Steel and Oak Beechwood Smoked Honey Doppelbock

steelandoak_doppelbockBrewer: Steel and Oak Brewing, New Westminster, BC
Style: Smoked Doppelbock
ABV: 7.9%
IBUs: 20

Description: This seasonal release is lovely combination, where a venerable style of German lager meets a rauchbier (smoke beer). It is brewed using honey and beechwood-smoked malt, which is then double-fermented and mildly hopped. This creates a beer that is smooth, rich, smokey and tangy, and nicely refreshing!

Tasting Notes: Smoke beers are generally kind of hit and miss for me. But this one has a range of flavors that manage to complement each other quite nicely. The smoked malt go well with the doppelbock’s natural tang, which are cut nicely by the natural malty flavor and the addition of honey.

Appearance: Amber/orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, honey, smoke, mild hops
Taste: Smooth malt, hint of smoke, mineral tang, touch of honey sweetness
Aftertaste: Lingering smoke minerals and mild malt sweetness
Overall: 9/10

Advertisements

Parallel 49 Rye The Long Face Imperial Rye IPA

p49_ryethelongfaceBrewer: Parallel 49 Brewing, Vancouver BC
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.5%
IBUs: 86

Description: Part of Parallel 49 Spring Seasonal lineup, this Imperial IPA combines a hefty combination of pale and rye malts, and is then bittered using a similarly robust amount of Chinook, Simcoe, Amarillo and Centennial hops.

Tasting Notes: As Imperial IPAs go, this beer was quite smooth and drinkable. Surprising considering its strength and the hefty dose of rye. And yet, the rye malts and heavy helping of Pacific Northwest hops balance out to create a pretty subtle but complex brew.

Appearance: Deep orange, mildly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: rich malt, rye notes, citrus, pineapple, and passion fruit hops
Taste: Smooth, slightly crisp malt, notes of herbs, citrus, peach, pineapple
Aftertaste: Lingering tang, citrus and tropical fruit and rye bitterness
Overall: 8.3/10

Ninkasi Radiant Pale Ale

ninkasiBeer season has been slowing down a bit in recent days, thanks to the holidays being complete and the need to get back to work. But luckily, there is still time to shop for new brews and seasonal releases which are arriving just in time to toast the ending of winter and the coming of spring. And today, I happened to find a bottle of something left over from last summer, a beer which I enjoyed at the time, but neglected to review.

ninkasi_radiantSo in this post-holiday lull, I thought I would give it sampling and follow through with a proper review. It’s known as Radiant Pale Ale, a summer seasonal produced by the Ninkasi Brewery out of Eugene, Oregon. As far as Pacific Northwestern breweries go, this is one of my favorites. There flagship lineup of beers is tough to beat, consisting of a wide array of American Pale and India Pale Ales, as well as a good smattering of other British, European and American styles.

In this case, I found the Radiant to be a well balanced customer, consisting of a good combination of Crystal, Vienna and Northwest hops, as well as a smooth array of pale malt. One can instantly taste the summery influence of the beer, being just light enough to be refreshing, but with a dry, bitter finish that is appetizing and sure to slake a heat-induced thirst!

Appearance: Medium amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malt, crisp hop nose, mild grassiness, slight floral texture
Taste: Smooth, amber-like malt, good tang, earthy hops, slight bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, citrus rind
Overall: 8/10

I can recall sampling this beer alongside another seasonal release last summer. It was their Maiden the Shade IPA, another beer I failed to review at the time. What was I thinking? Guess I’ll just have to wait another six months before I can that one it’s due as well, huh?

Trainwreck Barley Wine 2013

TRAINWRECK-2013-LABELJust in time for the holidays, Phillips is once again back with their annual Trainwreack Barley Wine. This year, much like last, they have decided to release their extra strong ale to a bourbon barrel-aging process in order to produce an ale that is strong (10% alc/vol), yet smooth, and has a strong whiskey tang. This is the second year in a row that they have gone this route, whereas their 2011 was just the barley wine without any whiskey-infusion. As I’ve said before, I preferred the original and feel that Phillips has been on an inexplicable Bourbon kick for the past few years.

Nevertheless, they seem committing to making ales that have that extra kick. And the end result is hardly unpleasing or unappetizing, and is pretty much what one would expect from a faithful example of an American Barley Wine that is infused with a bit of Bourbon flavor. It pours out dark and clear, has a good head and carbonation, has some smooth malt the tastes of molasses, dark sugar, dark fruits (dates, plums and raisins), and is of course punctuated by a strong whiskey tang and bite.

Appearance: Dark brown amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong whiskey notes, dark malt, brown sugar and molasses
Taste: Dark malt, molasses, dark fruits, strong burst of bourbon tang and bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering malt and whiskey notes, slight sourness and bitterness
Overall: 7.5/10

Definitely something to keep you warm around the fire! Between two annual barley wines, their Twisted Oak Red Ale and Bock, they’ve managed to barrel-age four limited release so far. Can’t imagine what they’ll do next…

Deschute Fresh Squeezed IPA

deschutes-fresh-squeezedAs the summer comes to an end, it seems fitting to get in as many seasonal beers as I can before they cease to be available. Might as well since I’m sure to have my hands full with Marzens, Browns, Pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers. So I decided to start my evening with an IPA that once again comes from south of the 49th – Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA. I’ve seen it around my local beer store for many weeks now, and thanks to the endorsement from my friend at I think about beer, I finally decided to give it a try.

Though my range of sampling has been limited with Deschutes, I have come to expect a very high standard from them. My introduction came back in 2004 when I was visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Oregon and he introduced me to some of the local brews. Mirror Pond Pale Ale, their flagship production, just happens to be one of his favorites. And for me, it has come to be represent what brewing in Bend and Portland is all about, or at least a big part of it.

In any case, I found this version of an India Pale Ale to be quite faithful and very pleasant to drink. Pouring a deep orange color, the beer is clear and has a relatively good head. Citra hops are clear on the nose and come through especially well on the tongue, and the addition of the Mosaic hops add an added dimension of rich tropical flavor.

Appearance: Deep orange-amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Good citrus and floral hop aroma, tropical fruits
Taste: Immediate hop burst, citrus and pineapple, mango and passion fruit
Aftertaste: Lingering tropical, mild sugars and sweet malt
Overall: 8.5/10

All in all, its quite the delicious beer, consistently hoppy, but not overwhelmingly so. Not a bad intro to the Deschutes Seasonal lineup, or their Bond Street Series. No doubt, I am going to take this as an invitation to start cruising their other products. But when did I ever NOT want to drink more of what a brewery has to offer?

Two Victorian Maibocks

maibocks

Hello all and welcome to another two-fer. Today, as I get ready to head back to the Sunshine Coast Trail with my darling wife, I am reviewing two beers that are both of the Maibock variety. Ever since I tried my first, which was Holstein’s own, I was a fan of the seasonal beer that combines slightly sweet, heavier malts and sugars with mild hops and a generally refreshing quality. And in addition to including a beer that I’ve been meaning to review for some time, I managed to grab a new and surprising limited release. Here’s what they were and what I had to say about them…

Lighthouse Mountain Goat Maibock:lighthouse_maibock_3weeds
At long last, I’m getting around to giving this beer its due with a fitting review. I believe I’ve sampled this beer three times at this point, and enjoyed it every time, but never had I been able to take down its particulars and give it the four point assessment. And I’ve been meaning to, since I was quite impressed with it the first time and have remained so since.

Much like all of Lighthouse’s limited releases, this beer has legs and some genuine signs of craftbrewing quality. And like a good Maibock, its got a good balance of sweet malts, mild tang, light hops, and a good long, semi-bitter finish. It also boasts an interesting balance of fruit and honey, both in terms of scent and taste. And all of this rounds out quite nicely in the finish, which is long but ultimately refreshing.

Appearance: Light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sweet malts, mild hops, notes of mango and honey
Taste: Immediate sweetness, honey, mild tang, mild hops
Aftertaste: Mild cloying quality, lingering coarseness
Overall: 9/10

Moon Under Water Brewvic Maibock:moonunderwater_maibock
The second sample comes from one of my favorite local operations. Moon Under Water began as a purveyor of sessional ales, but then switched over to a more diverse and challenging array of beers shortly thereafter. And I’ve had nothing but good things to say about their old and new lineup. And now that they are creating seasonal and limited release beers, I’d say the circle is now complete. And how fitting that the first of these be a Maibock, a venerable brew that’s in time for summer?

And overall, I was quite pleased. Thought this one leaned towards the lighter end of things, in all departments, it remained a balanced and appealing example of a Maibock. And I was quite impressed that the Moon Under Water brewery has branched out to seasonal releases so soon after releasing an entirely new lineup, which already consisted of four really good beers! So really not a bad start to an expanded repertoire, and I look forward to their next one.

Appearance: Amber-gold, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sweet, slightly cloying nose, mild hops
Taste: Immediate burst of mild sweetness, giving way to tang and dry hops
Aftertaste: Slight coarseness, lingering bitterness
Overall: 8/10

More Summer Beer Additions!

summer-beerOnce in awhile, I find myself coming back from the beer store with a number of similar selections from different breweries. These I generally buy because they are limited releases, share a common theme, or are beers I simply haven’t tried yet. A few weeks ago, I made such a selection, recorded my observations, but then forgot to share them! Alas, I discovered my error and am now correcting that, and bringing to you some summer beers that are sure to still be available.

They are VIB’s Vicfest and Granville Islands Cloak and Dagger, both of which I found while rummaging around the Cook St. Liquor Store. Every time I go in there, I feel like a kid in a candy store and cant seem to make a decision of what to boy. But since VIB and Granville Island have a few things in common – large-scale breweries that are located here in BC, but who are committed to their craft brewing roots – these two limited releases seems like a good buy. And here is what I thought…

Vancouver Island Brewery Vicfest Festival Ale:
Vicfest-650-Bottle-Mock-FLATInteresting case of timing here, since Vicfest is just a week away. However, VIB and the people of Vicfest teamed awhile back and begin brewing this beer well in advance for this summer’s Vancouver Island Cultural Festival. According to a statement released by the brewery, they were going for something that captured the light, rhythmic sense of the island festival and the people who regularly attend. Or as they put it:

This festival ale is brewed in celebration of the amazing art, music and culture here on Vancouver Island. We’re proud to support local cultural events like VIC Fest that strengthen our island’s unique collection of bouncing souls and kindred spirits. Brewed with a rhythmic blend of malts and lightly riffed hops this beer is a thirst quenching and sensory expanding experience. Turn it up and enjoy.

And I’d say that’s what they wound up with as an end result. Though an west coast ale, the light, crisp and clean quality of the beer is more reminiscent of a lager or altbier. And as such, its quite consistent with warm weather, the outdoors, and summery evenings.

Appearance: Light gold, clear, mild foam and good carbonation
Nose: Light malts, mild hops, lager-like
Taste: Crisp, mild malts, Munich-style hops, trace minerality
Aftertaste: Clean finish, mild hops
Overall: 8/10

Almost as good was sample number two, otherwise known as …

Granville Island Cloak & Dagger Cascadian Dark Ale:
cloak&dagger_cascdarkHere we have a limited released that was produced by the folks at Granville Island Brewing as past of their Black Note Book Series. And as has been increasingly the fashion with GIB of late, they’ve been getting in on the craft brewing train with a long lineup of small batch beers, all of which appear to be consistent with the latest Northwest trends. This Cascadian Dark Ale, which combines aspects of a stout, IPA, is no exception, being a rather popular style of late.

And for the most part, I found this one enjoyable and flavorful, though it was slightly on the light side. With a malt profile of a stout or dark ale and the hoppiness of an IPA, one expects a bit more challenge and flavor. However, the Cloak and Dagger remains a very pleasant spring beer and I hope to see it again.

Appearance: Black, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark toasted malts, bitter citrus hops
Taste: Immediate burst of bitter hops, mild tang, relatively light, smooth malts
Aftertaste: Mild and lingering bitterness, otherwise clean aftertaste
Overall: 7.5/10

That’s all for now. Soon enough, I will be back with more seasonal brews, strictly summer one this time! And given the sheer supply of breweries and styles that are in vogue this season, I’m not sure what to expect. But that’s part of the fun of beer shopping, the selection!