Alameda Barn Owl Imperial Brown Ale

alameda_barnowlBrewer: Alameda Brewery, Portland, OR
Style: Imperial Brown Ale
Alc/Vol: 7.9%

Description: A seasonal ale, this southern English-style brown ale is an enhanced version of the original (being an Imperial). This includes particularly strong brown malts, an alcohol strength of 7.9% alcohol, and an IBU rating that is clearly in the 70s or 80s.

Tasting Notes: Compared to your conventional brown ale, this beer basically the nutty flavor and hop flavor and shoves a hot pepper up its tail pipe! This is both appealing and unappealing, depending on your point of view. On the one hand, the flavor of roasted walnuts, coffee and chocolate are quite appetizing, but the level of bitterness is a bit intense for the uninitiated. Personally, I don’t mind so much, but others (aka. the weak of taste buds) might.

Appearance: Dark brown, translucent, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Brown, roasted malts, roasted nuts, hop bitterness
Taste: Immediate malt bitterness, roasted walnuts, strong hops, coffee, bitter chocolate
Aftertaste: Lingering hops, nutty flavor, and coffee bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

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Russel Blood Alley ESB

bloodalley_esbBrewer: Russel Brewing, Surrey, BC
Style: Extra Special Bitter
Alc/Vol: 5.5%
IBU: 50

Description: This beer is named after the historic and notorious cobblestone laneway in Vancouver’s Gastown District where numerous butcher shops were located. Apparently, the laneway was also known for its many robberies, muggings and murders. As part of Russel’s Brewmaster Series, it only recently became available in six packs as well as 650 ml bottles.

Tasting Notes: Though it has a slightly higher IBU rating than most ESBs, the Blood Alley has the same subtle hop flavor due to the fact that they are added post-boil. They are also clearly local – most likely of the Cascade or Centennial variety –  imparting a slightly floral, citrusy flavor. The deep amber malts balance this out nicely and lead to an all around stronger, but faithful example of an ESB, albeit with a Pacific Northwestern twist!

Appearance: Deep copper/amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Deep, roasted, and syrupy malts, floral, citrusy hops
Taste: Smooth malt, hint of sweetness, baked bread, dry hops, subtle citrus bite
Aftertaste: Mild, lingering bitterness and dry hop flavor
Overall: 8.5/10