P49 Apricot Opus Apricot Sour Saison

APRICOTOPUS-500-WEBBrewer: Parallel 49 Brewing, Vancouver, BC
Style: Apricot Sour Wheat Ale
ABV: 6.3%
IBUs: 6

Description: This summer seasonal release is a twist on the summer saison. In addition to the infusion of apricots into a wheat and Pilsner malt base, it is fermented with wild strains of Lactobacillus yeast give it a tart, sour twist.

Tasting Notes: Again, this beer made for a interesting combination. The wheat malts are gentle, the apricot provides a hint of sweetness, and the yeast gives it a touch of spice and a mild sour kick that compliments things nicely. It finishes a little on the light side, but still manages to make for a pretty tasty and refreshing brew.

Appearance: Golden, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wheat malt, sharp yeast, spices, pronounced fruit, plum and apricot
Taste: Smooth wheat malt, hint of apricot, sour yeast, golden plum
Aftertaste: Mild tart fruit, yeasty and light wheat malt finish, quite refreshing
Overall: 8/10

Steamworks Rollin’ Golden Belgian Ale

steamworks_rollingoldenBrewer: Steamworks Brewery, Vancouver, BC, and New Belgium Brewery, CO
Style: Belgian-Style Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 7%

Description: A collaboration ale produced in tandem by Steamworks and the New Belgium Brewery, this Golden Belgian Ale is a very eclectic mix. It starts with Pilsner and Cara 45 malts and then bitters them with Stryian Celeia and Stryian Golding hops. The mix is then given additional flavor from Ancho chillies, De Arbol chillies, and Szechuan peppercorns, and fermented with Belgian yeast.

Tasting notes: While this beer is very consistent with a good Saison, it also packs in influences that range from the traditional Belgian, German and British, and Slovenian. What I immediately noticed was the powerful ginger spice, coriander and yeast. But in time, the Pilsner malts, peppery notes and spiciness really came through. A very interesting combination, and one that brings together two of my favorite breweries.

Appearance: Deep golden/amber, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Light malt, Belgian yeast, coriander and mixed spice
Taste: Light malt, immediate burst of ginger spice, yeast, coriander and hot chillies
Aftertaste: Lingering malt, yeast, and spice notes, refreshing and spicy
Overall: 8.5/10

The Bruery Saison Rue

bruery_saisonrueBrewer: The Bruery, Placentia, CA
Style: Farmhouse Ale
Alc/Vol: 8.5%

Description: Made with malted rye and bottle conditioned using the wild brettanomyces yeast strain, this unfiltered Belgian/French-style farmhouse ale is brewed in both the sour and saison fashion. The result is a highly complex ale that is available year round.

Tasting Notes: This is my first sampling from this brewery from Orange County. And it was quite the intro, embracing two styles that I’ve become accustomed to and rather fond of in recent years. And it retains strong elements of both, containing subtle, slightly bitter malts, and at the same time noticeable fruit esters and notes of sour cherries. And of course, it packs some powerful yeasts all throughout.

Appearance: Golden-orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Wild yeast nose, sour, fruity esters, dry backbone
Taste: Immediate burst of yeast, mild hints of sour cherries, mild rye bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering rye malt bitterness, yeast and sour flavor
Overall: 9/10

Two Pumpkins!

pumpkin-ales-in-sniftersAs it is the season, and in honor of this past Halloween, I decided to get my hands on some bottles of this year’s batch of pumpkin ale. The first two come from right here in beautiful British Columbia, specifically from the Longwood and Central City Brewery. And, as might be predicted, the results were a little mixed. Whereas one was a combination of styles that didn’t yield the best results, the other was a straightforward pumpkin with no surprises, but plenty of appeal.

Longwood Full Patch Pumpkin Ale:
I have to admit that what I have tried from the Longwood brewery, as opposed to the brewpub which is still only available within Nanaimo, has been kind of hit or miss for me. And this beer falls into the latter category. As a strong, pumpkin Saison ale, it seems to be attempting to do many things at once. And unfortunately, this leads to some degree of confusion in terms of the beer’s taste, smell, and general character. To look upon it, one would get the impression it was a brown ale. The nose is distinctly that of pumpkin ale, boasting the same spice palate as pumpkin pie. But in the flavor department, it packs some heavily roasted malt, reminiscent of baked bread and a hint of caramel, but is then overpowered by its alcohol content. And that impression lingers, right until the end!

Appearance: Dark brown, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malts, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
Taste: Strong, roasted malt, allspice and pumpkin, bitter alcohol bite
Aftertaste: Lingering malt and alcoholic bitterness
Overall: 7/10

Red Racer Pumpkin:
redracer_pumpkinRed Racer is a brewery that I’ve come to count on to get things right, really, really right in fact. And their pumpkin ale was certainly no exception, as it had all the right features of this seasonal ale. A good orange-amber hue, a varied nose packed full of pumpkin pie and allspice, and a flavor to match. Admittedly, it was somewhat light in this last department, at least when compared to what I’ve come to expect from a pumpkin ale. These tend to be slightly sweeter, maltier and spicier than your average pale ale. But this beer managed to pull that off well enough while also being very clean-tasting and refreshing. And after the rather heavy-hitting customer that preceded it, the value of this was certainly not lost on me!

Deep orange-amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation

Nose: Mild malts, hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
Taste: Smooth malt, light tang, hints of pumpkin and mild spice
Aftertaste: Lingering malts, clean finish
Overall: 8.5/10

More to follow from this year’s batch of pumpkin ales, and some more installments on my beery adventures from Ottawa. Stay tuned!