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

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

Fernie Hot Saw India Brown Ale

Fernie_hotsawBrewer: Fernie Brewing, Fernie, BC
Style: IPA/Brown Ale
ABV: 7%
IBUs: 60

Description: This is a Winter/Spring seasonal by Fernie, available between the months of January and March. And as the name suggests, it combines the brewing styles of a brown ale with an IPA. A dark malt base is combined with hop back and dry hopping methods to create a balance of toasted malts with hoppy bitterness.

Tasting Notes: I was a little late to this brew, but was glad I caught up with it. A Brown IPA combines many aspects that are pleasing to the discerning beer-drinker. Notes of caramel, coffee, licorice, and roasted nuts combine with a hoppy profile that create a balanced but powerful brew.

Appearance: Dark brown, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Toasted malt, roasted nuts, coffee, licorice, caramel, citrus, piney hops
Taste: Dark, rich malt, roasted nuts, notes of coffee, licorice, piney hops
Aftertaste: Lingering roasted malt and pine hop bitterness
Overall: 8.3/10

Phillips 3rd Blind Mouse Triple IPA

Phillips-Third-Blind-MouseBrewer: Phillips Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Triple India Pale Ale
ABV: 10.2%
IBUs: Unspecified (high)

Description: The latest Spring Seasonal from Phillips, this Triple IPA is aptly named and pretty straightforward. A strong malt base, and a good dose of West Coast hops provide a very strong, but balanced flavor profile that will appeal to hop heads and fans of their Hop Drop liqueur (noted for its powerful hop flavor and alcoholic strength!)

Tasting Notes: Seriously, I have to wonder what inspires Phillips with its limited-release creations! These guys obviously love high alcohol content, IPAs, and IBUs, and this beer delivers all three in spades! I was honestly reminded of their Hop Drop when drinking this, mainly because the potent combination of hops and alcohol was just too reminiscent of that lovely liqueur. Still, the combination manages to balance out quite nicely, making for a powerful, but relatively easy-going drinking experience.

Appearance: Light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, strong hop nose, floral, tropical, passion fruit and herbs
Taste: Strong malt, potent hops, citrus, tropical fruit and dry herbs, bitter, alcoholic finish
Aftertaste: Lingering herbal hops bitterness, alcoholic bite
Overall: 7.8/10

Birrificio del Ducato Krampus Speciale

krampus_strongaleBrewer: Birrificio del Ducato, Gruppo, Italy
Style: Strong Ale
ABV: 7.0%
IBU: Unspecified

Description: Named in honor of Krampus, the ancient demon who in days old terrorized villagers in advance of Saint Nicholas who’s been making a combeback in recent years, this strong, spiced ale is a seasonal offering from this Italian brewery that arrives just in time for Christmas.

Tasting Notes: This is another offering from the Craft Beer Advent Calendar, and one which I must admit, is outside my realm of experience. It has a dark malt base, which is quite smooth and rich in tannins, but which is overpowered by very sour wild yeast flavor – to the point that it tastes downright vinegary. I suspected I might ave a spoiled bottle, but a tertiary look at other beer bloggers has revealed  that this is in fact they found as well. I guess it just goes to show you, the world of craft brewing is an extremely diverse and interesting place!

Appearance: Red/brown, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, yeasty brettanomyces nose, sour cherry, oak
Taste: Rich, smooth dark malt, tannin, sour cherries, yeast, apple cider vinegar
Aftertaste: Lingering apple cider vinegar and sour yeast flavor
Overall: 6.3/10