Four Winds Saison

Fourwinds_saisonBrewer: Four Winds Brewing, Delta BC
Style: Saison
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 30

Description: As part of this mainland BC-based brewery’s Standard lineup, this beer is brewed with a combination of pale malt, then bittered with Noble and Pacific Northwest Cascade hops, then fermented using Belgian Saison yeasts.

Tasting Notes: This beer came highly reviewed from my local watering hole, and is perhaps one of the better Saisons I’ve had in recent years. A good, crisp malt base is augmented by a varied hop profile which gives it some citrusy, lemony notes. A strong yeast backbone lends it a degree of effervescence, strong carbonation, and finishes things off with a spicy, fruity finish. Definitely a great operation and one I need to learn more about!

Appearance: Golden, cloudy, very good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, floral hops, citrus, yeasty, spicy
Taste: Crisp malt, notes of lemon and honey, yeasty effervescence
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast and malt flavor
Overall: 9.5/10

Moon Under Water Hip As Funk Farmhouse IPA

moonunderwater_hipasfunkBrewer: Moon Under Water Brewpub, Victoria, BC
Style: Farmhouse/India Pale Ale
ABV: 7%
IBUs: Unspecified

Description: Released in honor of International Women’s Day, this brew is part of a recent effort on behalf of Victoria breweries – which have women brewmaster’s – to push back against sexist attitudes and advertising in the brewing industry. Combining Belgian-style saison yeast, brettanomyces, and an IPA-level of hops, the beer is an homage to both Beglian and Northwestern-styles.

*The label art is the work of Vancouver based graphic-designer Bjauna Sorensen, and features an image of an attractive but strong-looking, non-sexualized woman.

Tasting Notes: It seems that Belgian IPAs are the trend these days. Just about every brewery I’ve sampled from in the past few months has had their own variation on this. But that’s hardly a bad thing. And this is my second sampling of this particular beer, the last time being after getting a growler of it from the brewery itself. As a rule, I prefer to review a beer after drinking it from a bomber since it means less chance of the flavor being bruised from being poured out twice. In any case, the beer boasts a very mixed palate, with saison yeast providing a sharp and spicy backbone, which is well complimented by citrus and tropical fruit flavors that come with a good dose of West Coast hops. There is also some lingering sour flavor that comes from the addition of brettanomyces. Kudos to the women of Victoria taking back brewing!

Appearance: Gold/orange, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose:  Crisp malt, saison yeast, citrus, orange, floral hops
Taste: Smooth malt, sharp, spicy yeast, notes of citrus and passion fruit, hint of sourness
Aftertaste: Lingering sharp and sour yeasts and hop bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Steamworks Jasmine IPA

Steamworks_JasmineIPABrewer: Steamworks Brewery, Vancouver BC
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: 60

Description: This beer is part of Steamworks regular lineup and is brewed is a combination of Maris Otter, Caramalt, and Munich malts. It is then dry-hopped with Centennial , Celeia & Bramling Cross hops, infused with Jasmine flowers and fermented using Ardennes yeast.

Tasting Notes: When I first drank this beer, what I immediately noticed was the sharp tang of Saison-style yeasts in addition to some Jasmine. I was encouraged to see that my taste buds were not off. In addition, the dry-hop flavor also comes through in the end, providing a nice citrus backing. Nevertheless, the overall taste experience is still quite refreshing and clean, which you might not expect from an IPA that has some serious Saison yeasts going on. I strongly recommend sampling this brew alongside other Jasmine IPAs, a style which is fast becoming popular here in the Pacific Northwest!

Appearance: Golden/amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Light malt, saison-style yeast, dry, citrus, floral hop infusion,
Taste: Semi-sweet malts, bitter citrus, sharp yeast backbone, jasmine, dry hop flavor
Aftertaste: Lingering dry hops, bitterness and yeasty flavor, refreshing
Overall: 8.5/10

VIB Black Betty Blackberry Saison

black-betty-bottle-mock-smWhen I heard this beer was making the rounds for summer, I knew I had to get some. Call it a weakness, but I find that when it comes to beer, there are two things brewers don’t do nearly enough. Blackberries and sour cherries! So on the odd occasion when a beer comes along that combines malted barley goodness with my favorite fruit, I gotta jump on it!

And the combination is quite a good idea. Saison is a variety of beer that is not only associated with summer drinking and quite refreshing, it is also quite popular with craft brewers these days. So it was wildly appropriate that Vancouver Island Brewery chose to combine a seasonal summer berry with a seasonally appropriate saison to create this seasonal beer. You ever hear a word so many times that it lost all meaning?

However, I found the end result a little light for my taste. In addition to the yeast being not very noticeable, the fruit flavor was quite mild as well. What I was hoping for was a tart, berry explosion followed by a spicy yeast finish. Instead, I got a mild but refreshing beer that while pleasing, was kind of underwhelming.

Appearance: Light amber, clear, light foam retention and good carbonation
Nose: Light tartness, discernible fruit, mild yeasts
Taste: Immediate hints of blackberry, light tart kick, saison-style yeast
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast and berry flavor, very light
Overall: 7.75/10