Hop City Barking Squirrel Lager

hopcity_lagerBrewer: Hop City Brewing, Brampton, ON
Style: Lager
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 24

Description: This lager, which is Hop City’s flagship beer, is brewed using a combination of of Pale Two-Row, Crystal, Dark Crystal , Munich, and Torrified Wheat malts, which are then bittered with Hallertau Mittelfrueh and Saaz hops.

Tasting Notes: This is the second time I’ve sampled Barking Squirrel, the first time being during my 2013 trip to Ottawa. Somehow, my review card was full and I neglected to give it a proper write-up, which I am corrected now! This is very much a good, clean-drinking lager, with some maltier notes that are reminiscent of a good Marzen. A crisp and slightly sweet malt base with notes of sweet bread and caramel combine with a dry, noble hop flavor to create a very quaffable and drinkable lager.

Appearance: Amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sharp and grainy malt nose, noble hops, dry grasses and herbs
Taste: Clean, crisp malts, sweet bread, caramel, grassy and herbal hops, minerals
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, grainy and sweet malt flavor
Overall: 8/10

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Steamworks Imperial Red

steamworks_imperialredaleBrewer: Steamworks Brewery, Vancouver, BC
Style: Imperial Red Ale
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: 80

Description: One of Steamworks seasonal releases – available only in Spring – this Imperial Red Ale combines Maris Otter, Munich, Caramalt. Crystal, and Simcoe malts in significant quantities to achieve a strong, malty base. It is then bittered using significant amounts of Cascade, Centennial & Simcoe hops, dry-hopped, and then bottled unfiltered.

Tasting Notes: This Imperial Red was a bit more subtle than I expected. Normally, one expects some sweet, coarse malts balanced out by strong hops. However, this time around, the strong malt base was balanced by a strong and varied hop mixture, plus some dry-hopping that made everything a bit more downplayed. Basically, despite its strength, this brew is both balanced and subtle.

Appearance: Dark copper, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, citrus, floral, grassy and piney hop notes
Taste: Strong, syrupy malt, citrus rind, fruity esters, dry herbs, alcoholic bite
Aftertaste: Lingering dry hop and citrus bitterness, dry hops, coarse malt
Overall: 8/10

Big Rock Scottish Style Heavy Ale

big-rock-scottishBrewer: Big Rock Brewery, Calgary, AB
Style: Wee Heavy Ale
ABV: 7%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: As part of their Signature Series, this Scottish ale is brewed in the “Wee Heavy” tradition, employing a combination of Pale, Caramel, Munich and Peated malt, and then bittered with Northern brewer hops.

Tasting Notes: This is my second sampling from the Family Jewels pack, and is one which I have had before (but didn’t review). Again, a but on the light side, but this brew certainly comes through in the flavor department. Like a good Wee Heavy, it has some rich malts, a touch of sweetness, hints of peat moss and whiskey, and a respectable 7% alcohol.

Appearance: Deep red, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, syrup, sugars, smoked peat, whiskey
Taste: Sweet malt, hint of peat, syrup, biscuits, smoky tang
Aftertaste: Lingering malt, peat flavor, smoky and tangy finish
Overall: 8/10

Brooklyn Lager

brooklyn-lagerBrewer: Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
Style: Lager
ABV: 5.2%
IBU: 30

Description: Brewed in the Vienna-style tradition of lager, this beer is Brooklyn’s flagship creation. This starts with American 2 Row, Caramel, and Munich malts, which are then hopped with Hallertauer Mittelfrueh, Vanguard, Cascade, Saphir, and Williamette hops, and then dry-hopped again.

Tasting Notes: This lager is one I’ve had a few times, but never in the context of a review. Luckily, a couple distributors in my area have taken to stocking it and I grabbed a few. As lagers go, this one is quite light and refreshing, but packs some interesting hop flavor and traces of fruit. An all-around nice drinking experience from a renowned microbrewery.

Appearance: Deep gold, mildly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malt, honey, hint of pineapple and tropical fruit
Taste: Mild malt, tang, mild grassy hops and pine, passion fruit and pineapple
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, hint of honey and malt flavor
Overall: 8/10

Fernie Brewing Last Cast Summer IPA

Fernie_summeripaBrewer: Fernie Brewing, Fernie, BC
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.7%
IBU: 70

Description: The final beer on Fernie Brewing’s Bucket List IPA Series, the Last Call is a summer-seasonal IPA is lighter bodied than their previous offerings. Much like the others, it is bittered using a combination of new hops, including the Falconer’s Flight, Amarillo, Ahtanum and Galaxy varieties.

Tasting Notes: An unusual IPA, to be sure, the Last Call was reminiscent of both a Pilsner and an IPA. This comes through in the crisp malts (which I can only assume are Munich, Pilsner and/or Vienna), but is reinforced in the hop combination that brings out a certain herbal and slightly skunky flavor, in addition to a good citrus bite. A nice combination and a good way to finish off a lineup!

Appearance: Golden, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Grainy malt, dry, herbal hops, mild skunk
Taste: Crisp, grainy malt, good tang, strong bite of bitter, herbal, citrus hops
Aftertaste: Lingering citrus bitterness and herbal notes
Overall: 8/10

Canuck Empire Pumpkin Patch Ale

canuckempire_pumpkinBrewer: Canuck Empire, Aldergrove, BC
Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 6%

Description: A seasonal Fall brew, this pumpkin ale is made using a combination of 2-Row, Munich, Aromatic, Caramel, & Wheat malts, then hopped with Magnum and Perle hops. The beer is then flavored with pumpkin and maple syrup, and spiced with a combination of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.

Tasting Notes: This is my first time sampling a beer from Canuck Empire, another brewery from the lower mainland that I’ve been noticing around these parts. And for the most part, this beer was exactly what I would expect from a good pumpkin ale. Smooth, pale malt interacts with pumpkin flesh and a pumpkin pie palette to deliver “Fall in a glass”. However, this one was a bit different in that it incorporated ginger, which I initially mistook for clove spice. This added a bit of a bite and a slight bitterness to the mix, which worked well in the end. Still a good brew and a good intro!

Appearance: Amber/orange, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malt, pumpkin pie, notes of allspice and cinnamon
Taste: Smooth malt, pumpkin, burst of ginger spice, allspice and cinnamon
Aftertaste: Lingering ginger and spice flavor, mild malt bitterness
Overall: 8/10

Central City/Elysian I-5 Amarillo Ale

Central-City-Elysian_Amarillo_I-5Brewer: Central City Brewing, Vancouver BC, Elysian Brewery, Seattle WA
Style: American-Style Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 5%
IBU: 35

Description: Brewed in tandem by Elysian and Central City, and as part of the cross-border effort Brewers Without Borders, this pale ale is crafted specifically for Joey Restaurants in Canada, WA and soon CA. Brewed using Munich malts and all Amarillo hops, it is available on tap at Joey locations and in 650ml bottles as a limited release.

Tasting Notes: As a single malt, single hop combination, there’s very little that is obscure or complex about the taste of this pale ale. However, it still manages to have a layered profile, with a good malt base that calls to mind baked bread and biscuits, and hops that provide a dry, citrusy and slightly peppery flavor that is not unlike an ESB. Definitely a good collaboration brew and an example of what brewers all over the Pacific Northwest can do.

Appearance: Amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Biscuity malts, dry, grassy, citrusy hop notes
Taste: Good malt, tang, baked bread, burst of dry hop flavor, herbs, citrus, pepper
Aftertaste: Lingering dry hop finish, herbal taste
Overall: 8.5/10