leapbeer

Mission : Leap Beer, 366 Beers in 366 Days

Archive for the tag “pale ale”

Leapbeer #352 is Driftwood (Pale) Ale by Driftwood Brewing Company

With this last driftwood review I manage to get all of the Driftwood Brewing Company beers (from this year) on the Leapbeer Master List. I really tried to get as many of the Vancouver Island Breweries on that list. Some of them have been a challenge to get, and others have been downright impossible. Thankfully Driftwood has been pretty available close to my area, and this beer I picked up at my local Campbell River government liquor store.

Many of the Driftwood beers (Fat Tug, Naughty Hildegaard, Sartori Harvest & Singularity) have been among the favorites for the year. When I picked this up it gave me pause to think, ‘when was the last time I bought this beer?’ I honestly could not remember. I didn’t even know what style of beer this was when I bought it.

As it turns out the Driftwood Ale is a Pale Ale (hence the pale in quotes in the title). It is a clear dark golden beer with a white head on top. Its aroma is kind of skunky with piney hops and caramel malts. When I smelled it I was concerned that the bottle may be off. When I tasted it I found it to be a super bitter forward pale ale. There’s big hop notes with a subtle malt body to it. The lasting bitterness from these hops really linger in my mouth. If I had the chance to I would pick up a different bottle to see if it was just the one I bought in CR that was skunky, but I really don’t have the time before the end of the year.

Leapbeer #352 is Driftwood (Pale) Ale

Driftwood (Pale) Ale by Driftwood Brewing Company

Driftwood (Pale) Ale by Driftwood Brewing Company

Brewery: Driftwood Brewing Company of Victoria, BC
Size/ABV: 650ml Bottle/5.0% ABV
Availability: Wide
Purchased @: Government Liquor Store Campbell River
Webpage:
http://driftwoodbeer.com/beers/driftwood-ale/
Other Reviews: BeerAdvocate & Rate Beer

Thanks for Reading

Advertisements

Leapbeer Reviews #346-348 Unibroue Mixer

The other day I was at Merecroft Village Liquor Store I noticed that there was a deal with the Unibroue mixer packs. With the purchase of a twelve pack you get a free stemmed glass.  As I am an absolute sucker for free glassware I couldn’t say no. It included 4 beers, La Gaillarde, Blanche de Chambly, Blonde de Chambly & La Fin Du Monde. The last of which already holds a place on the leapbeer master list, #47. If you recall I kind of ripped that beer for being overly yeasty and sweet. This was very early in the leapbeer journey (February), but since that time my palate has definitely changed. I’ve had a chance to revisit this beer, and now I quite like it (But I’ll get to that later in the post).

First up is La Gaillarde. This is a Belgian style Pale Ale. According to Canadian Beer News (link below) this a beer that they only recently been brought back after over a decade on haitus.

Inspired by an ale recipe from the 16th century, La Gaillarde was first brewed in 1995 for the Québec Medieval Festival, and remained in production until late 1999 when it was discontinued.  (Canadian Beer News)

La Gaillard is a cloudy golden beer with a pillowy white head on top. There’s lots of tiny bubbles in the abundance of carbonation. It has a very complex bouquet, smelling of lemon rind, biscuits, dry white wine and grapes. It is a very bubbly beer, with a strong initial alcohol thump up front. Then it settles to a dry and bready beer. It’s almost if apple cider was meshed with a Belgian pale ale. Nice and refreshingly clean finish.

Leapbeer #346 is La Gaillarde

La Gaillarde by Unibroue

La Gaillarde by Unibroue

Brewery: Unibroue of Quebec
Size/ABV: 355ml Bottle/5.0% ABV
Purchased: Merecroft Village Liquor Store in Campbell River
Website: http://www.canadianbeernews.com/2012/05/12/unibroue-la-gaillarde-returns-after-more-than-a-decade/
Other Reviews: Beer Advocate, Rate Beer

Read more…

Leapbeer Reviews #341-344 Catching up with Spinnakers

In my effort to catch up I find myself with a back log of Spinnakers beers to review. A couple of them were released earlier in the year and a couple more recently. The line up for today is Happy New Beer, Über Blonde Strong Belgian Style Ale, India Session Pale Ale and Hoptoria IPA.

First up is the Happy New Beer. This is a Wit bier, or Belgian style wheat beer. It is a low test (4.5% ABV) sessionable beer that I’m guessing is intended for popping midnight December 31st (I’m sorry Spinnakers I couldn’t wait). It is a clear golden beer with a white head on top. It smells of toffee, apples and malt. All arranged in a very delicate bouquet. I find that it is a light and whimsical wit. There’s minor sweetness with a hint of salted caramel to it. My only sticky point with this beer is that it has a very lingering bitter note to the taste, somewhat uncharacteristic for wheat beer styles.

Leapbeer #341 is Happy New Beer

Happy New Beer by Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub

Happy New Beer by Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub

Brewery: Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub in Victoria BC
Size/ABV: 650ml Bomber/4.5%
Availability: Some Private Liquor Stores and @ Spinnakers
Purchased @:
Cascadia Liquor Quadra st Victoria
Other Reviews: Rate Beer, Beeradvocate

Read more…

Leapbeer Reviews #324-328 A Flight of Canoe

Last night I had the opportunity to share some delicious beers with a good friend, so I brought over a sampling of 5 different Canoe Brewpub beers including three of their core beers and two different seasonals. Unfortunately a couple of the bottles were from the summer time and at least one was negatively affected by the age of the beer. The beers we were drinking were Red Canoe Lager, Sirens Song Pale Ale, Summer Honey Wheat Ale, River Rock Bitter and Winter Gale Strong Ale.

Canoe Brewpub FlightRed Canoe Lager, Siren Song Pale Ale, Summer Honey Wheat Ale, River Rock Bitter, Winter Gale Strong Ale

Canoe Brewpub Flight
Red Canoe Lager, Siren Song Pale Ale, Summer Honey Wheat Ale, River Rock Bitter, Winter Gale Strong Ale

First up is the Red Canoe Lager. It was somewhat unfortunate for us to start with this bottle as it was one of the ones that was old. This is advertised on their website as a Czech pilsner, but this bottle didn’t taste like it. I’ve had it at the brewpub and it is a very nice lager beer. This bottle, unfortunately, was not. Drinking a skunky beer wasn’t how I wanted to start off the night. I can attest to the fact that, when fresh, this beer is very pleasant. Its all uphill after this one (I promise).

Leapbeer #324 is Red Canoe Lager

Red Canoe Lager by Canoe Brewpub

Red Canoe Lager by Canoe Brewpub

Brewery: Canoe Brewpub in Victoria BC
Size/ABV: 650ml Bottle(Also Available in Growler at the Brewpub)/5.2% ABV
Availability: At the brewpub
Website: http://www.canoebrewpub.com/beer.html
Other Reviews: Beer Advocate, Rate Beer

Read more…

Leapbeer Reviews #315-319 A Cornucopia of Phillips Brau

Another in my list of compressed reviews is me catching up with some of the seasonals by Phillips Brewing Company. My lazy blogging has left me with quite the back log of Vancouver Island craft beers to cover, but all that is changing. You’ve undoubtedly noticed that I have been covering multiple beers per post during the month of December. I was almost 90 back from my 366 goal when December started, but I’m catching up. Enough of the ‘mea culpa‘, lets get on to the beer.

I assembled quite the line up of beers to taste, but I included one from leapbeer’s past. Here’s the tasting line up

The Selection of Phillips Brewing Company BeersAlso a Flying Tanker as a reference beer for a White IPA style

The Selection of Phillips Brewing Company Beers
Also a Flying Tanker as a reference beer for a White IPA style

First up was a head to head comparison of White IPAs. I managed to pry one final Flying Tanker out of VIB Rob’s stash to use as a benchmark to compare the Phillips offering against. If you didn’t read my review of the Flying Tanker White IPA you can read it here. But to sum up, I loved it. It was beer of frankenstein-ish make up that it both confounded and pleased my taste buds. I’m breaking my reviews down to the three critera system I used in the post about beer cellaring. They’ll be examined by Appearance, Aroma and Taste.

Appearance
Flying Tanker: Dark Gold and cloudy with a tall pillowy white head
Electric Unicorn: Cloudy and golden, almost a sun yellow gold colour. Thin white head present.

Aroma
Flying Tanker: Slightly piney, some  citrus hop notes. Hefeweizen yeast characteristics as well (cloves and banana type aromas)
Electric Unicorn: Big time hops, pines and citrus. Hints of orange groves. A bit of a bready or biscuit type aroma as well.

Taste
Flying Tanker: A bolder flavour profile from previous tanker tastings. A strong bold IPA wrapped in a fluffy hefeweizen coat.
Electric Unicorn: Thin and smooth. Very easy drinking. Lots of hops bitterness to it, tastes more IPA than white IPA

My overall thoughts about the Electric Unicorn are that it was a very tasty beer. I tried it earlier in the year and really didn’t enjoy it. That was why I got the flying tanker to do a side by side with since I loved that beer so much. The age hasn’t been that good for the Tanker, which is to be expected. Hefeweizens or those made with that yeast strain are meant for consuming, not aging. The age, however, was a good thing for the Unicorn. I think it made it a more palatable. I kind of missed the window to showcase the Electric Unicorn during its sale period, and for that I apologize.

Leapbeer #146 is Flying Tanker White IPA and Leapbeer #315 is Electric Unicorn White IPA

Vancouver Island Brewing Flying Tanker & Phillips Brewing Company Electric Unicorn White IPA

Vancouver Island Brewing Flying Tanker & Phillips Brewing Company Electric Unicorn White IPA

Brewery: Phillips Brewing Company of Victoria BC
Released: August 28th, 2012
Size/ABV: 650ml Bottle/6.5% ABV
Availability: None
Purchased @:
Merecroft Village Liquor Store
Other Reviews: Ian Lloyd (@Left4beer), Beer Advocate, Rate Beer

Read more…

Leapbeer Reviews #295-300 Flight of the Townsite

With it getting closer to the end of the year and me needing to get my blogging butt in gear I coordinated a nice tasting evening for me and some friends. This has helped me to cover some of the stockpile of beers I’ve been sitting on. It also helps me to get through a full flights of beers without being left with the task of consuming four or more bombers in one night. Our most recent tasting evening included a flight from Powell River’s own Townsite Brewery. You may recall that I went through there earlier in the leapbeer journey in one of my leapbeer field trips.

They have a really cool set up there with lots of local flair. Karen noted to us that Cedric their brewmaster could very well be the only Belgian born brewmaster in BC. Each of their labels has a tidbit about the name of the beer along with the local significance. They will be included in the write up as well.

First beer from Townsite is their Westview Wheat a summer witbier, or belgian style wheat beer. It is a very tasty beer that I am guessing they will be bringing back again late next spring/early summer 2013. It is a touch on the sweet side, but doesn’t have the usual banana-esque notes that most hefeweizens have.

Note: Westview: noun 1. direction of every view in Powell River, and features the epic Comox Glacier, 2. a refreshing summer seasonal witbier

Leapbeer #295 is Westview Wheat

Westview Wheat

Westview Wheat

Read more…

Leapbeer Reviews #293 & 294 – The Last of the VI Fresh Hops

I’ve covered a bunch of fresh hopped beers so far in the blog. The last Vancouver Island fresh hopped beers I’ve found are the Hop Harvest Pale Ale by The Moon Under Water Brewpub and the Green Reaper Fresh Hop IPA by Phillips.

First up is the Hop Harvest Pale Ale by The Moon Under Water Brewpub. This beer came out early in September of this year, right before the news broke about the change of owners/brewers. This is a lovely deep amber pale ale with a tight bubble cream coloured head on top. The piney fresh hop notes are starting to fade on this one a bit, but they’re still present on the nose. It has a supple malt body that has flavours of mild orange and tart bitterness to it. It is a lovely pale ale that I look forward to seeing the next iteration of it next year. It is of note with this beer that the fresh hops were used for the dry hopping of this beer (as specified on the label), meaning that the hops used in the initial boil were a dried variant of some sort.

Leapbeer #293 is Hop Harvest Pale Ale by The Moon Under Water Brewpub (2 pictures, the second shows off the beer colour better)

Hop Harvest Pale Ale - Dry Hopped with Fresh Hops

Hop Harvest Pale Ale – Dry Hopped with Fresh Hops

Better Pic of the Colour of the Beer

Better Pic of the Colour of the Beer

Brewery: The Moon Under Water Brewpub of Victoria BC
Released: September 8th, 2012
Size/ABV: 650ml Bottle/5.0% ABV
Availability: Very Limited (as far as I know)
Purchased @:
Cascadia Liquor Liquor Store Quadra St Victoria

Read more…

Leapbeer Fieldtrip – Brewmaster Dinner at Swans Brewpub

On November the 10th, Swans Brewpub had their Brewmaster Dinner. It was a limited seating event, taking up the back half of the restaurant. I was teased the day before by a pic they posted to twitter.

Swans 2012 Brewmaster Dinner Cake

Swans 2012 Brewmaster Dinner Cake

(Courtesy of their twitter feed)

With interests piqued my sister and I headed down to Swans to check out the event. It was a packed house for this 5 course meal, each paired with one of their beers. And, as the evening started, it was hinted that there would be a special ‘secret’ beer as well.

Menu for the night

Menu for the night

First course was a fondue starter paired with Swans Arctic Ale (#280 on the Leapbeer Master List). It was a shared plate of apple and pear slices, grapes and spiced nuts to be dipped in a beer infused cheese sauce. The sauce was very reminiscent of what you’d expect from a nice home cooked cheese sauce over cauliflower or broccoli, but with a hint of blue cheese to it as well. The ale served as a nice palate cleanser between each fon-dunk. This was a great way to start the evening.

First Course

First Course Fondue – Paired with Arctic Ale

Read more…

Leapbeer Reviews #262 Wolf Vine Wet Hopped Pale Ale by Hoyne Brewing Company

I’m again covering another wet hopped beer. They are notoriously fragile brews, and should be consumed as close to release as possible. One really cool thing about this beer, the Wolf Vine Wet Hopped Pale Ale, is that it is an infusion of Victoria grown hops. A regular Leapbeer reader and friend of the brewers in Victoria has some Cascade hops growing in his backyard. This year Sean Hoyne came by Kev’s place at harvest time and grabbed 9 pounds of the little beauties for this beer.

Here’s the hops plants during the summer before getting added to this beer.

Another really cool thing about this beer is the label. Even my wife wanted to know if this would be available in a format that we could put it up on the wall. Hoyne needs to be commended on the quality of their labels.

Read more…

Leapbeer Interview – Paul Hadfield, Publican of Spinnakers Gastro Brewpup

As I have mentioned before, on my trip to Victoria in July I had the opportunity to stay at Spinnakers in their guest house, and ample opportunity to sample their beers as well. One of the highlights of our trip was a wonderful tour of the facilities with the owner & publican of Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub, Mr Paul Hadfield.

After our tour I arranged to do an interview with Paul, here it is.

Thanks for taking the time for us Paul, your establishment is a world class place. Do you mind telling my readers a bit about how it got started?

Spinnakers’ story began shortly after John Mitchell opened the first small scale commercial craft brewery of the modern era in Horseshoe Bay, in June 1982.  That he was granted a Brewer’s License, whilst being on the license of an affiliated neighbourhood pub license was groundbreaking.  Shortly after opening his Horseshoe Bay brewery, John became very aware of the shortcomings and set off to UK in search of better equipment.  Whilst he was away, I began the groundwork for a Victoria brewpub.  Upon his return, he agreed to sell his shares in the Troller Pub in Horseshoe Bay and we agreed to proceed with Spinnakers as the first purpose built brewpub of the modern era in Canada.  As an architect, my job was to find a site, design and build the premises and John was to be the brewer and publican.  The process took about 20 months from idea to opening day and involved a process wherein we had to do an update to the Vic West community plan, create new zoning bylaws for the City of Victoria, work with BC’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch to create guidelines for brewpubs and work to change the Federal Excise Act to enable brewpubs to be both manufacturers and retailers of beer.


You’ve built Spinnakers into such an iconic establishment in Victoria. With a brewpub, lavish guest houses, gourmet kitchen, bakery, choclatier, artisan vinegar brewery and the artesian well all on site, what could be next for Spinnakers?


We are currently shifting our focus somewhat to be more brewery production oriented, having this year begun to ship our beers up Island and into the lower mainland.  Given the challenges facing the hospitality industry what with the downturned economy, the impacts of HST on food service establishments, the impact of changes to drinking and driving regulations and how they are administered and most recently the increases to labour costs as a result of minimum wage increases, we found ourselves searching for revenue streams which could be expanded.  We noticed that retail beers sales were growing as more consumers were picking up more product at retail stores and taking it home to enjoy.  We also noticed that there was a significant change in consumer preferences in greater Vancouver where craft beer was replacing (UK and European) imports.  Since the beginning of the year, we have committed to distribution, have more than doubled our brewing, sales and distribution staff,  installed a canning line, new bright tanks and are adding additional fermentation capacity to enable us to meet growth targets.



While we stayed there, I expected the beers to be good (which of course they were) and I expected a high level of quality from the food (which completely exceeded my expectations). But the thing that really amazed me was the attention to detail in absolutely everything. The baking for example. The breakfast scones, the crackers, in fact all of the baked goods we had there were exquisite. Since our stay every time I’ve been through Victoria I stop in and at least get 2 packs of the asiago dill crackers. Also the intricate and complex flavours to your truffles was impressive. What I’m trying to say in such a long winded and rambling way is that you’re whole staff seems to be top notch. Can you explain how you’ve assembled such a top notch team behind Spinnakers? And how have you managed to keep the quality to such a high level?


We came here to be artisan brewers, back in 1984.  At the time, the best insurance was to sell lots of good food to accompany the beers we wanted to sell.  We quickly became known for both with food sales rapidly outpacing beer and liquor sales and stabilizing at around 65 – 70% of total gross sales.  Over time we came to understand the brewery as a source of ingredients which could become inputs into other items.  We also came to view our food operations through a craft beer lens, causing us to seek out artisan growers and producers able to supply us with unique, locally produced food items.  Putting it all together requires that everybody understands, is committed and wants more out of the experience than just flipping frozen burger patties.  We were 20 years ahead of the current local, seasonal, sustainable trend, as doing all of these things was simply consistent with our business model, our underlying philosophy and was a reflection of why we came to be here in the first place.  The magic is that our staff tend to find us now, bringing their own unique skill sets and dreams with them.  We encourage people to try new (old) things and to push the local component to the extreme, looking for substitutions where imported food items are not grown here.  The people, be they brewers, bakers, chocolatier, chef, pastry chef, cooks or bartenders all feed off each other and are encouraged to interact and be innovative in creating (recreating) a local interpretation of cuisine.  In face of globalization, we have stressed going back to the farm gates for ingredients.  We seek out ingredients with good stories and encourage everybody to collaborate and delight our senses and taste buds.  When we evolve our cuisine and differentiate it from globalized food, we begin to define ourselves, culturally, as people.  We are passionate about Vancouver Island and delight in exploring the amazing opportunities that living here provides to all of us.  We aspire to function as a reflection of where we live.


Now that you’ve added canning to your brewery, does that spell relief for those ‘thirsting for a real ale’ further away from Spinnakers? Does that add some heartiness to the shelf life of them?


Canning is certainly superior in terms of protecting beer from the negative impacts of light.  Beyond that, a clean can, like a clean bottle is only as good as what goes into it.  As craft brewers, we are dealing with live products that have to be managed carefully.  I have long lived in fear of what happens to our beers after they leave our control.  We know that beer is very fragile, that it is going to taste best, depending upon what we are striving for, fresh from the tank at the brewery.  In tastings over the years, we have studied and compared beer on tap to beer in a cask to bottled to bottle conditioned and now canned.  With each, the beer has been though a slightly different process, even if they are from the same batch.  There are going to be minor differences in appearance, aromatics and overall flavour profiles. This is part of the magic of craft, that it is not all the same.  Having committed to distributing our beers, we look forward to making them available, more readily, to those who are unable to frequent the brewpub.


How many different styles of beer does Spinnakers produce?


Over the course of a year we will make about 20 different styles.  We try to keep 9 or 10 on tap, another 2 or 3 cask conditioned and feature 5 more as daily cask specials.  In package form, we currently have 17 active SKU’s with 5 being in cans, the others in 650 ml formats.


Do you have a favorite style of beer?


A very personal question, but the answer is definitely no.  There are many times of the day and days of the week and occasions that come and go, each of which speaks to an opportunity for a different beer.


Although your Brewpub is literally filled with brewing & fermenting tanks, What are your plans for brewery expansion for Spinnakers?


We will hit the wall early in the new year, forcing the addition of new fermentation capacity and storage capacity.  We are planning a new production brewery to meet the demand and are looking at shifting the focus from the original brewery into more esoteric styles, including barrel aged and sour beers.


Our Spinnakers experience while taking it all in was really comforting. My wife and I felt like family there, and everyone else we saw was being treated the same. How is it possible for a place to be as busy as yours is, and still everyone leaves with a smile? What is your secret?


Everybody leaves happy.  That’s our mission.  We are fortunate to have staff who care and who understand hospitality.  The fun part about having guest rooms, suites and the bungalow is that people can come and stay with us for more than a couple of hours and can indeed become house guests, part of the family.

What’s next for Spinnakers?

We are constantly working to evolve what we do.  The opportunities are a function or our collective imaginations, our abilities to see, understand and seize them and translate them into products or offerings which can delight us as consumers.  We have a couple of projects that we are working on.  Time will tell!


You operate an amazing place sir, truly a jewel of Victoria. I want to thank you for your time as well as your hospitality. I wish you well in all your endeavors.


It was our pleasure have you both come and stay and have you take the time to see and understand some of what we try to do every day.  We look forward to having you return soon.  Best regards.


Here’s the pictures of from our tour. Unfortunately I tried to take a pic of the boil (they were brewing more of their delicious Hoptoria IPA) my lense got messed up.

Lastly I wanted to re-review Spinnakers Blue Bridge Double Pale Ale. If you read my early one here I totally botched it. I reviewed this beer from the mistaken idea it was an IPA. I think I had gotten all hoppysocks that day. It was unfortunate that it happened, but that mistake actually yielded some good results. Not the least of which is a second chance to review this fine beer. Blue Bridge is a deep transparent amber double pale ale with a white head on top. While the head shrinks with time it still leaves a great lacing on the glass. It has a malty and sweet aroma, with hints of candied orange peel or maybe marmalade. It tastes great, mildly sweet up front with a nice bitter back. It is a deceptively drinkable DPA as it hits in a 8.2% ABV. The bitterness lingers with you, but as it smooths out it hints at a mild fruit character. Not as distinct as the orange scent, but still mildly fruity. A great beer that I’ve had a few times to enjoy this year, both from cans and in the bomber.

Leapbeer #141 is Blue Bridge Double Pale Ale by Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub

Brewery: Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub of Victoria, BC
Released: Unknown
Size/ABV: 650ml Bottle + 355ml Can/8.2% ABV
Availability: Continuous (as far as I know)
Purchased @: Spinnakers, MVLS & Top Shelf Liquor Store
Webpage:
http://www.spinnakers.com/our-beers
Other Reviews: http://urbandiner.ca/2010/07/08/beer-review-blue-bridge-double-pale-ale/  Rate Beer  Beeradvocate

Post Navigation