Twin Sails Roggenweizen

twinsails_roggenBrewer: Twin Sails Brewing, Port Moody, BC
Style: Rye-wheat ale
ABV: 6.7%
IBUs: 12

Description: This limited release by Twin Sails is a German-style hefeweizen brewed with a combination of wheat, rye and caramel malts. This results in slightly sweeter and maltier take on your conventional hefeweizen, which is then mildly hopped and served unfiltered.

Tasting Notes: This beer has all the benefits of a hefeweizen, which include a smooth wheat malt base, yeastiness and a refreshing aftertaste. The addition of caramel and rye malts also add some depth of flavor and color, giving it some added some sweetness to go with the banana and natural spice flavor.

Appearance: Red, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle wheat malt, hefeweizen yeast, banana, hint of clove spice
Taste: Smooth wheat malt, hint of sweetness, yeasty effervescent, banana, hint of spice
Aftertaste: Lingering maltiness, cloves, banana, yeasts
Overall: 8.5/10

Erdinger Oktoberfest

Erdinger_oktoberfestBrewer: Erdinger Weissbrau, Erding, Germany
Style: Hefeweizen
ABV: 5.7%
IBUs: Unspecified

Description: Brewed in honor of Oktoberfest, this limited release by Erdinger is a stronger, maltier variety of their regular hefeweizen. Much like your Marzens, this brew combines a darker, slightly tangy, and slightly sweet malt base with a mild hopping to create a balanced and refreshing brew.

Tasting Notes: This beer was pretty much what i was expecting from an Oktoberfest hefeweizen, which was a beer that had a rich, malty base and some grainy, minerality to it. But it also had some hints of honey and mild citrus which were quite pleasant and worked well with its clean finish.

Appearance: Straw gold, cloudy, lacy foam and good carbonation
Nose: Rich malt nose, notes of honey, citrus, minerals
Taste: Smooth, slight honey sweetness, grains, mineral tang, notes of tangerine
Aftertaste: Lingering smooth malts, clean refreshing finish
Overall: 8/10

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

Longwood Winter’s Own Weizenbock

longwood_wintersownBrewer: Longwood Brewery, Nanaimo, BC
Style: Weizenbock
Alc/Vol: 6.5%

Description: Longwood’s winter seasonal beer, the Winter’s Own is a German-style hefeweizen that is fashioned from a combination of 50% wheat and barley malt and brewed bock-style to create a slightly darker, stronger wheat ale.

Tasting Notes: This is a beer that has been difficult for me to get my hands on, due in part to seasonal availability and distribution. Luckily, while having lunch at Longwood’s this weekend with my folks (happy birthday Pop!), I managed to snag one. And I was a bit surprised by what I found. Typically, a weizenbock is a smooth, malty, and rich beer, combining the best of a German wheat and bock. Such a beer would certainly be a good winter warmer. However, this beer is fermented using what I can only assume is brettanomyces yeasts, which give it a sour, oaky punch, which when combined with a rather light malt base, leads to an entirely different experience. Not bad at all, just not what I would have expected given the style and the fact that its a winter seasonal release. I think this brew would have been better targeted to summer drinking. Still, good marks for taste and authenticity, but some deductions for missing the mark.

Appearance: Amber-orange, cloudy with sediment, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Light wheat malt, yeasty, sour cherry, apple cider, oak
Taste: Mild wheat malt, tang, hint of sour cherry, tart apple, oak, dry finish
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast bitterness, tang, and sour fruit flavor
Overall: 7.5/10

Off To The Beer Seminar!

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Today is a great day for beer appreciation, because it is the day that I finally get to host my long-overdue beer-tasting and history of beer seminar. Ten participants have signed on, the space has been reserved, and in a few hours time, I will be giving the attendees a quick (well not too quick) run-down on the history of the brewing craft, coupled with some generous sampling.

I’ve prepared the following list based on what I could find and what seemed indispensable to me as far as representing the history and full range of brewing was concerned. All told, they are divided by style more than historical period, but I will be presenting them in this order since it gives a pretty good idea of how the art evolved over time.

Ancient Beers:
Heather: Salt Spring Island Heather Ale (5% / 650 ml)
(I desperately wanted to find a bomber of Gruit as well, but that variety of beer is both hard to find and hopelessly out of season right now)

Abbey Beers:
Blonde: Affligem Blonde (6.8% / 330ml)
Tripel: Townsite Charleston Tripel (9% / 650 ml)
Sour: Driftwood Belle Royale (8% / 650 ml)

Anglo-American Beer:
Pale Ale: Hoyne’s Down Easy (5.2% / 650ml)
India Pale Ale: Driftwood Fat Tug IPA (7% / 650 ml)
Stout: Hopworks 7-Grain Stout (5.3% / 650 ml)
Barley Wine: Howe Sound Wooly Bugger (10.5% / 375 ml)

German Beer:
Lager: Ayinger Dortmunder Lager (5.5% / 500 ml)
Oktoberfest: Russel Marzen (5.5% / 650ml)
Hefeweizen: Schneider Weisse (5.4% / 500 ml)
Bock: Schneider Weisse Aventinus (8% / 500ml)
Smokebeer: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier (6.6% / 500 ml)

The seminar will begin with where and how beer became a cornerstone of civilization – emerging alongside agriculture and sedentary communities some 8000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent. I will then go on to how the rise of wine making introduced a sense of cultural distinction during Classical Antiquity, and the influence was largely confined to the parts of Europe where the Roman Empire had influence (France, Spain, Italy, the Mediterranean, but not Germany, the Low Countries, Eastern Europe, or the British Isles).

Then comes the Middle Ages, the establishment of Abbey/Monastery Brewing, the rise of hop use, the advent of Lager and the growing professionalization of the industry. Which then gives way to the industrial revolution and the emergence of brewing as a big business, followed of course by the modern era and the resurgence in craft brewing. It promises to be interesting, I just hope I can keep it down to 20 minutes. Leaves more time from sampling!

I’ll be sure to let you all know how it goes and I hope to repeat it in the very near future with some other (and larger) groups of people.

4 Mile Summer Wheat Ale

4Mile_summerwheatBrewer: 4 Mile Brewing Company, Victoria, BC
Style: Wheat Ale
Alc/Vol: 4.5%
IBUs: 24

Description: A summer seasonal beer, and what I believe is the first limited release from the brewery, this wheat ale is a mild brew that is decidedly English in inspiration. This translates to a sessional-style wheat with mild malts, a lower alcohol content, and a mild hopping that results in a smooth, refreshing taste and little aftertaste.

Tasting Notes: When it comes to wheat ales, I tend to expect some banana flavor, some coriander spice, a little orange zest, some serious yeasts, or some tangy fruit flavor to offset a milder malt. However, this is due to my being accustomed to strong hefeweizens and Belgian wits, and that really didn’t diminish this beer’s refreshing nature and smooth character. Mild wheat malts, a subtle yeast backbone, and a clean finish with a Pilsner-like grainy and herbal flavor characterize this beer. Definitely a good summer thirst quencher.

Appearance: Golden, slightly cloudy, mild foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild wheat malt, yeast, Pilsner-like graininess, herbal hops
Taste: Smooth malt, milt tang, hint of yeast, herbal (Noble) hops finish
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, yeasts and Noble hop notes
Overall: 8.3/10

This completes my sampling from the 4 Mile Brewery, either through their bombers or from tastings at the brewpub itself. I can’t wait for a Fall Seasonal or some more limited releases!

Moon Under Water Island Berry Harvest Weizen

hefeweizenBrewer: Moon Under Water Brewery, Victoria BC
Style: Hefeweizen (fruit-infused)
Alc/Vol: 7%

Description: As part of Moon Under Water’s Harvest Series, this hefeweizen is infused with an array of berries harvested from Vancouver Island farms. These include strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, which are then mashed and added to the wheat malt along with vanilla beans.

Tasting Notes: This is my first sampling from the Harvest Series and I have to say I like the idea. In addition to being a good summer fruit-infused wheat beer, it also pays tribute to Island farmers and uses locally-sourced ingredients. In terms of flavor, the combination of wheat malt, yeast, tart and sweet fruits and vanilla create a brew that is refreshing, effervescent and tasty.

Appearance: Golden-red, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wheat malt, yeast, notes of raspberry tartness and mild hops
Taste: Wheat malt, yeasty effervescence, tart fruit, strawberry, hint of vanilla
Aftertaste: Lingering tart fruit flavor, yeast, smooth vanilla, refreshing and clean
Overall: 9/10

Russel White Rabbit Hoppy Hefeweizen

hefeweizenBrewer: Russel Brewing, Surrey, BC
Style: Hefeweizen
Alc/Vol: 6%

Description: A seasonal beer brewed for summer, this German-style wheat ale is brewed with a significant dose of Citra hops to give it a Pacific Northwest flavor. The result is a hefeweizen with an IPA-like twist.

Tasting Notes: Like a proper hefeweizen, this beer is light and refreshing, and the mild malt and yeasty backbone provide a nice clean flavor with a spicy finish. The addition of a generous dose of Citra hops manage to augment this with natural grapefruit and peach flavors, adding to the summery feel.

Appearance: Golden-orange, cloudy and opaque, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Wheat malt, yeast, citrus hops, coriander and clove spices
Taste: Mild wheat malt, yeast, notes of citrus, hints of peach and clove spice
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast, citrus and cloves, clean and refreshing
Overall: 8.5/10

Lighthouse Rhubie Rhubarb Ale

Lighthouse_RhubieBrewery: Lighthouse Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Wheat Ale
Alc/Vol: 6.2%

Description: A seasonal brew released just in time for Spring, this Lighthouse fruit-infused wheat ale is brewed using Pilsner malt, flaked wheat, hops, Belgian wheat ale yeast, and is then flavored with organic rhubarb from BC’s Fraser Valley.

Tasting Notes: The Rhubie comes across as very light and refreshing, which is what one would certainly expect from a Krystallweizen (the filtered, clear version of hefeweizen), especially one that is infused with fruit. However, added to this are the subtle, discernible notes of rhubarb, which add a hint of sweetness and some mild acidity to the mix.

Appearance: Light gold, clear, some sediment, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild wheat malt, yeast, hint of rhubarb acidity
Taste: Mild and smooth malt, hint of yeast, hint of sweetness and tang
Aftertaste: Very clean and refreshing, lingering malt and tang
Overall: 8/10

Moon Under Water Victoria’s Sticke Fusion Stout

MoonLogo1It had to happen sooner or later. With all the experimentation happening since the new management took over, it was only a matter of time before they produced a stout that combined a few disparate brewing traditions. That’s the idea behind Moon Under Water’s Victoria Sticke Fusion Stout, a beer that combines wheat, chocolate and Munich malts to create a hefeweizen/stout – something that is toasted, bitter, and also effervescent and yeasty all at once.

Imperial_stoutAnd while it is a brave combination, it was not their greatest experiment to date, in my humble opinion. While I lauded their combination of hefeweizen and bock to create their Victorious Weizenbock, somehow, the combination of flavors just didn’t seem to compliment each other this time around. While they were both present in abundance, they tended to compete for attention rather than blend seamlessly into each other. Black in appearance and opaque, with a lacy, foam head, the beer has a mixed nose of wheat malt, yeast, and toasted dark malts. In terms of flavor, what you get begins with the yeasty, smooth notes of hefeweizen, followed by the mild chocolate notes, toasted malts, and strong bitterness of a stout. All this comes at a respectable 6% alc/vol.

Appearance: Black, opaque, good head, foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wheat malts, yeast, mild toasted malts
Taste: Mixed palette, wheat and yeast, chocolate, espresso, strong bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering strong bitterness and yeast
Overall: 7.5/10

In short, not their best experiment in brewing thus far. But certainly not a poor beer, and their past efforts have certainly earned them the benefit of the doubt with this, the first stout to enter their regular lineup. As we get into winter, I do hope they can be coaxed into making a barely wine or Christmas Ale of some kind. Man, I’ve been craving those lately!