Driftwood Old Cellar Dweller 2015

driftwood_ocd2015Brewer: Driftwood Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Barley Wine
ABV: 11.4%
IBUs: Unlisted (60ish or more)

Description: This is the latest vintage of Driftwood Brewery’s Old Cellar Dweller, a seasonal barley wine released every year in time for the holidays. This year’s offering is brewed with 98% Pale Malt and a small trace of CaraMunch thrown in for color, and is then bittered using a generous dose of Columbus hops.

Tasting Notes: As I’ve said before, every year’s OCD is a little different. This year, they chose to tone down the alcohol (just a little), and go the single hop and (mostly) single malt route in order to showcase what both of these ingredients, in their most concentrated states, could do. And like the two previous vintages, this year’s tends more towards the Imperial IPA than a barley wine. But it remains a powerful winter warmer, boasting some rich malts, powerful hops, and a warm, alcoholic bite!

Appearance: Deep gold/light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Powerful hop-forward aroma, grassy, citrus, pineapple, rich malt
Taste: Sweet, semi-coarse malt, notes of pineapple, citrus rind, grass and pine
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt and hop bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

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Driftwood De Auras Wheat Sour

driftwood_deaurasBrewer: Driftwood Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Sour Wheat Ale
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: Unspecified

Description: Released in time for the Fall harvest season, this sour wheat ale is the latest in Driftwood’s Bird of Prey sour ale series. It is fashioned using a combination wheat malt, raw wheat, hops, and three different kinds of yeast – brettanomyces, lactobactillus, and pediococcus, all lactic-acid producing strains.

Tasting Notes: This was definitely a nice combination, one which I have to admit that I’m not typically crazy about. But in this case, the gentle wheat malt base does well when combined with a whole lot of sour yeasts, adding dimensions of fruit flavor that are reminiscent of sour cherries and tart fruit. And I definitely prefer it to their last offering as well, Oscuritas. Looking forward to what’s next!

Appearance: Amber/orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle wheat malt, lactic acid, sour cherry, orchard fruits
Taste: Smooth wheat malt, fruity esters, sour cherry, lactic acid, clean finish
Aftertaste: Lingering sourness and lactic acid, gentle malt flavor
Overall: 8.25/10

Driftwood Pilsner Doehnel

driftwood_pilsnerBrewer: Driftwood Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 5%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This latest release by Driftwood’s is also the brewery’s first-ever attempt at a lager. In keeping with that venerable tradition of brewing, they have chosen to go with a Czech-style Pilsner. And in true craft brewing fashion, they fashioned this brew using malts that were grown and malted on the Saanich Peninsula by artisan Maltster Mike Doehnel. Hence why it is named in his honour. It was then lagered for six weeks prior to being released this past June. Get it while it lasts!

Tasting Notes: This Pilsner was definitely a great addition to Driftwood’s lineup – a Czech-style lager with a West Coast twist. Crisp malts intermix with notes of citrus, herbs and minerals, and finish very cleanly, offering a refreshing and tasty brew with just enough complexity. Kudos to Driftwood for expanding into unknown territory and creating a winner in the process!

Appearance: Straw gold, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sharp, grainy and crisp malts, dry, herbal hops, minerals
Taste: Crisp malt, mineral tang, dry, herbal hops
, mild citrus rind bite
Aftertaste: Lingering malt and mineral tang, citrus bitterness, clean finish
Overall: 9/10

Driftwood Obscuritas Dark Sour Ale

driftwood_obscuritasBrewer: Driftwood Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Sour Ale
ABV: 7.6%
IBUs: Unspecified

Description: The latest in Driftwood’s Bird of Prey Series, this particular bird of prey-themed beer is a dark version of the Wallonian style of sour ale. In keeping with this tradition, the ale is brewed using strains of wild brettanomyces yeast which causes the lactic acid to accumulate in the ale, giving it a strong, sour flavor.

Tasting Notes: I have to say that while I’ve been a loyal fan of the Bird of Prey series thus far, this one was not my favorite of the bunch. Ordinarily, what you get with a good Wallonian sour is a robust flavor that is reminiscent of sour cherries and a well-oaked red wine. However, this one had notes of balsamic and apple cider vinegar throughout which kind of threw me. Not bad, but not great.

Appearance: Deep brown/ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, lactic acid, sour cherry, oaky, yeasty
Taste: Smooth malty start, quick burst of sour cherry, yeasts, oak, apple cider vinegar
Aftertaste: Lingering lactic acid and apple cider vinegar flavor
Overall: 7.8/10

Driftwood Blackstone Porter

Driftwood_porterBrewer: Driftwood Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Porter
ABV: 5%
IBUs: Unspecified

Description: As one of the breweries regular-lineup creations, this London-style Porter is brewed with a combination of caramel, black and chocolate malts. As was relatively common with pre-Industrial Porters, the brewers also added partial sour mash to the mix, creating a beer that combines a slight tartness with chocolaty malts.

Tasting Notes: This Driftwood brew has been a standout for me, at least as far as reviews go. It is a weakness of mine, I tend to avoid porters and stouts because they are not my favorites. And yet, I can always find things to rave about when one is done right; and this would be one such case. The Blackstone came highly reviewed by peers of mine so I decided it was high time to sample it again. The subtle nature of the sour mash, combined with rich dark malts that elicit flavors of roast espresso and bitter chocolate are quite lovely.

Appearance: Tar black, opaque, thick foam retention and good carbonation
Nose: Rich, dark malt, sour notes, notes of coffee and chocolate
Taste: Rich, roasted malt, mild tartness, notes of espresso and bitter chocolate
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, coffee and hint of licorice
Overall: 8.25/10

Driftwood Old Cellar Dweller Barleywine 2014

Driftwood_OCD2014Brewer: Driftwood Brewery, Victoria BC
Style: Barleywine
ABV: 13.1%
IBU: Unlisted (best guess, 60 – 80 range)

Description: This is Driftwood’s 7th Vintage of this annual December release beer. This year, the Old Cellar Dweller is even stronger, with five times the malt and three times the hops of regular beer, and an alcohol per volume rating of over 13%. It also consisting of 98% Pale Malt and a bag of CaraMunch thrown in for color, and a single hop variety (Columbus) in heavy concentrations.

Tasting Notes: Much like last year’s offering, this year’s OCD (ha!) was more akin to an Imperial IPA than a barleywine. It’s malt is rich and delicious (though a bit lightly colored), but the hop-forward nature really comes through with overwhelming notes of pineapple. It’s also quite smooth despite its strength, and very pleasant-tasting, but not exactly reminiscent of an English-style barleywine. Top marks for drinkability, minor deduction for mislabeling.

Appearance: Dark amber/brown, clear, medium foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, floral hops, notes of citrus and tropical fruit
Taste: Strong malt, alcohol, overwhelming notes of pineapple and tropical fruit
Aftertaste: Lingering hop and malt bitterness, alcohol
Overall: 8.5/10

Driftwood Entangled Hopfenweisse

entangled-circular-logoBrewer: Driftwood Brewery, Victoria BC
Style: Hefeweizen/IPA
ABV: 7%

Description: This Fall limited release combines a Hefeweizen base that employs wheat malts and Hefeweizen yeast, along with a generous dosing of North American hops (what I assume are Centennial, Cascade and Columbus – the 3 Cs) to create a fusion brew the combines a German Wheat beer with a West Coast IPA.

Tasting Notes: This brew was quite delicious, combining the smooth drinkability and yeasty backbone of a Hefeweizen with a serious infusion of fruity, floral and bitter West Coast hops. Definitely an improvement on the many Belgian IPAs that have been fashionable these past few years. I do hope this is the beginning of a trend.

Appearance: Orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, rich hop nose, strong citrus, tropical and passion fruit notes
Taste: Smooth malt, strong tang, yeast, notes of grapefruit, passion fruit, pineapple
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, citrus rind, yeast bitterness
Overall: 9/10