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

P49 Robo Ruby Imperial Red IPA

P49_roborubyBrewer: Parallel 49, Vancouver, BC
Style: Imperial Red India Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 9.3%

Description: The latest release from Parallel 49’s ample array of limited releases, the Robo Ruby is another combination of brewing styles. This time around, they have merged an Imperial Red Ale with an India Pale Ale to create a beer that is employs deep, rich malts and a significant hop content. The end result is something particularly malty, sweet, and with a bitter finish.

Tasting Notes: This latest limited release deliver quite well on what one would hope from the specific combination of styles. As an imperial red, it has the enhanced maltiness, sweetness and coarseness one would expect. At the same time, the hoppiness of an Imperial IPA comes through quite well, with hints of citrus and herbal hops. I remain convinced that there was some dry hopping involved as well, since the hop profile is somewhat dry in addition to its strength.

Appearance: Dark ruby brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark, syrupy and coarse malts, sugars, floral hops, mild citrus
Taste: Sweet, dark, syrupy, and slightly coarse malt, dry citrus and herbal hops
Aftertaste: Lingering roasted malt flavor and hop bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Scandal Mt. Everest Barleywine

mt.everest1

Holiday greetings to everyone! As this is the season, and since I’ve exhausted my neighbors supply of beer, I have decided to once again go shopping for beers that goes well with the holiday spread and spirit. And one such procurement was Scandal Brewing’s Mt. Everest Barley Wine. As part of their Seven Wonders series, this beer is Scandal’s strongest customer, and one which I’ve been meaning to try for some time. So far, all I’ve managed to sample from this brewery is their Organic Ale, part of their regular lineup. But given that it was a pleasant experience, I had to see what they could do with a limited release.

Weighing in at an impressive 9% alc/vol and a robust 65 IBUs, this beer is fashioned with organic two-row and crystal 60 malts, as well as German summit and hallertau tradition hops. And the addition of spring water also comes through with a slight mineral quality that comes through in the aftertaste. Though it is listed as a barley wine, this beer was more reminiscent to me of a Maibock, boasting the same kind of semi-sweet malts, good tang, and a mild hop bite. But being intensely strong, it also has a strong alcoholic punch, and a slightly spicy notes that are reminiscent of anise or allspice.

Appearance: Amber, clear, medium foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Notes of sugar and subtle, dry hops
Taste: Slightly sweet malts, strong tang, alcoholic bite, dry hops, hints of allspice
Aftertaste: Lingering tang and mild spice traces and minerality
Overall: 8.5/10

Not a bad brew at all, though I do think it was slightly mislabeled. In my experience, barley wines are dark, fruity, and rich, whereas this beer is on the lighter side in terms of color, and has a flavor profile far more consistent with a Maibock. Still, it was a very pleasant drinking experience and I look forward to seeing what else Scandal has to offer with its Seven Wonders series.

Paralell 49 Black Hops Cascadian Dark Ale

p49_blackhopsOh my, how Cascadian Darks are becoming all the rage! But seeing as how craft brewers up and down the coast have decided to produce their own version of this dark, hoppy ale, it stands to reason that a brewery such as Parallel 49 would have their own variation to share. And considering their usual, experimental fare, it was quite interesting to see them producing something quite standard for a change.

And as usual, it was quite enjoyable. I’m surprised it took me awhile to find this one, but I imagine distribution is a bit of an issue when a brewery produces so many limited releases. In any case, the Black Hops was an interesting twist on Cascadian Darks, possessing some richly dark, smokey malts, and a strong hoppy profile with serious herbal notes.

Appearance: Pitch black, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong, grassy hops, herbal notes, toasty malts
Taste: Immediate burst of hop bitterness, piney, smokey, herbal flavor
Aftertaste: Mild bitterness, lingering herbal essence
Overall: 8.5/10

In truth, I was reminded of herbed bread and stout, which would make for some interesting food pairing. Looking forward to Parallel 49’s next quirky and interesting limited release. Maybe, just maybe, it will be something simple this time… Not holding my breath!

Two Victorian Maibocks

maibocks

Hello all and welcome to another two-fer. Today, as I get ready to head back to the Sunshine Coast Trail with my darling wife, I am reviewing two beers that are both of the Maibock variety. Ever since I tried my first, which was Holstein’s own, I was a fan of the seasonal beer that combines slightly sweet, heavier malts and sugars with mild hops and a generally refreshing quality. And in addition to including a beer that I’ve been meaning to review for some time, I managed to grab a new and surprising limited release. Here’s what they were and what I had to say about them…

Lighthouse Mountain Goat Maibock:lighthouse_maibock_3weeds
At long last, I’m getting around to giving this beer its due with a fitting review. I believe I’ve sampled this beer three times at this point, and enjoyed it every time, but never had I been able to take down its particulars and give it the four point assessment. And I’ve been meaning to, since I was quite impressed with it the first time and have remained so since.

Much like all of Lighthouse’s limited releases, this beer has legs and some genuine signs of craftbrewing quality. And like a good Maibock, its got a good balance of sweet malts, mild tang, light hops, and a good long, semi-bitter finish. It also boasts an interesting balance of fruit and honey, both in terms of scent and taste. And all of this rounds out quite nicely in the finish, which is long but ultimately refreshing.

Appearance: Light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sweet malts, mild hops, notes of mango and honey
Taste: Immediate sweetness, honey, mild tang, mild hops
Aftertaste: Mild cloying quality, lingering coarseness
Overall: 9/10

Moon Under Water Brewvic Maibock:moonunderwater_maibock
The second sample comes from one of my favorite local operations. Moon Under Water began as a purveyor of sessional ales, but then switched over to a more diverse and challenging array of beers shortly thereafter. And I’ve had nothing but good things to say about their old and new lineup. And now that they are creating seasonal and limited release beers, I’d say the circle is now complete. And how fitting that the first of these be a Maibock, a venerable brew that’s in time for summer?

And overall, I was quite pleased. Thought this one leaned towards the lighter end of things, in all departments, it remained a balanced and appealing example of a Maibock. And I was quite impressed that the Moon Under Water brewery has branched out to seasonal releases so soon after releasing an entirely new lineup, which already consisted of four really good beers! So really not a bad start to an expanded repertoire, and I look forward to their next one.

Appearance: Amber-gold, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sweet, slightly cloying nose, mild hops
Taste: Immediate burst of mild sweetness, giving way to tang and dry hops
Aftertaste: Slight coarseness, lingering bitterness
Overall: 8/10

More Summer Beer Additions!

summer-beerOnce in awhile, I find myself coming back from the beer store with a number of similar selections from different breweries. These I generally buy because they are limited releases, share a common theme, or are beers I simply haven’t tried yet. A few weeks ago, I made such a selection, recorded my observations, but then forgot to share them! Alas, I discovered my error and am now correcting that, and bringing to you some summer beers that are sure to still be available.

They are VIB’s Vicfest and Granville Islands Cloak and Dagger, both of which I found while rummaging around the Cook St. Liquor Store. Every time I go in there, I feel like a kid in a candy store and cant seem to make a decision of what to boy. But since VIB and Granville Island have a few things in common – large-scale breweries that are located here in BC, but who are committed to their craft brewing roots – these two limited releases seems like a good buy. And here is what I thought…

Vancouver Island Brewery Vicfest Festival Ale:
Vicfest-650-Bottle-Mock-FLATInteresting case of timing here, since Vicfest is just a week away. However, VIB and the people of Vicfest teamed awhile back and begin brewing this beer well in advance for this summer’s Vancouver Island Cultural Festival. According to a statement released by the brewery, they were going for something that captured the light, rhythmic sense of the island festival and the people who regularly attend. Or as they put it:

This festival ale is brewed in celebration of the amazing art, music and culture here on Vancouver Island. We’re proud to support local cultural events like VIC Fest that strengthen our island’s unique collection of bouncing souls and kindred spirits. Brewed with a rhythmic blend of malts and lightly riffed hops this beer is a thirst quenching and sensory expanding experience. Turn it up and enjoy.

And I’d say that’s what they wound up with as an end result. Though an west coast ale, the light, crisp and clean quality of the beer is more reminiscent of a lager or altbier. And as such, its quite consistent with warm weather, the outdoors, and summery evenings.

Appearance: Light gold, clear, mild foam and good carbonation
Nose: Light malts, mild hops, lager-like
Taste: Crisp, mild malts, Munich-style hops, trace minerality
Aftertaste: Clean finish, mild hops
Overall: 8/10

Almost as good was sample number two, otherwise known as …

Granville Island Cloak & Dagger Cascadian Dark Ale:
cloak&dagger_cascdarkHere we have a limited released that was produced by the folks at Granville Island Brewing as past of their Black Note Book Series. And as has been increasingly the fashion with GIB of late, they’ve been getting in on the craft brewing train with a long lineup of small batch beers, all of which appear to be consistent with the latest Northwest trends. This Cascadian Dark Ale, which combines aspects of a stout, IPA, is no exception, being a rather popular style of late.

And for the most part, I found this one enjoyable and flavorful, though it was slightly on the light side. With a malt profile of a stout or dark ale and the hoppiness of an IPA, one expects a bit more challenge and flavor. However, the Cloak and Dagger remains a very pleasant spring beer and I hope to see it again.

Appearance: Black, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark toasted malts, bitter citrus hops
Taste: Immediate burst of bitter hops, mild tang, relatively light, smooth malts
Aftertaste: Mild and lingering bitterness, otherwise clean aftertaste
Overall: 7.5/10

That’s all for now. Soon enough, I will be back with more seasonal brews, strictly summer one this time! And given the sheer supply of breweries and styles that are in vogue this season, I’m not sure what to expect. But that’s part of the fun of beer shopping, the selection!

Parallel 49 Humphrey Biere de Garde

parallel49As anyone familiar with BC craft beers would know by now, the Vancouver-based Parallel 49 brewery is renowned for their interesting and weird combinations, producing beer that is both appealing to drink and esoterically complex. And they seem to know no limits when it comes to variation and experimentation, combining different processes, ingredients, and merging disparate styles to create something new every few weeks. And whenever they decide on a new combination, it comes in the form of a limited release.

P49_humphreyThe latest is Humphrey’s Biere de Garde, a malt-forward twist on a traditional style of beer that, similar to Saison, is a farmhouse beer that comes to us from northeastern France. A cottage industry for the longest time, large-scale breweries have taken to producing Biere de Gardes in recent years, especially craft-brewing operations. So it is little wonder why Parallel 49 chose to tackle this beer, which is also a seasonal variety that was typically brewed during the spring and stored for the summer months. The twist, which is to be expected when dealing with P49, comes in the form of rosewater, which was added to provide another dimension of flavor. Typically used to scent and flavor foods, perfumes and ointments, the admixture of this syrupy, fragrant liquid provides for a drinking experience which is at once traditional and at the same time odd and interesting…

Appearance: Amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malts, hint of sweetness
Taste: Semi sweet malts, syrupy and viscous, slight floral, herbal infusion,
Aftertaste: Lingering sweetness, chewy mouthfeel, relatively clean
Overall: 8/10

As you may be able to tell, it was quite difficult to describe the flavor of this beer. All throughout, I had the feeling that I was getting notes of something sweet, distinct, and not really consistent with malt or hops. I wasn’t sure how to describe this, and didn’t want to fall back on the all-too-convenient “like rosewater”, especially since I’ve never tasted it before. But the end result of this beer is certainly something that most beer drinkers will at least partially recognize – a malt forward beer that is reminiscent of a nice amber ale that also comes with a herbal/floral taste provided by a rosewater tincture. Not P49s best beer by my measure, but definitely worth sampling.

Okaganagan Apricot Summer Weizen

okanagan_summerweizenAnother wheat beer from another long-standing BC brewery, and just in time for summer. Truth be told, I haven’t really been paying much attention to Okanagan Spring in recent years. After a few years of living here, and being able to find much of their lineup back in Ontario, I felt I had sampled everything they had to offer. It’s always good to see that the craft brewing bug is getting around!

okanagan_summerweizen1 A fitting wheat, this limited release is apparently the brewery’s tribute to the Okanagan’s “fruitful history”, which I can only assume refers to its vast fruit-cultivating operations. And consistent with what one would expect from a good wheat, it is golden orange in color, appropriately yeasty, highly fruity, and refreshingly smooth. I have yet to divine the exact combination, but in conjunction with the wheat malt and yeast, it boasts a variety of fruit flavors. Along with my parents and darling bride, I managed to get a glass of this after watching them compete in some Dragon Boating down at the Gorge. And it was a pretty good drink to accent a rather hot and sticky day!

Appearance: Golden orange, cloudy, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Multiple fruits, banana, passion fruit, apricot
Taste: Light and clean, mild yeast, traces of orchard/passion fruit
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast, mild fruit, refreshing and clean
Overall: 8.5/10

Overall, not a bad wheat. Granted, McAuslan Breweries did this one already, and made a pretty good go of it, there is nothing wrong with a little imitation. And whereas McAuslan’s St. Amboise Apricot Wheat was a kristalweizen – clear, and light and fruity – this beer is an unfiltered heffeweizen – yeasty, cloudy, smooth and fruity.

Suddenly, I find myself interested in some of their other labels as well now. Apparently, there is a specially series of brewmaster favorites, which includes a specially Hopped Lager and a Brewmaster’s Black lager, both of which sound like they might be pretty enjoyable. We shall see…

Driftwood The Heretic Tripel

driftwoodDue to the sheer volume of good beer and great limited releases they’ve produced over the years, I think it’s safe to say that Driftwood has become one of my favorite breweries of all time. In addition to their Fat Tug IPA, Naughty Hildegarde, Twenty Pounder IPA, and many Flanders-style sour ales (the epitome of brewing perfection!), they’ve also been known to produce some excellent Belgian-style ales as well.

???????????????????????????????The lastest is known as The Heretic, a Belgian-style Tripel that is the second in a series made using locally grown, Saanich peninsula barley. And since the last one was a Dubbel (the Clodhopper), it only made sense to up the ante with this one! In addition, Heretic is brewed using candy sugar, a tradition that is employed in several strong Belgian ales to increase their alcohol content, the most renowned being Duvel. The end result is a beer that is light in color, heavy on alcohol (8% alc/vol), and boasts some strong, coarse, and spicy malts with an infusion of herbal hops. And I can honestly say, as a man who’s not normally a fan of this type of beer, that this one was most inoffensive and actually quite appealing.

Appearance: Light blonde, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild yeast culture, distinctly Belgian malt, mild sweetness
Taste: Strong, accented malts, coarse and spicy
Aftertaste: Lingering yeasts and coarse malts, mild bitterness
Overall: 8/10

In truth, and with all due respect to the venerable brewery, Duvel was never a favorite of mine. In fact, I’ve never been much of a fan of the particular style of Belgian strong ale that involves added sugar. Though I am a big fan of powerful ale, somehow, beers made in this fashion always seemed too light and too coarse for me. And yet, this Driftwood product managed to not only nail the recipe but still remain appealing to my palate. Good job, guys! Looking forward to the next limited release!

Hoyne’s Off The Grid Red Lager

hoyne_off_the_gridHoyne’s is back with another seasonal release! And as luck would have it, this one has arrived in time to meet the hot, inclement weather we have been enjoying here in Victoria. So how appropriate is it that the brewery has decided to produce a nice, refreshing lager? But in keeping with Hoyne’s style of brewing, this lager comes with a twist.

On the one hand, it has a clean, Munich-style crispness, courtesy of the addition of Noble German Tettnang hops and lagering process. On the other, it has a creamy, smooth profile, courtesy of the darker roasted red malt. And as usual, the style and nature of the beer leads to the double-entendre that is it’s name. “Off the Grid” not only refers to the summertime activity of getting out into nature and setting up camp off the beaten path, it also honors the decidedly unusual nature of this lager itself.

Appearance: Deep red amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Notes of Munich-style hops, slight sweetness, rich malts
Taste: Smooth, creamy malts, slightly syrupy, giving way dry, pilsner-like hop finish
Aftertaste: Slight tang, lingering creaminess and dry hops
Overall: 9/10

Having endured plenty of hot, sunny days and late evenings, and having now sampled this brew out of both a growler and a bottle, I can attest to this beers refreshing nature and its fine taste. I can also tell you it compliments the change of season quite well. Get yourself to the store, get some bottles, chill and enjoy! Preferably on the patio with some spicy barbeque. Congrats Hoyne, another winner. Hope everyone enjoys the heat!