C12 Barrelholder Belgian Golden Strong Ale

c12-bottle-shot-BGSA-20160608-ABrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Belgian Golden Strong
ABV: 10.6%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: The Belgian Strong is one of C12’s experimental brews, which made an appearance last year in limited quantities. This latest incarnation is part of their Barrelholder Program – a crowdfunding effort to procure barrels for the sake of produce barrel-aged beers. As their first installment in this program, this beer combines a strong malt base, Hallertau hops, and is fermented using the brewery’s proprietary Belgian yeast. And of course, the end product is matured in red wine barrels.

Tasting Notes: This beer is exactly what one would expect and hope from a beer bearing the name of “wine-barrel aged golden strong”. For starters, it has a rich malty profile that is typical of a Belgian Strong, not to mention some serious alcohol content. However, this is, as advertised, quite deceptive, smoothed over by the effects of red wine tannin and oak. And these come through quite well in the finish. It reminded me in many ways of Russel’s Nectar of the Gods, which happened to be one of my favorite beers of 2014. So good job on the first Barrelholder release, C12!

Appearance: Rich amber, semi-cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, sugars, yeast, notes of oak, red wine tannin
Taste: Rich malt, sugars, yeasty effervescence, notes of red wine, tannin and oak
Aftertaste: Lingering oak and red wine flavor, alcoholic warmth and yeast
Overall: 9/10

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VIB Thirty Years Imperial Red Ale

Thirty-Years-Bottle-Mock-smBrewer: Vancouver Island Brewery
Style: Imperial Red Ale
Alc/Vol: 8.5%

Description: A limited release brewed in honor of the brewery’s thirtieth anniversary, this beer pays homage to their Piper’s Pale Ale by ramping up the recipe. This includes Two-Row, Crystal and Chocolate Malts with Northern Brewer, Perle and Hallertau hops, but brewed to extra extra strength.

Tasting Notes: This beer was highly reminiscent of an Irish Red, given that it has that characteristic syrupy malt and chewy mouthfeel. And of course, there was a noticeable citrus hop backing. However, the overriding characteristic of this beer is the intense malt flavor and the alcohol content, which create a heavy, slightly sweet, smokey, and coarse profile that lingers on the tongue..

Appearance: Dark amber, dense, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich red malts, baked sweat breads, mild citrus
Taste: Immediate burst of rich malt, tang, coarseness, viscous malts, hint of bitter hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malts, slight tang and coarseness, chewy mouthfeel
Overall: 7.75/10

Breakside Liquid Sunshine Pilsner

breakside-pilsner-breaks-22863-4zBrewer: Breakside Brewery, Portland OR
Style: Pilsner
Alc/Vol: 5.1%

Description: Located in Portland (with a second taproom/brewery in Milwauki, OR), the Breakside Brewpub has been making handcrafted beers for many years and has created a wide variety in that time. The Liquid Sunshine Pilsner is part of their current, regular lineup and is available year-round on tap at both of their locations, as well as for commercial sales and export.

Tasting Notes: This Pilsner was exceptionally crisp and refreshing and had a nice finish to it that was clean without being watery. The flavor profile was also very consistent with a good Pilsner, calling to the mind the grainy flavor of Munich malts and the sharp, grassy flavor of Saaz and Hallertau hops. Definitely a good hot weather beer, or just something for when you’re craving a good, clean lager.

Appearance: Light golden, cloudy, medium foam retention and good carbonation
Nose:  Gentle smell of Munich malts and Noble hops
Taste: Light grainy malt flavor, mild tang, crisp hop bite, mild bitterness and grassyness
Aftertaste: Mild lingering bitterness and malt flavor, very clean and refreshing
Overall: 9/10

Hoyne Helios Golden Lager

hoyne_helios_labelBrewer: Hoyne Brewery
Style: Dortmunder Export Lager
Alc/Vol: 6%

Description: The Helios is the latest limited release by Hoyne Brewing, brewed in the style of a Dortmunder Export, which is a slightly stronger and darker malt-forward take on the traditional lager. According to the brewmaster himself (Sean Hoyne) it is made using Vienna, Munich and other German malts and bittered with a variety of Hallertau hops.

Tasting Notes: I am a big fan of Marzen, Oktoberfest, and other forms of stronger, maltier lagers. And this beer was definitely no slouch when it came to delivering on the quintessential flavors these beers are famous for. In addition to its smooth and slightly tangy start, the malt flavor really comes through in the middle with characteristically grainy and slightly sweet Vienna and Munich accents. It then accompanies this with an infusion of subtle, dry and bitter Noble hops. A clean finish and a beautiful orange hue make it a delight all around. I strongly recommend beer lovers in the Victoria area get a growler of this lager while they can. Limited releases tend to run out after just two weeks at the Hoyne brewery, so be quick about it!

Appearance: Golden-orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Discernible Munich-style malts, grainy, subtle notes of Noble hops
Taste: Grainy start, slight tang, hint of sweetness and syrupy malt, dry, herbal hops
Aftertaste: Mild, lingering hop bitterness, mainly clean finish
Overall: 9.5/10

 

Scandal Mt. Everest Barleywine

mt.everest1

Holiday greetings to everyone! As this is the season, and since I’ve exhausted my neighbors supply of beer, I have decided to once again go shopping for beers that goes well with the holiday spread and spirit. And one such procurement was Scandal Brewing’s Mt. Everest Barley Wine. As part of their Seven Wonders series, this beer is Scandal’s strongest customer, and one which I’ve been meaning to try for some time. So far, all I’ve managed to sample from this brewery is their Organic Ale, part of their regular lineup. But given that it was a pleasant experience, I had to see what they could do with a limited release.

Weighing in at an impressive 9% alc/vol and a robust 65 IBUs, this beer is fashioned with organic two-row and crystal 60 malts, as well as German summit and hallertau tradition hops. And the addition of spring water also comes through with a slight mineral quality that comes through in the aftertaste. Though it is listed as a barley wine, this beer was more reminiscent to me of a Maibock, boasting the same kind of semi-sweet malts, good tang, and a mild hop bite. But being intensely strong, it also has a strong alcoholic punch, and a slightly spicy notes that are reminiscent of anise or allspice.

Appearance: Amber, clear, medium foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Notes of sugar and subtle, dry hops
Taste: Slightly sweet malts, strong tang, alcoholic bite, dry hops, hints of allspice
Aftertaste: Lingering tang and mild spice traces and minerality
Overall: 8.5/10

Not a bad brew at all, though I do think it was slightly mislabeled. In my experience, barley wines are dark, fruity, and rich, whereas this beer is on the lighter side in terms of color, and has a flavor profile far more consistent with a Maibock. Still, it was a very pleasant drinking experience and I look forward to seeing what else Scandal has to offer with its Seven Wonders series.

Howe Sound Father John’s Winter Ale

father_john_winteraeAnother Christmas beer that graced my doorstep, courtesy of my friendly neighbor! And this is one that I’ve certainly had in the past, but which I neglected to do a review for thus far. What can I say, this blog didn’t always exist, and I certainly did brink beer in my pre-blogging days. But I’m nothing if not a fan of Howe Sound, and I’m always interested in anything that was inspired by (or named after) John Mitchell, the venerable brewmaster who started the Howe Sound operation. That is where this beer takes its name from, fyi, as part of the breweries extensive John Mitchell series.

As part of said series, this beer is a fitting example of something inspired by Mitchell, being a particularly malty, English-style winter brew. Made with four different malts, a mild dose of Nugget & Hallertau hops, and a hint of spice, the beer calls to mind both the holiday season and an English pub ale that is rich in toffee-style malts and has a nice, Christmasy finish.

Appearance: Dark amber-brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malts, good toffee notes, mild spices, alcohol
Taste: Sweet malt, good tang, notes of toffee, allspice, reminiscent of figgy pudding
Aftertaste: Lingering spice notes, toffee malt, and hint of bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Always good to resample old beers and give them their due. I sincerely hope I can remember all the beers I ever drank so that I might one day give them all a faithful review. Might take some time, but I’m willing to do the legwork!