Townsite Zwarte Wheat

townsite_zwartewheatBrewer: Townsite Brewing, Powell River, BC
Style: Dark Witbier
ABV: 5.2%
IBUs: Unspecified

Description: Townsite’s latest offering, this beer is described as an “accidental seasonal”, meaning that its creation was no-doubt serendipitous. Combining the tradition of Witbier with the addition of midnight wheat, we get a dark take on the Belgian wheat that is just in time for summer.

Tasting Notes: I am a lover of dark wheats, but those have typically taken the form of Dunkelweizens. So it was both interesting and educational to try a dark wheat with a Belgian twist. In addition to being very smooth, clean and refreshing, it had a slight tang and a yeasty bite that could only come with Belgian yeasts and dark roasted malts. A good summer refresher!

Appearance: Deep brown/black, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle wheat malts, mild toasted notes, yeast, minerals
Taste: Smooth wheat malt, mild tang, yeasty bitterness, hint of sourdough bread
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast notes, clean finish, quite refreshing
Overall: 8.5/10

Advertisements

4 Mile Summer Wheat Ale

4Mile_summerwheatBrewer: 4 Mile Brewing Company, Victoria, BC
Style: Wheat Ale
Alc/Vol: 4.5%
IBUs: 24

Description: A summer seasonal beer, and what I believe is the first limited release from the brewery, this wheat ale is a mild brew that is decidedly English in inspiration. This translates to a sessional-style wheat with mild malts, a lower alcohol content, and a mild hopping that results in a smooth, refreshing taste and little aftertaste.

Tasting Notes: When it comes to wheat ales, I tend to expect some banana flavor, some coriander spice, a little orange zest, some serious yeasts, or some tangy fruit flavor to offset a milder malt. However, this is due to my being accustomed to strong hefeweizens and Belgian wits, and that really didn’t diminish this beer’s refreshing nature and smooth character. Mild wheat malts, a subtle yeast backbone, and a clean finish with a Pilsner-like grainy and herbal flavor characterize this beer. Definitely a good summer thirst quencher.

Appearance: Golden, slightly cloudy, mild foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Mild wheat malt, yeast, Pilsner-like graininess, herbal hops
Taste: Smooth malt, milt tang, hint of yeast, herbal (Noble) hops finish
Aftertaste: Lingering malt bitterness, yeasts and Noble hop notes
Overall: 8.3/10

This completes my sampling from the 4 Mile Brewery, either through their bombers or from tastings at the brewpub itself. I can’t wait for a Fall Seasonal or some more limited releases!

Dieu du Ciel Rosée d’hibiscus

dieuduciel_roseeBrewer: Dieu du Ciel Brewery, St. Jerome, QB
Style: Belgian Wit
Alc/Vol: 5.9%

Description: Rosée d’hibiscus (Pink hibiscus) is aptly named, being a wheat ale that is infused with hibiscus leaves that give it a deep pink color and a fruity aroma and taste. First brewed in May of 2006, this beer is available in 341ml bottles year round, but is appropriately marketed as a summer beer.

Tasting Notes: This is my first sampling from the Dieu du Ciel brewery, and one which is frankly overdue considering that many of their products are available here in BC. And it was certainly an interesting intro, one that reminded me of Sorrel – one of Jamaica’s most famous beverages (also brewed from plant leaves). The wit base is certainly there, coming through with smooth, yeasty malts, which are then accented by a mildly acidic, slightly tart and fruity flavor. Certainly an interesting take of a Belgian-style infused wheat beer, and definitely a great accompaniment to the coming summer days!

Appearance: Deep pink/ruby, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Discernible wheat malt, yeasts, hints of cherry fruit and blossoms
Taste: Immediate tartness and tang, yeast and wheat malt, cherry fruit
Aftertaste: Clean finish, lingering traces of tartness and fruit, very refreshing
Overall: 9.5/10

The Six Pack Project: BC!

6pack-logo1Today, I have honor of taking part in something new. Specifically, its a project that brings beer snobs and lovers from across the continent – and indeed, the world at large – together in our shared fondness for one of mankind’s oldest spirituous beverages. It’s known as the “Six Pack Project”, a campaign that was started by blogger Bryan Roth who shares his love of beer through his website This Is Why I’m Drunk.

And the rules of the project are really quite simple. Every month, six bloggers are featured where they select six beers that they feel best represents their locality and/or its beer culture. The selections must be brewed in-state (or in my case, province) and should be year-round varieties as much as possible, though seasonals are also acceptable. With these basic criteria in mind, I set about trying to select six beers that I felt best represents British Columbia’s brewing culture.

And here’s what I came up with, a list not only of individual brews but the varieties I wanted to cover. As anyone who has ever experienced BC’s beer culture knows, we produce a wide variety of styles, which is very much reflective of our cultural diversity and heritage. As such, the styles I felt I should cover needed to include the best local representations of British, American and Continental European brewing. And so, here are my six choices for BC brewing styles and the beers that I feel best represents them:

India Pale Ale – Central City Red Racer IPA:
red_racer_ipaDefinitely a contender for the best India Pale Ale in BC, if not the entire country, Central City’s Red Races has everything that a fan of Pacific Northwester IPAs have come to expect. This includes a rich amber hue, a strong and floral hop aroma, and a taste that proceeds in waves. This begins with a syrupy, slightly sweet malt flavor, then gives way to a citrusy blend hops that are highly reminiscent of grapefruit before finishing with a lingering bitterness. Strong, yet balanced, it also manages to be quite refreshing, which is not easy when dealing with your maltier, hoppier brand of India Pale Ale. So really, what you get is a very well rounded beer with a wonderful balance of characteristics. Add to that a respectable alcohol content of 6.5 % per volume and you’ve got a winner!

Brown Ale – Cannery Naramata Nut Brown Ale:
Naramata
British Columbia is renowned for producing some mighty fine brown ales, but Cannery’s Naramata Nut Brown remains one of the smoothest and pleasing ones I’ve had to date. Dark and almost stout like in its appearance, this brown is very smooth to taste, but packs a viscous, chewy mouth feel and some very toasty malts that do a nice dance on the tongue. All of this is then rounding out with a nice hop finish and some well-placed chocolate notes. And consistent with its name, it also has a slight nutty profile that calls to mind the taste of cashews and other roasted, harvest nuts.

Session Ale – Lighthouse Tasman Ale:
tasman_aleProduced by Victoria’s own Lighthouse brewery, the Tasman is an session ale that is brewed with local malts but has the distinction of being flavored with hops imported from the Tasman region of New Zealand – hence the name and label art. The result is an light amber-colored ale with a light head that is reminiscent of both a good Northwestern Pale Ale and an ESB. This comes through in the slightly sweet, syrupy malts and the hop profile that is at once citrusy, subtle, multilayered and reminiscent of a dry-hopped bitter. On top of that, it maintains a respectable 5% alc/vol, despite being a session ale, and finishes quite clean and refreshing, making it an all-around pleaser!

Flanders Red – Driftwood Belle Royale Sour Cherry Ale:
bellelogo-sour
As part of Driftwood’s Bird of Prey series, Belle Royale is the third Flanders-style sour ale produced by this brewery. And in my opinion, it is the best so far. This may have to do with the fact that in all previous cases, I was automatically reminded of the tart taste of sour cherries when I sampled them. So it seemed ridiculously appropriate that they chose to fashion one that actually incorporated the fruit this past year. Combined with an oak barrel-aging process and the addition of specialized yeast that brings out the lactic acid, this beer has several layers of flavor which the accomplished beer drinker will enjoy sorting through. It begins with a burst of tart cherries, then proceeds to an oaky  flavor similar to a dry red wine, and then on to a lingering flavor of mild sugars, yeasts and tart fruit flavor. And at 8% alc/vol, it also packs quite the punch!

Belgian Triple – Townsite YOGN 82 Belgian Triple:
townsite_yogn82
Located in Powell Rivers’ historic Townsite district, this brewery is the chief purveyor of beer to the Sunshine Coast, and arguably one of the best breweries in all of BC. And it is without exaggeration that I say that their YOGN 82, the second beer in their Hulk Series, is one of the better Belgian Triple’s that I’ve ever had. Between its golden blonde hue, distinctive Belgian nose, strong malts, hints of banana, and an oaky aftertaste, it has just about everything I have come to know and love about this distinctive style of beer. But one difference which sets it apart is the added kick of citrus and sugary malts, which add some more dimension to the flavor. And like all good Triples, it weighs in at a hefty 9% alc/vol. To be nurtured slowly, and with care!

Hefeweizen – Moon Under Water Victorious Weizenbock:
logo_weizenbock2
Last, but certainly not least, is my current favorite wheat beer that is brewed right here in-province. Produced by Moon Under Water, another brewery located in the heart of Victoria, the Victorious Weizenbock is also my favorite beer out of their entire lineup. Basically, it incorporates the styles of a hefeweizen and a bock to produce something that is truly interesting and harmonious. This comes from the combination of Canadian wheat, German Munich and Chocolate malts, along with New Zealand hops, specialized yeast, and a bock lagering process. And what comes out of all this is a beer that is smooth and tawny at first, then transitions into the sweet and rich, and has notes of banana, clove spice, chocolate, and a nicely spicy, yeasty aftertaste to round it all out. And at 8.2% alc/vol, it’s no slouch in the strength department!

Believe me when I say this was a tough process and I had some hard calls to make. If I could expand on this, I definitely would. But what can you do? Rules are rules, and there’s only so many spots for top contenders. Here’s hoping it helps some people out there in their ongoing quest to find new and interesting beers to try!

More Six Pack Projects from around the world:

  • Connecticut by Kristen at Now Beer This!
  • Indiana by Rebecca at The Bake and Brew
  • Maine by James at Insurance Guy Beer Blog
  • Minnesota by Paige of Alcohol by Volume
  • Montana by Ryan of Montana Beer Finder
  • Oregon by Chris at I Think About Beer

beer-wallpaper

Lighthouse 3 Weeds Belgian Wit

lighthouse_maibock_3weedsHello folks. Today, I come to you with a review of a beer that I’ve been neglected for a few weeks now. While this beer has been available, at least in my area, since May, I’ve been hesitant due to the sheer number of Belgian Wits and other assorted wheat beers that have been making the rounds lately. But of course, I am a fan of the variety and I really can’t stand letting a limited release pass me by, so I decided to get on it!

It’s known as the 3 Weeds Belgian Wit, and much like their recent Mountain Goat Maibock (which I have tried a few times but have yet to review), was released in May in honor of spring. Brewed in the traditional Belgian wheat style, it combines pilsner and wheat malts with rolled oats, hops and a dose of coriander spice and ginger. This makes for a brew that can rival the better wits I’ve tried, boasting a gentle malt profile, a yeasty backing, and a some spicy notes that are varied and complimentary.

Appearance: Golden, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Spicy nose, yeast, discernible coriander
Taste: Immediate burst of yeast and mild fruit, pineapple, citrus, spiciness
Aftertaste: Lingering spice and yeast flavor, ginger tang
Overall: 8.5/10

Overall, I enjoyed this beer quite a bit. And I was especially intrigued by the addition of ginger, which manages to compliment the coriander quite nicely. Whereas most Wits rely on orange rind or some other citrusy addition to do this, here you get a more layered spicy flavor in the end. It’s especially good as a warm weather beer, but was well-paired with the spicy food that I ate alongside it. I’m actually sorry I resisted it for as long as I did. This and the Maibock would have made a great two-fer review!

Spinnakers Hefeweizen

Just in time for summer, Spinnakers has been bit by the witbier bug! And I for one am pretty happy about it. For one, I am a big fan of wheat beer so I generally approve when anyone chooses to release one. Second, Spinnakers is not only one of my favorite brewpubs, it is also located right here in my hometown of Victoria BC. So getting my hands on their beer is never that hard.

So naturally, I approached the arrival of this bottle at my local beer store with some excitement. And in spite of the fact that I;m still battling a cold, I chose to open it up and sample her! First impressions, she’s definitely a wheat beer and definitely in keeping with the best traditions of white ales. But here’s a more detailed breakdown:

Appearance: Cloudy golden orange, typical of a quality hefeweizen
Nose: Immediate traces of cloves, sweet wheat malts, traces of honey
Taste: Gentle malts giving way to clove spice, complex and bitter, but otherwise mild
Aftertaste: A lingering bitterness characterized by citrus rind
Overall: 8/10

Just about everything about this beer is consistent with a good witbier, and that goes for color, aroma and flavor. All that being said, it was a little light for my taste. I generally prefer my wheats to have a bit more of a kick, which usually takes the form of stronger malt that tastes of banana and more potent citrus notes. However, this beer is genuinely refreshing and quite authentic. What’s more, I plan to enjoy several of these before the summer is out. Either on my deck or at the pub itself. Cheers!

Beachcomber Summer Ale

In honor of the fast-approaching summer season, I decided to pick up a case of Vancouver Island’s Beachcomber! This, as it turns out, is the breweries latest release and a seasonal summer ale. In addition, it seems to be part of growing lineup of traditional craft beers produced by the good folks at VIB.

Yes, much like many their competitors over at Lighthouse, and Granville Island Brewery (both of which are major BC breweries) VIB seems to be getting back into the craft brewing groove after years in the wilderness! And, as with these other breweries, it seems that seasonal and specialty beers are the means through which they intend to express this creative impulse. Smart, considering that occasional beers can and must be made in smaller quantities, affording attention to detail and more exacting standards. But I digress. Onto the beer!

Appearance: Golden orange and opaque, unfiltered
Nose: strong wheat malts, citrus notes, pineapple and/or passion fruit
Taste: slightly coarse, touch of orange peel, cloves and slightly bitter hop bite
Aftertaste:
relatively clean finish, lingering taste of foamy malts and hop bitterness
Total: 8/10

Overall, I found myself being reminded of Blanche de Chambly, another winner when it comes to the heffeweizen circuit! Much like its predecessor, it is a fitting summer ale that is well paired with bbq, corn on the cob and just about any other summery food, or enjoyed on its own while sitting on a shady patio! Put away your rain coats and snow suits, people! Summer’s here!