Category 12 Insubordinate Session IPA

c12_insubordinateBrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Central Saanich, BC
Style: Session IPA
ABV: 4.5%
IBUs: 58

Description: In what is Category 12’s latest seasonal release, the Insubordinate is a sessional take on the Pacific Northwestern India Pale Ale. Crystal and Vienna malts provide the base, which is then bittered using Centennial and Columbus hops, along with an infusion of Zythos for some extra dry-hopping.

Tasting Notes: Given that this brewery is right here in my neighborhood, I was able to snag some bottles of this brew direct. And while sampling, I was even able to guess the hops used (well, it took a few guesses to get all three). In any case, this brew is a good addition after the powerhouse that was their Transmutation, employing a lighter malt base with a good hopping that employs both a bitter, citrus and tropical fruit start with a herbal, dry hop finish. An all around crisp and refreshing take on the Pacific Northwestern IPA.

Appearance: Amber/orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malt, tropical fruit nose, pineapple, passion fruit, herbal infusion
Taste: Crisp malt, citrus, pine, herbs, dry hop bitterness, mineral tang
Aftertaste: Lingering dry hop bitterness, herbs, citrus rind, quite refreshing
Overall: 8.5/10

Mikkeler Single Hop Summit IPA

mikkeler_summitipaBrewer: Mikkeler Brewing, Copenhagen, Denmark
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.9%
IBUs: Unspecified

Description: Like all the beers in this phantom brewery’s Single Hop series, this beer is brewed at D’Proef in Belgium, using only pale malt and a single strain of American hops. In this case, the hop variety is Summit, a common hop used in barleywines, IPAs and Stouts that imparts a deep, earthy quality.

Tasting Notes: This is my second sampling of MIkkeler’s wares, and the second in their Single Hop IPA lineup. Overall, I was impressed. The use of Summit hops imparted an interesting mix of citrus, grass and earthiness to the brew. And it was well balanced with a good malt base that was smooth and just the slightest bit sharp. You could say this beer is defined by a strong, subtle, and complex character – one that is understated but gets the job done.

Appearance: Solid amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Good malt, subtle hints of citrus, tropical fruit, grassy
Taste: Slightly sharp malt, mild tang, earthy hops, mild notes of citrus, grass
Aftertaste: Lingering earthy, citrus and hop bitterness
Overall:8.2 /10

Peak Organic Hop Blanc

peak_hopblancBrewer: Peak Organic Brewing, Portland, ME
Style: White IPA
ABV: 6.4%
IBUs: Unspecified

Description:  Fresh from Portland Maine comes this White IPA, part of Peak Organic’s regular lineup. It is brewed using local wheat and Belgian yeast, and then bittered using a combination of West Coast Centennial, Simcoe and Citra hops.

Tasting Notes: Yet another sampling from the Advent Beer Calendar, this White IPA was a fitting example of this resurgent style of beer. Wheat malt and Belgian yeast provide a smooth, refreshing base, with is then accompanied by notes of citrus and tropical fruit that pair nicely with the yeast’s spicy finish.

Appearance: Deep gold, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wheat malt, yeast, coriander, orange, spice
Taste: Smooth malt, mild tang, yeast, orange zest and fruit, spicy finish
Aftertaste: Lingering orange zest, yeast bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

 

Phillips 3rd Blind Mouse Triple IPA

Phillips-Third-Blind-MouseBrewer: Phillips Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Triple India Pale Ale
ABV: 10.2%
IBUs: Unspecified (high)

Description: The latest Spring Seasonal from Phillips, this Triple IPA is aptly named and pretty straightforward. A strong malt base, and a good dose of West Coast hops provide a very strong, but balanced flavor profile that will appeal to hop heads and fans of their Hop Drop liqueur (noted for its powerful hop flavor and alcoholic strength!)

Tasting Notes: Seriously, I have to wonder what inspires Phillips with its limited-release creations! These guys obviously love high alcohol content, IPAs, and IBUs, and this beer delivers all three in spades! I was honestly reminded of their Hop Drop when drinking this, mainly because the potent combination of hops and alcohol was just too reminiscent of that lovely liqueur. Still, the combination manages to balance out quite nicely, making for a powerful, but relatively easy-going drinking experience.

Appearance: Light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, strong hop nose, floral, tropical, passion fruit and herbs
Taste: Strong malt, potent hops, citrus, tropical fruit and dry herbs, bitter, alcoholic finish
Aftertaste: Lingering herbal hops bitterness, alcoholic bite
Overall: 7.8/10

Mikkeler Single Hop Sorachi Ace IPA

Single_Hop_IPA_Sorachi_Ace_Low_ResBrewer: Mikkeler Brewery, Copenhagen, Danemark
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.7%
IBUs: Unspecified

Description: This beer is one of Mikkeler’s Single Hop collection, a special lineup of India Pale Ales bittered with only a single variety of hops. Brewed at their plant in D’Proef,  Belgium, the Sorachi Ace IPA uses only this Japanese variety of hops and combines it will a rich, pale malt base.

Tasting Notes: This is only the second time I’ve sampled a Mikkeler beer, and the first time I’ve reviewed one. And naturally, I’m wondering why I’ve held back this long. Without a doubt, it’s one of the better beers I’ve had this year, and definitely takes precedence over the only other beer I’ve had that used Sorachi hops (P49’s Crane Kick). Not only does the beer excel in the way it isolates the complex, lemony notes of Sorachi, a lovely, unfiltered pale malt base provides some fruitiness and a robust backing that really makes for a winning combination.

Appearance: Deep ruby/amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, strong notes of lemon, hint of pine, fruity esters
Taste: Crisp malt, dry, robust fruit, yeast, hint of sour cherry, oak, lemon, hop bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering lemon, yeast, oakiness, hop bitterness
Overall: 9.5/10

Moon Under Water Hip As Funk Farmhouse IPA

moonunderwater_hipasfunkBrewer: Moon Under Water Brewpub, Victoria, BC
Style: Farmhouse/India Pale Ale
ABV: 7%
IBUs: Unspecified

Description: Released in honor of International Women’s Day, this brew is part of a recent effort on behalf of Victoria breweries – which have women brewmaster’s – to push back against sexist attitudes and advertising in the brewing industry. Combining Belgian-style saison yeast, brettanomyces, and an IPA-level of hops, the beer is an homage to both Beglian and Northwestern-styles.

*The label art is the work of Vancouver based graphic-designer Bjauna Sorensen, and features an image of an attractive but strong-looking, non-sexualized woman.

Tasting Notes: It seems that Belgian IPAs are the trend these days. Just about every brewery I’ve sampled from in the past few months has had their own variation on this. But that’s hardly a bad thing. And this is my second sampling of this particular beer, the last time being after getting a growler of it from the brewery itself. As a rule, I prefer to review a beer after drinking it from a bomber since it means less chance of the flavor being bruised from being poured out twice. In any case, the beer boasts a very mixed palate, with saison yeast providing a sharp and spicy backbone, which is well complimented by citrus and tropical fruit flavors that come with a good dose of West Coast hops. There is also some lingering sour flavor that comes from the addition of brettanomyces. Kudos to the women of Victoria taking back brewing!

Appearance: Gold/orange, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose:  Crisp malt, saison yeast, citrus, orange, floral hops
Taste: Smooth malt, sharp, spicy yeast, notes of citrus and passion fruit, hint of sourness
Aftertaste: Lingering sharp and sour yeasts and hop bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

sierranevada_ipaBrewer: Sierra Nevada Brewing, Mills River, NC
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.2%
IBUs: 65

Description: This classic American-style IPA is part of the brewery’s year-round lineup, and was the first of their beers to feature the “Hop Torpedo” – a special dry-hopping device that controls how the level of hops infused into the brew. It is fashioned using Two-row Pale and Caramel malts, bittered with Magnum, Crystal and Citra hops.

Tasting Notes: Oftentimes, I get comments about my Best Of lists, usually by someone who is surprised their favorite beer didn’t make the cut. Alas, one commenter did make me realize that this is one beer that, though I have tried, I have never reviewed. And while it won’t be making my Best Of list just yet, it is certainly a good and faithful example of a solid IPA. Rich and slightly sweet malts compliment a hop profile that is powerful and varied, combining both dry-hops and finishing hops to give it a grassy, citrusy, and mildly tropical flavors – in short, all that North American hops are known for. A noble creation and one that makes me want to explore Sierra Nevada’s wares again. Thanks for the recommendation Brandon Kump!

Appearance: Deep amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, big hop nose, grassy, citrusy, tropical fruit
Taste: Rich malt, syrupy sweetness, bitter and dry hop finish, grass, citrus rind, herbs
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, citrus rind and dry herbal hops
Overall: 8.5/10

Category 12 Transmutation Belgian Specialty Ale

C12_transmutationBrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Central Saanich, BC
Style: Belgian Tripel/IPA
ABV: 9.6%
IBUs: Unspecified (but high)

Description: This is the latest release of Category 12, which just premiered yesterday at the brewery, and amidst quite a bit of fanfare. Brewed in the Tripel fashion, but with a significant hopping consistent with a Northwestern IPA, this beer is brewed using Superior Pilsner and Belgian Caravienne malts, Hallertauer and Northern Brewer hops, and then fortified with Amber Candi sugar that was handcrafted in house.

Tasting Notes: Where to begin with this one? For starters, the term “Belgian specialty ale” is appropriate given that it has elements of both a tripel and a saison, but also some distinct West Coast flavor. This leads to an eclectic taste, where three times the malt, candi sugar and a high alcohol content lead to a powerful malt base. Add to that some strong yeast flavor and some powerful hops that compliment the yeasts, and you’ve got this baby in a nutshell. Between the fact that they handcrafted their own candi sugar to make this beer and it happened right in my backyard makes me especially proud!

Appearance: Dark ruby, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, sugars, notes of citrus and tropical fruit hops, strong yeasts
Taste: Rich and coarse malt, saison-like yeast, caramelized sugar, hop bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering malt coarseness, hop and yeast bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Red Hook Long Hammer IPA

redhook_ipaBrewer: Red Hook Brewery, Woodinville, WA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.2%
IBUs: 44

Description: As part of their regular lineup, Red Hook has been brewing this classic Northwestern-style India Pale Ale since 1984. Moderate in terms of alcohol and hop content, this beer is bittered twice – both during the boil and then dry-hopped for a dry finish.

Tasting Notes: This here IPA is the second offering from my sample pack, and it is the firs time I have ever sampled it. On the lighter side, this beer still has everything one would expect from a Pacific Northwestern IPA. This includes a rich, semi-sweet malt base and a good dose of citrus and piney hops. And of course, the dry-hopping adds an extra dimension of drier, grassy notes. Two down, one to go!

Appearance: Golden/amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, notes of citrus, pine, and grassy hops
Taste: Crisp malt, sweet bread, medium notes of citrus, pine, dry grassy-hop finish
Aftertaste: Lingering malt sweetness, hop bitterness and citrus rind
Overall: 8.2/10

Stone Ruination IPA

stone_ruination_ipaBrewer: Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 8.2%
IBUs: 100+

Description: As part of their regular lineup, the Ruination IPA (so named because of its strength and intense hop flavor) is basically the same recipe as their Stone IPA, but with an extra-large helping of malt and a very large dose of of Magnum, Chinook and Centennial hops.

Tasting Notes: This is only my second sampling from the Stone Brewery, which began with their Arrogant Bastard Ale. And again, it seems they’ve got me pegged with their wares! Comparable to the better Imperial IPAs I’ve had, this brew has a strong malt base (minus the sweetness I’ve become accustomed to) and some truly decent hop flavor that combines intense grassy, citrus and piney flavors. I have to say, I highly approve of the hop-forward nature of this beer, and their choices of hops since it lends it a distinctly dry and bitter flavor.

Appearance: Light gold/amber, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Light malt, strong notes of grassy, herbal, citrus and piney hops
Taste: Smooth malt, tang, plenty of herbal, grassy, dry hop flavor, citrus notes
Aftertaste: Lingering dry hop and herbal/grassy bitterness
Overall: 9/10