Red Arrow Old Style Lager

redarrow_lagerBrewer: Red Arrow Brewing Co., Duncan, BC
Style: Lager
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 20

Description: The latest addition to Red Arrow’s lineup, this brew is a traditional lager with West Coast influence. It is also aged for an extended amount of time in horizontal tanks to ensure smoothness and clarity.

Tasting Notes: This lager was quite refreshing and clean, and was definitely characteristic of a smooth and somewhat hoppy lager. At the same time, it had a malt characteristic that I’ve found is quite typical of Red Arrow beers – which has a slightly rubbery taste to it. This would seem to indicate that the brewery is still hitting its stride. But they are getting there!

Appearance: Straw gold, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Slight rubbery nose, grainy malt, notes of Noble hops – grainy and herbal
Taste: Crisp malt, slight rubbery flavor, mild tang, grainy hops, mild grass and herbs
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, mild hop bitterness, quite clean
Overall: 7.8/10

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Hop City Barking Squirrel Lager

hopcity_lagerBrewer: Hop City Brewing, Brampton, ON
Style: Lager
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 24

Description: This lager, which is Hop City’s flagship beer, is brewed using a combination of of Pale Two-Row, Crystal, Dark Crystal , Munich, and Torrified Wheat malts, which are then bittered with Hallertau Mittelfrueh and Saaz hops.

Tasting Notes: This is the second time I’ve sampled Barking Squirrel, the first time being during my 2013 trip to Ottawa. Somehow, my review card was full and I neglected to give it a proper write-up, which I am corrected now! This is very much a good, clean-drinking lager, with some maltier notes that are reminiscent of a good Marzen. A crisp and slightly sweet malt base with notes of sweet bread and caramel combine with a dry, noble hop flavor to create a very quaffable and drinkable lager.

Appearance: Amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sharp and grainy malt nose, noble hops, dry grasses and herbs
Taste: Clean, crisp malts, sweet bread, caramel, grassy and herbal hops, minerals
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, grainy and sweet malt flavor
Overall: 8/10

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.

Longwood Independent Pilsner

independent-pilsner-01Brewer: Longwood Brewery, Nanaimo, BC
Style: Imperial Pilsner
Alc/Vol: 6.5%

Description: This “Noble Imperial” Pilsner is a high-gravity, highly-hopped take on the traditional pilsner, which was apparently done to “preserve it for export from The Republic of Vancouver Island across the frigid Salish Sea.” In short, the brew borrows stylistically from the India Pale Ale to effect a denser, hoppier version of this style of lager.

Tasting Notes: This beer is what one would expect from a Pilsner, employing grainy malt with a good, crisp hop flavor. However, these attributes are amplified, with the malts being more viscous and possessed of a stronger tang. In addition, the grassy hop flavor is intensified, lingering long after the initial sip and well into the aftertaste.

Appearance: Deep gold, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Grainy malt, crisp, grassy hops
Taste: Grainy malt, syrupy, strong tang, good dose of bitter, grassy hops
Aftertaste: Lingering tang and hop bitterness, mild skunk
Overall: 8.5/10

P49 Defibrillator Doppelbock

parallel49_labelsBrewer: Parallel 49 Brewery, Vancouver, BC
Style: Doppelbock
Alc/Vol: 8.5%
IBUs: 25

Description: Yet another limited release by the Parallel 49 Brewery, this beer is fashioned in the historic lager style known as doppelbock, which monastic have been producing since the 18th century for the consumption of German royalty and nobility. This beer uses a combination of Pilsner and Munich malts and is fermented and aged for an extended period to give it a dark, rich, and more alcoholic profile.

Tasting Notes: This latest release from P49 was certainly consistent with what I’ve come to know about bocks and doppelbocks. It was dark, rich, especially malty, and had a smooth, velvety profile. In addition, it has a discernible hint of vanilla that makes it especially drinkable and appetizing, in addition to a hint of herbal hops that – when combined with its other flavors – are reminiscent of Jagermeister and herb liquor.

Appearance: Deep reddish brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Deep malts, sweet herbs, vanilla, mild trace of Noble hops
Taste: Rich, smooth malt, slight sweetness, tang, hint of grainy, herbal hops, vanilla
Aftertaste: Lingering malt, vanilla, and herbal hop flavor
Overall: 8.5/10

Breakside Liquid Sunshine Pilsner

breakside-pilsner-breaks-22863-4zBrewer: Breakside Brewery, Portland OR
Style: Pilsner
Alc/Vol: 5.1%

Description: Located in Portland (with a second taproom/brewery in Milwauki, OR), the Breakside Brewpub has been making handcrafted beers for many years and has created a wide variety in that time. The Liquid Sunshine Pilsner is part of their current, regular lineup and is available year-round on tap at both of their locations, as well as for commercial sales and export.

Tasting Notes: This Pilsner was exceptionally crisp and refreshing and had a nice finish to it that was clean without being watery. The flavor profile was also very consistent with a good Pilsner, calling to the mind the grainy flavor of Munich malts and the sharp, grassy flavor of Saaz and Hallertau hops. Definitely a good hot weather beer, or just something for when you’re craving a good, clean lager.

Appearance: Light golden, cloudy, medium foam retention and good carbonation
Nose:  Gentle smell of Munich malts and Noble hops
Taste: Light grainy malt flavor, mild tang, crisp hop bite, mild bitterness and grassyness
Aftertaste: Mild lingering bitterness and malt flavor, very clean and refreshing
Overall: 9/10

Hoyne Helios Golden Lager

hoyne_helios_labelBrewer: Hoyne Brewery
Style: Dortmunder Export Lager
Alc/Vol: 6%

Description: The Helios is the latest limited release by Hoyne Brewing, brewed in the style of a Dortmunder Export, which is a slightly stronger and darker malt-forward take on the traditional lager. According to the brewmaster himself (Sean Hoyne) it is made using Vienna, Munich and other German malts and bittered with a variety of Hallertau hops.

Tasting Notes: I am a big fan of Marzen, Oktoberfest, and other forms of stronger, maltier lagers. And this beer was definitely no slouch when it came to delivering on the quintessential flavors these beers are famous for. In addition to its smooth and slightly tangy start, the malt flavor really comes through in the middle with characteristically grainy and slightly sweet Vienna and Munich accents. It then accompanies this with an infusion of subtle, dry and bitter Noble hops. A clean finish and a beautiful orange hue make it a delight all around. I strongly recommend beer lovers in the Victoria area get a growler of this lager while they can. Limited releases tend to run out after just two weeks at the Hoyne brewery, so be quick about it!

Appearance: Golden-orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Discernible Munich-style malts, grainy, subtle notes of Noble hops
Taste: Grainy start, slight tang, hint of sweetness and syrupy malt, dry, herbal hops
Aftertaste: Mild, lingering hop bitterness, mainly clean finish
Overall: 9.5/10