Twin Sails Roggenweizen

twinsails_roggenBrewer: Twin Sails Brewing, Port Moody, BC
Style: Rye-wheat ale
ABV: 6.7%
IBUs: 12

Description: This limited release by Twin Sails is a German-style hefeweizen brewed with a combination of wheat, rye and caramel malts. This results in slightly sweeter and maltier take on your conventional hefeweizen, which is then mildly hopped and served unfiltered.

Tasting Notes: This beer has all the benefits of a hefeweizen, which include a smooth wheat malt base, yeastiness and a refreshing aftertaste. The addition of caramel and rye malts also add some depth of flavor and color, giving it some added some sweetness to go with the banana and natural spice flavor.

Appearance: Red, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle wheat malt, hefeweizen yeast, banana, hint of clove spice
Taste: Smooth wheat malt, hint of sweetness, yeasty effervescent, banana, hint of spice
Aftertaste: Lingering maltiness, cloves, banana, yeasts
Overall: 8.5/10

Schneider Weisse TAP X Mathilde Soleil Weizenbock

schneider-weisse-mathilda-soleilBrewer: G. Schneider und Sohn, Kelheim, Germany
Style: Weizenbock
ABV: 7.0%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: The Mathilde Soleil was Schneider Weisse special brew 2015, which was first released at the  Braukunst Live 2015 beer festival in Munich. This limited special wheat beer was brewed in honor of the former head of the brewery, Mathilde Schneider, who presented Bavaria’s first wheat doppelbock in 1907. Continuing in the tradition of Mathilde, this beer combines barley and wheat malt with a variety of hops that were grown in small quantities specifically for this special series.

Tasting Notes: Schneider und Sohn are well known for their mastery of the wheat ale, and their Aventinus Dopplebock is one of my absolute favorites. That, and the limited availability of their products where I live make any limited releases from this brewery a rare treat. Speaking of which, the brew is very well-balanced. It has a lovely deep orange hue, it has a mighty yeasty backbone, and has some lovely fruit flavors – apple and orchard fruit – a hint of spiciness, and some oaky flavor. A very tasty and well-rounded Weizenbock!

Appearance: Deep orange, cloudy, sediment, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, sugars, baked bread, spicy yeast, grassy and herbal Noble hops
Taste: Semi-sweet malt, apple, apricot, notes of oak, strong yeast, hint of spice
Aftertaste: Lingering apple and malt flavor, yeast and spice notes
Overall: 9/10

Granville Island Auld Skill Scottish Ale

granvilleisland_auldskoolBrewer: Granville Island Brewery, Vancouver, BC
Style: Scottish Ale
ABV: 6.25%
IBUs: 20

Description: This Scottish-style ale is part of Granville Island’s Black Notebook Series – a series of small-batch, limited-release beers. In honor of Robbie Burns Day, this beer is brewed in the traditional Scottish Ale-style, consisting of darker, richer malts that are subjected to a longer boil and a mild hopping.

Tasting Notes: Like most of GI’s Black Notebook Series, this brew was a somewhat subdued, but definitely landed in the requisite flavor departments. These included the darker, heavier malt base, the notes of sugar and dark fruits, and the hint of peat moss and general smokiness. Definitely a solid Scottish Ale for those who want a milder variant.

Appearance: Amber-brown, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich, sweet malts, mild smoke and peaty aroma, dark fruits and caramelized sugar
Taste: Semi-sweet malt, burnt sugar, mild tang, hint of smoke, peat moss, dates, raisins
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, sugars, minerals
Overall: 7.8/10

Phillips Super Cooper Anniversary Ale

Super-Cooper-Anniversary-AleBrewer: Phillips Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Imperial Pale Ale
ABV: 11.6%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: In honor of their anniversary, Phillips offers another specially-themed limited release brew. This time around, the theme is Donkey Kong, which alludes to the bourbon barrel-aging process the Imperial Ale goes through. The result is then dry-hopped with American varieties, giving it a flavor profile that is potent and flavorful.

Tasting Notes: I was reminded of Russel’s Nectar of the Gods with this one, though with some added octane! The bourbon barrel-aging adds a hint of smokey, vanilla-like flavor and fruity esters that pair well with the strong malt base, which is then complimented by notes of citrus, tropical fruit and herbs. And of course, the alcoholic bite, which is present throughout, but not overwhelming. Still, not a beer for the faint of heart or weak of liver!

Appearance: Dark golden, mildly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malts, bourbon, vanilla, cherry, tropical fruit, citrus, herbs
Taste: Rich coarse malt, hint of vanilla, passion fruit, citrus, whiskey bite 
Aftertaste: Lingering whiskey flavor, alcoholic bitterness, dry herbs
Overall: 8.5/10

Lagunitas The Hairy Eyeball Ale

lagunitas_hairy-eyeballBrewery: Lagunitas Brewing, Petaluma, CA
Style: Dark Ale
ABV: 9.4%
IBUs: 56.66

Description: A limited release that is available for the Fall season, this strong dark ale is named and brewed in honor of hangover cures! Employing rich, dark malts with a good dose of hops, this beer is intended to be the “hair of the dog” that beats the hair eyeballs.

Tasting Notes: I was strongly reminded of a bock beer with this one, a style that I love. The strong malt, dark color, notes of molasses, minerals and herbal notes were all consistent with a bock’s flavor. Having not been hungover when I drank it, I cannot attest to its hangover-arresting qualities. It is however a great accompaniment to food or just casual drinking!

Appearance: Deep brown/amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark malt, notes of molasses, chocolate, espresso, and minerals
Taste: Roasted malt, brown sugar and molasses, good tang, strong herbal notes
Aftertaste: Lingering tang, roasted malt flavor and bitterness
Overall: 9/10

4 Mile Summer Wheat Ale

4Mile_summerwheatBrewer: 4 Mile Brewing Company, Victoria, BC
Style: Wheat Ale
Alc/Vol: 4.5%
IBUs: 24

Description: A summer seasonal beer, and what I believe is the first limited release from the brewery, this wheat ale is a mild brew that is decidedly English in inspiration. This translates to a sessional-style wheat with mild malts, a lower alcohol content, and a mild hopping that results in a smooth, refreshing taste and little aftertaste.

Tasting Notes: When it comes to wheat ales, I tend to expect some banana flavor, some coriander spice, a little orange zest, some serious yeasts, or some tangy fruit flavor to offset a milder malt. However, this is due to my being accustomed to strong hefeweizens and Belgian wits, and that really didn’t diminish this beer’s refreshing nature and smooth character. Mild wheat malts, a subtle yeast backbone, and a clean finish with a Pilsner-like grainy and herbal flavor characterize this beer. Definitely a good summer thirst quencher.

Appearance: Golden, slightly cloudy, mild foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild wheat malt, yeast, Pilsner-like graininess, herbal hops
Taste: Smooth malt, milt tang, hint of yeast, herbal (Noble) hops finish
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, yeasts and Noble hop notes
Overall: 8.3/10

This completes my sampling from the 4 Mile Brewery, either through their bombers or from tastings at the brewpub itself. I can’t wait for a Fall Seasonal or some more limited releases!

Moon Under Water Year One Red Wheat Wine

moon_year1In honor of their first year since the new ownership took over, the Moon Under Water brewpub chose to release this limited reserve wheat wine. And I finally got my bottle! Not that long ago, I wandered into their operation for the first time and got to meet some of the management. They seemed like a family that was seriously committed to craft beer, so when they chose to release their first anniversary brew, I knew I had to have some.

And I have to say, red wheat wine is really quite interesting. I’ve had my share of interesting brews in the past. Much like a barleywine, it is darker in color due to its high gravity and heavy malts, and is unfiltered. It’s also generously flavored with Citra hops and fermented dry with three different strains of yeast. What results is a beer that is a deep orange-red, is cloudy to the point of being opaque, and very strong (11.5% alc/vol).

Appearance: Orange-red, cloudy and opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong wheat malt, citrus hops, baked bread
Taste: Wheat malt, dry grapefruit, strong notes of alcohol, yeasts
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, citrus rind, malty sourness
Overall: 9.5/10

My one complaint about this beer is the amount of yeast found within. Once I poured this bad boy into a tall glass, I noticed quite a bit of floating cultures! But that’s to be expected from a beer of this strength, and one that’s unfiltered! All in all though, this was a VERY not bad first year for Moon Under Water. I sincerely hope they choose to greet fall and the coming of winter with a brown, a stout, a barleywine and/or a straight bock. Not that their lineup particularly needs these, I would just be interested to see what they would do with them. If there’s one thing they’ve demonstrated a knack for, its experimentation!

VIB Black Betty Blackberry Saison

black-betty-bottle-mock-smWhen I heard this beer was making the rounds for summer, I knew I had to get some. Call it a weakness, but I find that when it comes to beer, there are two things brewers don’t do nearly enough. Blackberries and sour cherries! So on the odd occasion when a beer comes along that combines malted barley goodness with my favorite fruit, I gotta jump on it!

And the combination is quite a good idea. Saison is a variety of beer that is not only associated with summer drinking and quite refreshing, it is also quite popular with craft brewers these days. So it was wildly appropriate that Vancouver Island Brewery chose to combine a seasonal summer berry with a seasonally appropriate saison to create this seasonal beer. You ever hear a word so many times that it lost all meaning?

However, I found the end result a little light for my taste. In addition to the yeast being not very noticeable, the fruit flavor was quite mild as well. What I was hoping for was a tart, berry explosion followed by a spicy yeast finish. Instead, I got a mild but refreshing beer that while pleasing, was kind of underwhelming.

Appearance: Light amber, clear, light foam retention and good carbonation
Nose: Light tartness, discernible fruit, mild yeasts
Taste: Immediate hints of blackberry, light tart kick, saison-style yeast
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast and berry flavor, very light
Overall: 7.75/10

Driftwood Gose-Uh

driftwood_logoBack again with another limited release from the Driftwood Brewery. And this time around, its the late summer seasonal known as the Driftwood Gose-uh. According to the commercial description, Gose (pronounced gose-uh) is a rare type of German beer that originated in Leipzig. Using both wheat and barely malt, sea salt, coriander spice and the same type of yeast strain that gives sours their tart taste, this beer has apparently gone extinct twice, but is once again being brought back by artisan brewers who want to revitalize it.

driftwood_gose-uhAnd after sampling it, I could certainly see why efforts are underway to restore it. Much like a good Belgian Wit, the Gose is light in color, cloudy in appearance, and has a gentle malt profile and a some nice spicey notes due to the addition of coriander spice. But the Gose manages to augment all that with a little saltiness and a smooth, clean finish that has just a hint of sour flavor. All in all, it’s basically a nice light ale with some added complexity that is well paired with spicey food, or just on its own as a way to beat the soon-to-gone summer heat. Personally, I hope the style catches on again and remains popular amongst the artisan brewing community and beer drinkers alike. I don’t imagine I need to tell anyone that a beer going extinct diminishes us all!

Appearance: Light yellow, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wheat malts and traces of yeast, strong notes of coriander spice
Taste: Good concentration of wheat malt, coriander spice, mild saltiness
Aftertaste: Lingering spice flavor, slight notes of sour, quite clean
Overall: 8.5/10

What’s next for the Driftwood Brewery and its seasonal/limited-release lineup? Well, multiple visits to the brewery to get my growlers filled has yielded some insight there. Though there are no plans as of yet to release another in the Bird of Prey series, the brewery does have an anniversary coming up and promises to greet it with a specialty beer of some kind. I’ll let you know more as I hear about it!

Phillips Monkey Drummer and the Incomplete Octave

monkey-drummer-label-cropped-e1373999969432That’s quite the long name, but after so many specialty and limited releases, you gotta figure the people at Philips have to get creative. Released in honor of their 11.9th anniversary, and brewed to a strength of 11.9 % alc/vol – because apparently anything reaching 12% puts it into a new tax bracket or something – this beer is a very strange combination, and calls to mind their Pandemonium 11th Hour Anniversary IPA, but a lot more so! Whereas that beer was discernible in terms of style and just cranked to the point of being extra strong, this beer kind of falls on the far side of indefinable.

Monkey-DrummerAt once cloudy, extra-strong, and loaded with hops and alcohol, its pretty much a mashup, somewhere between an Imperial IPA and a Belgian Tripel, albeit an extra strong one. And once you pour this beer out and begin to sample it, you’ll begin to understand the interesting and colorful description behind it:

This hop-beast drinks like a chimp fisted blast beat from a subtribe percussionist. Slightly off tempo and heavier than a gorilla playing 12 bar blues.

Yeah, that about covers it! It’s hoppy, but that takes a back seat to the ham-fisted alcoholic punch in the mouth! And the oaky, tripel-like malts are also subdued when compared to the sheer alcohol content. In short, drinking this beer is like locking your lips with a freight train! Not to be consumed when operating heavy machinery…

Appearance: Light blonde, slightly cloudy, medium foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong citrus hop scent, sweet, coarse malts, mild tropical fruit
Taste: Slightly sweet start, followed by quick hit of alcohol, mild oak, bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering alcohol bitterness and mild hops
Overall: 7.5/10

While I am tempted to give this beer high marks for being just so damn powerful, I am forced to mark it down for taste. Basically, there isn’t much to speak of. The alcohol taste overpowers both the hop content and the malt profile, which is too bad because they both seem like they would be nice if allowed to come through. Still, this beer has to be the strongest I’ve had in recent memory. You have to respect that much about it!