4 Mile Summer Wheat Ale

4Mile_summerwheatBrewer: 4 Mile Brewing Company, Victoria, BC
Style: Wheat Ale
Alc/Vol: 4.5%
IBUs: 24

Description: A summer seasonal beer, and what I believe is the first limited release from the brewery, this wheat ale is a mild brew that is decidedly English in inspiration. This translates to a sessional-style wheat with mild malts, a lower alcohol content, and a mild hopping that results in a smooth, refreshing taste and little aftertaste.

Tasting Notes: When it comes to wheat ales, I tend to expect some banana flavor, some coriander spice, a little orange zest, some serious yeasts, or some tangy fruit flavor to offset a milder malt. However, this is due to my being accustomed to strong hefeweizens and Belgian wits, and that really didn’t diminish this beer’s refreshing nature and smooth character. Mild wheat malts, a subtle yeast backbone, and a clean finish with a Pilsner-like grainy and herbal flavor characterize this beer. Definitely a good summer thirst quencher.

Appearance: Golden, slightly cloudy, mild foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild wheat malt, yeast, Pilsner-like graininess, herbal hops
Taste: Smooth malt, milt tang, hint of yeast, herbal (Noble) hops finish
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, yeasts and Noble hop notes
Overall: 8.3/10

This completes my sampling from the 4 Mile Brewery, either through their bombers or from tastings at the brewpub itself. I can’t wait for a Fall Seasonal or some more limited releases!

Longwood Independent Pilsner

independent-pilsner-01Brewer: Longwood Brewery, Nanaimo, BC
Style: Imperial Pilsner
Alc/Vol: 6.5%

Description: This “Noble Imperial” Pilsner is a high-gravity, highly-hopped take on the traditional pilsner, which was apparently done to “preserve it for export from The Republic of Vancouver Island across the frigid Salish Sea.” In short, the brew borrows stylistically from the India Pale Ale to effect a denser, hoppier version of this style of lager.

Tasting Notes: This beer is what one would expect from a Pilsner, employing grainy malt with a good, crisp hop flavor. However, these attributes are amplified, with the malts being more viscous and possessed of a stronger tang. In addition, the grassy hop flavor is intensified, lingering long after the initial sip and well into the aftertaste.

Appearance: Deep gold, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Grainy malt, crisp, grassy hops
Taste: Grainy malt, syrupy, strong tang, good dose of bitter, grassy hops
Aftertaste: Lingering tang and hop bitterness, mild skunk
Overall: 8.5/10

Russel Eastern Promises Czech Pilsner

https://i2.wp.com/res.cloudinary.com/ratebeer/image/upload/w_250,c_limit,q_85,d_beer_def.gif/beer_225646.jpgBrewer: Russel Brewing, Surrey, BC
Style: Pilsner
Alc/Vol: 5%
IBU: 35

Description: As part of their Brewmaster Series, this Czech Pilsner is available year round and now comes in both 650ml bottles and six packs. In the tradition of Bohemian-style lagers, this beer is fashioned using Vienna and Munich malts, and then bittered with Noble Saaz hops.

Tasting Notes: It took me some time to review this beer, and I’m rather sorry I didn’t try it sooner. True to its roots, the beer is both crisp and slightly sweet, owning to the combination of Vienna and Munich malt, which also impart a slight, grainy texture to it. The addition of Saaz hops provides a slight bitterness which rounds this out nicely, leading to an all-around flavorful, but clean and refreshing, drinking experience.

Appearance: Light gold, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Grainy malt, crisp hops, hint of skunk
Taste: Crisp, grainy malts, mild tang, hint of sweetness, herbal and bitter hop finish
Aftertaste: Lingering hop and malt bitterness, refreshing and balanced
Overall: 9/10

Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale

rogue_morimotoBrewer: Rogue Brewery, Portland, OR
Style: Buckwheat Ale
Alc/Vol: 5%
IBU: 30

Description: This beer is a specialty release from the brewery, part of their Morimoto series that pays homage to Japanese brewing. The name Soba refers to the addition of roasted buckwheat, which is combined with 2-Row, C15, Munich, and Rogue Farms proprietary Dare and Risk Malts and Rebel Hops.

Tasting Notes: I can recall having this beer over a year ago, but I never quite got around to doing a proper review. And just as I remember it, this beer was a crisp, mildly hopped ale that retains characteristics of a sharp Pilsner or a good, dry pale. The addition of roasted buckwheat adds another dimensions of flavor – one of nuts and mild sweetness – that compliments the Munich malts and hops quite well.

Appearance: Amber/Orange, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sweet, grainy, Munich malts, notes of buckwheat, mild hops
Taste: Immediate crisp malt, tang, notes of nuts, hint of sweetness, dry, bitter hops
Aftertaste: Lingering hops, malts and nutty soba flavor
Overall: 8.5/10

Breakside Liquid Sunshine Pilsner

breakside-pilsner-breaks-22863-4zBrewer: Breakside Brewery, Portland OR
Style: Pilsner
Alc/Vol: 5.1%

Description: Located in Portland (with a second taproom/brewery in Milwauki, OR), the Breakside Brewpub has been making handcrafted beers for many years and has created a wide variety in that time. The Liquid Sunshine Pilsner is part of their current, regular lineup and is available year-round on tap at both of their locations, as well as for commercial sales and export.

Tasting Notes: This Pilsner was exceptionally crisp and refreshing and had a nice finish to it that was clean without being watery. The flavor profile was also very consistent with a good Pilsner, calling to the mind the grainy flavor of Munich malts and the sharp, grassy flavor of Saaz and Hallertau hops. Definitely a good hot weather beer, or just something for when you’re craving a good, clean lager.

Appearance: Light golden, cloudy, medium foam retention and good carbonation
Nose:  Gentle smell of Munich malts and Noble hops
Taste: Light grainy malt flavor, mild tang, crisp hop bite, mild bitterness and grassyness
Aftertaste: Mild lingering bitterness and malt flavor, very clean and refreshing
Overall: 9/10

Steamworks Blitzen

steamworks_paleYears back, while in Vancouver, the wife and I had a chance to visit the brewpub and I can recall enjoying a tall, frosty Trappist glass of this winter ale. Since that time, it has been damn near impossible to find  bottle of it on the island. As a tribute to the style of Belgian Tripel ales, it was not only strong, malty, and highly yeasty, it was highly reminiscent of one of my favorite beers of all time – La Fin Du Monde.

The beer is golden blonde, slightly cloudy, spicy, malty, mildly hoppy (20 IBUs), and has a strong alcoholic punch (9% alc/vol). Brewed with Pilsner malt, flavored with Fuggles and Sterling hops, this beer is also = in true-Belgian fashion – fermented with some added candi sugar. The end result is a strong ale that has both subtle and saccharine malts, calls to mind the flavors of a Bavarian lager as well as a good-old fashioned Belgian Tripel, with just a hint of Duvel.

Appearance: Golden, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Belgian yeast, semi-sweet, sharp and spicy malts
Taste: Strong malt start, mild tang, spicy yeast notes, mild hop bite and alcohol
Aftertaste: Mild yeast and lingering malt flavor, sharp and clean
Overall: 8.5/10

Glad I could finally find some of this beer in the bottle. As always, seasonal beers are a rare and delightful treat, and Steamworks has generally been known to produce some pretty impressive seasonal specialties in addition to their regular lineup.

Parallel 49 Pound Sterling Pilsner

p49_sterlingI’m back with Parallel 49’s latest limited release, which has once again proven to be an interesting experiment. Lately, fresh-hopped beers have been all the rage, but so far, they have tended to take the form of IPAs or Pale Ales. So I was somewhat surprised when I saw that P49 had produced a Pilsner that just happened to employ fresh hops from BC’s own Satori Hop Farm. And the end result is really quite enjoyable, bringing just the right amount of tradition and experimentation together.

The beer pours a golden straw color, is clear and retains a good head. The Satori hops are immediately apparent in the nose and from the first sip, being smooth and slightly subdued with herbal notes and a mild citrus kick. The flavor germinates on the tongue, providing the crisp clean taste Pilsner malt with an infusion of hops that are subtle, but leave a lovely impression. Quite a good combination by Parallel 49, and definitely one I will seek out in the future.

Appearance: Light gold, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Slightly subdued herbal hops, minerals, Pilsner malt
Taste: Immediate grainy malt, tang, smooth herbal hops, mild citrus
Aftertaste: Lingering tang, subtle hop notes and malt finish
Overall: 8.5/10

Base Camp Brewery Has Arrived!

basecamp_ipl
It seems there’s no end to the amount of beer coming up from the south lately. In addition to American, Diamond Knot, and Skagit, a great deal of hubbub is also being made by the operation known as Base Camp Brewing, which like many stellar brewing operations comes to us from Portland, Oregon. I was immediately drawn to their spot in the aisle when I noticed that they store their beer in aluminum tallboys, much like Surgenor brewing – may she rest in peace – used to do.

As it stands, only two beers in their lineup are available locally. And after having tried both, I was quite impressed. This included their IPA and Pilsner, which combined some serious authenticity with just enough experimentation to make them surprising.

In-Tents Lager:
in-tents_IPLThe flagship beer of the brewery, this beer is one of the few that makes it to export. And unlike many India Pale Lagers I’ve tasted in recent years, this beer manages to marry the best of both worlds – rich malts and a strong hop bite with the clean-tasting, refreshing qualities of a lager – without compromising on either. According to the commercial description, this beer is dry-hopped with a combination of Pacific Northwest hops and aged in caskets of toasted white and red oak. The end product is then lagered, which creates a beer that is at once malty, dry, fruity and sugary, but also refreshing and crisp. The play on words that is this beer’s name is clearly well-deserved.


Appearance:
Orange-amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation

Nose: Strong malts, sweet, citrusy hops, ruby red grapefruit
Taste: Sweet and sugary malts, strong citrus, pine, passion fruit hops
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, mild fruity notes
Overall: 9/10

Ripstop Rye PIls:
ripstop-rye-pilsAnother beer that is available for export, the Ripstop Rye Pils is the breweries reinterpretation of the classic pilsner lager beer. Basically, this beer is a marriage of traditional Pilsner with west coast hops and toasted rye malt. This results in a beer that smells of European malt and noble-type hops are discernible, as are some interesting traces of orchard fruits. In terms of flavor, the characteristic Pilsner taste mingles with some spicy rye notes, added fruit, and some grassy hops. And of course, it all finishes off crisp, clean, with a little lingering spice for emphasis. Quite the pleasing and refreshing hot weather beer and well paired with spicy foods. I think this one just might be a contender for my “Beer that tames the fire” list.

Appearance: Light golden blonde, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sharp hops, mild fruit, notes of peach and plum
Taste: Immediate tang, slightly bitter, grassy hops, rye spice, touch of peach
Aftertaste: Lingering crisp hop flavor, discernible rye aftertaste
Overall: 9/10

From just a passing glance at their website, I can see there are many left to try. Apparently, their expanded lineup includes 19 beers, ranging from a Pale Ale to a Sessional, from a Saison to a Doppelbock. I can only assume that many of these are only available on tap and not for sale outside of the local brewpubs. Guess I’ll just have to arrange a road trip!

Two New Parallel 49s!

parallel49_labelsWith all the drinking I’ve been doing from south of the 49th Parallel, it only seems fair that I sample a few that fall north of that border as well. And I thought I might start with a few from, oh I don’t know, Parallel 49! And that’s easy enough, since these brewers are in the habit of churning out another limited release every few weeks! In fact, in recent weeks, my local stores have been backed up with their latest releases, so I thought I might do another two-fer on their fare. This included the recently-released Crane Kick Sorachi Ace Pilser, a single-hopped German-style lager, and the Snap Crackle Hop Imperial Rice IPA.

Crane Kick Sorachi Ace Pilsner:
Parallel 49 are nothing if not junkies for experimentation. And though this Pilsner might seem like a highly-decent, straightforward example of the Czech-style lager, it’s actually quite the departure. Ordinarily, Pilsner’s rely on German or Noble hop varieties to impart a certain grassy or grainy flavor to their beers. However, the Japanese Sorachi Ace hop strain is known for its lemony, bubble gum, and dill pickle-type taste. Adding this to a Pilsner lager could only be seen as an act of experimentation, but one which yields some positive results!

Appearance: Golden, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle Pilsner malt, grainy, mild grassy hop aroma
Taste: Mild grainy malt flavor, good tang, notes of dill and lemon
Aftertaste: Mild bitterness, notes of lemon rind, mild skunk
Overall: 8/10

Snap Crackle Hop IPA:
And of course, what would a Parallel 49 India Pale Ale be without some grand, odd twist? Yeah, I don’t know either! But luckily, we don’t live in a world where such considerations come true. Once again choosing the venerated style of India Pale Ale as a limited release, the brewers at Parallel 49 decided to switch things up by using rice malt in addition to pale barley malt. And the result is a beer that is quite appetizing, calling to mind rice-crispy squares and rice cakes while also relying on a generous hop profile that includes both citrus and tropical fruit flavors.

Appearance: Gold/amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong floral, citrus hop profile, toasted, grainy notes
Taste: Strong, supple malts, reminiscent of rice cakes, citrus and tropical fruit flavor
Aftertaste: Mild sugars, lingering tropical fruit flavors
Overall: 9/10

If I haven’t said if before, I will say it now. Parallel 49, you got a weird and crazy way of going about your brewing. But I like it! With very few exceptions, your experimental nature has yielded nothing but positive results. And while I often wonder how you would do with a simple, straightforward Pale Ale or Lager, I am always curious to see what you come up with next. You’re like the Howard Sterns of the brewing world! So please, keep on surprising us!

Lighthouse 3 Weeds Belgian Wit

lighthouse_maibock_3weedsHello folks. Today, I come to you with a review of a beer that I’ve been neglected for a few weeks now. While this beer has been available, at least in my area, since May, I’ve been hesitant due to the sheer number of Belgian Wits and other assorted wheat beers that have been making the rounds lately. But of course, I am a fan of the variety and I really can’t stand letting a limited release pass me by, so I decided to get on it!

It’s known as the 3 Weeds Belgian Wit, and much like their recent Mountain Goat Maibock (which I have tried a few times but have yet to review), was released in May in honor of spring. Brewed in the traditional Belgian wheat style, it combines pilsner and wheat malts with rolled oats, hops and a dose of coriander spice and ginger. This makes for a brew that can rival the better wits I’ve tried, boasting a gentle malt profile, a yeasty backing, and a some spicy notes that are varied and complimentary.

Appearance: Golden, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Spicy nose, yeast, discernible coriander
Taste: Immediate burst of yeast and mild fruit, pineapple, citrus, spiciness
Aftertaste: Lingering spice and yeast flavor, ginger tang
Overall: 8.5/10

Overall, I enjoyed this beer quite a bit. And I was especially intrigued by the addition of ginger, which manages to compliment the coriander quite nicely. Whereas most Wits rely on orange rind or some other citrusy addition to do this, here you get a more layered spicy flavor in the end. It’s especially good as a warm weather beer, but was well-paired with the spicy food that I ate alongside it. I’m actually sorry I resisted it for as long as I did. This and the Maibock would have made a great two-fer review!