Phillips Anxiety Ale Belgian Quad

phillips_anxiety-bottle-shot-300x400Brewer: Phillips Brewing, Victoria, BC
Style: Belgian Quadruple Ale
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs: Unlisted

Description: This seasonal release honors the holiday season, specifically the stress that is too commonly involved! Brewed in the traditional style of Belgian Quadruple Ale (with a twist) it employs barley and wheat malts that are then fortified with Candi sugar.

Tasting Notes: I was a bit perplexed by this ale. Sure, the bottle says Quadruple, but between the alcohol strength (Belgian-style Quadruples are usually in the 10-13% range), and its taste, it seemed far more akin to a strong Marzen, or possible a Dubbel. A nice and highly drinkable beer, but one which feels mislabeled.

Appearance: Deep amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich, toasty malts, mild sugars, hint of minerals,  
Taste: Rich malt, chewy mouthfeel, minerals and mild caramelized sugars
Aftertaste: Lingering caramelized malt, minerals, mild alcohol bite
Overall: 7.8/10

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Driftwood Old Cellar Dweller 2015

driftwood_ocd2015Brewer: Driftwood Brewery, Victoria, BC
Style: Barley Wine
ABV: 11.4%
IBUs: Unlisted (60ish or more)

Description: This is the latest vintage of Driftwood Brewery’s Old Cellar Dweller, a seasonal barley wine released every year in time for the holidays. This year’s offering is brewed with 98% Pale Malt and a small trace of CaraMunch thrown in for color, and is then bittered using a generous dose of Columbus hops.

Tasting Notes: As I’ve said before, every year’s OCD is a little different. This year, they chose to tone down the alcohol (just a little), and go the single hop and (mostly) single malt route in order to showcase what both of these ingredients, in their most concentrated states, could do. And like the two previous vintages, this year’s tends more towards the Imperial IPA than a barley wine. But it remains a powerful winter warmer, boasting some rich malts, powerful hops, and a warm, alcoholic bite!

Appearance: Deep gold/light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Powerful hop-forward aroma, grassy, citrus, pineapple, rich malt
Taste: Sweet, semi-coarse malt, notes of pineapple, citrus rind, grass and pine
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt and hop bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Phillips Instigator Doppelbock

phillips_instigator_2012Winter beer is such a fun phenomena, mainly because it results in deep, rich ales that boast a lot of flavor but are still smooth and drinkable. And of course, they combine all this with a high alcohol content. Yes, winter beer reminds us of simpler times when the winter season was cold, windy, and people stayed warm by liquoring up with something which stuck to their ribs!

And in that respect, I have secured my latest winter seasonal, Phillips Instigator Doppelbock! In keeping with the Phillips tradition of limited releases and seasonal beers, Instigator is back for the winter of 2012. And much like its predecessors, it’s a dark, smooth, semi-sweet, and quite strong, everything one would expect from a Doppelbock!

Appearance: Dark brown/amber, transparent and mild foam retention
Nose: Rich malts, mild notes of caramel, brown sugar
Taste: Smooth malts, slight sweetness, hints of caramelized sugar
Aftertaste: Slight smokiness, tang, mild hop bite
Overall: 8.5/10

In many ways, I was reminded of Creemore Urbock and Hoyne’s Best Bock, and believe me, that’s a flattering comparison. Much like these other fine beer – both of which I look forward to drinking again very soon! – it boasted the right kind of smooth, semi-sweet flavor with a very clean, drinkable profile. Comparatively speaking, it was somewhat lighter, but still a winner in my book! Glad I picked it up at my local watering hole!

Spinnakers Festive Saison

spinnakers_festivesaisonSince I tried this one in the pub itself, I’ve been yearning to get my hands on a bottle so I could give it a proper review. Like many brews they produce, it can be a challenge to find some in a bottle. Luckily, this holiday season, some was retrievable at my favorite local watering hole. So here we are!

And as my second winter seasonal beer review, it was also quite impressive. To be fair, I’m not a huge fan of the Saison beer variety, but I do approve of a refreshing beer with notes of spice and fruit that is gentle on the palate and quite refreshing. And thought this one was a bit light for my taste, I still found plenty to enjoy about it.

Appearance: Light yellow, transparent and very mild foam retention
Nose: Belgian yeast, notes of coriander and clove spice
Taste: Light, slightly bitter tang, yeasty and clean
Aftertaste: Mild taste of coriander and clove spice, citrus rind
Overall: 7.5/10

Stay tuned! More holiday beer to come soon. And maybe a few more fall beers that didn’t quite make it out in time.