Tag Archives: Craft Beer

Catching Up With The Ranks

In order to get back in the groove of tasting new beers and writing up to date reviews, we will simply post our scores for all that we have tasted and rated in our absence. If you’re interested in a full review on any of the following, please comment below and we will make time to do a couple write-ups!

Beer

Bavaria:
Kam: 75.5

Brother Thelonias:
Kam: 70.5

Coney Island Sword Swallower:
Kam: 85.5

Deschutes The Abyss:
Kam: 96

Deschutes, The Stoic:
Kam: 90.5

Driftwood Naughty Hildegaard:
Kam: 85.5

Driftwood Old Cellar Dweller (2012):
Kam: 71.5

Driftwood Old Barrel Dweller (2012) :
Kam: 89

Driftwood Singularity:
Kam: 96.5

Driftwood Wooly Booger (2012):
Kam: 85.5

Fort Garry:
Kam: 74.5

Granville Island Imperial IPA:
Kam: 65.5

Lighthouse Chocolate:
Kam: 84.5

Lighthouse Russian Imperial Stout:
Kam: 82

Old Speckled Hen:
Kam: 76.5

Ola Dubh 12:
Kam: 80.5

Ola Dubh 16:
Kam: 87

Ola Dubh 18:
Kam: 90.5

Petrus Aged Ale:
Kam: 84.5

Phillips Double Barrel 2010:
Kam: 96

Phillips Double Barrel 2011:
Kam: 93.5

Phillips Evergreen Ale:
Kam: 83.5

Phillips Green Reaper:

Kam: 88.5

Phillips Krypton RyePA:
Kam: 85.5

Schmaltz Brewing:
Jewbelation Sweet 16:
Kam: 82.5

Rogue Dead Guy Ale:
Kam: 91

Rogue Mogul Madness Ale:
Kam: 82.5

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale:
Kam: 73

Russell 6.26: Kam: 90

Sierra Nevada Torpedo:
Kam: 91.5

St. Ambroise Vintage Ale:
Kam: 83

Thirsy Beaver Amber Ale:
Kam: 80.5

Three Philosophers: Quad Belgian Style Blend:
Kam: 83.5

Tree Brewing Vertical Winter Ale:
Kam: 82.5

Tullibardine Strong:
Kam 79

Wells Banana Bread Beer:
Kam: 77

Westvleteran XII:
Kam: 92.5

Whistler Chestnut Ale:
Kam: 81

Whistler Pineapple Express:
Kam: 79.5
Whisky

Amrut Fusion:
Kam: 86

Auchentoshin:
Kam: 86.5

Balvenie:
Kam: 85.5

Bunnahabhain 9:
Kam: 88

Glencadam:
Kam: 94.5

Glen Garioch 15:
Kam: 88.5

Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or:
Kam: 93.5

Kuch Nai:
Kam: 81.5

Maker’s Mark:
Kam: 78

Tullibardine Banyuls:
Kam: 85

Wild Turkey Rare Breed:
Kam: 89

Spirits

Botanist Gin, The: Kam: 88.5

Bombay Gin: Kam: 76

El Dorado 12 Year: Kam: 94.5

Tobala Classico Mescal: Kam: 88

Scorpion Repsosado: Kam: 84

Leave a comment

Filed under Miscellaneous

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.

-Tristan

*****

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer, Individual Review

Innis & Gunn Canada Day (2012)

Back again is the Innis & Gunn Canada Day, a special oak aged seasonal. Several differences have been made since the 2011 edition. Still using ex-bourbon barrels, the 2012 is aged for 49 days rather than 54, utilizes Goldings hops rather than Fuggles, and boasts a 7.7% rather than 8.3. Of course, these elements may seem like minor differences, but based on the marked change in overall taste, they are certainly not worth overlooking.

We did a vertical, concomitant tasting of both editions — 2011 and 2012 — and this review will hold some notes about the 2011 edition as well. Tristan and I came to a consensus that the Innis & Gunn 2011 got better with age, and both of us scored it higher this time around. After noticing a pleasant dichotomy between the two beers, sipping one after the other, we decided to mix some of it together. The result was great, and certainly worth trying if you happen to have a bottle of each.

– Kamran

*****

First off, I was highly disappointed with the 2012 release. While the Canada Day is up there with my favourite beers, the 2012 is not nearly as enjoyable. The malt overtones denounce the flavours of the original; it barely even tastes like an Innis & Gunn beer.

On the nose, the malt overpowers and subdues any trace amounts of oak-infused toffee, caramel, vanilla, or butterscotch — all of which are present in the 2011. The body is silky rather than creamy like the other Innis & Gunn beers, and, instead of the sweet, savoury notes on the palate, are notes of tropical fruit, citrus, a bit of hops, and a lot of malt. Initially, the beer is quite spicy, with notes of peppers, cumin, and nutmeg. This weirdly dissipates rather quickly — Tristan, tasting it a mere few minutes later, missed out on it completely. There is a lingering malt sweetness, but a relatively crisp finish, where the Goldings hops finally come through.

This quickly became my least favourite Innis & Gunn beer, and, though I will probably buy a couple more — one to drink and one to age — I’d rather spend my money on the original. Both Tristan and I found the 2011 edition to have gotten better with age. After a year, the character changed quite drastically. It’s no longer citrusy or hoppy, and lends more of a Belgian flavour. I believe that, after a year, the beer may have gone through a spontaneous re-fermentation. There is coagulated yeast floating in the bottle and it is somewhat heavier than it was before. Both of us enjoyed it. I gave it a rating of 90 pts, 3 marks higher than previously.

Nose: 18
Body: 19.5
Taste: 19
Finish: 20

Kamran: 76.5 pts.

*****

The 2011 Canada Day release wasn’t earth shaking in my books, so I was feeling rather reserved going into this tasting. Frankly I am surprised by this release and how underwhelming it was. Yes, it was bound to happen… …Innis & Gunn released a beer that neither Kamran or I fell in love with. It was a strange mix of sweet and a lack of complexity that I picked up on. While the recipe was very different, I felt that this was a step backwards. The nose was malt heavy and a little overpowering. The hops were very faint under it all with the oak and toffee. The body was velvety, medium thickness, slightly bitter. The taste had hints of spice that Kamran more successfully tasted and identified. It lacked a wow factor, with no oak taste. The finish was malty sweet, some light fruit and vanilla with the hops only on the very end of the finish.

Contrast that with the aged 2011 Canada Day and there is a big difference. The aging process to the 2011 release was very kind in its final result, becoming a more balanced and even keeled beer.  the nose was tamed and fairly mono, the body felt thicker and less bitter. The taste was mild, fruity, floral and genuinely quite pleasant. Finally the finish was flat due too a lack of carbonation, but a solid minute of flavour after swallowing. The final mark increased by 1.5 pts to a total of 82 pts. when aged.

Overall, if you purchased or plan to purchase what’s left of the 2012 stock, consider aging it for a year and it should improve. But honestly this is one I would pass up.

Nose: 20.5
Body: 19.5
Taste: 19.5
Finish: 18.5

Tristan: 78 pts.

*****

Final Average: 77.25 pts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer

Innis & Gunn Irish Cask Stout

This beer was one that was looked forward to by us. The Innis & Gunn Irish Cask Stout  was released in early 2012 for St. Patrick’s Day. Aged for 60 days in barrels that housed a triple distilled Irish whiskey, this beer boasts a full flavored and complex taste to enjoy any time of the year, not just March 17th!

-Tristan

*****

Heavier and darker than all other Innis & Gunn beers, the stout shares the unique Innis & Gunn quality of smooth, low carbonated, oak-imbued richness. While the stout flavours are somewhat dampered by the oak, they are at the forefront of the beer. The typical Innis & Gunn sweetness is mostly replaced by flavours of roast, malt, and whisky. Some vanilla certainly remains, though.

On both the nose and the palate is mostly the malt, yet the beer retains the lingering smoothness on the palate typical of Innis & Gunn. It is significantly lighter, though creamy and velvetty, than your typical ‘stout’. This results in a nice crisp, inoffensive finish. This might be where my problem with this beer lies: It’s good, no doubt, but, as an oak infused stout, I expected stronger flavours. I expected more whisky, more vanilla, and a more vibrant beer all-around.

Nose: 20
Body: 22
Taste: 20
Finish: 21

Kamran: 83 pts.

*****

As demonstrated by this point, if you haven’t noticed, Innis and Gunn is a long running favourite of ours, and this particular brew is no exception. Similarities in nose carry over with vanilla, chocolate and malt sweetness. Has a similar scent that reminds me of Red Truck Brewing’s Madscow or Crannog Ales’ Backhhand of God… both very well done local craft stouts! The body is a rich black tht fully encompasses mouth like North Coast’s Old Rasputin, more velvety than the creamy sensation of a Guinness. There is a slight bitterness to it as well. The taste was malty, chocolate, vanilla-treacle notes, lightly balanced and not as complex as the 21 Year Highland Cask. The Finish is malty tones, slight hops, yet certainly the sweetness and oak are most prevalent.

While not my favourite by the brewery, it is a VERY welcome addition and one i hope they continue with for years to come. Probably if i were to drink this again, i would refrain from using it as a session beer as it is delicate in complexity and it boasts a high level of alcohol at 7.4%, therefore a better night cap or dessert beer.

Nose: 23.5
Body: 22.5
Taste: 23
Finish: 22

Tristan: 91 pts.

*****

Final Average: 87 pts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer

Innis & Gunn Winter Ale

In the winter of 2011 Innis and Gunn released a winter pack with three beers and a collectible glass. The three beers were the Original, the Spiced Rum Finish and the Winter 2011. Needless to say Kamran and I purchased a few of these packs between the two of us. This brew was a rich savoury beer that was made for the winter night and could be sipped on next to the fire, or equally enjoyed with roast pork or rack of lamb for dinner.

-Tristan

*****

The Innis & Gunn Winter ale has a strong malt backbone, but enough hops and oak infused flavours to make for a crisp finish. While not as complex or profound as, say, the original or the Highland cask, it is quite delicious in its unique appropriation of the oak.

The sweetness of the malt integrates itself quite nicely with subtle flavours of vanilla and oak. While I miss that the toffee and caramel is all but lost on the Winter Ale, I can appreciate what it has to offer. The body is relatively creamier and heavier; unlike the original, I would prefer not to session this beer — it’s even more of a sipper. The palate is deftly complemented with flavours of roast and chestnut, that, while not long-lived, are quite enjoyable, and result in a long, consistent, and crisp finish.

Nose: 21.5
Body: 23
Taste: 22
Finish: 22.5

Kamran: 89 pts.

*****

Only two beers the night of this tasting, several months ago now, cracked the 90’s in scoring, and both happened to be in the Winter pack. This beer did so well because it seemed to be different than the tried and true approach of the brewery. It was richer and fuller while keeping the familiar sweetness, which was more subdued than usual.

With some unique aromas on the nose: Christmas pudding, apple, pear, dried fruit all hidden amongst the tamed malt and oak, this was an intriguing shift. The body for this Scottish ale was thick and well formed, creamy yet not heavy like a stout. The taste was primarily malty with some citrus orange zest, and a more of a rum taste than whisky in my opinion. The finish was vanilla, citrus, oak and it lingered in a nice and enjoyable mellow manner. A sipping beer through and through.

Kamran’s finishing thoughts struck the nail on the head so I wont repeat them here. However, I can only hope that next holiday season Innis and Gunn release a beer of similar caliber, and that hopefully I can purchase it sans the gift box as I now have a few too many Innis and Gunn glasses in my cupboards!!!!

Nose: 19.5
Body: 24
Taste: 24
Finish: 24

Tristan: 91.5 pts.

*****

Final Average: 90.25 pts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer

Innis & Gunn Rum Finish

The Rum Finish by Innis & Gunn is more than a re-branding of the Rum Cask, it is a change in the recipe and that’s why we are writing two separate reviews after performing a vertical taste test between the two. Be sure to read up on the Rum Cask article for our comparisons.

-Tristan

*****

Innis & Gunn’s replacement to the rum cask, I find, is slightly more enjoyable than its predecessor. I believe it retains more of the original flavours, which might come as a problem to those rum drinking lovers of the cask. Slightly darker and slightly maltier, the spices, though still there, are quite subtle, allowing the flavours of toffee and vanilla, infused from the oak, to come out more. With the malt comes a slight heaviness when compared to the rum cask, but it remains creamy; the full body is quite a delight. On the finish, the spices, particularly caramel, leaves the palate in wanting. It is consistent, fresh, and rather delectable.

Nose: 21.5
Body: 20
Taste: 20.5
Finish: 21

Kamran: 83 pts.

*****

As Kamran noted, this beer is a darker and more balanced/refined beer than the Rum Cask. Still aged for 57 days and maintaining a strength of 7.4%, this beer seems to better incorporate the different ingredients to make them more cohesive and play on one another in the palate.

The aroma is richer with a stronger smell of vanilla, rum, oak and spice. The body is less watery and more like a medium bodied porter – yet certainly not heavy! The taste is more sweet (possibly syrupy sweet is the way to define it best), a more pronounced rum taste than the Rum Cask is evident and very much appreciated. The finish sees the vanilla linger with the toffee, as per usual with Innis & Gunn I find, with very little rum as was delivered in the taste. Similar to the cask version, only this seems to last slightly longer before fading away.

While I do like this beer and find it improve over the Rum Cask, the lack of rum in the finish has been a detractor for both beers as the vanilla and toffee are very dominant. That said, this beer is great and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a unique beer that isn’t hoppy or bitter.

Nose: 24
Body: 21
Taste: 22
Finish: 19

Tristan: 86 pts.

*****
Final Average: 84.5 pts.

Side by side comparison.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer

Innis & Gunn 18 Year Old Highland Cask (2011)

The Innis & Gunn Highland Cask is a once-a-year seasonal that comes out in the fall. As the name suggests, it’s a beer that has been aged in previously used single malt whisky barrels from the Highland area of Scotland. While they do not release the source of their barrels, and while it probably changes each year, it’s safe to assume they are purchasing from a major distributor, and, therefore, well-known distillery — likely owned by Grants. Highland single malts tend to be light, biscuity, and slightly sweet, particularly on the finish. These flavours and textures are transferred into the Innis & Gunn 18 Year Highland Cask which is aged for 69 days, and boasts a 7.1 alcohol percentage.

– Kamran

*****

On multiple occasions I have claimed the Innis & Gunn 18 Year Highland Cask as the best beer in the world. Since then, nothing has changed, and I have yet to meet a product that better epitomizes what a great beer should be. This is my favourite beer — this particular release. I have 4 bottles remaining; they have to last my lifetime! — I doubt they’ll last another year.

The original flavours typical of Innis & Gunn are even more pronounced here. Notes of vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, and honey come out in spades both on the nose and the palate. To top this off, there is a mild whisky taste, that comes through on the finish in particular, giving it a crisp, refreshing, long lasting aftertaste. The level of sweetness is quite high, and the beer is incredibly vibrant, unlike the 21 year, which we tasted — for the second time — vertically. The 21 year boasts notes of citrus, and the typical Innis & Gunn flavours are relatively subdued, while the 18 year is a powerhouse of aromas and tastes.

There is something highly fresh about the Innis & Gunn 18 Year. It must be the Highland water or something. The beer just tastes exceptionally fresh. There is a touch of whisky on one’s initial taste, that subverts itself into a creamy-velvetty-ness on the palate; the beer is certainly a touch heavier than the original. Besides making it more robust, I believe the whisky, in itself, opens up the flavours of the beer more. As a result, we have the strongest predilection of Innis & Gunn flavours, making it my favourite!

Nose: 24.5
Body: 24
Taste: 25
Finish: 24.5

Kamran: 98 pts.

*****

While I scored this beer well, my favourite Innis & Gunn was the predecessor to this beer, the Highland 21 year cask. And while Kamran and I may disagree on which vintage was better, this one surely does not disappoint even if it was my “second best” of the two years.

This vintage was sweeter on the nose with more malt, oak, vanilla, and toffee. The body was smooth and even crisp, if not a touch sharp for the first few sips. Compared to the 21 year, the 18 year cask was noticeably darker in colour. The taste was malty with some bitterness. There were notes of caramel and toffee with vanilla. The whisky was clearly more present in the taste of this vintage. While the finish lasted longer by a tad, it was pleasant with the combination of malt, whisky, and vanilla.

I think part of the reason Kamran and I have the two competing for top beers is because by the time he tried the 21 year it had already been aged compared to the fresh 2011 cask. Either way, the beer was excellent and I certainly hope that Innis & Gunn continue to make these seasonal releases involving the highland casks.

Nose: 25
Body: 23.5
Taste: 23
Finish: 23.5

Tristan: 95 pts.

*****

Final Average: 96.5 pts.

Head to head of the 18 and 21

3 Comments

Filed under Beer

Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout

Established in 1758, Yorkshire’s oldest brewery, Samuel Smith, is one of few major UK breweries that are being steadily imported by the BCLDB. At any time of the year, one my find a variety of beers produced by Samuel Smith, such as their Nut Brown, IPA, or, what we’re reviewing today, their Oatmeal Stout. Sold in single 500ml bottles, the beer, though relatively expensive, doesn’t break the bank — you don’t have to buy a whole 6-pack! — so it’s certainly worth the risk!

– Kamran

*****

To me, there is no risk involved. This is a great oatmeal stout that will please the palate of any and all guzzler’s of dark beer. Though originally used as a marketing tool, the addition of oatmeal, here, is not done in vain, as it’s done in some other so-called oatmeal stouts. The small proportion of oats lend a protein-based smoothness and a slight enhancement of the vanilla sweetness already contained in the stout. While I’m a huge fan of Guinness, I’d highly recommend trying Sam Smith as an alternative for stout incorporated cooking.

The nose has plenty of malt, but not enough to overwhelm. This is similar on the palate, where the sweetness of the oatmeal, as well as the variety of malts, come through. It is quite delicate, and finely balanced; however, I’d prefer more roast and hops than what is given — Mcauslan (St. Amroise) Oatmeal Stout fits this bill. The body is rich, creamy, and smooth, but also fairly heavy. This, of course, is expected of a stout. On the finish, there is a lingering sweetness that is quite savoury. Overall, this is a great beer, a must try, and one I will continually return to.

Nose: 21
Body: 21
Taste: 21.5
Finish: 21.5

Kamran: 85 pts.

*****

Oatmeal stout is something I usually find thicker, and sweeter than a typical stout. However there were some noticeable differences, such as the beer was less creamy thick as I’m usually accustomed to and the flavor wasn’t as sweet. It was almost as if it were a more delicate silky texture to it, which was a nice feeling in the mouth.

The nose was understandably sweet from the malt, but I picked up on notes I typically detect in scotch to be faintly noticeable. The body was solid black in colour, less creamy than a Guinness opting for that more silky texture. The taste was rich and savory once the initial malt had flashed the palate. The richness of it would lead to me to assume that after one bottle of this beer, would have the same filling reaction as a couple of creamy stouts. The finish was an unobtrusive sweetness that was savory and dry.

I, like Kamran, did really enjoy this beer. It was a nice complexity for a stout that was neither too heavy or watered down. Due to it being an imported product it may seem expensive, but well worth it if you wish to treat yourself to a solid evening beer. Next Samuel Smith beer to try will be the Taddy Porter which is currently in my beer fridge.

Nose: 20
Body: 23.5
Taste: 19
Finish: 21

Tristan: 83.5 pts.

*****

Final average: 84.25 pts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

Here we have a relatively special beer from Brooklyn Brewing, a craft brewery located in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. While the flavour of chocolate is quite often imparted organically in the making of a stout, some brewmasters, especially in recent times, will add chocolate into the mix, post fermentation. In this case, we have black chocolate added to give Brooklyn’s stout an extra little kick.

– Kamran

*****

I love dark chocolate, and I love dark beers: I will love this. This seems logical, right? Well, though logical, it was only partially right. I didn’t love this beer, but I did rightly enjoy it.

Beneath the malty sweetness lies a noticeable, but relatively subdued, chocolate aroma. With air and a bit of warmth, the chocolate comes out more. At 10%, the beer is heavy, and, actually, a bit harsh. The alcohol unfortunately takes away from the flavour & smoothness lent by the chocolate. However, if you hold the liquid in your mouth, like how you might do with a whisky, some of the alcohol evaporates and the beer gets some air through it, making it creamier — velvety — and more flavourful.

On the palate, the beer goes from having a malt sweetness, to being slightly tart, and finishes with a light hop bitterness. In all three respects, the sensations are quite mild. The finish doesn’t leave much, aside from the remaining malt tones; however, upon exhalation, the chocolate comes out more. So, drink this beer while breathing out your mouth!

Nose: 19
Body: 19.5
Taste: 20.5
Finish: 20

Kamran: 79 pts.

*****

I am very much a fan of solid porters and stouts as I may have mentioned in previous posts, and I for one did really enjoy the richness of this particular Brooklyn brew. At 10% alc/vol. this beer has a wee bit o’ strength to it, hidden within one of heavier and certainly blackest stouts on the market. If one considers Guinness a meal in a glass and struggles to finish one, I’d likely suggest stealing a few sips from a friend who orders this as opposed to a whole pint or bottle.

The aroma of the beer is one of malt and chocolate… as if anything else were to be expected?! The body is heavy and thick, with a velvety texture when held in the mouth. Certainly some level of complexity to balance the malt and chocolate, but the alcohol is evident and adds a little roughness to the mix – so not exactly a smooth sipper. Surprisingly, this stout wasn’t as chocolate flavored as I expected compared to stouts I’ve tried at craft pubs like the Alibi Room or St. Augustine’s in Vancouver. Perhaps it was the noticeable presence of the higher alcohol percentage, or the type of chocolate used, but I expected a more dominant taste in that regard. The finish was bitter followed what i can only describe as a brief tartness followed by a longer lasting mix of chocolate and slight hops.

While the lack of chocolate taste and the “tartness” I sensed at the end were two detractors from the beer, it wasn’t bad at all. I did enjoy the richness of it but unlike Guinness, I could not drink more than one or two of these in a night. However, while not a stout, a local chocolate porter that’s just as good would be the Phillips Chocolate Porter which is much lighter and more chocolate tasting.

Nose: 21.5
Body: 24
Taste: 19
Finish: 19

Tristan: 83.5 pts.

*****

Final Average: 81.25 pts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer

Howe Sound Woolly Bugger Barley Wine

At, 11%, 75 IBUs, brewed with pale, crystal, cara, chocolate and special B malts, and seasoned with nugget, fuggles, and golding hops, the Howe Sound Woolly Bugger barley wine is a highly complex, highly refined, must-see-for-yourself beer. It is thick, with bits of sediment/pebbles floating in the bottle; not to worry, decant it finely and enjoy the character it bestows.

– Kamran

*****

While not a huge fan of barley wine, and having not yet tasted one that really floats my boat, the Howe Sound Woolly Bugger blew me away. The beer is bursting with flavour, both on the nose and the palate; each individual sensation is distinct, yet well integrated, and highly pronounced. On the nose, there is a rich chocolate caramel sweetness that mingles with delicate hops — particularly the fuggles (reminds me of the Anchor Christmas Ale) — and a red wine-like acidity. The alcohol presents itself with a slightly citrus sourness that deftly complements the rich sweetness of the malts.

The beer is profoundly sweet, but the malty sweetness is balanced by robust hops, and enough IBUs to instill a crisp finish. At 11%, it is slightly heavy and the malt sticks to the sides of your cheeks. Since the flavours are so well endowed, you really can’t drink too much; one is perfect. This is currently the best barley wine I have tried, though I never got a chance to taste Driftwood’s highly regarded ‘Old Cellar Dweller’. Rogue, however, makes a close second.

Nose: 22
Body: 20
Taste: 23.5
Finish: 21.5

Kamran: 87 pts.

*****

Without a doubt, Howe Sound Brewing’s Woolly Bugger is one of the best barley wines I’ve had to date. With an 11% alcohol content and 75 IBU’s, this beer packs a pleasant and complex punch with the wide variety of malts and hops contained in the bottle. And while generally I’m not a huge fan of beers with fuggles hops (such as the Innis and Gunn Canada Day 2011 release), the mix of fuggles with other varieties was a nice counter balance to the malts. This beer had an ability to constantly keep your palate guessing as to the flavours and an ability to leave you wanting more; a feeling some barley wines lack.

On the nose, the malty sweetness is quite prevalent as in any barley wine, yet the fuggles hops really cut through to my sense of smell. Surprisingly hoppy, the floral aroma is very inviting when mixed with the malty sweetness. The body is thicker than I anticipated, but it still allows for easy drinking. In terms of taste – having been sitting in my cellar aging for over  six months – the tones of chocolate were noticeable through the sweetness. As well, the hops was adding to the rich complexity that Kamran and I both enjoyed. The finish had a flash of bitterness on the tongue with a lingering sweetness and a chocolate taste that seemed to stick to the cheeks and back of the tongue. It even had the similarity of an alcohol taste like a cognac from what we could derive.

This beer is best enjoyed alone and at a cool temperature, and is one of the only barley wines I could recommend as a session beer if the occasion arose seeing as I could easily have a few in a night. So if you happen across this beer in a store, buy it and enjoy!

Nose: 22.5
Body: 23
Taste: 22.5
Finish: 21.5

Tristan: 89.5 pts.

*****

Final Average: 88.25 pts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer