Tag Archives: Amber Ale

Stanley Park Amber Ale

The amber ale produced by Stanley Park Brewery is a product that has seamlessly assimilated itself into the Vancouver craft beer and pub scene.Widely available and boasting its local connection back to the late 1800’s, it’s a company that is very aware of it’s carbon footprint and has sought new ways to scale back their energy consumption – with more efficient machinery and a wind powered turbine. While energy efficiency is not something picked out in the beer’s qualitative features, it does make a person feel better to drink green, and no “green beer” on St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t count! This particular Belgian style amber is unpasteurized and even the ink on the labels is non-toxic as it derives from vegetables… but this is a beer blog, and as such this beer is pretty solid.



This beer is one that I find appealing for two reasons: the ideals of sustainability, and the easy drinking taste and body of this brew. Available from six-packs, to pub pints, and at football and soccer games at BC Place, this beer is widely available compared to a few years ago.  The nose is a slight malt, with no typically noticeable Belgian traits, and no sense of hops – floral or otherwise-  in the scent.Very straight forward, very approachable. The body is light, crisp, with a slight bitterness on initial sip that tingles the tongue. It’s taste was more malty than hoppy, without elements I’d say are typical of a true Belgian style beer. Simplicity is not a fault however, as it makes this beer an easy beverage to enjoy. The finish is a brief malt on the palate, but is otherwise very tame. Having tried it in pints, bottles and plastic cups at sporting events, I think bottle is the best way to have this beer. On a hot summers night with good company a person could easily finish off a six-pack without really noticing it. Next time you go to a sporting event in this city (Vancouver), be sure to try this instead of a Bud or Molson.

Nose: 18
Body: 18
Taste: 19
Finish: 17.5

Tristan: 72.5 pts.

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Fernie Brewing Company: Big Caboose Red Ale

Three Quarters done the mixer and we get to the Big Caboose Red Ale from Fernie Brew Company. One of their newer beers — added to the lineup in November 2011 — this is a typical red ale, straddling a fine balance of malt and hops — somewhere in the middle of the beer spectrum.

– Tristan & Kamran


Similar to the Griz Pale Ale in that it doesn’t really standout, the Big Caboose Red Ale is a fairly plain, yet inoffensive dark amber ale. Unlike the Griz, though, I found the Big Caboose to have just a little bit more going on.

As with virtually all red ales, the Big Caboose has conflicting tones of malt and hops. The goal of brewing one of these beers is to perfectly integrate and balance these tones — this is the concept behind Phillips Double Dragon, a seasonal that is released once a year. In this case, though, the malt is a bit overdone, and the hops don’t shine through. As a result, the malt lends itself to a slightly sickly sweetness; it’s not heavy or dark enough to give it that roasted flavour, and not roasted or hopped enough to give it a balancing level of bitterness.

That said, it certainly doesn’t taste bad — it could be a lot worse — but it’s rather lackluster. The body is fairly rich and textured, but, again, it doesn’t really stand out, and the finish leaves one wanting.

Nose: 19
Body: 18.5
Taste: 19
Finish: 18

Kamran: 74.5 pts


Well this beer was the lowest of the mixer in my ratings… but not by much. While it wasn’t bad in the slightest, I just felt it was fairly pedestrian and underwhelming. It’s heavier than the Griz Pale Ale, and less exciting in flavour than the blond Buck Wild Ale.

The nose is malty, and almost spiced from the way the roasted malt was incorporated. The body was plain, and interestingly the colour upon reflection was more similar to Dr. Pepper than a usual red ale. In flavour, the malt sweetness and roasted malt taste combine on the palate but really didn’t impress me too much. The aftertaste is short, with a lingering malty sweetness that just kinda sticks to the mouth.

Like I said, it wasn’t a bad beer, but it didn’t remind me of anything spectacular or unique. It receives a passing grade however, and i wouldn’t be opposed to drinking another in the future… so long as I’m not buying it in a six-pack.

Nose: 16
Body: 16
Taste: 14
Finish: 15

Tristan: 61 pts


Final Average: 67.75

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Duchy Originals Organic Old Ruby Ale 1905

Duchy… has less majesty than you would think. I first had this beer a year or two ago, and I quite enjoyed it, but when we sampled it recently I couldn’t help but notice it was strikingly different. We genuinely like a malty beer; however, this go around was far too malty for our palates. While this beer fell flat for us, I do like the idea of an organic beer and the philosophy of the brewing. Fresher ingredients equal fresher beer. This beer isn’t really comparable to any other beer we’ve had so far.



Frankly, Duchy’s Old Ruby Ale is overly malty in a rather unpleasant way. The level of sweetness is not adequately counterbalanced by bitterness; the hops are virtually imperceptible.

While the nose presents us with a not-so-overwhelming level of malts — it’s actually somewhat pleasantly aggressive — the overabundance of malt characteristics on the palate delivers a sickly sweetness that is difficult to rid oneself of. While the creamy body first lends itself to a subtle appreciation of vanilla, once the malts come through, there are no other flavours — it’s actually quite bland. With bigger gulps,  the taste becomes even more sickly sweet, a characteristic that lingers for an offensively long time.

Nose: 17.5
Body: 16
Taste: 15.5
Finish: 15.5

Kamran: 64.5 pts.


With a malty and somewhat floral nose, this thick and heavy beer was hard to judge. As Kamran mentioned, the malt overpowered the other flavours. I had notes of citrus instead of vanilla tones picked up by Kamran. The finish was short in pleasantries and lengthy with an all consuming malt taste on the palate. A drink more suited to beer pleebeians than kings and dukes. Sadly I wont be purchasing this beer again unless they balance the malt and add complexity to this brew.

Nose: 17
Body: 16
Taste: 17
Finish: 11

Tristan: 61 pts.


With a name like Duchy, you would expect a beer fit for a royal, perhaps a duke (I love Wikipedia, don’t you?). And if this indeed is sold in Waitrose (which, to those of you unfamiliar with British supermarkets, is a pretty high-end chain) the expectations should be growing further based on the price you would be paying. Unfortunately, this ruby ale does not deliver.

Although the scent delivers some pleasant citrus notes, I did find it to be somewhat weak. If the aromas that are present in this beer could have been brought out, it would have helped to make me a little more interested in what I was about to taste. The body does help the cause, which is smooth and lightly carbonated, making it easy to drink. The trouble is, after tasting this, you probably won’t want to drink very much. Much like the Coopers, I found this to be far too malty, reminding me of enduring a 40 oz of Olde English because it would get you drunk quickly. The experience doesn’t get any better, as the finish leaves you with a dull, leftover-malt taste hanging onto your palate.

I think I’ll pass on this one.

Nose: 18
Body: 20
Taste: 13
Finish: 11

James: 62 pts.


Final Average: 62.5 pts.

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