Moon Under Water Oud King Crow Barrel Aged Sour Ale

Moon_under_water_sourBrewer: Moon Under Water Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Sour Are
ABV: 9%

Description: The latest in their Storefront Special series, this year’s offering from Moon Under Water is a sour ale with a twist. In addition to being bottle-conditioned with brettanomyces, it is aged in Pinot Noire oak barrels. Apparently, this is a one-time offering, so get it soon!

Tasting Notes: This was definitely an interesting twist on the traditional sour, but a very fitting one. I’ve often felt that your Flemish Reds are reminiscent of a dry, red wine. As such, aging one in a red wine oak barrel seems to compliment the flavor quite well. The infusion of oak and red wine manage to smooth out the yeasty and tart fruit notes, and does a pretty good job of concealing the strong alcohol content. Still tart and full of sour cherry flavor, but in highly smooth and drinkable package.

Appearance: Dark purple, opaque, mild foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dry, brettanomyces yeast, red wine, orchard fruit, oak
Taste: Light malt, effervescent yeast, sour cherries, oak, dry red wine
Aftertaste: Lingering red wine flavor and tart fruit
Overall: 8.2/10

Moon Under Water Island Berry Harvest Weizen

hefeweizenBrewer: Moon Under Water Brewery, Victoria BC
Style: Hefeweizen (fruit-infused)
Alc/Vol: 7%

Description: As part of Moon Under Water’s Harvest Series, this hefeweizen is infused with an array of berries harvested from Vancouver Island farms. These include strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, which are then mashed and added to the wheat malt along with vanilla beans.

Tasting Notes: This is my first sampling from the Harvest Series and I have to say I like the idea. In addition to being a good summer fruit-infused wheat beer, it also pays tribute to Island farmers and uses locally-sourced ingredients. In terms of flavor, the combination of wheat malt, yeast, tart and sweet fruits and vanilla create a brew that is refreshing, effervescent and tasty.

Appearance: Golden-red, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wheat malt, yeast, notes of raspberry tartness and mild hops
Taste: Wheat malt, yeasty effervescence, tart fruit, strawberry, hint of vanilla
Aftertaste: Lingering tart fruit flavor, yeast, smooth vanilla, refreshing and clean
Overall: 9/10

Moon Under Water Berliner-Style Weisse

https://www.straight.com/files/styles/inline_wysiwyg/public/moon.JPGBrewer: Moon Under Water, Victoria BC
Style: Berliner Weisse (White Sour Ale)
Alc/Vol: 3.2%

Description: This beer is a collaboration ale that was crafted with the help of brewmasters Russ Huband and Jonas Bjorkman. Crafted in the Berliner Weisse fashion, a style of regional wheat ale native to Berlin that dates back to the 16th century, the beer if fermented using a combination of yeasts. These include Lactobacillus (for primary fermentation), Saccharomyces (secondary), and Brettanomyces for bottle conditioning.

Tasting Notes: This sampling was my introduction to this resurrected style of beer, and it was quite the interesting experience. In addition to being very light and refreshing, the beer has a highly effervescent character that finishes spicy and sour. Definitely a beer that is well-suited to summer.

Appearance: Light gold, cloudy, visible sediment, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wheat malt, very yeasty, hint of tart fruit and sour cherry
Taste: Light what malt, champagne-like effervescence, burst of tart/sour fruit
Aftertaste: Lingering hint of sourness and yeast, very clean finish
Overall: 8.5/10

Moon Under Water Year One Wheat Wine – Take Two

Moonunderwater_yearoneJust yesterday, time conferred upon me the dubious honor of turning thirty-six. And to toast the occasion, I decided that some fancy beer was needed. And so I went out and searched some of my favorite dispensaries for what is arguably my favorite beer of 2013 – the Moon Under Water Year One Wheat Wine. Lucky for me, one of my regular stops just happened to have three bottles left (though they didn’t know it at the time!)

And what is interesting is that when I came home and cracked open the bottle, the beer that came out did not appear as I expected. The first time I drank this little drop of heaven, it poured an opaque orange into my glass, had a rather unique malty nose and combined the flavors of a wheat with a citrusy west coast ale. And it finished quite nicely, once again combining a strong citrus finish with a hint of sourness that reminded me of a Flanders Red.

This time around, some months after its initial release, the bottle I procured poured out cloudy and translucent. What’s more, the nose on it was very much like a hefeweizen, malty, yeasty, but otherwise clean. The flavor was still delightfully layered, consisting of good wheat malts, citrus, some notes of sour cherry, and a noticeable alcoholic punch.

Alas, this too was slightly different from my last sampling, and the finish was much cleaner, with only trace amounts of citrus and some lingering sour flavor. Ah yes, and the sediment factor was also noticeably tamer. Last time, the beer produced some big, sticky floating masses of yeast. This time, all I found was some particulate matter in my glass, like little flecks or red sand.

All in all, I’d say this beer has aged well in the last few months, which is I’ve decided to upgrade my previous rating (which was an already stellar 9.5 out of 10) to an even 10. Because of this, it is now one of the top contenders in my Best Beers for 2013 listing, which I’ll be sharing soon. Cheers folks, and here’s hoping that 2014 proves just as satisfying for all the discerning Zythophiles and Cicerones out there!

Moon Under Water Belgium Triple Wedding Ale

moonunderwater_weddingMoon Under Water has produced yet another limited release, and it sure took me long enough to secure a bottle! Yes, it seems like only yesterday that this brewery was celebrating its first anniversary with a wheat wine (a very good one, btw). But this brewery has been shown no signs of slowing down since its inception. And their penchant for experimentation has remained consistent throughout.

Brewed in honor of the brewmaster’s own marriage, this beer is a fitting example of an Abbey-style Triple Ale, and comes sealed in the bottle with white wax. It is a light golden color, has a thick, lacy foam, and was highly reminiscent of La Fin Du Monde in terms of flavor. But it is comparatively lighter, owing no doubt to the use of Bohemian Pilsner malts and wheat. But of course, it still packs a wallop, weighing in at 9% alc/vol and fermented using candi sugar.

Appearance: Golden, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malts and yeast, sugary, mild hint of banana
Taste: Strong malts, slightly sweet and coarse, strong yeast, mild banana and spice
Aftertaste: Lingering yeasts, malt coarseness,
Overall: 8.5/10

Looking forward to the next limited release from this brewery. 2013 was a pretty good year for them. Here’s hoping 2014 continues to prove as fruitful and creative for them!

Moon Under Water Victoria’s Sticke Fusion Stout

MoonLogo1It had to happen sooner or later. With all the experimentation happening since the new management took over, it was only a matter of time before they produced a stout that combined a few disparate brewing traditions. That’s the idea behind Moon Under Water’s Victoria Sticke Fusion Stout, a beer that combines wheat, chocolate and Munich malts to create a hefeweizen/stout – something that is toasted, bitter, and also effervescent and yeasty all at once.

Imperial_stoutAnd while it is a brave combination, it was not their greatest experiment to date, in my humble opinion. While I lauded their combination of hefeweizen and bock to create their Victorious Weizenbock, somehow, the combination of flavors just didn’t seem to compliment each other this time around. While they were both present in abundance, they tended to compete for attention rather than blend seamlessly into each other. Black in appearance and opaque, with a lacy, foam head, the beer has a mixed nose of wheat malt, yeast, and toasted dark malts. In terms of flavor, what you get begins with the yeasty, smooth notes of hefeweizen, followed by the mild chocolate notes, toasted malts, and strong bitterness of a stout. All this comes at a respectable 6% alc/vol.

Appearance: Black, opaque, good head, foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wheat malts, yeast, mild toasted malts
Taste: Mixed palette, wheat and yeast, chocolate, espresso, strong bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering strong bitterness and yeast
Overall: 7.5/10

In short, not their best experiment in brewing thus far. But certainly not a poor beer, and their past efforts have certainly earned them the benefit of the doubt with this, the first stout to enter their regular lineup. As we get into winter, I do hope they can be coaxed into making a barely wine or Christmas Ale of some kind. Man, I’ve been craving those lately!

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!

Moon Under Water This is Hefeweizen

MoonLogo1Hi all and welcome to another installment from Moon Under Water! Lately, the product lineup has been expanding, and I was sure to do my best to get in on the ground floor. Not long ago, I managed to snag a bottle of one of their first limited releases – their Brewvic Maibock – and was quite pleased. But this latest addition is permanent addition with year-round availability. So I felt that impressions counted doubly here.

moonunderwater_this_is_hefThough this is not the first wheat beer to be introduced to the brewery’s product line – i.e. the appropriately named Victorious Weizenbock – this wheat is purer example of the brewing tradition. I’m guessing that with all their success thus far, the brewers felt they needed to add a straight-up German wheat, with no crossovers or merging of styles to speak of. And the end product is certainly consistent with that, a very good, clean tasting hefeweizen that weighs in at an even 5.5% alc/vol. However, it manages to retain some spicy characteristics which are reminiscent of a Belgian Wit as well, mainly in the notes of clove and coriander, and rounds it out with a hint of vanilla.

Appearance: Deep orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Distinct yeasty notes and wheat malts
Taste: Mild wheat malts, very smooth, hints of coriander, clove and vanilla
Aftertaste: Very smooth, hints of wheat malt and yeast, mild spice
Overall: 8.5/10

Overall, I was quite impressed with this beer and will definitely seek it in the future. Though there has been no shortage of limited-release hefeweizens and wits available of late, this one stands out for me as being one of the more drinkable and subtle. Delightfully colored, smooth, clean, refreshing, and with a subtle but discernible spice palate, it is an all around winner and perfect for these last few weeks of summer!

Moon Under Water The Victorious Weizenbock

MoonLogo1

logo_weizenbock2

Finally, at long last and after months of stalling, I have managed to procure the the fourth and final beer in the new Moon Under Water lineup. I can remember long ago, back when the brewery underwent a change and released its four newest brews, how I had managed to obtain a bottle of each. But for reasons I prefer to keep to myself, the Weizenbock was lost and did not get its due!

Luckily, I managed to get a fresh bottle during my latest visit to one of my favorite beer stores and have sat down to give it a comprehensive tasting and review. And let me tell you, this fourth and final installment in their new lineup may very well be the best of the lot! It’s up against some stiff competition, but after sampling this beer and assessing its characteristics, I have to give it top marks for ingenuity and taste.

Appearance: Amber-brown, very cloudy, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Gentle notes of wheat malt, toasted sugary malt, clove spice
Taste: Bursts of banana, chocolate, cloves, spice, wheat malts and yeast
Aftertaste: Lingering tang, dance of spice and fruit notes on the tongue
Overall: 9.5/10

In short, the label claims its a combination hefeweizen/bock, and when you taste it, that’s exactly what you experience. In addition to dark, rich malts that are smooth, tawny and delicious, you also get a heaping of banana, clove spice, and the yeasty effervescence that wheat beers are famous for. And at 8.2% alc/vol, its also packs a pretty good punch, but concealed within a velvety glove. And as this beer snob will tell you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of that!

Yes, I think I have a new favorite from this Victoria-based brewery, and possibly a contender for a best wheat as well. Only time will tell…

Moon Under Water Tranquility IPA

MoonLogo1moonunderwater_ipaIt has taken me some time, but I have managed to finally complete Moon Under Water’s new lineup, ever since the brewery underwent a change in leadership and stopped producing sessionals. Unfortunately, I have been rather remiss in taking notes and providing comprehensive reviews. And since I refuse to do reviews based solely on memory (as mine can’t be trusted anyway!), I’ve finally managed to pick up some fresh bottles and resample them.

And here’s what I thought of the Tranquility IPA, a beer without which no West Coast brewery operation would ever be complete. True to its roots, this India Pale Ale combines a strong, semi-sweet malt character with a generous dose of hops. And in what is increasingly becoming the norm with Northwestern IPAs, it combines multiple varieties of hops in order to produce a more complex hop profile.

Appearance: Light golden-amber, transparent, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Citrus and tropical fruit, notes of melon
and passion fruit
Taste: Strong malt beginning, burst of citrus and piney hops, touch of sweetness
Aftertaste: Sweetness giving way to hint of coarse malts, bitter hop finish
Overall: 8.5/10

Not bad Moon, you’re three for three so far. Now there’s the matter of sampling your Victorious Weizenbock, and giving it a fitting review. Spoiler alert: it was good! But as usual, neglected to take notes! I will try to do better next time…