Category 12 Anomaly Bourbon Barrel Aged Belgian Ale

c12-anomaly-bottle-aBrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Belgian Strong Ale
ABV: 8.7%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This is the latest installment in Category 12’s Barrelholder Series, which specializes in barrel-aged beers. This time around, they have taken a Belgian-style ale that is reminiscent of a Quadruple, fortified it with Candi sugar they made in house (much as they did with their Transmutation Ale), and aged it in bourbon barrels.

Tasting Notes: This beer is one I found myself comparing to Russel’s Nectar of the Gods, one of my favorite beers in recent years. And I can honestly say that it manages to capture the strength of that brew, while also boasting some independent strengths of it own. The bourbon flavor plays very well with the strong malts and Candi sugar, not to mention the alcoholic warmth. The flavors of raisins, dates and other dark fruits also come through with some general spiciness, creating a medley of flavors that are very appropriate for the holiday season.

Appearance: Deep brown/ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich dark malt, fruity esters, dark fruit, brown sugar, bourbon
Taste: Rich coarse malt, espresso, vanilla, cloves, sugar, dates, raisins, bourbon
Aftertaste: Lingering alcoholic bite and warmth, bourbon, sugar, spice and fruit
Overall: 10/10

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La Trappe Quadrupel Trappist Ale

LaTrappe_quadrupleBrewer: La Trappe Brewery, Berkel-Enschot, NL
Style: Quadruple Trappist Ale
Alc/Vol: 10%

Description: The strongest and heaviest of La Trappe’s lineup, this unfiltered, bottle fermented ale is brewed in the age-old style crafted by Trappist monks to achieve a dark, malty profile that contains dark fruit and sugary notes that conceals a rather hefty alcoholic punch (10% alc/vol). Though brewed in The Netherlands, it is very much in keeping with the proud tradition of Belgian ales.

Tasting Notes: I’ve been looking to test out La Trappe’s Quadrupel for some time now, as I can recall sampling it back in my Ottawa days alongside their Tripel. And having reacquainted myself with said Tripel not long ago, I wanted to get my hands on a bottle of this so I could finally give it a proper review. Suffice it to say, it is very consistent with their other brews and with the style of ale itself. Like a good Trappist beer, it had the yeasty, effervescent quality that comes from bottle fermenting and conditioning. And true to a Quadrupel’s taste, it packed all the flavors of raisins and dates with brown sugar and molasses. And of course, a mild hopping and Belgian ale yeast provides a nice tang and bitterness to accompany it all, and finishes with a gentle nutty flavor to round it all out. Definitely well paired with sharp cheeses and red meat dishes!

Appearance: Amber/brown, cloudy, sediment, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, dark fruits, sugars, molasses, Belgian yeast
Taste: Smooth malt, mild tang, raisins, dates, yeast, brown sugar, mild herbal hops
Aftertaste: Lingering sugars, dark fruits and sugars, yeasts and nutty flavor
Overall: 9/10

Townsite Cardena Belgian Quad

https://i2.wp.com/townsitebrewing.com/wp-content/uploads/CARDENA-web.pngBrewer: Townsite Brewery, Powell River, BC
Style: Quadruple Ale
Alc/Vol: 10.5%
IBU: 30

Description: This is the third beer in the Hulks Series named for the decommissioned vessels that make up the floating breakwater in Powell River. Brewed in the Abbey ale-style, the Cardena is a quadruple. And consistent with this style, it employs a strong malt base with a high alcohol content.

Tasting Notes: It’s always a delight to try one of Townsite’s specialty brews. Without exception, they’ve done great things with their Hulk Series and this one was no exception. In addition to being deliciously malty, dark, fruity and sugary, it’s got a well balanced flavor due to just enough citrus hop bitterness. It’s a lot like a barley wine, but except with the infusion of the telltale Belgian yeasts that give it an added distinctive flavor. Like Kerstmis in the glass!

Appearance: Deep amber/brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, dark fruits, brown sugar, yeast, hops
Taste: Rich malt, raisins, dates, sugar, good tang, yeast, snap of citrus hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, fruit and yeast
Overall: 10/10

Dieu du Ciel Rigor Mortis ABT

dieuduciel_rigormortisBrewer: Dieu du Ciel Brewery, St. Jerome, QB
Style: Quadruple
Alc/Vol: 10.5%

Description: This Ale Brune Tres Fort (very strong brown ale) is brewed in accordance with the qaudrupel tradition, in honor of the Belgian Trappist monks who invented it. Consistent with this style, the beer is extra strong, very malty, and has a distinct spicy quality due to the type of yeast used in fermentation. It is brewed only once a year and sold in winter from January until stocks run out.

Tasting Notes: This beer was very reminiscent of a barley wine, figgy pudding, and Christmas, all rolled into one. In short, it was a perfect example of an Abbey-style Quadrupel, packing the sugary and slightly coarse malt, the notes of raisins, plums and other dark fruits, the yeasty backbone, and a slightly spicy compliment to finish it all off. Yes, I think its fair to say at this point that I am fast becoming a fan of Dieu du Ciel!

Appearance: Deep ruby-brown, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malts, brown sugar, molasses, hint of allspice
Taste: Sweet and slightly coarse malt, sugars, raisins, plums, yeast, spicy finish
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt, sugars and spice
Overall: 9.5/10

Parallel 49 Vow of Silence

parallel49_labelsThe season of winter continues to throw rainy, icy and snowy weather at us here on the West Coast. And as it turns out, my favorite breweries are still churning out limited releases to mark the occasion. The latest comes from Parallel 49, who decided to greet winter at the halfway mark by doing – once again – something that was both experimental yet traditional.

It’s known as Vow of Silence, a Belgian Quadruple Strong Ale that boast a rather interesting array of flavors. On the one hand, you have a strong, syrupy malty base, reminiscent of bananas, sweet bread, and a touch of herbal infusion. On the other, you have the fortifying effect of candy sugar which adds to the overall alcohol content and lends it a certain candy floss, red licorice flavor. It may sound like an odd combination, but that’s because it is.

Appearance: Dark brown-orange, highly translucent, mild foam and carbonation
Nose: Sweet, malty nose, candy-floss like scent
Taste: Immediate sweetness, notes of banana, herbs, sugar
Aftertaste: Mild bitterness and lingering saccharine malts
Overall: 7/10

Yeah, this wasn’t my favorite example of Parallel 49’s brewing, but that’s what happens when you keep producing big hits. It’s called a success trap, you keep producing something exemplary and people will come to expect great things all the time. Not a bad beer, but somewhat ambivalent in terms of what it was trying to accomplish, and a little odd in terms of flavor combinations.