reminiscent of soy sauce
Taste: Clean start, giving way to a hint of smoke and mild coffee
Aftertaste: Relatively clean finish, lingering touch of smoke
Overall: 8.5/10

Dunkel is fast becoming one of my favorite styles of beer. Something about a dark lager just pleases me, possibly because it reminds me of the tall mugs of beer the wife and I tilted while we were in Germany. Little wonder then why I enjoy pouring several cold bottles of this beer into my stein and saying Prost! Welcome back, Funk!