Hoyne’s Appleton Extra Special Bitter

Hoynes_Appleton_ESBBrewer: Hoyne Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Extra Special Bitter
ABV: 5.2%
IBUs: Unspecified (but I’m guessing 40s range)

Description: This brew is Hoyne’s latest limited release, which pays homage to Frank Appleton, the man who taught Sean Hoyne the art of brewing and started many breweries. Much like the Swan’s ESB that bears his name, and brewed is the tradition of the classic English Extra Special Bitter, this brew combines (among other things) Thomas Fawcett Golden Promise, Bairds, and Crystal malts with Fuggles and East Kent Golding hops.

Tasting Notes: Buckerfield’s ESB was one of my favorites when I was known to frequent Swan’s brewpub. And I’m happy to see that Sean Hoyne, who apprenticed with Appleton at Swan’s, is carrying on in that tradition, making a clean-tasting, crisp, and dry-hopped ale! Like a kick-ass ESB, it has a good malt base that is slightly sweet and reminiscent of sweet bread, and is packed with dry hops that have notes of grass, dried herbs, and a nice mineral tang to finish it all off.

Appearance: Amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich pale malt, sweet breads, notes of dry hops, grassyand dry herbs
Taste: Crisp malts, good tang, hint of sweetness, dry hops, hints of grass, herbs, minerals
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, mild malt sweetness
Overall: 9/10

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Moon Under Water This is Hefeweizen

MoonLogo1Hi all and welcome to another installment from Moon Under Water! Lately, the product lineup has been expanding, and I was sure to do my best to get in on the ground floor. Not long ago, I managed to snag a bottle of one of their first limited releases – their Brewvic Maibock – and was quite pleased. But this latest addition is permanent addition with year-round availability. So I felt that impressions counted doubly here.

moonunderwater_this_is_hefThough this is not the first wheat beer to be introduced to the brewery’s product line – i.e. the appropriately named Victorious Weizenbock – this wheat is purer example of the brewing tradition. I’m guessing that with all their success thus far, the brewers felt they needed to add a straight-up German wheat, with no crossovers or merging of styles to speak of. And the end product is certainly consistent with that, a very good, clean tasting hefeweizen that weighs in at an even 5.5% alc/vol. However, it manages to retain some spicy characteristics which are reminiscent of a Belgian Wit as well, mainly in the notes of clove and coriander, and rounds it out with a hint of vanilla.

Appearance: Deep orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Distinct yeasty notes and wheat malts
Taste: Mild wheat malts, very smooth, hints of coriander, clove and vanilla
Aftertaste: Very smooth, hints of wheat malt and yeast, mild spice
Overall: 8.5/10

Overall, I was quite impressed with this beer and will definitely seek it in the future. Though there has been no shortage of limited-release hefeweizens and wits available of late, this one stands out for me as being one of the more drinkable and subtle. Delightfully colored, smooth, clean, refreshing, and with a subtle but discernible spice palate, it is an all around winner and perfect for these last few weeks of summer!

Hoyne’s Off The Grid Red Lager

hoyne_off_the_gridHoyne’s is back with another seasonal release! And as luck would have it, this one has arrived in time to meet the hot, inclement weather we have been enjoying here in Victoria. So how appropriate is it that the brewery has decided to produce a nice, refreshing lager? But in keeping with Hoyne’s style of brewing, this lager comes with a twist.

On the one hand, it has a clean, Munich-style crispness, courtesy of the addition of Noble German Tettnang hops and lagering process. On the other, it has a creamy, smooth profile, courtesy of the darker roasted red malt. And as usual, the style and nature of the beer leads to the double-entendre that is it’s name. “Off the Grid” not only refers to the summertime activity of getting out into nature and setting up camp off the beaten path, it also honors the decidedly unusual nature of this lager itself.

Appearance: Deep red amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Notes of Munich-style hops, slight sweetness, rich malts
Taste: Smooth, creamy malts, slightly syrupy, giving way dry, pilsner-like hop finish
Aftertaste: Slight tang, lingering creaminess and dry hops
Overall: 9/10

Having endured plenty of hot, sunny days and late evenings, and having now sampled this brew out of both a growler and a bottle, I can attest to this beers refreshing nature and its fine taste. I can also tell you it compliments the change of season quite well. Get yourself to the store, get some bottles, chill and enjoy! Preferably on the patio with some spicy barbeque. Congrats Hoyne, another winner. Hope everyone enjoys the heat!

Phillips Leviathan Milk Stout

leviathanIt’s not secret that the folks at Phillips like to experiment with their beer. And with the new year now upon us, this Victoria-based brewery has shown no signs of slowing down. In fact, three new limited release beers have made it out to the public since 2013 rolled around.

The first was their Bottle Rocket India Session Ale, which I have yet to try. Then came their Twisted Oak Scotch Ale, which I just finished sampling and reviewing the other night. Then came. And last, but certainly not least is their benefit brew, an annual beer that is made specifically for a local charity, where the brewery designs the label, the name, and the product in honor of the charity in question.

Leviathan-Milk-StoutThis year, they have partnered with the Cetus Conservation Society –  a Victoria-based charity dedicated to preserving marine habitats – to produce Leviathan Milk Stout. And, as I suspect, they were inspired by Parallel 49’s success with experimenting with lactic acid to produce what is known as Milk Stout, a variety of stout which is well rounded and creamy in addition to toasted and tawny. And, true to form, this experiment paid off.

Appearance: Black as tar, opaque and good foam retention
Nose: Rich, deep roasted malts
Taste: Immediate tang and roasted barley, slight smoke, cut by creamy mouthfeel
Aftertaste: Lingering smoke and toasted malts, slight creamy finish
Overall: 8.5/10

All in all, the beer possessed all that is good about a stout, but also managed to round out its roasted and smoky profile with a creamy, smooth texture. It’s quite enjoyable to drink, and offers beer drinkers a few things which they are likely to find appealing. For seasoned beer drinkers and fans of stout, it had the dark, tangy and roasted flavor of a real stout. And for people who like a refreshing brew, the beer is smooth, drinkable and has a good mouthfeel. I recommend getting some before it runs out of stock. And remember, all proceeds go towards preserving marine life!

Moon Under Water Potts Pils Ulfiltered

MoonLogo1

Good evening to all beer snobs and those aspiring to be one! My apologies for a lengthy absence, but life and clean living have a way of interfering with a heavy sampling schedule. Luckily, I was able to run by my local beer store today, and came across some shiny new bottles that I noticed containing a familiar brand name.

potts_pilsYes, it seems that The Moon Under Water, the Victoria brewpub/microbrewery that takes its name from the famous Orwell essay (in which he describes his ideal pub) has undergone a recent change in direction and has hence produced an entirely new product line. It seems that the sessional beers it was once famous for are now out and the new product line is in. And according to their website, this includes a Dunkel, a Pilsner, an IPA and a particularly strong Weizenbock.

Interesting and alluring. Unfortunately for me, I was only able to procure samples of the first two, and shall be dedicating reviews to each. First up, their unfiltered Pilsner, known as the Potts Pils, in honor of their brewmaster, Clay Potter. Fashioned using Bavarian malt, Saaz and Cascade hops, this beer is a marriage between old and new, with a west-coast twist and an certain experimental edge. And the result was quite pleasing.

Appearance: Deep golden, slightly cloudy, mild foam retention
Nose: Distinct Bavarian-malt nose, slightly sweet, hint of skunk
Taste: Light malts and dry hops giving way to herbal notes, touch of citrus
Aftertaste: Slight tang and bitterness, lingering herbal touch
Overall: 8.5/10

Not a bad start to this new lineup, Moon. I look forward to your Dunkel, as well as the other products you now have on tap. From what I’ve seen thus far, it is clear the new Modus Operundi around them parts is to merge traditional British influences with the West Coast take on British brewing traditions. Let me just say, I couldn’t approve more! Stay tuned…

Spinnakers Jameson’s Scottish Ale

Next up in the weekend from Spinnaker’s lineup, we have the traditional cellar ale known as Jameson’s Scottish Ale. Though it is not a new brew, or particularly summery, it’s been some time since I sampled it last. As such, I could not resist picking it up so I could re-familiarize myself.

And for the most part, I was pleased and not the least bit surprised. But that’s a good thing in this case. For many years now, I’ve known Scottish Ales to be rich, heavy and malty affairs that generally come dry hopped and smack of the peat moss and smoky flavor of Scotch whiskey.

Named in honor of the Jameson clan who settled in Victoria in 1889, and grew rich of the tea, coffee and spice trades, this beer is a nice take on the traditional Scottish ale, being at once malty and complex, but lighter and less sweet than many of its stronger variants. In addition, the dry hop characteristics provide a slight bitterness that helps balance the flavor.

Appearance: Dark amber/brown and slightly translucent
Nose: Sweet and slightly smoky with a note of bananas
Taste: Heavy malt flavor, slightly coarse, giving way to slight hop bitterness
Aftertaste: A touch of smokiness with a mild bitter aftertaste
Overall: 7.5/10

An Ode to Beer Boots!

How to describe the enviable experience of drinking beer out of a boot? Not any boot, mind you, I’m talking about a glass boot that’s literally filled to the brim with beer. How does one describe that? Well… the word unique comes to mind. And if you’re doing it all by yourself, so does challenging! Fun might come in a close third. We’re talking a lot of beer, and getting at the last of it requires some dexterity, which is hard since that’s when you’re tipsiest. But I digress…

According to legend, the tradition of drinking beer out of a boot goes back to 16th century Germany, where students enjoyed having a few beers, then dueling it out! As midnight neared, duelers laid down their swords and filled their boots with their favorite lagers. This is where the term “fill your boots!” became a popular saying, which loosely translates to “help yourself”.

Naturally, it wasn’t long before health-conscious craftsmen began to develop boots made of glass specifically for this challenge. Then, whenever young men felt like a challenge, they could ask for the boot to be filled and demonstrate their drinking prowess by drinking it down without spillage or vomiting. Apparently, drinking the incorrect way would result in having to “wear the boot home”… Ouch!

To my knowledge, there are only two places on Vancouver Island, possibly even in BC, that carry on this venerated tradition. The first is the Rathskeller Schnitzel Haus, located right in the heart of downtown Victoria. Here, beer can be enjoyed in a 2 liter boot, 1 liter boot, or the personal .5 liter boot. And of course, drinkers can treat themselves to anything on tap, which includes Hackser-Schorr, Warsteiner, Holsten Lager, Festbock and Maibock, Spatenbrau Heffeweizen, Spatenbrau Oktoberfest (available only in the fall), Schneider-Weisse, and Konig Ludwig.

The second is located at the Rim Rock Brewpub in Port Alberni, at the cross-roads of Vancouver Island. A relatively new operation, the Rim Rock has the added distinction of being attached to Nanaimo’s Longwood Brewpub, one of my personal favorites. Here they have the wort for their beer brewed, which is then transported to the pub in Port Alberni where it is fermented. Thus far, they have a lager and a pale ale on tap, both of which can be served in the boot!

Needless to say, I am eager to find more places that can provide this service to the thirsty beer snob! And I’m not much concerned if this journey should take me out of town, out of province, or out of country. There are more out there, I know it. Bavaria and Oktoberfest-themed restaurants can’t be the only places where this still goes on 😉