Longwood Wild Child Ale

longwood_wildchildBrewer: Longwood Brewery, Nanaimo, BC
Style: Wild Fermented Ale
ABV: 7%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: Wild Child is essentially Longwood’s Brewery’s version of a sour ale, aka. one fermented using naturally-occurring yeast. It is also the first in Longwood’s new “small batch series”, a series of one-off limited release ales that are experimental in nature.

Tasting Notes: As wild-fermented ales go, this was interesting, but a little unbalanced. The wild yeast flavor comes through with some rather tart raspberry notes, but the malt base is decidedly very light. So its a little weak in one respect and a little overpowering in another.

Appearance: Dark amber, translucent, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, powerful notes of raspberry, wild yeast and lactic acid
Taste: Gentle malt start, immediate yeasty tones, tart raspberry, lactic acid 
Aftertaste: Lingering tart fruit, yeasty aftertaste, slightly watery
Overall: 7.3/10

Image credit: uptappd.com

Longwood The One That Got Away Red Wheat Ale (2014)

https://d1c8v1qci5en44.cloudfront.net/photo/2014_08_15/d7333af8244a89b47e52a55c4b9438ce_640x640.jpgBrewer: Longwood Brewery, Nanaimo BC
Style: Wheat Ale
Alc/Vol: 6%

Description: Inspired BC Tough’s annual West Coast Tuna Shootout, a fishing derby that takes place in the wild waters off Bamfield, BC, this wheat ale is crafted using 50% Wheat and a healthy dose of Crystal Malt. The end result is a copper colored, unfiltered ale that is cloudy, malty, and effervescent.

Tasting Notes: Last summer, I had my first sampling of this beer and was not very pleased. I chose to not to review it that time, thinking it might be a bad bottle. However, a subsequent tasting confirmed that the beer was in fact quite coarse and somewhat metallic-tasting. However, this latest batch, recently released with a new bottle (as you can see from the picture above) was surprisingly better. While it still has that characteristic, slightly bitter tang to it, this is nicely balanced amidst flavors of yeast, some tart fruit esters, and a bubbly character. I am therefore upgrading this beer a full point!

Appearance: Dark amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wheat malt, tart and bitter fruit esters, minerality, yeast
Taste: Wheat malts, tartness, yeasty effervescence, sour cherry, citrus
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, minerals and yeast
Overall: 8.5/10

Longwood The One That Got Away Red Wheat Ale

longwood_redwheatBrewer: Longwood Brewery, Nanaimo, BC
Style: Wheat Ale
Alc/Vol: 6%

Description: This seasonal “red wheat” ale was inspired by the annual West Coast Tuna Shootout, a fishing derby that takes place in the wild waters off Bamfield, BC. Made using a mix of wheat, barley and a dose of Crystal Malt, it is fermented with what I assume is a combination of yeasts (including a hint of brettanomyces) and then served unfiltered.

Tasting Notes: This is actually the second time I’ve taken a run at this seasonal ale by Longwood’s. The last time around, I noted a rather sharp, almost burnt tang that didn’t sit well with me, and worried I might be sampling a bad batch. However, the second time around, I’ve noted the same basic taste. This is too bad, because it does kind of diminish an otherwise very pleasant beer which comes on smooth, has good notes of yeast, wheat and crystal malts and a hint of tart fruit esters that reminds me of a sour ale. In short, not bad, but not great either.

Appearance: Red/amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: mild malts, sharp yeast, notes of sour fruit
Taste: Bitter malt, sharp tang, sour cherry fruit esters, mildly grassy finish
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness and sour fruit esters
Overall: 7.5/10

Two Pumpkins!

pumpkin-ales-in-sniftersAs it is the season, and in honor of this past Halloween, I decided to get my hands on some bottles of this year’s batch of pumpkin ale. The first two come from right here in beautiful British Columbia, specifically from the Longwood and Central City Brewery. And, as might be predicted, the results were a little mixed. Whereas one was a combination of styles that didn’t yield the best results, the other was a straightforward pumpkin with no surprises, but plenty of appeal.

Longwood Full Patch Pumpkin Ale:
I have to admit that what I have tried from the Longwood brewery, as opposed to the brewpub which is still only available within Nanaimo, has been kind of hit or miss for me. And this beer falls into the latter category. As a strong, pumpkin Saison ale, it seems to be attempting to do many things at once. And unfortunately, this leads to some degree of confusion in terms of the beer’s taste, smell, and general character. To look upon it, one would get the impression it was a brown ale. The nose is distinctly that of pumpkin ale, boasting the same spice palate as pumpkin pie. But in the flavor department, it packs some heavily roasted malt, reminiscent of baked bread and a hint of caramel, but is then overpowered by its alcohol content. And that impression lingers, right until the end!

Appearance: Dark brown, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malts, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
Taste: Strong, roasted malt, allspice and pumpkin, bitter alcohol bite
Aftertaste: Lingering malt and alcoholic bitterness
Overall: 7/10

Red Racer Pumpkin:
redracer_pumpkinRed Racer is a brewery that I’ve come to count on to get things right, really, really right in fact. And their pumpkin ale was certainly no exception, as it had all the right features of this seasonal ale. A good orange-amber hue, a varied nose packed full of pumpkin pie and allspice, and a flavor to match. Admittedly, it was somewhat light in this last department, at least when compared to what I’ve come to expect from a pumpkin ale. These tend to be slightly sweeter, maltier and spicier than your average pale ale. But this beer managed to pull that off well enough while also being very clean-tasting and refreshing. And after the rather heavy-hitting customer that preceded it, the value of this was certainly not lost on me!

Deep orange-amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation

Nose: Mild malts, hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
Taste: Smooth malt, light tang, hints of pumpkin and mild spice
Aftertaste: Lingering malts, clean finish
Overall: 8.5/10

More to follow from this year’s batch of pumpkin ales, and some more installments on my beery adventures from Ottawa. Stay tuned!

Longwood Berried Alive Raspberry Ale

longwood_berried_aliveHello folks. Today, I managed to snag another brew from one of my favorite Island operations, and one which has been undergoing a bit of rebranding as of late. I refer of course to the Longwood Brewery located in Nanaimo, BC, a venerable brewpub that has been expanding its distribution in the past year and creating some new brands to share. I was quite excited to hear about this, since its damn near impossible to find any Longwood products outside of the Nanaimo area.

berried-alive-bottle-isolatedHowever, that excitement has since abated somewhat due to a number of reasons. For one, I still await the arrival of the free samples of the full lineup that were promised to me months ago. Back then, I was contacted by an advertiser who works with the brewery who offered to ship me some; and to this date, none have arrived. Second, thus far, the majority of their beers I have managed to get my hands on have been very light, mild, and generally in tune with British-style ales and not so much the Pacific Northwest.

Here on the West Coast, we tend to like our beers hoppier, stronger and more flavorful than your average British operation. I can certainly see the value in trying new things, but I would like to remind Longwood that Moon Under Water did the same thing with their sessionals, and that didn’t go so well. However, this does not meant that I’ve been unimpressed with their newer brews, and the lineup is still evolving, so its really too soon to assume what direction the brewery is taking. And with this latest sample, I am just one beer short of having tried everything they’ve produced so far. Here’s what I thought:

Appearance: Dark red, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Tart berry nose, mild malts
Taste: Immediate tartness, slight transition to mild wheat malts
Aftertaste: Mild bitterness and lingering tart berry flavor, quite clean
Overall: 7.75/10

Overall, it was a refreshing and fruity brew, but again, a little light for my taste. This is due to the combination of wheat and barley malts, which lends it a mixed malty profile that is neither particularly effervescent, yeasty, or syrupy. This certainly works in the refreshing department, but leaves it a little high and dry in the flavor department. In terms of fruit, there’s plenty of tartness, but very little sweetness or complexity. In short, it’s good, but I think they can do better.