Category 12 ZRA Zombie Repellent Ale

c12-zra-bottle-cBrewer: Category 12, Central Saanich,
Style: Dark Ale (hard to place, really)
ABV: 6.9%
IBUs: 49

Description: This latest seasonal release from C12  – which is located right in my backyard! – is what they describe as being an “anti-pumpkin ale”. This brew is named in honor of its combination of Zythos hops, CaraRed malt, and Azacca hops, which are augmented by the addition of Fennel and Sweet Orange and then fermented using their proprietary strain of Belgian yeast. The end result is a dark ale designed to “snap any mindless, pumpkin spice zombie out of their trance and back to reality”. Really not a fan of pumpkin ales, huh?

Tasting Notes: I for one do not support the political agenda inherent in this beer! Okay, mandatory disclaiming done, now let’s get to this beer! I found this brew to be brilliantly experimental and very tasty. The dark malt, Belgian yeast, and combination of hops provides a malty, spicy and crisp base. The addition of fennel and orange add to the pleasant spiciness and soften things a bit with some additional sweetness. A balanced, tasty, and very interesting brew!

Appearance: Deep brown/ruby, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich fennel spice, Belgian yeasts, pepper, hint of citrus, dry herbal hops
Taste: Crisp malt, malt sweetness, yeast bite, dry herbal hops, fennel spice, orange
Aftertaste: Lingering spice, dry herbs, yeasty bitterness
Overall: 9.5/10

Category 12 Insubordinate Session IPA

c12_insubordinateBrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Central Saanich, BC
Style: Session IPA
ABV: 4.5%
IBUs: 58

Description: In what is Category 12’s latest seasonal release, the Insubordinate is a sessional take on the Pacific Northwestern India Pale Ale. Crystal and Vienna malts provide the base, which is then bittered using Centennial and Columbus hops, along with an infusion of Zythos for some extra dry-hopping.

Tasting Notes: Given that this brewery is right here in my neighborhood, I was able to snag some bottles of this brew direct. And while sampling, I was even able to guess the hops used (well, it took a few guesses to get all three). In any case, this brew is a good addition after the powerhouse that was their Transmutation, employing a lighter malt base with a good hopping that employs both a bitter, citrus and tropical fruit start with a herbal, dry hop finish. An all around crisp and refreshing take on the Pacific Northwestern IPA.

Appearance: Amber/orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malt, tropical fruit nose, pineapple, passion fruit, herbal infusion
Taste: Crisp malt, citrus, pine, herbs, dry hop bitterness, mineral tang
Aftertaste: Lingering dry hop bitterness, herbs, citrus rind, quite refreshing
Overall: 8.5/10

Category 12 Unsanctioned Saison

C12_unsanctionedBrewer: Category 12 Brewing, Central Saanich, BC
Style: Saison
ABV: 6.9%
IBUs: Unspecified

Description: Another Belgian-inspired creation by Category 12, the Unsanctioned Saison is part of their regular lineup. Superior Pilsner, Belgian Caravienne malts are combined with a hint of rye, bittered with Zythos hops, and then fermented using their household Belgian yeast strains.

Tasting Notes: Once again, I’ve reserved reviewing this beer until I had it in a bomber. This is the problem with living close to a brewery – it is exceedingly easy to get beer in growlers! Anyway, this brew was an exercise in balanced flavor. Crisp malts are accented by Saison yeast, which provides a nice, spicy bite. The Zythos hops and a touch rye provide some lovely balance by adding notes of pineapple and body to the mix.

Appearance: Golden/amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Crisp malt, floral, spicy yeast, mild hops, faint trace of rye and pineapple
Taste: Smooth, semi-sweet malt, yeasty tang, pineapple and rye bread, spicy yeast finish
Aftertaste: Lingering yeast, rye, and malt sweetness
Overall: 9/10

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

Dead Frog Immaculate India Golden Ale

dead-frog-immaculateBrewer: Dead Frog Brewery, Aldergrove BC
Style: India Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 6.5%
IBUs: 50

Description: A seasonal release from Dead Frog’s expansive (and expanding) lineup, this IPA is brewed is light in color to pay homage to summer. It is fashioned using a combination of 2 Row, Belgian Aromatic, Cara 8, Pale, and White Wheat malts, and then bittered with Cascade, Centennial, and Zythos hops.

Tasting Notes: It’s been awhile since I tried a Dead Frog, and this beer was a good reintroduction. It’s complex malt profile was reminiscent of barley wine with its rich palette and sweetness, which is enhanced by the bitter, piney, citrusy and tropical fruit flavors offered by its varied hop content. It’s strength is well balanced and appetizing, which makes for a good summer IPA.

Appearance: Golden/amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malts, varied hop nose, grassy, citrus, pineapple, sugary
Taste: Rich malt, barley wine-like sugars, strong notes of pineapple, pine, citrus
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, sugars, citrus rind and pine
Overall: 9/10

Tuatara Double Trouble Extra-Dimensional APA

tuatara_logoQuite the mouthfull, isn’t it? Well, believe me when I say that nothing about this beer seems tame or conventional. In addition to a label that is designed to look like something that requires 3D glasses, this New Zealand brew and its patrons were clearly going for something overwhelming, yet nuanced, powerful, yet balanced.

Tuatara_DoubleTroubleAnd the style, IAPA, I can only assume means Imperial Australian Pale Ale, or possible Imperial American Pale Ale. Hard to say. All I know is, given its strength, maltiness, and extreme hoppy profile, this beer is essentially an Imperial IPA with a big twist!

But I digress… This beer came highly recommended from one of my buds at the beer store. Weighing in at a heft 9% alc/vol, and loaded with hops to the point that it ranks at a stunning 167 IBUs (most IPAs rank between 40 and 80). The varieties include Pacific Jade, Nelson Sauvin, and Simcoe hops to bitter the beer, then Zythos late in the boil for flavour and aroma, and then more Nelson Sauvin for the first dry-hop, followed by more Simcoe and Zythos a second dry-hop. And the result, as I said, is something truly multi-faceted and powerful, though not overwhelming.

Appearance: Deep orange/amber, cloudy, medium foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Very malty, syrupy nose, massive bouquet of citrus, pine, floral, tropical fruit
Taste: Sweet, slightly coarse malts, citrus fruit and rind, notes of pineapple and apricot
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and heavy malt flavor
Overall: 9/10

awards2012poster

Apparently, this brew also won a the silver medal for the 2012 Brewers Guild of New Zealand (BGNZ) Awards. This is just one of several medals collected by the brewery in 2012, but don’t expect them to brag about that much. For as they say on their website, no doubt with much irony: “Awards are just irrelevant wank for beer snobs. But dammit, somebody’s got to win them!”

My God… can you really say “wank” on a website? Apparently, they can! A good first sampling from this Kiwi brewery, and I will be looking for more. In addition to much foul language, their website would seem to indicate they have a rather full lineup. I will have to go searching for some very soon…

Dead Frog Fearless IPA

I just got a special delivery… and I do mean special! After liaising with the good folks over at Dead Frog brewery a few weeks ago, I was told to expect some samples of their new Fearless IPA. Today was the day that my samples arrived. Yep, three bottles all wrapped up in bubble wrap and sealed in a paper-wrapped box. The sampling began shortly thereafter…

From the earliest indications, the Fearless looks, smells and pours like a true IPA, with an amber color, a hoppy bouquet, and mild foam retention. However, it is slightly different in that it has a very good clarity, which one does not always find with IPAs. The alcohol content and hop content are also consistent with a Northwestern India Pale, weighing in at a respectable 6.5% per/vol and 77 IBUs.

And then of course comes the interesting hop combination. By using Galaxy, Zythos, Cascade and Columbus hops, the brewmasters were clearly going for a unique combination of sweet and robust. The former two strands are Australian and a combination variety that are known for achieving a tropical fruit taste and smell. The latter two are well-known amongst beer drinkers as being what gives Northwestern Pale Ales and IPA’s their citrusy profile. The end result is what one might describe as a rippling effect of flavor.

Appearance: Crystal clear, good amber hue, mild foam
Nose: Citrus notes and hints of pineapple and passion fruit
Taste: Immediate burst of bitterness and malt giving way to citrus and slight sweetness
Aftertaste: Lingering piney flavor, intermittent pineapple
Overall: 8/10

As it stands, this is the third IPA that I’ve sampled from Dead Frog, all of which are only available in the 650ml bottle. First there was their limited release Fusion Hop, followed shortly thereafter by the Citra IPA. Of the three, I think this one ranks the highest. Many beers get bonus marks for experimentation, but this beer gets its marks for being an experiment done right. And just in case people were wondering, absolutely no marks were given for home delivery! 😉 Kudos Dead Frog, congratulation on a fine product and thanks for the sample!