Hoyne 2016 Gratitude Winter Warmer

beer-gratitudeBrewer: Hoyne Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Winter Warmer Ale
ABV: 8%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This is the fifth incarnation of Gratitude, which began as a seasonal release designed to thank Hoyne’s patrons for their support. And in the keeping with the tradition of Winter Warmers, this years offering is extra strong ale that is dark, malty, has a nice spicy flavor.

Tasting Notes: Well now, this is my fifth sampling of this beer over the years and I swear that it has been changing with time. Always, I have noted that the Gratitude Winter Warmer captures all the notes of a good winter ale without being overwhelming. But this year’s offering does seem more flavorful than previous ones. The hints of brown sugar and dark fruits are not just hints, and the notes of allspice are there in full. And all the while, the alcoholic strength manages to warm the insides without overwhelming the palate.

Appearance: Deep ruby/brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, brown sugar, raisins, figgy pudding, hint of allspice
Taste: Smooth malt, mineral tang, brown sugar, dark fruits, allspice
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, minerals and spice
Overall: 10/10

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

Hoyne Hard Rain Double IPA

hoyne_poster_hardrain-01Brewer: Hoyne Brewing, Victoria BC
Style: Imperial India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.6%
IBUs: Not Available (High!)

Description: This latest limited release by Hoyne, this double IPA is named in honor of Victoria’s reputation for prolonged, wet weather. Befitting that is an IPA of increased strength and intense bitterness, made possible by a hefty dose of finishing hops that are added late in the boil.

Tasting Notes: This is the second ale I’ve had recently that took advantage of finishing hops to achieve extra bitterness. And I have to say, I’m not a huge fan. While the craft of this brew and its makers’ talent cannot be denied, it just wasn’t that pleasing to drink. The hop flavor is intensely bitter in a way that obscures the malt base and doesn’t provide any fruity notes to balance out the bitterness. Sorry, but this is one trend I’m not able to get behind just yet.

Appearance: Strong amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt nose, strong dose of hops, grassy, herbal and citrus peel
Taste: Immediate burst of hop bitterness, herbal, hints of grass, powerful citrus rind
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, citrus rind, and herbal notes
Overall: 7.5/10

Honey Hefe

Just yesterday I was raving about the proliferation of wheat beers that are just in time for the summer. And then what happens? My favorite brewery puts out a seasonal wheat and we show up at the brewery just in time for its release. It’s true. Months back, I was able to speak to the good people at Hoyne about their products and was invited to come by and get some growlers. When my wife and I finally got around to popping in (today), we were told that a new beer was being released and it just happened to be on tap. Sampling ensued…

The friendly staff were on hand to guide us about. And of course, a few samples loosened my tongue and I began yammering to our lovely host about their beers and all the nice things I had to say about them. And wouldn’t you know it, the man himself was there to say hello! I wish I could have chatted with him some more but unfortunately he was busy with a number of things so I didn’t try to keep him. Just as well, I probably would’ve fawned and yammered some more. In any case, we also filled some growlers and brought them home. Drinking ensued…

But allow me to tell you what I thought of their Honey Hefe, as I feel I am in the unique position to speak about it before most other people will get a chance. Combining local honey from the Empress Hotel’s own beehives with a German-style hefewiezen, Hoyne has produced yet another winner which also happens to be a very refreshing take on the summer wheat.

Appearance: Light straw gold, translucent and very cloudy
Nose: light clove scent complimented by slight notes of honey and blossoms
light wheat malts, slight taste of cloves, mild honey sweetness
Aftertaste: mild clove bitterness and malts giving way to a very clean finish
Overall: 8.5/10 (perfect for hot summer weather!)

Yeah, somehow these guys just keep making great beer. Perhaps that’s why they’ve become my favorite brewery, at least locally (musn’t let the Ontario beers of my youth feel left out!). My wife and I have agreed that they shall be our near-exclusive supplier of beer this summer since the growler sales are such a deal! I recommend people drop by, sale hours are posted on their website: http://hoynebrewing.ca/