Phillips Atomic Buffalo Smokey Red Saison

phillips_atomic-buffaloBrewer: Phillips Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Saison/Smoked Ale
ABV: 6.2%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: The Smokey Red is one of Phillips four seasonal releases for summer 2016. It is brewed in the style of Saison farmhouse ale, combining smoked pale red and wheat malts with a mild hopping, and then fermenting the mix with Belgian yeast.

Tasting Notes: Lately, I’ve been complaining about the plethora of Saisons and Sours that are out there. And so I was a bit hesitant to sample this one. But i have to say I enjoyed the combination. A red malt base is always a delight, and the subtle notes of smoke and Saison yeast play nicely off each other, alternating between mild smokiness and spiciness.

Appearance: Deep red, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, baked bread, smoked meat, Belgian yeast
Taste: Smooth malt base, mild sweetness and tang, hint of smoke, yeast spice
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast, malt flavor, mild smokiness
Overall: 7.8/10

Phillips Short Wave West Coast Pale Ale

phillips_shortwave-pale-aleBrewer: Phillips Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.2%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: The Shortwave is part of Phillips regular lineup of beers, and is a sessional pale ale brewed in the style of the Pacific Northwest. Like Blue Buck, it is one of the few beers that comes in the tall can.

Tasting Notes: This beer is definitely a very pleasant and drinkable pale ale – aka. very sessionable. However, this strength is also its main weakness. Basically, its gentle malt base and not-so-strong hopping make it a bit mild for those who love a good crisp, hoppy ale. A well-balanced ale, but definitely a light one.

Appearance: Light amber, clear, good and lacy foam, good carbonation
Nose:  Notes of citrus, grass, mild malt, tropical fruit, pineapple
Taste: Smooth malt, sweet bread, mineral tang, grassy hops, hint of pineapple and citrus
Aftertaste: Lingering sweet malt taste and mild hop bitterness
Overall: 7.7/10

Spinnakers Quince Sour Saison

Spinnakers_quincesourBrewer: Spinnakers Brewery
Style: Sour Saison Ale
ABV: 5.0%
IBUs: 5

Description: Brewed in honor of Spinnaker’s 32nd anniversary, this sour ale is made using backyard quince fruit, which is then fermented with wild yeast strains and aged in tequila barrels.

Tasting Notes: I say this all the time, but this beer is an interesting combination. At first, I was turned off by the label, being somewhat tired by all the sour offerings of late, and not  a huge fan of tequila. And the first sip was heavy on the sour side. However, this beer does grow on you with each successive drink. In the end, what you get is an ale with strong notes of sour lemon, a hint of saison spicy yeast, a hint of dry apple, and some smooth tequila backing. Definitely a gamble that paid off!

Appearance: Yellow-amber, very cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong notes of acid, lemon juice, yeast, spice
Taste: Mild malt, strong yeast tang, sour lemon, yeast, hint of tequila
Aftertaste: Lingering sour lemon flavor, yeasty bite
Overall: 8/10

Driftwood De Auras Wheat Sour

driftwood_deaurasBrewer: Driftwood Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Sour Wheat Ale
ABV: 6.5%
IBUs: Unspecified

Description: Released in time for the Fall harvest season, this sour wheat ale is the latest in Driftwood’s Bird of Prey sour ale series. It is fashioned using a combination wheat malt, raw wheat, hops, and three different kinds of yeast – brettanomyces, lactobactillus, and pediococcus, all lactic-acid producing strains.

Tasting Notes: This was definitely a nice combination, one which I have to admit that I’m not typically crazy about. But in this case, the gentle wheat malt base does well when combined with a whole lot of sour yeasts, adding dimensions of fruit flavor that are reminiscent of sour cherries and tart fruit. And I definitely prefer it to their last offering as well, Oscuritas. Looking forward to what’s next!

Appearance: Amber/orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle wheat malt, lactic acid, sour cherry, orchard fruits
Taste: Smooth wheat malt, fruity esters, sour cherry, lactic acid, clean finish
Aftertaste: Lingering sourness and lactic acid, gentle malt flavor
Overall: 8.25/10

Driftwood Pilsner Doehnel

driftwood_pilsnerBrewer: Driftwood Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 5%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This latest release by Driftwood’s is also the brewery’s first-ever attempt at a lager. In keeping with that venerable tradition of brewing, they have chosen to go with a Czech-style Pilsner. And in true craft brewing fashion, they fashioned this brew using malts that were grown and malted on the Saanich Peninsula by artisan Maltster Mike Doehnel. Hence why it is named in his honour. It was then lagered for six weeks prior to being released this past June. Get it while it lasts!

Tasting Notes: This Pilsner was definitely a great addition to Driftwood’s lineup – a Czech-style lager with a West Coast twist. Crisp malts intermix with notes of citrus, herbs and minerals, and finish very cleanly, offering a refreshing and tasty brew with just enough complexity. Kudos to Driftwood for expanding into unknown territory and creating a winner in the process!

Appearance: Straw gold, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Sharp, grainy and crisp malts, dry, herbal hops, minerals
Taste: Crisp malt, mineral tang, dry, herbal hops
, mild citrus rind bite
Aftertaste: Lingering malt and mineral tang, citrus bitterness, clean finish
Overall: 9/10

Lighthouse Jackline Rhubarb Grisette

LIGHTHOUSE_JACKLINEBrewer: Lighthouse Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Saison
ABV: 5.5%
IBU: Unspecified

Description: This Table Saison, or Grisette, is the latest addition to Lighthouse’s Explorer Series. Alongside 10 other beers, it made its debut at the “Craft Beer Thunderdome” during Victoria Beer Week, and is now available. Consistent with this Belgian-style ale, it is brewed with wheat, oats, Pilsner malt, and fresh rhubarb from the Fraser Valley before being fermented using Saison yeast.

Tasting Notes: Saisons and farmhouse ales seem all the rage lately! And I definitely liked what Lighthouse did with this one. The combination of malts made for a very clean, smooth malt base, and the addition of tart rhubarb flavor added was very nice compliment to the Saison yeast, which is usually sharp and spicy. This beer will go great with the approaching summer weather!

Appearance: Light golden, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild malt, Saison yeast, tart, tangy notes of rhubarb
Taste: Smooth, mild start, burst of tart rhubarb flavor, slightly sharp yeast finish
Aftertaste: Lingering rhubarb tartness, smooth malt finish, quite refreshing
Overall: 8.5/10

Category 12 Critical Point Pale Ale

C12_criticalpointBrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Central Saanich, BC
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.6%
IBUs: 49

Description: The latest in Category 12’s lineup, this Northwestern-style Pale Ale is brewed with a combination of Superior Pale Ale and Crystal malts and fermented using American Ale yeast. It is also bittered with Cascade and Falconer’s Flight hops, some of which added late in the boil to boost its hoppy profile.

 

Tasting Notes: This beer was quite an enjoyable pale ale. When it was first released, I had a chance to sample it at the brewery (located right in my neighborhood). At the time, I was admittedly turned off a little by the sheer bitterness of it. However, after rebooting the recipe a bit, this brew and its brewmaster have struck a pretty good balance. The late-boil addition of hops does make things a bit heavy on the bitter citrus side, but it is still wonderfully hoppy overall with a good, crisp malt base.

Appearance: Deep amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Crisp malt nose, grassy, piney and resiny hops
Taste: Crisp malt, immediate dose of bitter citrus, grass and pine hops
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and citrus rind
Overall: 7.8/10

Swans Legacy Ale Barley Wine (2014)

swans_legacyBrewer: Swans Brewery, Victoria BC
Style: Barley Wine
ABV: 10.3%
IBUs: unlisted

Description: An annual release that comes out every year on Swans anniversary, this barely wine is brewed in honor of Michael Williams – heritage conservationist and philanthropist who’s estate includes the Swans Hotel.

Tasting Notes: This beer has gone down in my personal drinking history as one of my personal top 10 favorites. The reason is simple: I have a weakness for barley wine that is done right, and which reminds me of my favorite beer of all time. While my tastes may have matured, a strong, dark, sugary beer with rich malts, a fair dosing of hops, and plenty of fruity flavor is still sure to warm my bones and make me smile!

Appearance: Deep ruby, clear, mild foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, coarse, notes of demerara sugar, pineapple, alcohol
Taste: Strong malt, coarseness, brown sugar, raisins, figgy pudding and alcohol
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt, hop and alcoholic bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Moon Under Water Oud King Crow Barrel Aged Sour Ale

Moon_under_water_sourBrewer: Moon Under Water Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Sour Are
ABV: 9%

Description: The latest in their Storefront Special series, this year’s offering from Moon Under Water is a sour ale with a twist. In addition to being bottle-conditioned with brettanomyces, it is aged in Pinot Noire oak barrels. Apparently, this is a one-time offering, so get it soon!

Tasting Notes: This was definitely an interesting twist on the traditional sour, but a very fitting one. I’ve often felt that your Flemish Reds are reminiscent of a dry, red wine. As such, aging one in a red wine oak barrel seems to compliment the flavor quite well. The infusion of oak and red wine manage to smooth out the yeasty and tart fruit notes, and does a pretty good job of concealing the strong alcohol content. Still tart and full of sour cherry flavor, but in highly smooth and drinkable package.

Appearance: Dark purple, opaque, mild foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dry, brettanomyces yeast, red wine, orchard fruit, oak
Taste: Light malt, effervescent yeast, sour cherries, oak, dry red wine
Aftertaste: Lingering red wine flavor and tart fruit
Overall: 8.2/10

Hoyne Gratitude Winter Warmer 2014

beer-gratitudeBrewer: Hoyne Brewery, Victoria BC
Style: Winter Ale
ABV: 9%

Description: Hoyne is back with there third annual Gratitude Winter Warmer, which began as a holiday expression of gratitude to all those who’ve supported them. As with previous years releases, this special limited-release comes in individual bombers wrapped in paper.

Tasting Notes: This is the third sampling I’ve done of Gratitude, and I have noted that the recipe has been changing over the years. Either that, or my tastes have been evolving and I’ve been noticing different things. In any case, this year’s offering seemed lighter than the previous two. While it maintains its smooth malty base, a hint of spice and a very well-balanced character, it was more reminiscent of a Marzen to me than a Christmas ale (though I did get some traces of Urbock as well). For the third time, a big hit and one I would like to try again before it goes out of stock!

Appearance: Dark amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, minerality, mild sugars, allspice, mild hops
Taste: Smooth malt, mild tang, hint of sweetness, brown sugar, allspice
Aftertaste: Lingering tang and minerality, lingering spice palate
Overall: 8.75/10