Phillips Anxiety Ale Belgian Quad

phillips_anxiety-bottle-shot-300x400Brewer: Phillips Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Belgian Quadruple Ale
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This seasonal release honors the holiday season, specifically the stress that is too commonly involved! Brewed in the traditional style of Belgian Quadruple Ale (with a twist) it employs barley and wheat malts that are then fortified with Candi sugar.

Tasting Notes: I was a bit perplexed by this ale. Sure, the bottle says Quadruple, but between the alcohol strength (Belgian-style Quadruples are usually in the 10-13% range), and its taste, it seemed far more akin to a strong Marzen, or possible a Dubbel. A nice and highly drinkable beer, but one which feels mislabeled.

Appearance: Deep amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich, toasty malts, mild sugars, hint of minerals,  
Taste: Rich malt, chewy mouthfeel, minerals and mild caramelized sugars
Aftertaste: Lingering caramelized malt, minerals, mild alcohol bite
Overall: 7.8/10

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Phillips Trainwreck Oak Aged Barley Wine 2016

phillips_trainwreckBrewer: Philips Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Barley Wine
ABV: 10%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: Phillips annual winter seasonal ale is back for another season! And this time around, they have chosen to age their barley wine in French and American oak. Basically, for 2016, they’ve brought back the barrels, but ditched the bourbon! However, this beer still packs a punch, and is recommended best served at cellar temperatures (8 °C).

Tasting Notes: This year’s Trainwreck was quite delightful! I have only ever had nice things to say about their barley wine on its own, and mixed things when it came to the bourbon-barrel aged variant. But an oak-aged Trainwreck certainly manages to get the job done and doesn’t offend along the way. In fact, its natural sugars and maltiness do well with some natural oak flavor, which restrains the sweetness but doesn’t overpower the flavor.

Appearance: Dark amber/brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, brown sugars, raisins, dates, minerals, oak
Taste: Strong malt, oakiness, brown sugar, raisins, dates, mineral tang, alcoholic bite
Aftertaste: Lingering mineral tang, alcohol and oak notes
Overall: 8/10

Phillips Atomic Buffalo Smokey Red Saison

phillips_atomic-buffaloBrewer: Phillips Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Saison/Smoked Ale
ABV: 6.2%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: The Smokey Red is one of Phillips four seasonal releases for summer 2016. It is brewed in the style of Saison farmhouse ale, combining smoked pale red and wheat malts with a mild hopping, and then fermenting the mix with Belgian yeast.

Tasting Notes: Lately, I’ve been complaining about the plethora of Saisons and Sours that are out there. And so I was a bit hesitant to sample this one. But i have to say I enjoyed the combination. A red malt base is always a delight, and the subtle notes of smoke and Saison yeast play nicely off each other, alternating between mild smokiness and spiciness.

Appearance: Deep red, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, baked bread, smoked meat, Belgian yeast
Taste: Smooth malt base, mild sweetness and tang, hint of smoke, yeast spice
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast, malt flavor, mild smokiness
Overall: 7.8/10

Phillips Short Wave West Coast Pale Ale

phillips_shortwave-pale-aleBrewer: Phillips Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.2%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: The Shortwave is part of Phillips regular lineup of beers, and is a sessional pale ale brewed in the style of the Pacific Northwest. Like Blue Buck, it is one of the few beers that comes in the tall can.

Tasting Notes: This beer is definitely a very pleasant and drinkable pale ale – aka. very sessionable. However, this strength is also its main weakness. Basically, its gentle malt base and not-so-strong hopping make it a bit mild for those who love a good crisp, hoppy ale. A well-balanced ale, but definitely a light one.

Appearance: Light amber, clear, good and lacy foam, good carbonation
Nose:  Notes of citrus, grass, mild malt, tropical fruit, pineapple
Taste: Smooth malt, sweet bread, mineral tang, grassy hops, hint of pineapple and citrus
Aftertaste: Lingering sweet malt taste and mild hop bitterness
Overall: 7.7/10

Phillips Super Cooper Anniversary Ale

Super-Cooper-Anniversary-AleBrewer: Phillips Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Imperial Pale Ale
ABV: 11.6%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: In honor of their anniversary, Phillips offers another specially-themed limited release brew. This time around, the theme is Donkey Kong, which alludes to the bourbon barrel-aging process the Imperial Ale goes through. The result is then dry-hopped with American varieties, giving it a flavor profile that is potent and flavorful.

Tasting Notes: I was reminded of Russel’s Nectar of the Gods with this one, though with some added octane! The bourbon barrel-aging adds a hint of smokey, vanilla-like flavor and fruity esters that pair well with the strong malt base, which is then complimented by notes of citrus, tropical fruit and herbs. And of course, the alcoholic bite, which is present throughout, but not overwhelming. Still, not a beer for the faint of heart or weak of liver!

Appearance: Dark golden, mildly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malts, bourbon, vanilla, cherry, tropical fruit, citrus, herbs
Taste: Rich coarse malt, hint of vanilla, passion fruit, citrus, whiskey bite 
Aftertaste: Lingering whiskey flavor, alcoholic bitterness, dry herbs
Overall: 8.5/10

Phillips Cherry Heiter Smoked Cherry Ale

Phillips_Cherry-HieterBrewer: Phillips Brewing, Victoria BC
Style: Fruit-infused, smoked ale
ABV: 7%

Description: A Phillips seasonal limited-release, this fruit-infused beer combines cherries with smoked malts to create an ale that combines elements of a Rauchbier and a fruit ale. Available just in time for Fall.

Tasting Notes: It must be kismet, seeing as how a bunch of limited release beers that incorporate smoked malts began coming out so soon after I reintroduced myself to Rauchbiers. And while it may seem like an odd idea, the combination of a cherry-infused ale and a smoked ale actually makes for a pretty interesting experience. The soft, slightly sweet flavor of cherries provides some sense of balance to the smoke and tang of the malts. I must be growing as a beer drinker, since this style no longer seems difficult or distasteful to me!

Appearance: Dark ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Smokey malts, light notes of cherry
Taste: Immediate burst of smoked malt, mild tang, soft notes of sweet cherry
Aftertaste: Lingering smoke tang and mild bitterness
Overall: 8/10

Phillips Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale

You know it’s officially autumn when three things come together. One, cold weather. Two, the leaves start to turn that lovely combination of yellow, red and orange. And three, craft brewers begin to ship the pumpkin ale. And in honor of this season, I intend to spend it sampling as many seasonal beers as possible.

These will include brown ales, Oktoberfest lagers, and most importantly, pumpkin ale! Nothing says fall, thanksgiving or Halloween like a pumpkin in a glass. And if it should come at 5% alc/vol, then so much the better! And to start things off right, I selected a brewery notorious for their seasonal and limited release beers, Phillips Crooked Tooth!

Appearance: Golden-orange, slightly cloudy
Nose: Strong hints of pumpkin and clove spice
Taste:Slightly sweet malts, traces of pumpkin pie, cloves and nutmeg
Aftertaste: Slight bitterness, lingering flavor of clove spice
Overall: 8.5/10

Overall, I was impressed with the flavor of this particular pumpkin ale. It was flavorful without being overpowering, the malts were sweet but not too sweet, and the spice palate was highly appropriate. All in all, a fitting accompaniment to turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, or just plenty of sugary snacks!