Spinnakers Jolly Hopper Imperial IPA

Jolly_Hopper_Bottle-WEBBrewer: Spinnakers Brewpub, Victoria BC
Style: Imperial IPA
Alc/Vol: 8%
IBUs: 100

Description: Named after the flag pirate ships would fly to signal imminent attack, this Imperial IPA is brewed is using a variety of experimental hops, and in significant doses. The end result is a very strong, very hoppy India Pale Ale that combines English-style and West Coast-style brewing traditions.

Tasting Notes: This beer delivered in all the usual departments. It had the strong, coarse malts of an Imperial IPA, plus a very significant dose of hop bitterness. And you can sense the varied hop profile in both the smell and the taste. While it comes through with what appear to be West Coast Cascade, Centennial and Amarillo hops in the taste department, the nose calls to mind Kent, Golding and Fuggles – all English strains. A good IIPA, but definitely not for the faint of heart or unaccustomed.

Appearance: Amber, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, fruity, English-style hops
Taste: Heavy malt, coarse and tangy, bitter burst of grapefruit
Aftertaste: Citrus rind, lingering malt coarseness
Overall: 7.8/10

Gahan Island Red Ale

gahan_redaleBrewer: Gahan Brewery, Charlottetown PEI
Style: Amber Ale
Alc/Vol: 5.3%

Description: Established in 1997 in Charlottetown, the Gahan Brewery and House Pub is the only brewery on Prince Edward Island that brews handcrafted, small batch beer. The Island Red is an English-style amber ale, and the flagship brew of their operation. It was the Gold Medal winner for the 2011 Canadian Brewing Awards.

Tasting Notes: This beer is entirely new to me, and was quite the lovely introduction to this Maritime brewery. The malt profile and hop profiles are quite subtle, calling to mind traditional English ambers, and is made using what I assume are pale malt, Golding and/or Fuggles hops. This results is an ale that is malt-forward, subtle and smooth, and has flavors of baked bread and dry herbs.

Appearance: Dark amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Syrupy, rich malts, mild, dry hops
Taste:
Rich pale malt, baked bread, hint of sweetness, subtle, herbal hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor and mild bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Steamworks Blitzen

steamworks_paleYears back, while in Vancouver, the wife and I had a chance to visit the brewpub and I can recall enjoying a tall, frosty Trappist glass of this winter ale. Since that time, it has been damn near impossible to findĀ  bottle of it on the island. As a tribute to the style of Belgian Tripel ales, it was not only strong, malty, and highly yeasty, it was highly reminiscent of one of my favorite beers of all time – La Fin Du Monde.

The beer is golden blonde, slightly cloudy, spicy, malty, mildly hoppy (20 IBUs), and has a strong alcoholic punch (9% alc/vol). Brewed with Pilsner malt, flavored with Fuggles and Sterling hops, this beer is also = in true-Belgian fashion – fermented with some added candi sugar. The end result is a strong ale that has both subtle and saccharine malts, calls to mind the flavors of a Bavarian lager as well as a good-old fashioned Belgian Tripel, with just a hint of Duvel.

Appearance: Golden, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Belgian yeast, semi-sweet, sharp and spicy malts
Taste: Strong malt start, mild tang, spicy yeast notes, mild hop bite and alcohol
Aftertaste: Mild yeast and lingering malt flavor, sharp and clean
Overall: 8.5/10

Glad I could finally find some of this beer in the bottle. As always, seasonal beers are a rare and delightful treat, and Steamworks has generally been known to produce some pretty impressive seasonal specialties in addition to their regular lineup.