Phillips Dogwood Rescue Society Red Lager

phillips_benefitbrewsBrewer: Phillips Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Red Lager
ABV: 5.0%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This beer is one of two Benefit Brews made by Phillips for the year of 2015. For the province of BC, the Benefit Brew that was selected was a red lager, and all sales of the beer will go to support of the Dogwood Rescue Society’s mission is to re-home homeless, unwanted or abused sporting and working dogs.

Tasting Notes: This beer manages to combine the syrupy malt flavor of red ale with the crisp, refreshing finish of a lager. It was a bit on the mild side, and could seem just the slightest bit watery initially. However, with further sipping, I was able to discern some layers of flavor that included some dry hops, herbs, mild citrus, some tart apple, and minerals. A good beer for a good cause!

Appearance: Dark amber/red, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt base, minerals, mild herbal and dry hop aroma
Taste: Syrupy malt, hint of sweetness, mineral tang, tart apple, dry hops, mild citrus
Aftertaste: Lingering malt and mineral aftertaste, quite clean
Overall: 7.8/10

If you’re interested in supporting the Dogwood Rescue Society, check out their website.

Phillips 3rd Blind Mouse Triple IPA

Phillips-Third-Blind-MouseBrewer: Phillips Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Triple India Pale Ale
ABV: 10.2%
IBUs: Unspecified (high)

Description: The latest Spring Seasonal from Phillips, this Triple IPA is aptly named and pretty straightforward. A strong malt base, and a good dose of West Coast hops provide a very strong, but balanced flavor profile that will appeal to hop heads and fans of their Hop Drop liqueur (noted for its powerful hop flavor and alcoholic strength!)

Tasting Notes: Seriously, I have to wonder what inspires Phillips with its limited-release creations! These guys obviously love high alcohol content, IPAs, and IBUs, and this beer delivers all three in spades! I was honestly reminded of their Hop Drop when drinking this, mainly because the potent combination of hops and alcohol was just too reminiscent of that lovely liqueur. Still, the combination manages to balance out quite nicely, making for a powerful, but relatively easy-going drinking experience.

Appearance: Light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, strong hop nose, floral, tropical, passion fruit and herbs
Taste: Strong malt, potent hops, citrus, tropical fruit and dry herbs, bitter, alcoholic finish
Aftertaste: Lingering herbal hops bitterness, alcoholic bite
Overall: 7.8/10

Phillips Green Reaper IPA 2014

GreenReaper-300x416Brewer: Phillips Brewery, Victoria BC
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.5%

Description: This is Phillips third annual fresh-hopped special seasonal beer whose release coincides with the fall hop harvest. This year’s is hopped using fresh Cascade hops from local farms to create a smooth drinking, slightly citrusy, and well-balanced India Pale Ale.

Tasting Notes: This is my second time sampling Phillips Green Reaper, and this year’s is comparable to last year’s, but also has a few noted differences. For one, the malts were lighter in hue, and the hop palette was slightly different, packing more citrus and pine into the nose and flavor profile. However, it remains an overall subtle brew with gentle notes and an overall clean taste.

Appearance: Light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, floral hop aroma, citrus, pine, pineapple
Taste: Smooth malt, mild tang, hint of citrus, pine and herbs
Aftertaste: Lingering dry hops, bitterness, clean finish
Overall: 8/10

Philips Octofox India Pale Ale

Philips_octofoxBrewer: Philips Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: India Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 6.5%

Description: As part of their Area 52 series, the Octofox IPA comes straight from the Philips Brewery’s “hoptomology lab”, where the brewers combine different strains of hops to achieve unique IPA flavors. The Octofox was one of their earliest specimens, and for the first time is available in a bomber as a Fall limited release!

Tasting Notes: This is my first exposure to an Area 52 release, and hence the work of the Philips “hoptomologists”. The beer is what one could expect from a solid West Coast IPA, consisting of some good strong malt. And the hop profile is definitely varied and complex, consisting of citrus, tropical fruit and pine-resin flavors that come from what I can only assume is a blend that includes Zythos, Columbus, Centennial, Cascade and Amarillo hops.

Appearance: Light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, bright bouquet of floral hops, citrus, pine, tropical fruit
Taste: Strong malt, milt coarseness, strong notes of grapefruit, pineapple, and pine
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, citrus rind and pine and tropical fruit
Overall: 8.5/10

Phillips 13 Knots in a Hangman’s Noose India Pale Ale

13-Knots-IPA-and-Hop-Drop-web-photo2Brewer: Philips Brewing, Victoria BC
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 11.9%/13%

Description: Brewed in honor of the brewery’s 13th anniversary, this Imperial IPA comes in two packages. The first is the beer itself, which weighs in at a hefty 11.9% ABV (the legal limit) and is heavily hopped. The second is the Hop Drop – an artisanal hop liqueur distilled from real hops (which they plan to keep making, apparently) – ranked at 25% ABV. When combined, they add up to a hefty 13% alc/vol and a massive dose of hops.

Tasting Notes: When it comes time for Philips to celebrate its anniversary, I’ve come to expect some very alcoholic, very hoppy brews from Philips. But this beer certainly sent things to a whole new level! And I have to say, it was a very clever way of circumventing that pesky law that says beers cannot be 12% ABV or higher. In any case, the brew is QUITE powerful in terms of malts and hops, but the balance is really quite impressive given its overall strength. When one sips this beer (because quaffing is likely to knock you flat), the sweet malt, piney and tropical fruit flavors are like a velvet glove that softens the delivery of the massive alcoholic punch. Definitely overpowering, but worth the experience.

Appearance: Golden, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, very hoppy nose, tropical fruits, pineapple, passion fruit
Taste: Sweet and coarse malt, notes of pine, passion fruit, burning alcoholic finish
Aftertaste:  Lingering alcoholic burn, fruity hop flavor, mild bitterness
Overall: 8/10

Note: If I can get myself a second bottle, I shall try to discern how it tastes both with and without the addition of the Hop Drop. Despite its consistently high alcohol and hop content, it can be hard to tell how much of which is which!

Phillips Benefit Brew and King of the Carboy

philips_benefit_carboyWinter is shaping up well for Phillips, the brewery that is famous for its abundant supply of limited releases. And recently, they outdid themselves by unveiling not one, but two limited releases, one being their Benefit Brew for 2013, the other being their King of Carboy release of the year. These are their Little People of BC Blood Orange Wit and the Glen Marhsall American IPA. I bought both yesterday, and was able to premiere my new collection of beer glasses with them!

And both were really quite pleasing, especially when served in an appropriate glass. For the Wit, I broke out the hefeweizen glass, while the American IPA was especially delectable in an English pub-style pint glass. I tell ya, glassware counts for a lot. But I digress…

Little People of B.C. Blood Orange Wit:
As already mentioned, this beer is part of Phillips annual Benefit Brew, where Phillips partners with a local charity group to produce a limited-release beer and donate the proceeds to charity. This year, the charity in question was the Little People of BC – a charitable organization dedicated to promoting awareness here in BC – and the beer they chose to go with was a Belgian-style Wit infused with blood orange. And like a good wit, it is clean, refreshing, has a nice mellow body with good yeasts and carbonation, and the blood orange provides a subtle, but everpresent kick of sweet citrus that lingers in the aftertaste. After a few sips, I was honestly reminded of Orange Crush, but with the delightful kick of Belgian yeast and alcohol!

Appearance: Golden orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong notes of orange, Belgian yeast and wheat malt
Taste: Smooth wheat malts, discernible yeast and citrusy, orange flavor
Aftertaste: Clean finish with lingering orange and yeast
Overall: 8.5/10

Glen Marshall American IPA:
This beer, as the name would suggest, was crafted by Glen Marshall, an amateur brewer who’s handcrafted brew won in the IPA category at this year’s CAMRA Victoria Amateur Brewing Competition, and was therefore chosen by Phillips to be this year’s the King of the Carboy. And I personally can attest to its quality, being a complex and highly hoppy India Pale Ale with a deliciously semi-sweet and strong malt base. In a lot of ways, I was reminded of Parallel 49’s own Snap, Crackle and Hop, another IPA that boasted some seriously sweet, savory and herbal hop flavor. Not bad for a basement brewer. May his craft find purchase in the form of a brewery!

Appearance: Light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Pale malt, mixed hops nose, citrus, grass and pine notes
Taste: Slightly sweet malt and strong hops, piney, resiny, herbal and citrusy
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and citrus, mild malt coarseness 
Overall: 9/10

Trainwreck Barley Wine 2013

TRAINWRECK-2013-LABELJust in time for the holidays, Phillips is once again back with their annual Trainwreack Barley Wine. This year, much like last, they have decided to release their extra strong ale to a bourbon barrel-aging process in order to produce an ale that is strong (10% alc/vol), yet smooth, and has a strong whiskey tang. This is the second year in a row that they have gone this route, whereas their 2011 was just the barley wine without any whiskey-infusion. As I’ve said before, I preferred the original and feel that Phillips has been on an inexplicable Bourbon kick for the past few years.

Nevertheless, they seem committing to making ales that have that extra kick. And the end result is hardly unpleasing or unappetizing, and is pretty much what one would expect from a faithful example of an American Barley Wine that is infused with a bit of Bourbon flavor. It pours out dark and clear, has a good head and carbonation, has some smooth malt the tastes of molasses, dark sugar, dark fruits (dates, plums and raisins), and is of course punctuated by a strong whiskey tang and bite.

Appearance: Dark brown amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong whiskey notes, dark malt, brown sugar and molasses
Taste: Dark malt, molasses, dark fruits, strong burst of bourbon tang and bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering malt and whiskey notes, slight sourness and bitterness
Overall: 7.5/10

Definitely something to keep you warm around the fire! Between two annual barley wines, their Twisted Oak Red Ale and Bock, they’ve managed to barrel-age four limited release so far. Can’t imagine what they’ll do next…

First Fall Beer Review!

phillips_labelsphillips_crookedertoothFall is just around the corner, and it seems the Fall beer is already hitting the shelves. And what better way to start my review of this Autumn’s beer than Phillips latest seasonal/limited release Crookeder Tooth Pumpkin Ale. Building on their success with Crooked Tooth, and in what appears to still be a trend in craft brewing with these folks, Phillips latest incarnation of this pumpkin ale is a barrel aged, stronger variant with some added kick! This comes not only in form of added alcohol (7.3% alc/vol), but in an infusion of bourbon made possible by the barrel-aging process.

And much like their Twisted Oak Red Ale, I highly approve of the end result. Rather than adding a whiskey tang and bite to the mix that did not do it justice, the bourbon flavor adds a very nice, velvety texture and vanilla-like flavor. This is highly complimentary to the beer’s heavier malt, spice palate and pumpkin flavor. All in all, its very much like having a piece of well-spice pumpkin pie. Score one more for barrel-aging done right!

Golden orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Discernible pumpkin flesh, light traces of cinnamon and nutmeg
Taste: Sweet malt, immediate notes of allspice, vanilla, mild bite of bourbon whiskey
Aftertaste: Lingering bourbon flavor and spices, slight alcoholic bitterness
Overall: 9/10

I can recall enjoying this beer’s predecessor when I tried it. And I can honestly say that I enjoyed this one more. In addition to being pleasing without being overpowering, as the last one was, they also managed some dimensions of flavor and strength. It’s a rare thing when an upgraded model can retain the benefits of the old one while adding new ones. Kudos to Phillips, and welcome to the Fall of Beer!

Phillips Cabin Fever Imperial Black IPA

Cabin-Fever-Black-IPAIt’s a good thing when you and a major craft-brewery find yourself on the same page/ It seems that happened twice to me today, once with Driftwood’s latest release and again with Phillips. All this convergence which makes me wonder if some people in the local brewing industry have been reading my blog. I doubt it, but it’s nice to pretend. In any case, the second convergence between my thoughts and a brewers’ product came in the form of Phillips latest limited release, known as Cabin Fever Imperial Black IPA.

Brewed in honor of the change of the seasons, and consistent with Phillips time-tested philosophy of combining two or more styles together, this beer combines the deep roasted malt character of a black ale with the bitter, hoppy kick of an IPA. And to top it all off, they fermented it for an extended period of time to make it especially strong. Yes, on top of its  stout-like profile and heavily hopped character, it also weighs in at a hefty 8.5% alc/vol. And in the end, the flavors accent it each other very well, with the coffee notes of the dark ale playing well with the herbal, citrus bite of an IPA’s worth of hops.

Appearance: Black as tar, opaque, good foam retention and carbonationNose: Deep roasted malts, discernible bitter hop presence
Taste: Immediate burst of citrus malts, tawny malt flavor, herbal notes
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness of coffee-like malts and citrus rind
Overall: 8.5/10

All in all, this beer was quite the interesting combination, and certainly made for a good all around drinking experience. Though definitely not for the faint of heart or the delicate of palette, it was one of the best dark IPA’s I’ve had of late. As I’m sure I’ve said before, this sort of combination has become quite popular in recent years, but this has to be the first time that it was so thematically consistent with the time of its release. Strong dark ale, citrusy IPA, it’s like winter and spring all rolled into one!

Phillips Leviathan Milk Stout

leviathanIt’s not secret that the folks at Phillips like to experiment with their beer. And with the new year now upon us, this Victoria-based brewery has shown no signs of slowing down. In fact, three new limited release beers have made it out to the public since 2013 rolled around.

The first was their Bottle Rocket India Session Ale, which I have yet to try. Then came their Twisted Oak Scotch Ale, which I just finished sampling and reviewing the other night. Then came. And last, but certainly not least is their benefit brew, an annual beer that is made specifically for a local charity, where the brewery designs the label, the name, and the product in honor of the charity in question.

Leviathan-Milk-StoutThis year, they have partnered with the Cetus Conservation Society –  a Victoria-based charity dedicated to preserving marine habitats – to produce Leviathan Milk Stout. And, as I suspect, they were inspired by Parallel 49’s success with experimenting with lactic acid to produce what is known as Milk Stout, a variety of stout which is well rounded and creamy in addition to toasted and tawny. And, true to form, this experiment paid off.

Appearance: Black as tar, opaque and good foam retention
Nose: Rich, deep roasted malts
Taste: Immediate tang and roasted barley, slight smoke, cut by creamy mouthfeel
Aftertaste: Lingering smoke and toasted malts, slight creamy finish
Overall: 8.5/10

All in all, the beer possessed all that is good about a stout, but also managed to round out its roasted and smoky profile with a creamy, smooth texture. It’s quite enjoyable to drink, and offers beer drinkers a few things which they are likely to find appealing. For seasoned beer drinkers and fans of stout, it had the dark, tangy and roasted flavor of a real stout. And for people who like a refreshing brew, the beer is smooth, drinkable and has a good mouthfeel. I recommend getting some before it runs out of stock. And remember, all proceeds go towards preserving marine life!