Philips Octofox India Pale Ale

Philips_octofoxBrewer: Philips Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: India Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 6.5%

Description: As part of their Area 52 series, the Octofox IPA comes straight from the Philips Brewery’s “hoptomology lab”, where the brewers combine different strains of hops to achieve unique IPA flavors. The Octofox was one of their earliest specimens, and for the first time is available in a bomber as a Fall limited release!

Tasting Notes: This is my first exposure to an Area 52 release, and hence the work of the Philips “hoptomologists”. The beer is what one could expect from a solid West Coast IPA, consisting of some good strong malt. And the hop profile is definitely varied and complex, consisting of citrus, tropical fruit and pine-resin flavors that come from what I can only assume is a blend that includes Zythos, Columbus, Centennial, Cascade and Amarillo hops.

Appearance: Light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, bright bouquet of floral hops, citrus, pine, tropical fruit
Taste: Strong malt, milt coarseness, strong notes of grapefruit, pineapple, and pine
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, citrus rind and pine and tropical fruit
Overall: 8.5/10

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Dead Frog Furious Friar Belgian IPA

Dead-Frog-furiousfriarBrewer: Dead Frog Brewery, Aldergrove BC
Style: Belgian Triple/India Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 9%
IBUs: 55

Description: A continuation and twist on their Valiant Belgian IPA, the Furious Friar is a hybrid ale that merges an IPA with Belgian influences to craft an extra strong, extra hoppy brew. It is fashioned using a combination of 2 Row, Cara 8, and White Wheat malts, bittered with a generous dose of Columbus and Centennial hops, and fortified with invest sugar before being fermented with Belgian yeast.

Tasting Notes: I can recall the Valiant IPA from last summer being a pretty big hit. The combination of an Belgian Abbey-style ale with a West Coast IPA is something that they’ve already been shown an aptitude for. But this year, I actually enjoyed it more. Not only is the strong malt and generous hopping reminiscent of an Imperial IPA, these same malts and Belgian yeasts also call to mind a good solid Triple or Blonde. In essence, two my absolute favorites in one glass!

Appearance: Orange/amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Belgian yeast, citrus, tropical fruit, cloves, coriander spice
Taste: Sharp, crisp malt, burst of citrus and passion fruit, Belgian yeast and spice
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast, coarse malt, clove and coriander, citrus rind
Overall: 9/10

Deep Cove Star Struck Rye IPA

deepcover_starstruckBrewer: Deep Cove Brewery, Vancouver BC
Style: India Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 7%
IBUs: 82

Description: As part of their year round series, the India Pale Ale is the first beer to be released since their initial lineup. In addition to what is surely Pale and Crystal (as well as Rye) malts, it is generously hopped with Galaxy and other West Coast strains.

Tasting Notes: This beer is my latest sampling from the Deep Cove Brewery, and came highly recommended to me by the good staff at my local beer store. And they certainly knew what they were talking about! This IPA comes in with some nice, smooth malt, a good dose of citrus and tropical hop flavor, and a nice hint of rye that manages to smooth and round out the flavor.

Appearance: Amber-orange, slightly cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Good malt, citrus hops, passion fruit, pineapple and rye
Taste: Smooth malt, good tang, tangerine, passion fruit, pineapple
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness and notes of tropical fruit
Overall: 9/10

Lagunitas Brewing (Updated!)

Back with some new installments, this time from further down south! During one of my many recent trips to the watering hole, the friendly staff recommended I check out the Lagunita’s brewery, an operation that comes to us from Petaluma California. Naturally, I was interesting seeing as how the farthest south I’ve ever drunk was San Francisco, and that came in the form of Anchor Steam. So on her recommendations, I picked up a few bottles and gave them a round.

Apparently, this brewing company is known for taking their share of hard knocks. After years of honing their craft, being evicted, landing in Petaluma, and slowly building a market, they’ve gone on to achieve international renown. Another thing, they are known for producing beers that are classified as both odd and exceptional. It’s little wonder then why their products show up here in BC!

Anyway, here is what I tried and what I thought of it…

Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale: This was the first beer I was recommended to try, based on both staff and customer reviews. And I had to say it was both interesting and pleasantly surprising. Immediately, one notices a strong hop aroma which is complimented by a quick, sharp citrusy burst. Bitterness gives way to herbal notes and then turns into a touch of sweetness that lingers on with the hoppy aftertaste. All this is apparently due to the curious combination of wheat malts with 80 IBU’s worth of hops, making it a sort of krystalweizen/IPA crossover. An interesting idea, and quite tasty, if somewhat unusual. 4/5

Bavarian-Style Doppel Weizen: My second run at the Lagunita operation, this beer appealed to me because it combined two of my favorite beer-related words into one label: Doppel, and heffeweizen. Yes, this beer is not only wheat based, but double fermented, resulting in a beer that is darker than your average wheat and stronger. This beer was apparently a collaborative effort between the brewers and the people who built their new brewing apparatus, and who supplied them with a traditional Bavarian yeast-strain, which they applied generously! Hence the added alcohol content and the Bavarian-style designation. As already noted, this beer is darker than your average wheat, being a cloudy orange rather than golden straw. The nose is rich with wheat malts and a slight nuttiness which also comes through in the taste. Strong notes of banana compliment the malts and nutty flavor, adding a touch of sweetness to it that is reminiscent of banana bread before finishing with a light hop touch. A nice experience, and one I intend to repeat if possible. Limited releases tend to be hard to come by! 4/5

Lagunitas IPA: My third and final sampling, which I unfortunately had to resample due to a bad bottle. Luckily, I found myself another tall boy and gave it a second chance. Glad I did too! Much like their other creations, this beer balances some rich malts with a complex, mixed hop profile. Clear and deep amber in color, it has a nose that contains some spicey, herbal notes. The taste comes on smooth, giving way to hop bitterness and finishing with a slight touch of sweetness. I’m glad I went back for seconds, otherwise I might have made the mistake of thinking these guys missed with one of the most popular beers in their lineup! 4.5/5

Well, that was my Californian sampling for this month. I hope to compliment this again soon when my wife and I do our summer road trip. As it stands, we were thinking of touring the Pacific Northwest so we might experience the plethora of Cascadian craft-brewers firsthand! Looking forward to it…