Two Beers Heart of Darkness CDA

TwoBeers_HeartofDarknessCDABrewer: Heart of Darkness, Seattle, Washington
Style: Imperial Black IPA
Alc/Vol: 6.8%
IBUs: 67

Description: A seasonal release, available from November through February, this Imperial Black IPA is brewed according to the increasingly popular “Cascadian Dark Ale” style – a characteristically Pacific Northwest ale that combines dark, roasted malts with an intense hopping to achieve a strong but balanced flavor that reminiscent of both a stout and an IPA.

Tasting Notes: As far as Black IPAs go, this beer is definitely a winner. While the addition of “Imperial” seems a bit much – at 6.8% alcohol, it hardly seems that strong – the flavor is complex, varied, and delightfully strong. In addition to a good hop bitterness, its darkened malts are rich and flavorful, calling to mind a good stout’s balance of chocolate and coffee flavor. Definitely one of the best CDAs I’ve had in awhile.

Appearance: Black, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Roasted malt, notes of espresso and dark chocolate, piney hops
Taste: Rich smokey malt, citrus hops, espresso flavor and bitterness, mild chocolate
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and smokey notes
Overall: 9/10

Also, this was my 250th post! Yay for beer!

Rogue Brewery!

Many a time I’ve reviewed individual Rogue products and thought to myself, “damn, I need to do a full on review of the brewery, give credit to every beer I’ve ever had from them”. Hell, I think I’ve even said as much in a post here or there. Well, I’m finally putting my money where my mouth is – literally, since some of them were hard to obtain and involved the cost of travel to procure! And coupled with others that I’ve tried over the years, I’ve finally been able to prepare a full list. It’s been difficult given the fact that seasonals come and go, and one can scarcely remember everything one tries (especially when they drink like I do!), but I assure you, I’ve done my best. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

American Amber Ale: I’ve sampled many amber ales in my day, and I’ve come to expect a certain consistency from them. More often than not, they are smooth, light, tawny on the tongue, and are more malty than hoppy in terms of flavor. This is certainly the case with the American Amber. The taste is both complex, yet light, with smooth, slightly viscous malts and a light hop finish. An enjoyable beer when paired with food or as light-drinking fare. 3.75/5

Brutal IPA: This beer I sampled and reviewed last november, as part of my “Month of IPA’s”. And little’s changed since I reviewed it last! A year later and I still it a fitting examples of a west coast IPA, combining a crisp taste, powerful, floral hops and a good alcoholic bite! Definitely not for the faint of heart, as it more than lives up to its name! 4/5

Chipotle Ale: An interesting experiment in beer-making, and one which I just had to try. And I was not disappointed, nor particularly surprised. Overall, this is a perfectly fine ale and characteristic of rogue brewing, combing a good hoppy ale with the slight hint of peppers and a mild spicy aroma. Perhaps I was expecting something different, but with a name like Chipotle, one would expect more of a punch! However, this remains a very decent ale and given its mild bite, would be well-paired with spicey food. 3.75/5

Chocolate Stout: A first for me, in that it was the first time I had ever tried a chocolate stout. Since that time, it seems like everyone is doing a chocolate or coffee stout/porter. And having tried several, I can still honestly say that this one is my favorite. Whereas most stouts tend to have a bitter, almost burn like flavor to them due to the dark malts used (what is typically described as coffee notes), Rogue’s own manages to come off very smooth. And the chocolate notes are the result of real chocolate being used. No artificial flavors here! 4/5

Dead Guy Ale:One of Rogue’s most famous beers, and definitely the easiest to find here in Canada. Done in the style of German Maibock but still boasting a Pacific Northwest character, this beer is deep honey in color, has a rich, malty profile, a strong bite of hops and a relatively sweet profile. It’s also garnered several awards, including silver medals three years running at the World Beer Championships (from 2005 to 2007).4/5

Hazelnut Brown Nectar: I believe I’ve mentioned several times in the course of my reviews how craft brewing has been coming back into vogue in the last few decades. And if there’s one beer that is consistently becoming more popular, its the Brown Ale. True to form, Rogue recently released their own spin on the traditional Brown, combining the flavor or roasted nuts with brown malts in order produce this beer. Living in Victoria, nestled between so many great micro-breweries, each one producing its own exceptional browns, I felt this baby had some stiff competition. And yet it still came out with top marks!  Rich, dark and tawny, like a good brown, this baby is also smooth and boasts a true nut flavor that is paired well with deserts and Christmas cookies (recent experience will attest to this)! 4/5

Irish Lager: This is going back a ways, but many years back, I spotted this brew in my favorite LCBO located on Rideau street at the edge of downtown Ottawa. I believe I bought it as part of a Rogue taster pack, since this particular LCBO could always be counted on to stack plenty of Rogue products. At the time, I was relatively un-wowed, but that was before I developed an appreciation for lighter beers. Today, I would classify this as a nice, light fare, clean, crisp and refreshing, like a good lager! Its also good when paired with food, though it is also recommended for making Guinness floats. That I will have to try… (personally, I’d recommend using a different stout, but a good idea is a good idea!) 3/5

Juniper Pale Ale: Yet another rare one that I tried when visiting my sis and bro-in-law in Oregon. And, much like with the Yellow Snow IPA (see below) I’ve tried to get my hands on some ever since! It was seriously that good. A delicious ale, red in color, with strong, floral hops, a crisp bite, and a lingering finish that is highly reminiscent of juniper berries, this beer is an all around hit! If you can’t find some, I recommend finding a local beer store that’s been known to carry some Rogue products and putting it on order. 4/5

Yellow Snow IPA: The name might deter some, but for me, this beer is a classic, one which I discovered by accident when visiting Portland in 2004 with my sis and bro in law. The color is consistent with the name, a nice golden orange. Strong hops, a good bite, a long dry finish, and a rating of 80 IBU make this a genuine IPA. After trying it for the first time, I would struggle to get my hands on some here in Canada.  It’s not easy, but thanks to my sweetheart, I enjoyed a nice cold bottle this Christmas, and thanks to my folks, I enjoyed in a Hofbrauhaus stone mug! What a perfect experience! 5/5

Ah, and speaking of this Christmas, my darling bride was also able to procure for me some tasty samples from the Pike Brewery that I have been unable to get here in Canada as well. Expect a review dedicated to them as well soon. As with all my Christmas beers by Rogue, they too were enjoyed in a Hofbrauhaus stone mug!

As a finale note, here is a link to Rogue’s website, and a picture of Jack Joyce, the co-founder and CEO of Rogue which I happened to come across in the course of my research into them. Doesn’t he just look like a brewer?!

http://www.rogue.com/

Jack Joyce, Co-Founder and CEO

 

 

Pike Brewery (Updated!)

From September 2011, my review of Pike Brewing, Seattle’s famous microbrewery:

You know, its surprising to me that it took me this long to do a review of Pike. Not only is it a great purveyor of spirituous beverages, it is also pretty famous as micro-breweries and craft brewing go. And wouldn’t you know it, it originated in the same market where Starbucks got started. That’d be Pike Place Market, located in the heart of downtown Seattle. It was at the Great Canadian Beer Fest that I first noticed their label and got to try some of their products. I even had the honor of visiting the market where the brewpub is located. And let me tell you, it was pretty cool! Unfortunately, due to our errant social calendar, I did not get to step into the pub, grab a seat and enjoy some samples! Instead, my dear brother-in-law fetched me a six pack later that day, and I eventually found a string of liquor stores back here in BC that carried their products. Thus far, I’ve managed to try three, and since I managed to get my hands on some again recently, I thought I’d give them their due! Here goes…

Kiltlifter Ruby Ale: Ordinarily, I find Scotch Ales (that would be beers brewed with single malt scotch) to be a little overpowering. However, this ale, hilariously named, manages to combine a sweet, tawny taste characteristic of scotch ales, with a strong bitter finish. All in all, its a good balance, neither too sweet or too grating. And at 6.5 % alc/vol, its also got a good alcohol content for people not looking to get smashed.

It was a friend (hi Katrina!) who first told me of this and it became a mission to find some! But as we live far apart, we were never able to hold onto our procurements for long (aka. we drank em before we could meet again). Finally, we got together and tilted some bottles. No clothes were shed in the course of it ;). 8.5/10

Naughty Nellie: I made the wise choice of picking some bottles of this up as well when hoarding the Kiltlifter. And in many ways, it is better than its counterpart. Lighter, crisper, and with a more noticeable dry hop finish, the name “Golden Artisan Ale” pretty much says it all. It is a nice golden color, has a clean taste, is light in the alcohol department (4.7% alc/vol) but is still stronger tasting and more complex on the pallet than your standard pilsner or lager. A truly creative creation! 8.5/10

Extra Stout: I enjoyed this one during a stint with stout. Despite the stiff competition, this baby held its own! Overall, it was smooth, velvety in texture, and with notes of chocolate and espresso. Like a good stout! At 7% alc/vol, its also stronger than your average stout or porter. A fitting accompaniment to ice cream, desert coffee, or something chocolatey. 8/10

Pike IPA: A deep amber color and clear hue greet the eyes the moment this beer hits the glass. Follow that up with a sharp floral aroma, and a strong, herbal taste, sweet pale and crystal malts, and a lingering dry finish, and you’ve got some idea of what this IPA is like. Definitely one of the better IPA’s I’ve tasted, and a nice break from the citrusy varieties (awesome though they are!). 9.5/10

Pike Dry Wit: I’ve had several wheat beers over the years, and this was definitely one of the most rare and complex! A strong flavor of wheat malts, a light spice palate that lingers and grows more intricate the deeper one drinks it. I noticed notes of coriander and orange on the first few sips, which is common in witbier. But gradually, I became aware of chamomile and lavender-like notes as well. A definite winner and a very interesting twist on the traditional wit. 9/10

Pike Monk’s Uncle Tripel: The closest thing I’ve tasted to Unibroue’s La Fin Du Monde without being the real thing. Combining wheat and barley malts with a generous dose of hops and then triple fermented, this beer comes off as heavy, rich, yeasty, and with a distinctly Belgian flavor. It’s bite and its intoxicating nose are not to be underestimated, neither is its strength (9% alc/vol) 8.5/10

Pike Old Bawdy Barley Wine: At 10% alc/vol, this seasonal beer definitely lives up to its name! Heavy, rich and very strong, this beer starts with a sugary nose, a rich malty sweetness, a good hop bite and a long, syrupy finish. Not for the faint of heart, but one of the best dessert beers I’ve had in recent years. 9/10

Man that was good beer! Can’t wait to sample more of their wares, of which there are several!