Hoyne’s Appleton Extra Special Bitter

Hoynes_Appleton_ESBBrewer: Hoyne Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Extra Special Bitter
ABV: 5.2%
IBUs: Unspecified (but I’m guessing 40s range)

Description: This brew is Hoyne’s latest limited release, which pays homage to Frank Appleton, the man who taught Sean Hoyne the art of brewing and started many breweries. Much like the Swan’s ESB that bears his name, and brewed is the tradition of the classic English Extra Special Bitter, this brew combines (among other things) Thomas Fawcett Golden Promise, Bairds, and Crystal malts with Fuggles and East Kent Golding hops.

Tasting Notes: Buckerfield’s ESB was one of my favorites when I was known to frequent Swan’s brewpub. And I’m happy to see that Sean Hoyne, who apprenticed with Appleton at Swan’s, is carrying on in that tradition, making a clean-tasting, crisp, and dry-hopped ale! Like a kick-ass ESB, it has a good malt base that is slightly sweet and reminiscent of sweet bread, and is packed with dry hops that have notes of grass, dried herbs, and a nice mineral tang to finish it all off.

Appearance: Amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich pale malt, sweet breads, notes of dry hops, grassyand dry herbs
Taste: Crisp malts, good tang, hint of sweetness, dry hops, hints of grass, herbs, minerals
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, mild malt sweetness
Overall: 9/10

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Elysian Loser Pale Ale

elysian_loserBrewer: Elysian Brewery, Seattle WA
Style: Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 7.0%
IBU: 57

Description: As part of this Seattle brewery’s regular lineup, this beer is brewed in honor of Sub Pop Records – a Seattle-based record company that is celebrating its 20th anniversary. To craft this beer, the brewery combines Pale, Munich, Crystal and Cara-hell malts and then bitters it with a combination of Sorachi Ace and finished with Crystal hops.

Tasting Notes: This pale ale is quite balanced, with a certain crisp and smooth base. And the combination of Sorachi with Crystal hops makes for an interesting flavor profile – bringing a certain lemony and dry hop flavor with notes of citrus and tropical fruit. The end result is somewhere between a smooth and balanced pale ale and an ESB.

Appearance: Deep Amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Good malt, citrus hops, lemon, tropical fruit
Taste: Crisp malt, mild tang, notes of lemon, mild citrus, pineapple
Aftertaste: Lingering tang, dry hops and mild bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Russel Blood Alley ESB

bloodalley_esbBrewer: Russel Brewing, Surrey, BC
Style: Extra Special Bitter
Alc/Vol: 5.5%
IBU: 50

Description: This beer is named after the historic and notorious cobblestone laneway in Vancouver’s Gastown District where numerous butcher shops were located. Apparently, the laneway was also known for its many robberies, muggings and murders. As part of Russel’s Brewmaster Series, it only recently became available in six packs as well as 650 ml bottles.

Tasting Notes: Though it has a slightly higher IBU rating than most ESBs, the Blood Alley has the same subtle hop flavor due to the fact that they are added post-boil. They are also clearly local – most likely of the Cascade or Centennial variety –  imparting a slightly floral, citrusy flavor. The deep amber malts balance this out nicely and lead to an all around stronger, but faithful example of an ESB, albeit with a Pacific Northwestern twist!

Appearance: Deep copper/amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Deep, roasted, and syrupy malts, floral, citrusy hops
Taste: Smooth malt, hint of sweetness, baked bread, dry hops, subtle citrus bite
Aftertaste: Mild, lingering bitterness and dry hop flavor
Overall: 8.5/10