Moon Under Water Ancient Ale Series Gaelic Ale (ca. 1700)

Brewer: Moon Under Water, Victoria, BC
Style: Old Ale
ABV: 6.9%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: “For 9000 years our history has been shaped by the myriad of ingredients used to create fermented beverages. This series pays homage to the variety of starches, spices, fruits and whatever else civilizations of the past have used to satisfy humanity’s lover affair with alcohol.”

This year’s installment to their Ancient Ale Series is decidedly Irish in style (as the name would suggest). And consistent with brewing done at the beginning of the 18th century, it is made using smoked and peated malts, is not bittered with hops, and is then fermented with different strands of yeast, and then barrel-aged for a year.

Tasting Notes: This beer has some familiar notes for those accustomed to craft brewing, and have sampled some of the recent revitalized styles. For instance, you have notes of sour fruit and lactic acid (consistent with wild yeast sours), a hint of smoke and peat that is consistent with Rauchbier (smoke ale) and/or a good Scottish ale, and some oaky flavor that is consistent with barrel aging. Altogether, quite smooth and not overly acidic or overpowering.

Moon Under Water IRA

Last evening, I picked up Moon Under Water’s first specialty brew. The attendant in the store even congratulated for my good taste when he saw that it was part of my latest haul. Named IRA (not to be confused with the radical separatist movement of Northern Ireland), it’s an India Red Ale, a dark, tasty, and multilayered number that combines the traditions of red ales and IPA’s.

In addition to being their first seasonal, this beer is Moon Under Water’s strongest and hoppiest beer to date, and probably their most complex. And since I’m reviewing this beer on it’s own, I think I’ll do the four point breakdown yet again. And I’m sure it deserves the attention. Here goes:

Appearance: Deep reddish-brown, clear and transparent
Rich floral aroma, roasted malts
Deep, toasty malts, bitter hops, touches of citrus
Slightly coarse malt finish, bitter lingering hop kick, notes of grapefruit
Overall: 9/10

Yes, the good folk at my favorite liquor store picked a winner once again. Well, I picked it, but they told me it was good, and they were right. Seems the good folk at Moon Under Water have hit their first seasonal out of the park. Keep up the good work, and looking forward to seeing what you come up with for the Fall (hint: Pumpkin Ales are always a good choice!)

Moon Under Water

Once again, I am back with another review of a fine Victoria-based brewer. And much like Canoe Club, Swann’s and Spinnakers, this craft-brewer is located in a waterside pub that boasts a full line of beers, pub grub, and upscale entrees. In terms of their beer, they specialize in “session ales” – beer that falls into the category of Bitters. Typically, these are beers that have lower gravity, alcohol and hop content, and are characteristically smooth and balanced.

Upon my first tasting, I noticed that each beer in their regular lineup was possessed of the same smooth, clean taste and light finish. In addition, the alcohol content was consistently lower than what one would expect: ranging from 3.8 to 5.2% alc/vol. I was curious as to why this was, until I read up on their brewery’s mission statement and realized that this was in keeping with their commitment to sessions. Outside of the UK, sessions are somewhat rare, so it is certainly interesting to see this kind of experimentation going on right here in my own backyard.

And now, let’s get to their regular lineup:

Blonde Ale: The lightest tasting beer in to come out of the Moon Under Water brewery, this beer is a combination of barley and wheat malts (90/10)  that is fermented using traditional Saaz pilsner hops. The result is a clean, refreshing tasting beer with a light crisp hop bite and a highly clean finish. Ordinarily, I like my beers to have a bitter ending, something that will play out on the tongue for awhile. However, this beer is a great companion to rich and/or spicey foods and is perfect with warm weather drinking. 7.5/10

Lunar Pale Ale: A hoppier beer, though still quite light with a very clean finish. Relying on a combination of barley and rye malts (again a 90/10 split) and English hops, this beer has an aroma and taste that is smooth and gentle, yet ever so slightly reminiscent of rye bread. The hops are dry, calling to mind an ESB, but also boasting a touch of bitterness that is more consistent with West Coast Pales. Again, the finish is very clean, with subtle rye and hop notes that linger on the tongue. 8/10

Moon Bitter: The truest production to come from this brewery, a bitter which is most consistent with the tradition of sessions. It is also the lightest, being 3.8% alc/vol, and combining a fine balance of barley malts and West Coast dry hops. The result is a smooth, tawny, light-tasting beer that boasts a dry bite and a clean finish. During the 2011 CAMRA Vancouver Session Beer Cask Festival, this beer placed 1st out of 17 other contenders. 8.5/10

India Pale Ale: And now we get to the strongest, hoppiest product in the brewery’s lineup. Much like their Pale and Bitter, it uses multiple malts and dry hops that are quite balanced. The taste begins with a smooth malt flavor, a respectable bitter bite, and a subtle dry-hop finish. At 5.2% alc/vol, it is their most alcoholic beer, but still manages to come across as quite light compared to most West Coast IPA’s and is a good accompaniment to most pub and bistro dishes. 8.5/10

Located on Bay Street in the Gorge/Rock Bay area, Moon Under Water is a traditional English-style pub and brewery that boasts live music every Saturday night and where beer service happens at the bar! I for one want to check it out! It would be good to see how well their beer pairs with their food.