Postmark Winter Red

postmark_winterredBrewer: Postmark Brewing, Vancouver, BC
Style: Red Ale
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 23

Description: Brewed for the winter season, this red ale is made using Red X Malt and bittered with Perle Hops. Fermentation is then done using a special strain of Belgian Ardennes yeast, which highlights fruit flavors and adds a spicy aroma.

Tasting Notes: This is definitely one of the better beers I’ve had in recent months. As a fan or red ales, I do enjoy it when someone does one right. This beer strikes a very nice balance between a rich, deep malt flavor, fruity notes and earthy hops flavor, with a mild spicy yeast finish..

Appearance: Deep ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich, deep malt nose, notes of sweet bread and orchard fruit, earthy hops
Taste: Sweet, syrupy malts, fruity esters, grassy, earthy hops and minerals, hint of spice
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, earthy hops
Overall: 9/10

Porcupine Quills Karoo Red

Quills_karooredBrewer: Porcupine Quills Brewing, Bothas Hill, South Africa
Style: Red Ale
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 49.4

Description: This dark “real ale” is the brewery’s second creation, and combines deep red malt with a generous hopping using Willamette whole flower hops. At 5.5% alc/vol, just under 50 IBUs of hops, and yeast cultures still in the bottle, it strikes a nice balance of rich malt, floral hops, and yeasty effervescence.

Tasting Notes: This is my sampling of the Quills Brewery, courtesy of my local beer store selling off all the beers that were part of advent calenders that didn’t get sold. In a lot of ways, I was reminded of Orval, mainly by the rich, yeasty malt base and the trace of oak flavor. At the same time, it had some strong caramel flavor (similar to Tripel Karmeliet), and an interesting hint of floral hops. Definitely wish I could find more Quills around here!

Appearance: Deep amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, strong notes of caramel, bread pudding, yeast, oak
Taste: Sharp start, yeasty, notes of caramel, hints of oak and flowery hops
Aftertaste: Lingering caramel, yeast and malt flavor, mild bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Russell Luck of the Irish Red Ale

russel_irishBrewer: Russell Brewing, Surrey BC
Style: Red Ale
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 30

Description: A single batch brew with very limited availability, this Irish-style red ale is brewed in advance of this year’s St. Patrick’s Day. Employing imported roasted malts (Amber I think) and specialty hops (Kent and Golding?), this brew is available on tap and in bombers until supplies run out.

Tasting Notes: This beer was definitely a good example of a malt-forward Irish ale, employing a syrupy malt based, some subtle smoky flavor, and packed with lots of toffee, caramel, and sweet bread flavor. Similarly, it finished clean and was quite refreshing. Definitely a nice addition to their limited release lineup, one which I hope will enter regular circulation.

Appearance: Deep ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Syrupy malt, hint of peat, caramelized sugar, dry hops
Taste: Smooth, creamy malt, hint of smoked peat, sweat bread, toffee, mild hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, peat moss, and baked bread flavor
Overall: 7.8/10

Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve Ale

santas_private_reserveBrewer: Rogue Brewery, Portland OR
Style: Red Ale
ABV: 5.1%
IBU: 65

Description: A double-hopped red ale, the Santa’s Reserve is part of Rogue’s winter seasonal lineup. It is brewed using a combination of 2 Row, Munich, C15, C40, C75 and Rogue Farm’s own Dare & Risk Malts; then bittered using Rogue Farm Newport, Rebel & Freedom hops.

Tasting Notes: This seasonal brew was a bit of a surprise, in that it didn’t have the spiced, sweet profile one tends to expect from a Christmas beer. But it was certainly pleasant, and packed the usual red ale characteristics. This includes some dry hop flavor and malts that are more on the sharp side than the rich and sweet. This led to an overall refreshing experienced, despite the presence of plenty of hop bitterness.

Appearance: Deep ruby, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, dry hops, mild grass and pine aroma, hint of peat
Taste: Sharp, tangy malts, immediate dry hop flavor, grass and herbal bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering dry hop bitterness and sharp malt
Overall: 7.8/10

P49 Robo Ruby Imperial Red IPA

P49_roborubyBrewer: Parallel 49, Vancouver, BC
Style: Imperial Red India Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 9.3%

Description: The latest release from Parallel 49’s ample array of limited releases, the Robo Ruby is another combination of brewing styles. This time around, they have merged an Imperial Red Ale with an India Pale Ale to create a beer that is employs deep, rich malts and a significant hop content. The end result is something particularly malty, sweet, and with a bitter finish.

Tasting Notes: This latest limited release deliver quite well on what one would hope from the specific combination of styles. As an imperial red, it has the enhanced maltiness, sweetness and coarseness one would expect. At the same time, the hoppiness of an Imperial IPA comes through quite well, with hints of citrus and herbal hops. I remain convinced that there was some dry hopping involved as well, since the hop profile is somewhat dry in addition to its strength.

Appearance: Dark ruby brown, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark, syrupy and coarse malts, sugars, floral hops, mild citrus
Taste: Sweet, dark, syrupy, and slightly coarse malt, dry citrus and herbal hops
Aftertaste: Lingering roasted malt flavor and hop bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

No-Li Spin Cycle Red Ale

no-li-brewhouse-logo-squareBrewer: No-Li Brewhouse, Spokane, Washington
Style: Extra-Special Bitter (ESB)
Alc/Vol: 5.75%
IBUs: 49

Description: A combination of English, German and American brewing techniques, this beer takes its name from the fact that it brings 2-Row, Crystal, Munich, and Chocolate malts together with Cluster, Liberty, and Cascade hops to achieve a balanced pale ale. Formerly known as Crystal Bitter ESB, this beer has the distinction of being the 2012 Gold Medal Winner of the Great American Beer Festival.

Tasting Notes: As ESB’s and Red Ales go, this beer is certainly consistent, combining that dry, subtle hop flavor with a malt profile that is nicely syrupy with just a hint of sweetness. The combination of malts is also discernible, with a sharp tang and a slight taste of cocoa that comes from the Munich and Chocolate malts. It also manages to finish clean, with a slight bitterness that lingers just long enough on the tongue. A refreshing and complex brew.

Appearance: Dark copper, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Subtle malt nose, mild syrups, light hint of dry hops
Taste: Sweetbread, honey, dry herbs and hop bitterness, mild cocoa
Aftertaste: Mild, lingering bitterness, quite clean finish
Overall: 9/10

Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale and Total Domination IPA

ninkasi_breweryHello great state of Oregon! It seems I have another two-fer that is the product of mere chance and good fortune. Recently, my local beer store began carrying some of Ninkasi’s product line, and given that I’ve seen it around several of my other haunts, I decided to give it a spin. In the past week, I’ve tried two of their regular lineup, a double red and an IPA, and was pretty impressed with both.

ninkasi_believerFirst up, the Believer Double Red Ale. As I said before, I was quite impressed with this first installment from their lineup. Immediately I noticed the interesting floral and sweet bouquet, which was also present in their IPA. And the flavor was consistent, delivering a hop flavor that smacks of your traditional Centennials, plus the Summit variety which are largely used in Barley Wines (another aspect that is apparent from the get go).

Combined with a deep, rich malt profile, this beer packs a bit of a double-whammy. It begins with a deep malty taste that is slightly sweet and syrupy, also reminiscent of barley wine, and a complex hop flavor that’s both citrusy and grassy. The flavor then transitions where the malts and hops deliver in the aftertaste department, becoming coarse and bitter respectively.

Deep red, high gravity, transparent, good foam and carbonation

Nose: Rich malts, discernible hoppiness, floral and citrusy
Taste: Deep malt flavor, slight sweetness, citrusy and grassy, then bitter
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, coarse malts and citrus rind
Overall: 8.5/10

ninkasi_total_dominationSecond, there is the Total Dominion IPA. Of the two, this was my favorite, though only by a small margin. Much like the Believer, it is a complex beer boasting a good strength (6.7% compared to the red ale’s 6.9% alc/vol) and a combination of hops that lend it a distinct aroma and flavor. But unlike the Believer, it is lighter in terms of appearance and malts. Light in color, relatively light in malts, the main thrust of this customer comes through in the hops.

Rated at 85 IBUs, its no secret that this IPA has a bitter hop profile! However, said profile has many layers to it and this is noticeable in the smell as well as the taste, consisting of Summit (once again), Amarillo and Crystal hops. In terms of taste, this results in a citrus bite, followed by notes of tropical fruit (I detected passion fruit and pineapple), followed by a long, lingering bitter finish.

Appearance: Deep gold, transparent, mild foam retention, good carbonation
Nose: Floral hoppy aroma, citrus, tropical fruit
Taste: Immediate burst of bitter and citrus hops, giving way to passion fruit and pineapple
Aftertaste: Bitterness once again, long and lingering
Overall: 9/10

Not a bad start for this operation, located in Eugene, Oregon and not far from where my sister and brother-in-law live. Perhaps I shall arrange for that road trip sooner other than later 😉 And that’s all for now. One of these days, I really MUST find the remaining beers on my winter list and polish that long document off! Otherwise, I’ll be transitioning into Spring seasonal beers before I ever complete it. How humiliating would that be?

Lighthouse Tasman Ale

As I might have said before, Lighthouse has really been knocking it out of the park lately. Their Big Flavor series was a celebration of craft brewing that included several crossover beers that combined high alcohol content and a hefty dose of hops. And it was followed shortly thereafter by the release of Switchback, a true IPA, but which was part of their regular lineup.

And now, they’ve gone a step further with the introduction of the Tasman Ale, an amber ale that is made with local malts and hops imported directly from Tasmania (indicated by the Tasmanian devil on the label). Like the Switchback, this beer is available as part of their regular lineup, in spite of the fact that it’s much more curious than anything else they’ve created thus far. And whereas the IPA is a robust, citrusy ale with strong, rich malts, this beer is more on the dry side of things, combining a sweat and refreshing malt flavor with dry hops and a slight citrus kick.

Appearance: Deep amber, clear and light head
Nose: Mix of dry hops and cascade hop citrus, slight notes of caramel malts
Taste: Slightly sweet malts and mild tang, giving way to a mix of dry and bitter hop bites
Aftertaste: Mild tang and lingering bitterness, finished quite clean
Overall: 9/10

Like many recent releases, this beer is just in time for the hot weather fronts we’ve been having! Like a good amber, it is mild and refreshing, but the unique hop combination lends it a taste of an ESB combined with an pale ale. All of this leads to a well-rounded drinking experience which helps subdue the heat!

Moon Under Water IRA

Last evening, I picked up Moon Under Water’s first specialty brew. The attendant in the store even congratulated for my good taste when he saw that it was part of my latest haul. Named IRA (not to be confused with the radical separatist movement of Northern Ireland), it’s an India Red Ale, a dark, tasty, and multilayered number that combines the traditions of red ales and IPA’s.

In addition to being their first seasonal, this beer is Moon Under Water’s strongest and hoppiest beer to date, and probably their most complex. And since I’m reviewing this beer on it’s own, I think I’ll do the four point breakdown yet again. And I’m sure it deserves the attention. Here goes:

Appearance: Deep reddish-brown, clear and transparent
Rich floral aroma, roasted malts
Deep, toasty malts, bitter hops, touches of citrus
Slightly coarse malt finish, bitter lingering hop kick, notes of grapefruit
Overall: 9/10

Yes, the good folk at my favorite liquor store picked a winner once again. Well, I picked it, but they told me it was good, and they were right. Seems the good folk at Moon Under Water have hit their first seasonal out of the park. Keep up the good work, and looking forward to seeing what you come up with for the Fall (hint: Pumpkin Ales are always a good choice!)

More new beers!

Another September 2011 entry, with a smorg sampler of new beers. No theme, just some new and exciting ones I happened to chance upon, though half were by Victoria’s own Spinnakers brewpub:

Recently, I found a very good Liqour Plus store here in the Saanich area that’s been known to stock up on all my favorites and plenty of ones I haven’t yet tried. So here I am with four more beers!

Tour de Victoria: This is a seasonal ale by Spinnakers, which is known for making damn good beer. The Tour is an especially light feature, brewed to commemorate the real Tour De Victoria. Though technically a session ale it is more reminiscent of a pilsner or lager because of its crispness and light finish. This is apparently because of the use of several different types of wheat malts and European hops. A nice addition to patio weather, and totally non-offensive! 3.75/5

Northwest Ale: Another Spinnakers creation. A dark, tawny ale with a rather light finish. Surprising for a northwest ale, which are usually hoppier and have a stronger, more citrusy profile. However, what it lacks in power it tends to make up for with smoothness and drinkability. Not what I was expecting, but a good fit given Spinnakers many heavier and hoppier numbers. 3.5/5

Starfish Imperial Red Ale: Hoppy, tawny and with a sweet finish, this strong red ale is reminiscent of Doppelbock and a northwest ale. In other words, its sweet and floral, but balances that with a sharp, hoppy aftertaste. Not a bad intro to this Washington brewery, can’t wait to try more! 4/5

Cheval Blanc:
Produced by the brewpub of the same name, located in the heart of Montreal, Quebec, this is another signature creation that makes me long for the old days when Quebec beers were so readily available! As far as wheat beers go, this is a fitting addition to my overall list of Quebec beers! Smooth, light on the palate, but with a lingering aftertaste and plenty of citrus notes. 4.5/5

More to follow, at some point I must do a review of Spinnaker’s beers! Good beer, good food, all around good operation. And a chocolatery to boot!