Swan’s Pumpkin Ale 2016

swans_pumpkinBrewer:Swan’s Brewpub, Victoria, BC
Style:
Pumpkin Ale
ABV:
6%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: Swan’s seasonal ale is back, and this year’s Pumpkin ale is fashioned in the usual way. Pale malts are combined with a mild hopping, then spiced with nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cinnamon. And of course, there’s the fresh baked pumpkin to finish the mix.

Tasting Notes: A nice, balanced pumpkin ale that has a smooth start, some powerful (but not overpowering) spice notes, and a lingering, spicy finish. I remember this one from year’s back and it’s still a nice way to ring in the Fall season.

Appearance: Deep amber, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Smooth malt, rich notes of allspice, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie
Taste: Smooth, crisp malt, ginger zest, cinnamon snap, allspice, pumpkin flesh
Aftertaste: Lingering pumpkin and spice flavor, mild ginger bitterness
Overall: 8/10

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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

Le Trou du Diable Dubaï Pillée

TDD_Dubaipillee-334x1024Brewer: Le Trou du Diable, Shawinigan, QC
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9%
IBUs:

Description: This Double IPA – which has a curious alien-invasion theme going – is one of Le Trou’s seasonal releases, making the rounds for the Winter-Spring season. A double dose of malts and a significant hopping make it a potent and flavorful beer. And its accolades include being declared Canada’s Best Imperial IPA at the 2015 World Beer Awards in the UK.

Tasting Notes: I am still scratching my head as to what inspired this beer – which takes its theme from a fictitious invasion of Dubai (ca. 1954) where aliens stole our beer… and are coming back! Even so, one does need excuses in order to brew a good double IPA. This beer delivers, offering a rich, syrupy malt base, and a varied hop finish that has notes of citrus, passion fruit, mango and peaches.

Appearance: Amber/orange, cloudy, thick lacy foam, good carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, sugars, citrus, tropical fruit, piney hops
Taste: Rich, slightly coarse malts, notes of citrus and pine, mango, passion fruit, peach
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, tropical fruits, coarse malt flavor
Overall: 9/10

St. Ambroise 2014 Millésimée Vintage Ale

st.ambroise_millesime1Brewer: McAuslan Brewing, Montreal, QC
Style: Extra Strong Ale
ABV: 10%
IBUs: 58

Description: The 2014 St. Ambroise Vintage Ale carries in the tradition of McAuslan’s Millésimée series, a once a year, seasonal vintage ale that is a little different every time. The 2014 is brewed using a combination of Munich and wheat malts, bittered with Cascade and Golding hops, and then served unfiltered.

Tasting Notes: In what is fast becoming a tradition, I picked up a bottle of the 2014 Vintage Ale. And in honor of my recent trip to Ottawa, I thought I would make time for a review in between my usual rundown of Ottawa microbreweries and Ontario beers. I was definitely impressed with this year’s offering, which reminded me of last year’s. A strong malt base, which manages to still be drinkable and smooth, is packed with the flavor of brown sugar, dates and dark fruits, and has some accompanying notes of tropical fruit, made possible by a good hopping. Looking forward to next year’s!

Appearance: Deep ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, brown sugar, dark fruit, floral hops and citrus, alcohol
Taste: Strong, coarse malt, good tang, alcoholic bite, brown sugar, dates, passion fruit
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, coarse malt flavor and alcohol
Overall: 9/10

Moon Under Water Goldamsel 2015 Sour Weissbier

Moon_under_water_goldamselBrewer: Moon Under Water Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Sour Wheat Ale
ABV: 4.5%
IBUs: 0

Description: This latest seasonal release from Moon Under Water is a sour German-style weissbier. Wheat malts are fermented using wild yeast strains, which are then infused with apricots and peaches to create a fruity, acidic and mild wheat ale. Released in Aug, this beer is available through the early Fall.

Tasting Notes: It is the season of sours, it seems. And I’m not sure I’m such a fan anymore. While it is a creative and certainly faithful take on the style of German sour Weissbier, this brew was just too overpowering in terms of its vinegary flavor. It was like drinking Krampus Speciale, another sour I was not a big fan of.

Appearance: Golden orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malts, hints of orchard fruit, strong hints of lactic acid apple cider vinegar
Taste: Subtle wheat malt, notes of peach and apricot, strong apple cider vinegar
Aftertaste: Lingering acidic and vinegar notes, clean wheat malts
Overall: 6.5/10

Tofino Hunt and Gather Kettle Sour

Hunt&GatherBrewer: Tofino Brewing, Tofino, BC
Style: Sour Ale
ABV: 4.0%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: Tofino’s latest seasonal offering (available throughout the Summer and Fall) is a twist on one of the latest trends in brewing – which is the resurgence of kettle sours. Using west coast salal and blackberries, this beer is fermented using lactobacillus and saccharomyces yeasts, and then served unfiltered for a refreshing summer thirst-slaker!

Tasting Notes: I am a big fan of beers that incorporate blackberries. As far as I am concerned, that is a fruit brewers have not done nearly enough with! But this combination, which incorporates the venerable salal berry – a fruit with very deep roots in West Coast culture – was quite the treat. And its a good accompaniment to the sour yeast flavor, adding a level of tart fruit flavor to the lactic acid sharpness. And the light malt base ensures that it’s an entirely refreshing experience that cuts through thirst like cold lemonade!

Appearance: Amber/red, mildly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, wild yeast, lactic acid, tart fruit
Taste: Smooth start, burst of tart fruit, yeast, lactic acid,
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast and tart fruit flavor, very refreshing finish
Overall: 8/10

Dieu du Ciel Solstice d’été (Summer Solstice) Sour Wheat Ale

Dieuduciel_summerBrewer: Brasserie Dieu du Ciel, St-Jerome, Quebec
Style: Sour Wheat Ale
ABV: 5.9%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This seasonal brew from Dieu du Ciel is inspired by the German-style of wheat sour beer. Wheat malts which are allowed to ferment pre-boil accumulate lactic acid, which is then complemented with the addition of whole raspberries during the fermentation process – creating and acid and fruity summer beer.

Tasting Notes: I was intrigued by the combination of a fruit-infused wheat with a sour twist. The summer fruit does a good job of balancing the acidity a little and providing some sharpness to the wheat malt base. But it was admittedly a bit on the tart side for my taste. There are plenty of notes in this beer, but the lactic acid tends to overpower them. Nevertheless, a good summer beer and another good offering from a great brewery.

Appearance: Deep ruby, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild wheat malt, acidity, yeast, strong fruit esters, raspberries 
Taste: Smooth malt, strong tart burst, lactic acid, mild raspberry flavor finish
Aftertaste: Lingering tartness, raspberry fruit and yeast
Overall: 7.8/10