Lighthouse Jackline Rhubarb Grisette

LIGHTHOUSE_JACKLINEBrewer: Lighthouse Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Saison
ABV: 5.5%
IBU: Unspecified

Description: This Table Saison, or Grisette, is the latest addition to Lighthouse’s Explorer Series. Alongside 10 other beers, it made its debut at the “Craft Beer Thunderdome” during Victoria Beer Week, and is now available. Consistent with this Belgian-style ale, it is brewed with wheat, oats, Pilsner malt, and fresh rhubarb from the Fraser Valley before being fermented using Saison yeast.

Tasting Notes: Saisons and farmhouse ales seem all the rage lately! And I definitely liked what Lighthouse did with this one. The combination of malts made for a very clean, smooth malt base, and the addition of tart rhubarb flavor added was very nice compliment to the Saison yeast, which is usually sharp and spicy. This beer will go great with the approaching summer weather!

Appearance: Light golden, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, Saison yeast, tart, tangy notes of rhubarb
Taste: Smooth, mild start, burst of tart rhubarb flavor, slightly sharp yeast finish
Aftertaste: Lingering rhubarb tartness, smooth malt finish, quite refreshing
Overall: 8.5/10

Moon Under Water Hip As Funk Farmhouse IPA

moonunderwater_hipasfunkBrewer: Moon Under Water Brewpub, Victoria, BC
Style: Farmhouse/India Pale Ale
ABV: 7%
IBUs: Unspecified

Description: Released in honor of International Women’s Day, this brew is part of a recent effort on behalf of Victoria breweries – which have women brewmaster’s – to push back against sexist attitudes and advertising in the brewing industry. Combining Belgian-style saison yeast, brettanomyces, and an IPA-level of hops, the beer is an homage to both Beglian and Northwestern-styles.

*The label art is the work of Vancouver based graphic-designer Bjauna Sorensen, and features an image of an attractive but strong-looking, non-sexualized woman.

Tasting Notes: It seems that Belgian IPAs are the trend these days. Just about every brewery I’ve sampled from in the past few months has had their own variation on this. But that’s hardly a bad thing. And this is my second sampling of this particular beer, the last time being after getting a growler of it from the brewery itself. As a rule, I prefer to review a beer after drinking it from a bomber since it means less chance of the flavor being bruised from being poured out twice. In any case, the beer boasts a very mixed palate, with saison yeast providing a sharp and spicy backbone, which is well complimented by citrus and tropical fruit flavors that come with a good dose of West Coast hops. There is also some lingering sour flavor that comes from the addition of brettanomyces. Kudos to the women of Victoria taking back brewing!

Appearance: Gold/orange, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose:  Crisp malt, saison yeast, citrus, orange, floral hops
Taste: Smooth malt, sharp, spicy yeast, notes of citrus and passion fruit, hint of sourness
Aftertaste: Lingering sharp and sour yeasts and hop bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Goose Island Sofie Farmhouse Ale

GooseIsland_SofieBrewer: Goose Island Brewery, Chicago IL
Style: Farmhouse Ale
Alc/Vol: 6.5%
IBUs: 20

Description: Crafted in the Belgian/French Farmhouse fashion, this beer is fashioned using 2 Row, Pilsen, and Wheat malts and is then bittered and flavored with Amarillo hops and hand-zested orange peel. The brew is then bottle-conditioned for up to five years to create a well-balanced, yeast, effervescent ale.

Tasting Notes: This is my second installment in the Goose Island Brewery tour, and after the first, I was expecting something less impressive. Surprisingly, this beer was equally amazing. A champagne-like effervescence accompanies the farmhouse-style flavor of sharp malt and spicy yeast, and fruity esters mix with citrus to create an all-around complex and refreshing profile that is slightly sweet, tangy, bubbly and refreshing.

Appearance: Light golden, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malts, slightly sour, fruity esters, yeasty, hint of citrus and tropical fruit
Taste: Sharp malt, yeasty, good tang, fruity esters, pineapple, orange
Aftertaste: Lingering sourness, yeast, and tart fruity notes
Overall: 9.5/10

Green Leaf Animal Farm IPA

I would like to a moment to mention that this my 300th review! Long live craft beer, beer tasting, and the fine art of beer snobbery!

greenleaf_brewingBrewer: Green Leaf Brewing, Vancouver BC
Stye: India Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 7.4%
IBUs: 67

Description: A seasonal beer from this North Vancouver brewery, this IPA is named for the fact that it is fermented using a combination of farmhouse yeasts. It is then unfiltered, bottle conditioned and generously hopped to create a beer that is cloudy, has strong malts, a bitter, fruity profile, and a strong yeast backbone.

Tasting Notes: I was a little surprised by the combination, and a little mixed on the results. Initially, the combination of yeasts, strong malt and hops was sweet and had what tasted like traces of brettanomyces. However, this impression soon faded and was replaced by the somewhat conflicted combination of hop bitterness, malt coarseness, and hop bitterness. So it was a bit hit and miss.

Appearance: Dark amber/brown, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, farmhouse yeasts, citrus hops, tropical fruit
Taste: Semi-sweat and coarse malts, yeasts, citrus and passion fruit, bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering malt, hop and yeast bitterness
Overall: 7.5/10

Deep Cove Sun Kissed Tea Saison Ale

sunkissed_saisonBrewer: Deep Cover, Vancouver, BC
Style: Saison
Alc/Vol: 5%

Description: A summer seasonal release, this pale ale is made in the Belgian farmhouse Saison style, and is then infused with a blend of apple, mango and papaya Rooibos teas.

Tasting Notes: As Saisons go, this one was a rather interesting mix and was definitely very refreshing, not to mention a good accompaniment to the coming summer weather. In addition to the mild malt, hints of spice and yeast, it has a delicate infusion of fruit flavor and a tea backing that plays nicely on the tongue, and a nice refreshing finish to boot.

Appearance: Golden orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Grainy malt, yeast, mild hints of apple and tropical fruits
Taste: Light malts, discernible yeasts and spice, hint of apple and mango
Aftertaste: Mild malt and yeast aftertaste, some tea, clean finish
Overall: 8.5/10

The Bruery Saison Rue

bruery_saisonrueBrewer: The Bruery, Placentia, CA
Style: Farmhouse Ale
Alc/Vol: 8.5%

Description: Made with malted rye and bottle conditioned using the wild brettanomyces yeast strain, this unfiltered Belgian/French-style farmhouse ale is brewed in both the sour and saison fashion. The result is a highly complex ale that is available year round.

Tasting Notes: This is my first sampling from this brewery from Orange County. And it was quite the intro, embracing two styles that I’ve become accustomed to and rather fond of in recent years. And it retains strong elements of both, containing subtle, slightly bitter malts, and at the same time noticeable fruit esters and notes of sour cherries. And of course, it packs some powerful yeasts all throughout.

Appearance: Golden-orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wild yeast nose, sour, fruity esters, dry backbone
Taste: Immediate burst of yeast, mild hints of sour cherries, mild rye bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering rye malt bitterness, yeast and sour flavor
Overall: 9/10

Rogue Beard Beer

beardbeer-draft-printBrewer: Rogue Brewery, Newport, OR
Style: American Wild Ale
Alc/Vol: 5.6%
IBU: 25

Description: Beard Beer is brewed with a yeast created from Rogue Brewmaster John Maier’s own beard. Using this wild yeast strain, the brewery fashioned a wild ale, similar to what brewer’s have been doing for centuries prior to the invention of pasteurization and the rationalization of the industry.

Tasting Notes: This beer was very reminiscent of a farmhouse ale, which stands to reason. The addition of wild yeast, even if it does come from a brewmaster’s beard, is what gives a farmhouse that characteristic, yeasty and effervescent flavor. And this brew has all that in spades, along with the notes of coriander and mild bitterness. The brewery was right when they said in the description that this beer “will surprise you”.

Appearance: Orange/golden, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malts, yeasty, hints of spice
Taste: Slightly bitter, strong effervescence, tang, yeast, hint of coriander spice
Aftertaste: Lingering tang, yeast and spice notes
Overall: 8.5/10

Lighthouse Sauerteig Farmhouse Ale

photo (2)Brewer: Lighthouse Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Farmhouse Ale
Alc/Vol: 7%

Description: Named after the rye flour that is used to make sourdough bread, this farmhouse ale is made using rye, wheat and barley flakes, malted wheat and rye, spelt flour and sauerteig prepared by Byron Fry at Fry’s Red Wheat Bakery. Done in the Farmhouse style, the beer is unfiltered and fermented using Belgian yeast.

Tasting Notes: This latest installment from Lighthouse was consistent with the quality I’ve come to expect from them with their seasonal and limited releases. As a farmhouse, it has a distinctly Belgian flavor which is due to the choice yeasts that impart spicey notes reminiscent of coriander. The combination of starches and malts also lends it a particularly malty, but smooth and complex flavor. And despite the presence of rye malts and flour, it is somewhat subtler and cleaner than most farmhouse ales I’ve tried.

Appearance: Medium gold, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Distinct Belgian yeasts, baked bread, coriander spice
Taste: Smooth, flavorful malts, strong yeast, mild rye bitterness, discernible spices
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, yeasts and rye flavor, light and refreshing
Overall: 8.5/10

The Bavarian Purity Law and UNESCO

german-beerGermany has always been a nation that is proud of its brewing heritage. So much so that the country’s brewing association recently began pressuring the United Nations to recognize that fact. In essence, the brewers association wants the Bavarian Purity Law (or Reinheitsgebot) – established some five centuries ago in 1516 – to become part of the UNESCO World Heritage list. In this respect, it would join the Argentinian tango, Iranian carpet weaving and French gastronomy, among other famous traditions, that are considered unique and worth protecting.

Written by Bavarian noblemen in the year 1516, the law states that only water, barley and hops may be used to brew beer (contrary to popular belief, yeast was added to the list centuries later when scientists discovered the fermenting agent). The law was aimed at preventing crops used to make bread from being squandered on brewing. In addition, it wrote the centuries-long practice of using hops to flavor and preserve beer into law – a practice which also ended the use of other psychoactive and potentially poisonous additives during the Middle Ages. But over time, it became synonymous with high-quality German beer and began to be adopted by brewers all over the world.

Muenchner_ReinheitsgebotCurrently, some 5,000 different beers carry its seal. Many brewers today still make beer that would pass muster under the law, though penalties for breaking it are long gone. Modern German brewers are also trying to be more creative with their beers while adhering to the purity law — for example, by adding hops that taste like grapefruit or pineapple. And for many Germans, especially those who endured the many decades of partition during the Cold War, the tradition is something they are especially proud of and want to see recognized internationally.

Marc-Oliver Huhnholz, the spokesman for the German Brewer’s Association, expressed these sentiments and the associations stances thusly:

It stands for the things you are thinking of when you think of Germany and beer and culture and friendship and all these positive things. I think it’s a traditional thing because it brings us together and holds us together as a nation within this more and more international lifestyles… The idea and message is that German beer is pure and will be pure in the future.

However, some German brewers dismiss the attempt to gain UNESCO recognition as mere arrogance. They say the purity law is from a bygone era and that Germany can compete in the world beer market without it.

reinheitsgebot2Opponents of the law claim that limiting his brewing to the centuries-old document restricts creativity. What’s more, they point to the fact that many nations produce high-quality beer that does not adhere to it. For example, Belgium produces such styles as Wits, Saisons, Framboises, Krieks, and Farmhouse Ales that make use of coriander spice, fruit, and other additives that are not permitted by the law. But these styles are internationally renowned and are considered historic examples of fine brewing. In this respect, opinion is roughly divided along lines of culture and historical preservation, and modernization and globalization.

Personally, and as someone who’s wife works in Heritage, I can certainly sympathize with those who wish to see this law protected. All too often, the process of modernization and change has the effect of eroding our cultural foundations. At the same time, I can sympathize with modern German brewers who would like to expand and adopt new ways of making beers. And since penalties associated with it have not been enforced for some time, there really is no reason to fear it remaining in effect.

And if the modern brewing industry has taught us anything, there’s much to be gained by marrying tradition to innovation. For those who want to get truly experimental, there’s plenty of opportunity to be had. And for those who want to keep making beer according to centuries-old traditions, I’m sure their will always be a market. And let’s not forget that we can do both. If the craft brewing revolution has taught us anything, it’s that we can experiment and innovate and keep traditions alive all at the same time.

And In the meantime, drink up, and have a happy holiday season!

Source: npr.org

Townsite’s Latest

townsite-logo-Back with some new beers from the Townsite Brewery of scenic Powell River BC! Since it first opened less than two years ago, they’ve been producing hit after hit. From their regular lineup, to their seasonal (their Blackberry Festivale was the first I tried while staying there in the summer of ’12), to their YOGN 82 (best Tripel I’ve had in years!), there’s very little that this brewery has produced that I didn’t find highly impressive.

I’m especially happy about this for a couple of reasons. For one, they are a local brewing operation, which is a mark of sophistication for any community that has one. Second, it is very convenient to be able to find great beer on one’s own doorstep! And third, all too often, craft brewers find themselves unable to compete in a market dominated by major and not-so-micro operations. Knowing that they are producing an extensive lineup of really good beer gives me confidence that they will be around for some time to come…

So here are the latest Townsite beers that I’ve managed to sample and what I had to say about them!

7800 Saison:
Townsite_7800_SaisonThe 7800 is named in honor of the distance that lies between the Townsite Brewery of Powell River and the brewmaster’s home in Horrues, Belgium. Brewed in the Saison farmhouse fashion, once again owing to the brewmaster’s Belgian roots, this beer is made with a combination of barley, spelt, oats, and rye. The end result is cloudy in appearance, golden orange, and has the characteristic Saison flavors. These include a spicy, yeasty character, but also some complex malt flavor that is more bitter than usual. This is due to the admixture of rye, oats and spelt, which achieve a bite that is somewhat reminiscent of an oatmeal stout or rye ale, unexpected but certainly welcome to the mix.

Appearance: Golden-orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Distinctive yeasty and spicy notes
Taste: Smooth malts, spicy yeast backbone, giving way to bitter, grainy bite
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, rye flavor, yeast
Overall: 8.5/10

Shiny Penny Belgium IPA:
townsite_shinypennyThe beer is named after the gastropub that brewmaster Cédric Dauchot and his wife (and brewery manager) Chloe Smith, planned to open in Saskatoon. As their take on a new style that is becoming all the rage, the Belgian IPA is a marriage of Belgian yeasts and strength with the characteristic hoppyness and higher malt gravity of a Pacific Northwest IPA. And when you drink it, that is precisely what you get: a rich, malty brew that boast plenty of citrus and tropical fruit. The appearance is consistent with an Imperial IPA, dark amber, but has little head or carbonation to speak of. The total gravity is 21.5 Plato, and the alcohol strength is just shy of a Tripel (8.5% alc/vol). A very interesting and, as usual, awesome product from this brewery!

Appearance: Dark amber, slightly cloudy, mild foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Floral, citrus hops, thick, syrupy malts
Taste: Heavy malts, slight sweetness, Belgian yeast, citrus hops, coarse malt flavor
Aftertaste: Lingering hop and malt bitterness, passion fruit, yeast and sugars
Overall: 9/10

With these two down, there are only two seasonals that remain to be had. This includes their Perfect Storm Oatmeal Stout, and their Beer D’Hiver Winter Ale. Man, these guys are productive as hell! I hope I can keep up…