Lighthouse Siren Imperial Red Ale

Frosty glass of red beer isolated on a white background. File contains a path to cut.Hello and welcome to another installment in the Winter Beer series! Today’s feature is Lighthouse’s Siren Imperial Red Ale, a winter seasonal and the latest in their “Big Flavor” series. Since its inception, I’ve had mostly good things to say about the this expanded lineup, mainly because of the dedication it shows to craft brewing and experimentation. In fact, pretty much everything that has been coming out of the Lighthouse brewery in the last few years has been demonstrative of this commitment, including the Switchback IPA and Tasman Ale which have become part of their regular lineup.

But it’s really with the Big Flavor series that the brew masters at Lighthouse have been especially experimental and bold, combining various traditions and a wide array of ingredients to create distinct, challenging beers. And, consistent with the other members of the series – Deckhand Belgian Saison, Shipwrecked Triple IPA, Navigator Doppelbock, Overboard Imperial Pilsner, and Uncharted Belgian IPA – this beer has rich malts, generous hops, and at 8% alc/vol, packs a good punch!

Appearance: Dark red-amber, clear and low foam retention
Nose: Rich, floral and citrus hop aroma
Taste: Immediate burst of citrus, giving way to rich malts, viscous, semi-sweet
Aftertaste: Bitter finish, coarser malt taste and citrus rind
Overall: 9/10

Congratulations, Lighthouse. Of the eight beers in your Big Flavor series I have now sampled seven and highly approved of six. Only the Belgian Black was not my speed, and I plan to try the Dark Chocolate Porter soon. In the meantime, stay tuned for more winter beers, including some new reviews from Hoyne and Tree Frog!

New Beers

Some new samples from back in September 2011. Another Big Flavor beer and a session ale from the new brewery that opened up in Tofino. Wishing it and the Lighthouse signature line many happy returns!

You know, I’ve noticed that I tend to take my time between posting new reviews. Luckily, that means I have time to sample more than one new beer or restaurant, which ensures a bigger and more varied entry once I do get around to posting! So here’s what I had an opportunity to try as of late:

Uncharted Belgian IPA: This is the latest installment in the Big Flavor series from Lighthouse Brewery. Much like its predecessors, its a strong beer, combining some powerful hops with a strong, lingering aftertaste. The name refers to the two yeast strains that were used in making it; a Belgian Abbey style and a West Coast style yeast. The result is decidedly West Coast in flavor, being crisp, hoppy and with a strong citrus profile that is reminiscent of grapefruit. At 7.5% alc/vol, its a little lighter than either the Shipwrecked or Doppelbock, which I approve of. While I do enjoy a good triple fermented beer or a doppelbock, the heavies can be a bit daunting! 4/5

Tuff Session Ale: When I first heard there was a brewery in Tofino, I was pretty psyched! So far, I only got to try their session, and can’t find a store locally that holds it. But, its only a matter of time… Anyhoo, this ale is a faithful version of a session, being mild in flavor with a nice, dry finish. Fans of bitter would be advised to check this one out, it is a fitting example of a real British ale. 4/5

Well, that’s about it for now. Stay tuned for a review of SoBo’s! Tonifo’s premiere restaurant specializing in Sophisticated Bohemian cuisine! SoBo’s, get it?

P.S.: Here’s the link to Tofino’s new upstart. From what little I’ve seen, they do good work, and are in a great position to serve real beer to plenty of thirsty travellers!
Tofino Brewing Company

Big Flavor!

As promised, the full review of the Big Flavor series by Lighthouse, from July 2011.

Awhile back, I reviewed a beer brewed by Lighthouse that goes by the name of Navigator Doppelbock. As I’m sure I mentioned at the time, this beer is part of their Big Flavor series, a series which I have now completely sampled and am ready to review! In truth, I didn’t realize until today that I had tried everything in this new lineup. In fact, it was months ago, during my month of IPA’s, that I tried the first in that series – Shipwrecked Triple IPA. And when the month of Doppelbock rolled around, Navigator became number two. How coincidental! The third in the lineup, Deckhand Belgian Saison, slipped in there somewhere. And as of the other night, Overboard Imperial Pilsner graced my palate, thus completing the series. So let me describe each in detail, recapping some of what I’ve said with some new thoughts. (note: the scores may have also changed, reflecting my evolving opinion of them, and how well they stack up against each other).
Shipwrecked Triple IPA: Strong, dark, and powerful! And I mean that in terms of both alcohol and hop content. At 10% alc/vol, and being triple fermented, its stronger than most IPA’s, hence the name. Though IPAs may be part of our nautical history, no one should ever consider boating after drinking a few of these. Not the most drinkable, but thoroughly enjoyable and good for bragging rights! 3.75/5

Navigator Doppelbock:
A characteristic example of doppelbocks, this brew is strong and hoppy, but has a malty, tawny taste and sweet finish that balance it out well. Also quite strong, being 8.5 %alc/vol, which is typical of a double-fermented, bock beer. A little on the heavy side, but a fitting drink for red meat dishes, or as an after-dinner dessert drink. 3.75/5

Deckhand Belgian Saison:
A faithful example of a Belgian-style beer, combining the flavors of a Heffewiezen and Pilsner through the addition of wheat with Vienna and Pilsner hops. It combines this mixed malty composition with a fruity, refreshing finish. At 8% alc/vol, and with a comparatively light profile, its good with most foods or on its own, especially on a hot day! Not sure which Saison they had in mind, but my money’s on summer! 4/5

Overboard Imperial Pilsner:
Wasn’t sure what to expect from this one, but I was pleasantly surprised! For one, it says Pilsner, but its strength would lead one to believe that it was a cross with something else, like an IPA, or that it was double or triple fermented. And upon tasting it, I could have sworn that that was the case. Apparently, its a straight Pilsner, extra strong at 8.5 alc/vol, but the hop profile is highly reminiscent of an IPA. Which makes for both a delicious taste and refreshing beer, excellent when served ice cold. Best one yet! 5/5

And kudos to Lighthouse for creating this series in the first place. Seasonal beers are nice, but year-round specialties are even better!

Navigator Doppelbock

Continuing with my theme for Dec of 2010, I dedicated this next review to a local favorite by Lighthouse Brewery. Not only was it the second installment in my “Month of Doppelbock” series, it was the second in the line of “Big Flavor” beers by Lighthouse that I would come to sample and enjoy. Look for the full review of the “Big Flavor” series, coming up in a few posts!

It’s called Navigator Doppelbock, and is part of their “Small Brewery-Big Flavour” line which includes last month’s Shipwrecked (see below). Weighing in at a hefty 8.5 percent alcohol, this customer has strong malts and hops but is balanced by a sweet, smooth finish. It is like most Doppelbocks in that it delivers a strong punch in a velvet glove. A little too sweet for me, but that’s a matter of personal preference. As far as Doppelbock’s go, it delivers and is faithful to the brewing tradition, not to mention a pleasure to drink. 4/5 for this one!
Honourable Mention: (3.75/5)Old Cellar Dweller Barley Wine. Though not a doppelbock, I felt this brew was close enough to sneak in. And since I am a big fan of the Driftwood Brewery (especially since the creation of Fat Tug IPA), I also wanted to give it a review. Much like Doppelbock’s, barley wines are renowned for their strength, intensity, and fruity flavour. This beer is certainly no stranger to any of those qualifiers, being strong, sweet, and with intense tawny flavour! It’s also a whopping 12 percent alcohol, so its not for the uninitiated or faint of heart. All that being said, not my favorite barley wine. It’s strength and sweetness can be overwhelming at times, which is not good if all you’re looking for is an enjoyable drinking experience. If, however, you are looking for a challenge and aren’t afraid of getting a little smashed, then it’s right up your alley!