Tag Archives: Microbrewery

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.

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Fernie Brewing Company: Buck Wild Ale

Probably the most dynamic of the additions to the Fernie Brewing Co. lineup, the Buck Wild Ale is a golden blond ale that leaves a mark on the senses. Available in the mixer pack, it was the second of four Fernie beers we have tasted.

– Tristan

*****

As some of you may know, I’m not the keenest fan of Belgian/Belgian styled beers. Although I love lambics, fruity Belgian ales don’t typically appeal to my palate — of course, there are exceptions to this (Guldendraak, Piraat, The Stoic Belgian Styled Quad etc.). That said, while I appreciate that the Buck Wild Ale is the most complex and flavourful of the four Fernie beers we consumed, I found it the least pleasant — exactly opposing Tristan!

The nose shares a potent fruity, slightly sweet, wheat-like aroma. It is of noticeable Belgian — or Uniqbroue (Quebec) — style, and likely has wheat added, giving it a rather hefeweisen-like flavour. In fact, the wheat is what stood out to me the most, even more than the fruit notes, and, since I wasn’t eating anything, I found the taste rather unappealing. I think Belgian beers are essentially made for pairing with rich, diverse meals;  I don’t often enjoy Belgians on their own.

While the body is rich, the beer is not too heavy, like some darker — or more alcoholic — Belgian beers. In spite of this, the beer is not too easy to drink, and I don’t think I’d be able to finish more than two in a night.

Nose: 18.5
Body: 16.5
Taste: 17.5
Finish: 16.5

Kamran: 69 pts

*****

I really liked this beer, and the marks I gave indicate as much. It’s light, fruity, refreshing, but I wouldn’t be able to drink more than a few at a patio party or bbq. Perhaps the flavour just gets to be overwhelming as the night goes on, but it is still well worth picking up!

The nose is sweet and fruity, something that carries on throughout the beer, which appeals to a summer afternoon setting. This blond is actually reminiscent to a Belgian or Quebec style beer, as it’s heavier than the colour would indicate and is rich in body. It’s also crisp, but don’t let it get too warm or the taste will change noticeably; best to have this one cold. The malted barley and malted wheat are evident underneath the fruitiness of the beer, and the aftertaste is shorter than I would have hoped.

This beer is certainly one I would recommend people try, even if blonds aren’t your favourite style brew. On a hot summers day/evening it would really accompany any salad or fish dish that lands on your patio table.

Nose: 22
Body: 20
Taste: 22
Finish: 18

Tristan: 82 pts

*****

Final Average: 75.5 pts.

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Fernie Brewing: The Griz Pale Ale

Fernie Brewing Companyis located in the town of Fernie, BC, tucked next to the Rockies. While it’s not the most well known of local brewers in the Pacific Northwest, they do produce some solid standard year-round beers and always interesting 650ml regular/seasonal bottles on the market in government and privately operated liquor stores. The Griz Pale Ale was the first we tried in the mixer pack of beers available year-round, and it certainly made us take notice of the brewery that has seemingly come out of the woodwork up here.

–  Tristan

*****

The Griz Pale Ale is nothing special, but it’s inoffensive; one may drink several of these in a row without qualm. The nose boasts a mild hop profile, and some citrus notes, but nothing really stands out. In a similar vein, their is not a whole lot of flavour once the liquid hits the palate; the beer is relatively plain. In this way, it’s actually quite refreshing. The lighter body makes it easy to drink, and, although there isn’t an appealing quality to the beer, there isn’t an unappealing one.

It’s not unpleasant to drink,  and is relatively cheap, making it a good alternative from the typical Caribou, Pabst, or Old Mill that you might choose if you’re going to a party or playing a lot of beer pong. The slight bitter aftertaste doesn’t linger, so you don’t get that nasty aftertaste you might get from chugging one of the aforementioned three.

Nose: 17.5
Body: 19.5
Taste: 18
Finish: 17

Kamran: 72 pts.

*****

Without any sense of trepidation in picking up this mixer-pack from Fernie, a company I hadn’t really seen or heard of in my area of the Lower Mainland, I was immediately surprised at how good the Griz Pale Ale was. It was sufficiently malty and hoppy (with a few varieties including the noticeable Cascade hops of many regional brews), and to be honest it tasted better than Granville Island’s pale ale of late. It was a rich caramel colour, well flavoured, not too complex, and certainly easy for a patio 6-pack session.

The nose possessed a sweetness that was complemented by the floral hops that gave it that good pale ale kick. The body was smooth and crisp, ideal for a bbq as it wasn’t one that would leave you feeling full and bloated. While the taste wasn’t overly complex, the ideal amount of malt and hops kept the sweetness and bitterness in check and allowed for that easy drinking sensation many big names beers proclaim to have but fail at. The finish is short and subtle as it fades from the palate.

Nose: 18
Body: 18
Taste: 16
Finish: 15

Tristan: 67 pts.

*****

Final Average: 69.5 pts.

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Storm Brewing/Russell Brewing Big Smoke Ale

This limited release collaboration beer between Storm Brewing and Russell Brewing has been around for just a few months. Producing one of the first of a slew of collaboration beers that have been released over the past several months, brewmasters Jack Bensley (Russell Brewing) and James Walton (Storm Brewing) are pioneering a kinsman-like spirit for the Vancouver craft beer community.

The name Big Smoke is derived from its unique approach to beer fermentation: using peated malt! Well, some peated malt — 10% to be exact. If you’re unaware, peat is vegetation that is primarily used in Scotland to dry barley malt. This technique, using peat fires, is especially used in Islay single malts, and gives it that characteristic vegetal flavour — grass, moss, dust, dampness, etc.. It’s a little difficult to describe, but quite obvious once you’ve tried a peated whisky. Because of its association with drying of the malt in peat fires, peat flavours often come in tandem with a smoky quality. Peat is, in fact, often mistaken for smoke; truth is, while these two aspects typically come hand in hand, they are not inextricable — there are some very smoky, lightly peated whiskies, as well as some highly peated, lightly smoked whiskies, but this is all relative.

When it comes to beer, peated malt is unusual, but can be quite the pleasantry for a whisky drinker. Some other peated beers include Unibroue’s Raftman, Williams Brothers Fraoch Heather Ale — where the peat and heather come in part from the water sources of Scotland, and, though not actually using peat, (whisky) barrel aged beers — Phillip’s Double Barrel Scotch Ale, Driftwood’s Singularity etc. — tend to give off some peat flavour. Besides the peat, the Big Smoke is a heavy, malty, thick, dark, high percentage beer; a true sipping beer that’s not for the faint of heart.

– Kamran

*****

Amidst the light, effervescent peat smoke aroma is a solid malt backbone. As a single-malt enthusiast who loves his peaty scotches — Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Ileach, etc. — I was rather disappointed that the peat does not shine through as much as I’d hoped. In fact, the malt all but overwhelms the notes of peat. That said, with careful concentration, one may extract moments where peat instilled flavonoids connect with one’s receptors. The feeling is quite pleasant, however, this is much too much work, and I don’t want to have to pay such careful attention to access the best parts of a beer; these parts should be the forefront of the beer.

While the body is enjoyably creamy, the beer is quite heavy. You certainly don’t want to be drinking more than one of this tallboy bottle badboy. Though not considered a stout, it reaches certain stout-like parameters — heaviness, thickness (the definition of stout), and darkness. While the malty taste is excellent — especially the initial flavour — it does not last; the finish, while retaining the taste of alcohol, loses its sweet malt flavours.

All things considered, the Big Smoke is an exceptional beer, and while not fitting for all occasions, there are some instances — perhaps while sitting in front of a fire on a cold night — where it would be perfect. So, don’t miss out on it while it’s still around!

Nose: 20.5
Body: 21
Taste: 23
Finish: 21.5

Kamran: 86 pts.

*****

As you can tell, Kamran has left little room for expansion on this particular beer; I suppose he really enjoyed it!  Just along the basics of this beer then, I found it to be one of the best beers we had that night.

The nose was a rich malt that, while stronger than the peat notes, was still an enticing factor to salivate for this beer. The body was a thick and heavy combination that went down creamy and smooth, much like certain stouts. The taste was naturally malty and slightly peaty to my senses, but it also possessed a slightly cocoa-like flavour. The finish is a brief encounter to say the least. It fades rather fast for my liking, but it is a smooth malty presence that is enjoyable prior to dissipation.

This beer is one I’ve had on a couple of occasions since the tasting, and I have to say, it is a nice treat to have and even share late at night. Well done Russell/Storm, but you’ve now set a high standard for any future collaborations!!!

Nose: 21
Body: 24
Taste: 22
Finish: 20

Tristan: 90 pts.

*****

Final Average: 88 pts.

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Rogue Dead Guy Ale

Rogue Dead Guy Ale is an awesome session beer. This Maibock is rich in malt aroma and flavour, it is a hearty beer that goes down smooth and sweet with a light hops finish to round it off. Rich copper colour when poured, along with an almost opaque body, with minimal head. While it comes in either 6 packs or tall boy bottles, it is not a cheap beer. However, this Oregon import is definitely worth a try. This beer is part of the reason why Rogue Brewing is well regarded by us.

Tristan

*****

To me, Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale is a richer, maltier version of Phillips’ Blue Buck. Basically, if you were to trade the hop levels of one of the beers, you’d end up, more or less, with the other. Both are incredibly well balanced session ales that may be enjoyed regularly, often, and over the course of a night; you don’t want just one! They are so well balanced in regards to malts and hops, lightness and darkness, and lightness and heaviness that they are equally suitable for just about any occasion; you could drink it while playing beer pong, sip and enjoy it on tap, or pair it with just about any meal.

Craft brewed in Oregon, Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale has a subtle, but pleasant nose, a medium-body that is simultaneously rich and easy-drinking, a fine balance of flavours on the palate — though I’d personally prefer the hops pumped up a bit, à la Philips Blue Buck — and a long, consistent finish.

While it’s not the best beer in the world, I would, without hesitation, recommend the Dead Guy Ale to anyone and everyone, because, put simply, it appeals to the masses. It has something for everyone, whether an IPA enthusiast, a Stout connoisseur or anything in between!

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

Kamran: 82.5 pts.

*****

A solid beer in my books, this malty nosed beer – with traces of a hops and fruity aroma – is a beer that most people would really enjoy. It balances the sweetness of the malt with some hops and caramel notes in the flavour. It does have a bitterness to it that I find keeps the beer crisp and primed for a session ale. Compared against the Phillips Blue Buck, I would have to agree that they are well contrasted. The finish is solid for this ale, a smooth fresh malt with a zip of hops at the end. A crowd pleaser to be sure, even if my score seems to be a little low.

Nose: 21
Body: 19.5
Taste: 19.5
Finish: 20

Tristan: 80 pts.

*****

I can’t really say anything bad about Oregon. No sales tax, beautiful scenery, great pizza (Flying Pie, anyone?), and enough beer to fuel UBC’s engineering force for an entire undergrad stint (victory laps included). Rogue definitely makes a road trip to Oregon a worthwhile investment, as they always seem to produce something worth trying, and the Dead Guy Ale is no exception.

Right out of the bottle, a nice, subtle caramel smell entices you to try a sip. As you do, you’ll notice a smooth, lightly carbonated ale which doesn’t leave you feeling bloated or heavy, giving it a pretty high drink-ability factor. The taste is not my favourite, but the slightly bitter citrus overtones provide you with a flavour to grab onto without the intensity of an IPA. The bitterness stays with you throughout the finish, leaving you with a slight, but enjoyable, tingle on your tongue. This is definitely a beer you could enjoy in spades.

And you can’t go wrong with that bottle either.

Nose: 20
Body: 23
Taste: 20
Finish: 20

James: 83 pts.

*****

Final Average: 81.83 pts.

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