Lighthouse Siren Imperial Red Ale

Frosty glass of red beer isolated on a white background. File contains a path to cut.Hello and welcome to another installment in the Winter Beer series! Today’s feature is Lighthouse’s Siren Imperial Red Ale, a winter seasonal and the latest in their “Big Flavor” series. Since its inception, I’ve had mostly good things to say about the this expanded lineup, mainly because of the dedication it shows to craft brewing and experimentation. In fact, pretty much everything that has been coming out of the Lighthouse brewery in the last few years has been demonstrative of this commitment, including the Switchback IPA and Tasman Ale which have become part of their regular lineup.

But it’s really with the Big Flavor series that the brew masters at Lighthouse have been especially experimental and bold, combining various traditions and a wide array of ingredients to create distinct, challenging beers. And, consistent with the other members of the series – Deckhand Belgian Saison, Shipwrecked Triple IPA, Navigator Doppelbock, Overboard Imperial Pilsner, and Uncharted Belgian IPA – this beer has rich malts, generous hops, and at 8% alc/vol, packs a good punch!

Appearance: Dark red-amber, clear and low foam retention
Nose: Rich, floral and citrus hop aroma
Taste: Immediate burst of citrus, giving way to rich malts, viscous, semi-sweet
Aftertaste: Bitter finish, coarser malt taste and citrus rind
Overall: 9/10

Congratulations, Lighthouse. Of the eight beers in your Big Flavor series I have now sampled seven and highly approved of six. Only the Belgian Black was not my speed, and I plan to try the Dark Chocolate Porter soon. In the meantime, stay tuned for more winter beers, including some new reviews from Hoyne and Tree Frog!

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Central City Imperial IPA

Back from Ladysmith for the weekend, and I just happened to find myself some new beers while making a routine stop at one of Duncan’s many liquor stores. Man, that town is stocked! And this time around, I discovered a special feature. Brewed by Central City from Surrey, BC (the same makers as the famous Red Racer lineup), their Imperial IPA is what you might call an IPA on steroids, or a very strong IPA. Either description would be apt.

As an Imperial IPA, it is strong in terms of its alcohol content (9.5% alc/vol), hop content (90 IBU’s), and malt flavor. The end result is something that can be a bit overwhelming for the uninitiated, but which is a rewarding experience for fans of strong ales and IPA’s alike. And in many ways, the different strengths serve to round each other out, providing a drinking experience that is both challenging, yet strangely balanced.

Appearance: Deep amber, consistent with a true IPA
Nose: Scents of heavy malts, rich and toasted, mixed with a heavy floral hop presence
Taste: Sweet and heavy malts giving way to complex hops, viscous and syrupy
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness giving way to even more lingering malt flavor
Overall: 8/10

In the end, this beer lives up to the advertising. When a beer includes the term “Imperial” in its title, it means a beer of greater strength and density. As such, one can expect a beer with some strong, coarser malts and real toasty flavor. And where IPA’s are involved, one can also expect plenty of hops and a flavor that gravitates between the floral, bitter and citrusy. And that’s exactly what this beer has going on! If you’re a fan of the strong, challenging, sweet, and bitter, pick yourself up a bottle before it goes back to the mainland.