Postmark Winter Red

postmark_winterredBrewer: Postmark Brewing, Vancouver, BC
Style: Red Ale
ABV: 5.5%
IBUs: 23

Description: Brewed for the winter season, this red ale is made using Red X Malt and bittered with Perle Hops. Fermentation is then done using a special strain of Belgian Ardennes yeast, which highlights fruit flavors and adds a spicy aroma.

Tasting Notes: This is definitely one of the better beers I’ve had in recent months. As a fan or red ales, I do enjoy it when someone does one right. This beer strikes a very nice balance between a rich, deep malt flavor, fruity notes and earthy hops flavor, with a mild spicy yeast finish..

Appearance: Deep ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich, deep malt nose, notes of sweet bread and orchard fruit, earthy hops
Taste: Sweet, syrupy malts, fruity esters, grassy, earthy hops and minerals, hint of spice
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, earthy hops
Overall: 9/10

Mill St. Barley Wine

Me, outside of Mill St.'s new location in Ottawa, ON

Me, outside of Mill St.’s new location in Ottawa, ON. Photo by Carla Jack

Ask, and ye shall find the beer ye be looking for! Or something like that… Yes, less than a day after I formulated my list of winter seasonal reviews, which came complete with the final three beers I wanted to try, I found the first amongst those final few. Yes, MIll St. Barley Wine now sits on my shelf, and the custom ceramic bottle is slowly emptying…

For some time, I’ve been generally lauding Mill St. for its creative endeavors. Their Tank House Pale Ale is one of the best I’ve ever had, and with few exceptions, their lineup is pretty impressive. And when it comes to barley wine, they release an annual batch that is contained in a ceramic, half-liter container and is very strong. This year’s comes in a black container and weighs in at a hefty 11.5 % alc/vol.

Appearance: Dark amber, touch of cloudiness, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Strong, syrupy malts, notes of citrus
Taste: Immediate touch of brown sugar giving way to coarse malts and slight bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt flavor, alcohol and slight hoppiness
Overall: 8/10

barley_wine2All in all, this beer was quite strong and I fear, somewhat overpowering. This is not so much a factor in alcohol content as taste, where the powerful, extra strong malt character leads to a coarse quality which pushes just about everything else to the side. The trace hops and sweetness are quite appealing, but they tend to get overshadowed, which is too bad. Still, this was a highly pleasurable beer and definitely a worthy addition to my winter lineup. And even though a single bottle can run you in excess of 20 dollars, I consider it a worthy investment.

VIB Storm Watcher Winter Lager

Storm-WatcherTo be honest and fair with my followers, this beer is one I’ve really taken my time to sample. In fact, I can recall seeing it in arriving in the beer store well over a year ago, greeting the winter drinking season of 2011/2012 with promise. And I must admit, it caught my eye and I was eager to see how it stacked up to other winter beers, most notably Granville Island’s, Tree’s, and Dead Frog’s. And yet I did nothing…

Until now. And since it’s still winter and the seasonal beers keep coming, I thought it was high time to strike this one off my list. And, once again in the spirit of honesty and fairness, this beer did not stack up extremely well, at least when compared to its brethren. Much like the aforementioned winter seasonals, it boasted a dark character, sweet malts, and notes of vanilla. However, unlike the others, it was a rather light lager, which kind of detracted from the overall experience. Though still pleasant and drinkable, the famous winter flavor kind of falls flat amidst its crisp, clean-tasting body.

Appearance: Dark brown-amber, transparent and mild foam retention
Nose: Sweet malts, caramel, vanilla
Taste: Immediate hint of vanilla, mild caramel and honey malts
Aftertaste: Lingering vanilla taste, malts, very clean
Overall: 7.5/10

Yes, this beer was by no means a slouch, but it was a little light and clean for my taste. Personally, I do wonder why they went with a lager instead of ale for this installment in their lineup. But then again its entirely possible they were looking to build on the success of their Hermann’s Dark Lager. But in this case I’d say it was a marriage which, though done well, could have been done better.

Dead Frog Winter Beeracle

deadfrog-winterbeeracleGuess what I just got in the mail? Yep, another sampler pack from the Dead Frog Brewery. And today, consistent with the Christmas season, is their latest version of Winter Beeracle. This year, they’ve altered the recipe somewhat, going from a spiced amber ale of last year to a dark ale with a different palate.

In this batch, the flavors of note are vanilla, which accent the chocolate malts quite well, and some orange peel that add actual citrus to the hop profile (Cascade and Perle). In the end, what comes of it is a gentle Winter Warmer with a flavor that compliments Christmas deserts quite well, is low in bitterness (25 IBUs), but still packs a respectable alcoholic punch (7.5% alc/vol).

WinterbeeracleAppearance: Very dark brown-red, transparent, light foam retention
Nose: Immediate notes of vanilla, slight zest
Taste: Strong vanilla accent, sweet malts, notes of chocolate
Aftertaste: Slightly bitter aftertaste, citrus hops and orange zest
Overall: 8/10

Not a bad winter warmer, Dead Frog. The flavor, strength and spices are all warm, inviting, tasty and sweet. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of mulled wine, hot spice cider, and other holiday beverages that combine fruit, spice and warm your ribs! I envision figgy pudding going very well with this, or chocolate chow mein cookies, or short breads dipped in chocolate. Damn, I need to start pressuring the family to start making Christmas cookies!