Showing posts with label Driftwood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Driftwood. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Drawn to Light by Driftwood

Seems to be a Driftwood trend, renaming old beers. Apparently this used to be the Spring Rite. Perhaps the same is true for the "Cry me a River" Gose and "Gose-uh"? Either way, still good beer. If it makes you feel any better, Vancouver Island Brewery hasn't released a new beer in almost two years.

Drawn to Light = 7/10

Aromas from the moth beer, remind me of a calm Raised by Wolves, slightly spicy, quite tropical of pineapple, oranges with a hint of pepper. Nothing really dominates. The graininess, honey, earthy lemons and peppery yeast all play nicely together. A light to medium mouthfeel finishes dry with a buckwheat honey linger. Quite tasty and worth a try, if there is any left.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Great label art and good description of flavour)

Glassware: Chalice or tulip

Food Pairings: The tang of a goat cheese and arugula, would bring out the spiciness in the beer. While the residual sweetness would balance the bitterness of the arugula.

Cellar: Maybe, but not likely

Friday, January 1, 2016

Driftwood De Auras Wheat Sour

It is nice to see a trend towards regular sour releases by local breweries. Driftwood seems to always have one on the shelves and Spinnakers has a regular line up. At least at this moment there were five sours on tap at the Spinnakers brewpub. I will keep this short; it's a sour, it's Driftwood, you can probably figure out the rest or have already drank a few bottles

De Auras =  8/10 

The nose is oddly sweet of oak barrel, horse blanket and Gew├╝rztraminer. As expected it is tart, medium acidic with a hint of dry tannins. Each sip reminds me of a white wine. Except this wine has been steeped in horseblankets, light pit fruits, oak and a sweet acidity. Yum. Think of this as an imperial Berliner Weisse.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (great label art)

Glassware: Something tulip in shape. 

Food Pairings: Pair with sours is hard but not impossible. I'm thinking of an arugula salad with young goat cheese and a tart vinaigrette. This could also blend in nicely with a sweet and sour Chinese dish.

Cellar: Aging this one is a crap shoot. The malt base is not very complex, but could be fun to see what the yeast does over time.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Raised by Wolves by Driftwood

Unless you are under a rock somewhere, you will have tried this beer already. Or perhaps two or three. Sure this beer tastes great, as you might read in my glowing review later, but this beer is also innovative in a few ways. The first, and most obvious, is the use of the new wonder hop variety Equinox. This hop was previously called HBC 366 while in development by Hop Breeding Company. They are the same people that brought us Mosaic and Citra. Secondly, this beer also uses the semi wild yeast Saccharomyces Trois. This yeast used to be called Brettanomyces bruxellensis Trois. Why the trois? This yeast strain was first isolated from a bottle of 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze. However, further DNA analysis by White Labs learned that it was more like a Saccharomyces yeast than a Brett. Hence the name change to Saccharomyces brux-like Trois (WLP644). So it acts like a regular yeast, but provides brett like flavours. So enough of the yeast lesson, how does this beer taste?

Raised by Wolves = 9/10

The nose is all Equinox with tropical fruits, pineapple, guava and lychees. Certainly the brett-like yeast is providing additional fruit esters. You would think from the nose that this would be a very bitter beer. Not as much as you would expect. It certainly has that gripping bitterness of the aforementioned tropical fruits, but that Brett horseblanket funk mellows it. Tartness lingers along with a bright citrus funk. I sense we might have a beer of the year on our hands.

Taste +5
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance +1 Beautiful label with a good description of flavours expected.

Glassware: A tulip or snifter will trap the Brett aromas nicely.

Food Pairings: The acidity and bright carbonation would work well with fatty fish like salmon or tuna. Might make a fun pairing with sushi. That wasabi heat would come alive with this beers funky tartness. Cheese pairing fresh goat (chevre) or maybe a funky Stilton.

Cellar: Without a doubt the brettness of this yeast will dry this beer out even further. Not sure how it will taste once the hops are gone. Worth a bottle or two. Might be in it for the long haul though, perhaps two years.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Obscuritas Sour by Driftwood

Two things to mention in the post. The first is rather shocking. As everyone knows, last weekend was the Canadian Brewing Awards and BC Breweries cleaned up. Beer Me BC has a nice write up on his blog. What was shocking was that the most notable BC Brewery not to enter any beers was Driftwood. Nope, not a single entry. I wonder if they did not enter in 2014 either? Phillips just sent in their four best sellers. Too bad, apparently Blue Buck Pale Ale was a silver metal winner in the lager category in 2012.
The second item to mention was the inability to satisfy of my pompous palate. This is neither new nor exciting. Like a good Victoria beer drinker, I rushed out to buy the 2015 Driftwood sour release. Money was blindly placed on the counter and this coveted bottle was rushed home to chill. The idea temperature was reached and the favourite glass was used. After being thoroughly cleaned of course, lest I be scorned by a certain penny farthing rider. I sipped, I tasted, I tasted again and I was saddened. Don't get me wrong, this beer was delicious. I was just not stupefied. When the first Driftwood sour came out, I was blown away. The flavours were so unlike those the Victoria craft beer drinkers have every tasted. This years sour tastes very similar to last years. Perhaps the desire to search out new flavours and fermented imbibing experiences has cost me the ability to just enjoy a beer. The contents of my recycling bin has been looking rather empty lately. Is this why big breweries never market, or listen, to beer geeks/snobs? We, or maybe just I, never drink the same beer twice and whine whenever I do. This seems like a good time to shut my mouth, figuratively, and review this beer.

Obscuritas 2015 = 9/10

This beer hits all the marks that a good sour should. The nose is a ponderous mix of sweet and sour. Dark candy sugar and balsamic raspberry vinaigrette are the dominating aromas. Your teeth grind from the gripping acidity and your tongue screams from the sourness. It is hard to sort out the flavours, sour bing cherries, little wood smoke and molasses taffy. The ending coats everything and leave a long and pleasant sourness.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 7.6%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (beautify label art as always)

Glassware: A snifter

Food Pairings: Pairing with sours is hard, so I'm not going to bother this time

Cellar: Most certainly.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Beer and Cheese: L'Hercule de Charlevoix and White Bark by Driftwood

Remember resolution #1 and #6? This post combines them both. Another resolution that I didn't share was that I plan to try a new cheese every week. This is mainly to explore the possibilities of beer and cheese pairings. My knowledge of cheese is very limited; there will certainly be some mistakes. At
least on the cheese side; feel free to correct me.

The first cheese that caught my eye was the L'Hercule de Charlevoix. It is a unpasteurized cheese made with Jersey cow milk. This hard cheese is brine washed and similar in flavour to alpine cheeses like Gruyere. I will not be providing too much information about the cheese mainly because of my lack of knowledge. An alpine cheese originates from the Alps mountain range. Animals that graze there consume lush grasses, flowers and herbs. These flavours are transferred into the cheese and can vary depending on season and location. Quebec does not really contain any high mountain ranges, but the processing of the L'Hercule and the milk selected produces a similar flavour.

So what does this cheese taste like? The initial aroma was that of feet and funk. Luckily, this did not transfer over into the semihard texture of the cheese. It was rather mild with a slight nutty, fruitness. The ending was a calm tartness. Perhaps a good pairing for this beer would be an equally calm and fruity beer. Swan's Arctic ale/Kolsch came to mind. A blonde ale or a calm pilsner would do nicely also. A pale ale or hoppy saison would have overpowered this cheese. I planned to head downtown to pick up a bottle of Andrew's Arctic Ale, which would have been perfect. The lazy factor kicked in, so another local favourite was chosen: Driftwood's White Bark witbeir. I thought the creamy wheat, orange peel and slight spiciness would compliment the flavours in this cheese. Sadly, this did not work out too well. The White Bark was spicier than I remembered, so it rather overpowered this delicate cheese. It wasn't bad, just not optimal. This beer would have been better with something a tad more robust, like an Emmental or young goat cheese.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Entangled by Driftwood

You all know I have this thing against made up beer styles. They appeal to me about as much as flavoured porters. I don't like change. Perhaps Mark Twain was referring to me when he penned his famous change quote. It might have been my family that bought me this beer. My little one picks bottles based upon labels; she might have thought this beer was a Disney tie-in. Entangled is a hopfenweisse or hoppy wheat beer. Let's call this beer Fat Tug Wheat or FTW for short. I can see why she was attracted to the label. My choice for best packaged beer of 2014 was just decided. Those Hired Guns kids make some elegant designs. Anyways, back to the Fat Tug theme. Last month we sampled Fat Tug lite. Perhaps Driftwood might do a Fat Tug Black, a.k.a. American-style Black Ale/Cascadian/ Black IPA. This I could get behind; might even buy more than one. Enough of my rambling, how does the FTW taste?

Entangled = 8/10

Those who buy too much beer will find similarities between FTW and the Brooklyn/Schneider collaboration beer. Both smelled of potency in the spicy, floral, citrus hop department. There was not a lot of wheat in the nose, just the hops. Wheat became noticeable in the sip, it tempered the anticipated IPA astringency with a tongue caressing creamy texture. Most beer drinkers in Victoria have a collection of dedicated brain cells responsible for recognizing the taste of Fat Tug. Imagine this flavour mixed with cream of wheat and bread. The ending was the expected long linger of spicy wheat and citrus. I'm starting to warm up to the idea of made up beer styles.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Should be a weisse glass.

Food pairings: Hard with fusion beers; perhaps fusion food is in order. Try this next to a breaded salmon with lemon glaze. I might ask for a lemon and Seville orange risotto.

Cellar: Nope, it's all about the fresh hops.

Cheese: This is a new category. 2015 will be the year of cheese. An aged sheep's cheese, sharp cheddar or aged Gloucester should have enough strength to balance this potent beer.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New Growth Pale Ale by Driftwood

One of the purposes of a blog is to educate. I must think of something because this beer review is going to be very short. Let's talk about hops. This is the first time I have seen the Newport hop used. It might be used but no brewery has mentioned it. Newport is a hop developed by the USDA as a mildew resistant substitute for Galena. If I remember correctly Vancouver Island Brewery uses Galena. Newport is a mix of Brewers Gold, Hallertauer M, Late Grape, Belgium 31 and Fuggles. Rogue uses this hop quite a bit; its in XS Imperial I2PA, Santa's Reserve, Dad's little helper black IPA and more. Which makes sense because all these beer are bitter as @#$#. This bitterness is due to a very high alpha acid content present in Newport. So how did the beer that some people are referring to as 'Diet Tug' or 'Tug Lite' taste?

New Growth = 6/10

Spicy and pine flavours are the order of the day. That's it. It reminded me of nasturtium. There is a little cracker and white bread malts. This brew is quite bitter and peppery. I found it a little bitter for a pale ale, but it is suitable for our PNW desires.

Taste +_3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0  5%ABV
Value +1 (worth the price)
Appearance +1 (nice label art)

Glassware: Whatever you got. Just as long as it is clean, right Brian?

Food Pairings: This is quite difficult to pair as it is very piney and bitter. Might be nice to counter with mango sweetness and fatty shrimp. Go for the uber-bitter-party with an arugula salad with blue cheese.

Cellar: Might be interesting because Newport has a good beta hop content, but malt complexity is lacking.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rock Bay Mash Up - Driftwood/Hoyne

I have predicted a local Victoria brewery collaboration for years. If you keep making the same prediction year, after year eventually it will happen. This collaboration was no surprise as Driftwood and Hoyne share the same parking lot. Wonder why it took almost two years for this to happen? Hopefully this will become a regular event. Local brewers must realize, that while they are friendly competitors, the bigger prize they all chase is the massive 80%+ market share owned the the big breweries. Working together will reduce this domination quicker.
Everyone knows that I am dedicated follower of classic beer styles. The Baltic porter is a style influenced by the imperial stouts on route to Russia. Much of this thick English brew passed through the sea ports of Estonia and Latvia. Naturally, local brewers prepared recipes to hopefully gain favour of the Russian imperial court. The lagered Baltic porter was born. I love a good Baltic porter. There are two that stick out in my mind: Black Boss and Baltika 6. Both of these beverages are to be purchased on sight. Maybe I should trademark that phrase, "Purchase on sight", POS for short. Nah.. might get confused with Point of Sale or Piece of ... something.
Anyways, the style should be thick like oatmeal, clean like a sanitized toilet yet fruity as an episode of "Will and Grace". What did the Cicerone Certified (R), BJCP Judge think of this mash up? By the way, I don't think the 8% ABV listing is accurate.

Rock Bay Mash Up = 6/10

The nose is unassuming with only mild hints of roast. I hoped to enjoy some thick lager characters and milk chocolate. A dark brown wash hits the tongue with an initial alcohol burn mixed with toast and Nutella. Anticipated dark berries were replaced by twinges of green apple. The mouthfeel was almost there but the thinness made things end too quickly.
Looking back, this review sounds terrible. It is rather unfair. Label this beer an extra robust porter or a foreign stout and call it even. Memories of the past flavours taint the present. I was hoping to sit down with a ridiculously underpriced bottle of Baltika 6 to relive a glorious past. Instead I got an almost $10 bottle of beer that didn't live up to expectations. The bar was set pretty high. Get out there, buy this beer. It is tasty. Just don't compare it to Black Boss, Baltika 6 or that stellar Les Trois Mousquetaires version.

Taste +3
Aftertaste 0 (it just ended)
Alcohol Content +1 8% (Does anyone have a refractometer I can borrow?)
Value +1 (only for the mash up part)
Appearance +1 Awesome label Julie

Glassware: No real traditional style here. Use a tulip or snifter. For goodness sakes don't serve me a Baltic porter, or any strong beer, in a pint glass.

Food Pairings: Grab a thick tofu steak and go at it.

Cellar: If there was yeast on board, I'd say let it age to eat up that green apple. Otherwise nope.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Driftwood Lustrum Sour Ale

My goodness time flies; Driftwood has been brewing for five years. Driftwood has been the first for many things on Vancouver Island, if not BC. The first wet hopped ale, the first sour and the first beer release achieving cult status. I'm not certain if they were the first to start a regular barrel aging program in BC. Regardless, this brewery has done much to open the palate range of BC beer drinkers. Fittingly, their fifth anniversary beer is a sour. It also happens to be the fifth sour to be released. The twist this time is aging in French oak and the addition of black currants. Most can guess what my review will be.

Driftwood Lustrum Sour Ale = 9/10

This juicy, red brew starts with a furious attack of tart currants, vinegar and tannic astringency. An acetous aroma instantly starts the Pavlovian response with its dark berry sourness. It has this odd flavour of young, but not green, wine. Perhaps due to the heavy presence of tannic and juicy black currants. An equal mix of lactic and vineous sourness fades linearly to a finish that appears to be dry and gritty. Very peculiar, as this is a very juicy, thick feeling brew.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 9.4% (I'm not so sure about this number)
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Nice label art with good description of beer flavour)

Glassware: Something bowl shaped is required to trap the sour and fruity aroma. A tulip or red wine glass would work well.

Food Pairings: Pairing with unique ales is challenging. Contrast this sour ale with something sweet and berry-like. I'm thinking cheesecake or fruit sorbet. Perhaps a duck breast with a wine and berry sauce would be in order. For those pesky Vegans/Vegetarians avoid the carnage and try a berry risotto or roasted squash with cranberry sauce.

Cellar: I am going to take a left turn here and say this beer will not cellar well. This beer will certainly not spoil, but I don't feel the flavour will change much. This is based on the fact that there is little residual sweetness for the yeasts to work on. The currant derived tannic character might not fade. Regardless, I plan to buy a couple more to try and prove myself wrong.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Driftwood Gose-uh

Unless you have been camping, you will most likely have tried the new beer from Driftwood. The gose style originated in the city of Goslar, Northern Germany. This town also happens to be on the Gose river, hence the name. Like many beer styles, witbier is included in this list, it fell out of favour
after the Second World War and the sweeping popularity of the Pilsner. Lucky for us, brewers are looking for something new and are turning their gaze to the past. Salt Spring Island Gruit,which is also a great beer, is another example of old beers being newly brewed. Why would anyone want to add salt to beer? Sweet and salt are a classic contrasting food combination. Don't believe me? Try some salted caramel chocolates.

Gose-uh = 7/10 

This is not simply White Bark with added salt and lactobacillus. Although the nose is reminiscent of this combination: the sea air with coriander and a slight acidic tartness. Each sip is predictably dry and effervescent with a familiar spiciness. What's new is the salty residue on the lips; it is akin to swimming in the ocean. This only draws you back in for more straw malts with a refreshing lemon edge. Not a flavour powerhouse but very tasty.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 5% ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1 (a reasonable description of expected flavour is provided)

Glassware: There is no traditional glassware choice, so I went with a witbier glass. This was mainly because I rarely use this glass.  Other options would be a weizen or a stange.

Food Pairing: Stick with light fare. Think goat cheese omellete, fish, lobster or a ham and cheese sandwich. Serving with a salad topped with boccaccini and capers would draw out the saltiness a bit more. Hard cheeses, like pecorino or parmigiano, would be a good pairing choice.

Cellar: I wouldn't, but then again the Lacto might increase the tartness over time.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Heretic (Driftwood)

I often wonder why I do these reviews. Perhaps these thoughts are validation for my slacking off. Any beer that is released in Victoria people will buy and it is not like there is a tonne of them. There are just enough to give us something new every weekend; which is perfect. If there are no local releases then there are scads of Vancouver beers and other imports. Yes I called Vancouver beers imports: we are on an island.  Your local CBAW is not like Everything Wine where the selection is mind numbingly vast. Bottleworks and Belmont Station are like that. You really don't need an insiders guide to sort through the vast selection of beers at your local. So why do you read my crappy-prick-like beer reviews? Perhaps you want to confirm that you think a beer is good? You don't need a beer reviewer to tell you that. A good beer is one that you like, simple! Whether a beer meets the flavour profile for a BJCP style without faults, that is another story. Perhaps you read beer reviews to see if the expert reviewer picked up the same flavours you did. I always skip to the tasting section of Taps, All About Beer, Beer Connoisseur and Beer West first for this reason. Yes, I do read all these magazines cover to cover. Often your flavour sensations will differ from an expert reviews. Perhaps you want to avoid a totally shitty beer release. This is a valid point. Luckily, it is rare that we get a truly crappy bomber release in this town. It might have a few issues, in my opinion, but it will rarely be undrinkable. We already know which breweries release bombers of inconsistent quality and tend to avoid all releases, unless it sounds really interesting. So why do we read beer reviews? I don't know. If you do, please leave your comments below.

I must act fast and review this beer. It is known that blogs cannot be too long or people loose interest.

The Heretic (Driftwood) = 8/10 

Ok, so we have a Belgian style triple in this bottle. We, or at least I, expect certain things from a triple. The nose should have a vague spicy smell (phenols) with pepper and a slight fruitiness. There should be no alcohol nor hops on the nose. Each sip should be low in alcohol perception and only medium in body with lots of carbonation. A difficult task considering the high alcohol content. The taste should be soft but deep with flavours of lemons, spicy yeast, crackers and pears. It should not linger but only provide a pleasing alcohol warmth and bitterness that could be either hops or peppery phenols. Yup, the Heretic delivers on all these points. I did notice a slight green apple taste, but it was minor. Bonus points for using local malts.

Glassware: A chalice is the perfect choice here. Some might use a snifter, but often this concentrates the already massive head.

Food pairings: All things wash rind cheese but not the blues nor Stiltons. Seafood would be a good choice, especially if there is a lemon sauce involved. Want it for dessert? Picture this with a lemon meringue pie.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 8%ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1 (always great art and reasonable good description of beer flavour)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Clodhopper Dubbel (Driftwood)

I have been away for two weeks and there are so many local releases to review. Yes, I know: first world problems. So enough of my whining. The latest release by Driftwood is a locally malted dubbel abbey style ale. Local malt was produced by everyone's favourite Island maltster: Mike Doehnel. Abbey style ales were originally brewed in monasteries. "Dubbel" does not refer to double the strength of the single. Before widespread literacy, batches of beers were labeled with one, two or three crosses denoting their relative strength. Today dubbels are the dark, fruity abbey ales that hit an ABV of around 7%. When you pick up this bottle at your local CBAW store, you will most likely notice the slight premium price for an usual bomber release. I like this idea of supporting truly local products for a nominal premium; keep it up! Enough rambling commentary, how does it taste:

Clodhopper Dubbel (Driftwood) = 8/10

The nose is spot on with dark sugar and toffee aromas with no hop presence. Each sip is thick and warming, but not too much. Hints of chocolate, raisins and toast are layered upon a sherry like backbone. It had a lingering taste of salt water taffy. Hard to tell if that tongue tingling was the alcohol or hops. Either way I liked it. This one might be worth cellaring; hopefully some of that warmth might mellow out. Well done.

Glassware: chalice or goblet. The wide top helps to dissipate aroma and allows space for large head common for this style. In this case I used the Leffe abbey glass.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7% ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1 (nice art and reasonable description of flavour)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Belle Royal 2013 (Driftwood)

It is with great trepidation that I open this bottle of Belle Royal Sour Cherry Wild Ale. Opening a bottle of Driftwood used to be a feeling of great excitement; now that has been replaced by apprehension. You may have noticed that there was no review of the Singularity 2013 this year. Others couldn't care less what I think. This is the third sour by Driftwood. The Bird of Prey was a glorious thing. The Mad Bruin was also a solid performer but paled in comparison.

Belle Royal 2013 (Sour) = 7/10

Sitting in French and Appalachian oak does funny things to a beer. It gives the nose a funky, muddled cherry aroma. The sip is mild at first with the predictable tart cherries, wool blanket and oak tastes. What is lacking is the sweet vinaigrette. Perhaps all I want is for every sour beer to taste like Rodenbach or Monk's Cafe. Then the lemon and pineapple acidity wash over the tongue with a slight numbing sensation. It feels like my tongue is being digested by fresh pineapple enzymes. The ending is very dry, refreshingly tannic with a slight fruity rawness. If someone gave me this drink blindfolded I would have guessed it was a sangria with too much pineapple juice and oaked chardonnay.
Upon reading my above review, it sounds so horribly pompous and biased. Buy this beer, you will enjoy it. It is mildly sour, tart, fruity and very refreshing. I has hoping to relieve my first sour beer experience. Your first bottle of Rodenbach Grand Cru will forever be the unobtainable benchmark. Mestreechs Aajt is a second best.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 8%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (great art as always with good description of flavour)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Twenty Pounder DIPA (Driftwood)

Last time I did not like this release, it was almost too painful to drink. Hops are awesome and all, but you do not need to overwhelm us. Yes, there are a whole crap load of hops in here. This time it seems almost palatable. I will be brief, I have a few reviews to finish tonight. 

Twenty Pounder = 8/10 

The hop presence is unmistakable. It's nose reveals almost every PNW hop aroma you can fathom; I picked up on the pine, resin and pomelos. Is it possible to smell with your tongue? Your tongue senses the hop flavours before they arrive. The heavy bready, malt base provides ample sweetness to deliver this burning hop wash to your stomach. I might go and grab a TUMS. This might sound unflavourable, but in actuality it is not. The drinkability of this double digit IBU beverage is surprising. Your tongue never really loses its sweet citrus coating/numbing. This might do well with a bit of aging.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 9%
Value +1 ( barely)
Appearance +1 always great art

Friday, February 15, 2013

Blackstone Porter - Driftwood

I gotta get these backlogged reviews underway.
Part 1 - The Rant. Driftwood has always been putting out awesome stuff, but there is not much really new. Every year we get the Sartori (yay) and the Old Cellar Dwellar (double yay) and a sour (BOORAH). But it is all getting a little predictable. The only thing new this year was the demonic Son of the Morning. I think that beer is still on the shelves, which tells you something. The T-shirt was great. Luckily we will never get tired of drinking Fat Tug.
Part 2 - More Rant - I tried the Singularity 2013. Sad to say I got an infected bottle. It tasted like jolly rancher candies and nail polish; oxidation gone wrong. I can forgive a bad bottle and try another, but not at $11 a pop.

Blackstone Porter = 7/10

A spot on porter nose always brings joy. Roasted Fry's cocoa tins, bittersweet chocolate and fruit infused coffee. The sip continues unchanged with minimal roast and a pleasant astringency. This porter is just thick enough to lengthen the flavour until you desire another taste. Your cravings draw you in quickly thereafter. The ending is cocoa powdery and dry. Well done.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0 6%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (always great art and description of flavour)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mad Bruin by Driftwood

Have you ever opened something that was not what you were expecting. Imagine a present wrapped up under the Christmas tree; it looks like a hockey stick. Sweet! A new hockey stick for Christmas day road hockey. Your excitement grows the more you look at this stick. Christmas morning arrives and your rush downstairs to check the flex on your new Easton. Shredded wrapping paper flies to reveal ... a golf club?
I think people were expecting another Flanders red Bird of Prey; a brew that could suck your eyeballs in. I honestly thought Driftwood has nuts to release a Flanders red. This is not an approachable beer. Oud bruins are generally less sour than the Flanders red. This lack of overt sourness and more malty makes them a little easier on the palate.
That year I cried when sampling the Bird of Prey: it was gloriously sour and it aged well. Beer geeks were pleased to have another cellarable beer. The Misses didn't like it - too sour. This year the Misses loved the Mad Bruin. It was fruitier, complex and not too sour. Again I cried. I wanted something with more face twisting sourness. After finishing off a box of tissues, I reflected:

Mad Bruin = 8/10

The slight addition of tears to the glass released the nose. It was tart- yet sweet - with predictions of sourness, root beer and wood vanilla. This was not a face puller. I did long for another sip. It was tart and dry, almost cider like. Except this cider carried wood hints, vanilla, plums and miscellaneous sour fruits. The ending was dry, short and left an impression of fruity balsamic vinegar. Delicious and sessionable sour. Cellaring a few might be in order.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (great label and perfect description of the beer's flavour)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sartori Harvest IPA 2012 Driftwood

This is the closest convergence of wine and beer; perhaps I should explain. Wine makers talk about terroir and vintages. So and so wine had a great year because the grapes had ample sun in mid July with humidity that was perfect for this grape variety to flourish. Conversely, vintners can also blame a lackluster wine on weather adversely affecting the grapes. Most beers cannot make this claim. Many of the variables in beer making are constant. Malts are very consistent in flavour and colouring. Hop flavour profiles are fairly predictable. I'm sure at least one brewer is scoffing at my previous two sentences.
With fresh/wet hopped beers their is no luxury of making a test batch or receiving acid analysis. It is simply: pick, brew and pray. Home brewers and professionals are in the same situation for once. I find it exciting to sample each yearly release of a fresh hopped beer. Is this year better than last year? Is it hoppier, any new flavours? Cork dorks have their Beaujolais nouveau; we have our fresh hopped beers.

Sartori Harvest 2012 = 9/10

Deeply juicy and intense is the only way to describe this multi-citrus nose. There might be a bit of flora and composting earth in there also (think mushroom caps). Each strikingly astringent sip warms your navel. I'm sure there are Mike's malts in there somewhere, perhaps it is hidden behind the wall of peppery and oily citrus hops. It is oddly not as bitter as the nose would suggest. Must be big IBU's because the linger is long with a slight numbness of the tongue. Well done! Get it soon; actually it might already be sold out.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Naughty Hildegard (Driftwood)

I usually review new, or noteworthy, releases in Victoria. While this brew is not new, it is notable. While a ESB is usually a balanced beverage, this naughty one leans towards the hops. This seems appropriate for the hop-happy PNW palate. If someone put club soda through a hop back, locals would line up for a taste.

Naughty Hildegard (2012) = 8/10

Once the nose hits the glass, you know your hophead cravings will be satisfied. It is all here: floral, sweet ruby red grapefruit and pine hop nasal offerings. At the start, hop astringency alerts you as to its intentions. It is not gripping like an IPA; more like a hernia exam. Hops start with an even mix of cedar/pine, sweet grapefruit and hidden bubblegum. This yields to a malt middle of caramel/toffee and bread. After the liquid descends with a warm passing, the vapours reincarnate the hop invitation. It is a vicious palate circle that we are all doomed to repeat. This brew excels in its simplicity but enjoyable predictability.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.5%ABV
Value +1
Appearance +1

Naughty 2011
Naughty 2010

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

BC Craft Beer Goes Far

On a recent trip to Seattle, I was greeted by an unexpected sight. Smack in the middle of my favourite Whole Foods was a display of Driftwood Singularity and Fat Tug. Upon further examination, there was Red Racer, Howe Sound and more Driftwoods in the beer cooler. The stack of Unibroue Ephemere by the green apples was appropriate, but BC craft brewers in the States?
Email is wonderful: let's go to the source and ask why our great beers are leaving the province?
"We [Driftwood] are really a result of the Cascadia craft beer renaissance that originated from Northern California, Oregon & Washington State," explains Gary Lindsay from Driftwood. "We don't consider international borders when looking at a relevant market to share our efforts."
Dave Fenn (one of the HoweSound owners) agrees, "We think it's important to compete in these markets, much like US breweries are competing with us in British Columbia. We get recognition within a huge market, and many search us out when visiting Canada."
The bigger beer market not gone unnoticed by Gary Lohin of Central City, "We look at North America as our market, and hope to build some traction when the new brewery opens." Central City can be found in Chicago, Boston, Philly, and Portland (Maine). Howe Sound sales in Washington, California, Wisconsin and Minnesota. These markets are a small percentage of overall Howe Sounds, but they are growing steadily.

Shipping product stateside is not always about sales. Gary Lindsay explains, "I think we feel we belong in the Seattle market and it and gives a bit of a 'personal' validation to be able to sell our beer in an extremely discerning market." Dave Fenn concurs, "We started our US work about 4 years ago, and participate in local festivals where our beer is sold.  I believe this is one important way for our brewery to grow in terms of knowledge and new ideas."

Thankfully the local brewers are not forgetting their local markets. Gary Lohin never forgets the locals, "We in fact sell all over BC, and in Alberta and Manitoba selectively. Red Racer was just given a general listing on Ontario, which means access to 264 of their stores."
"This market in no way compromises our [Howe Sound] ability to distribute in Canada.", say Dave Fenn. Howe Sound is in 180 BCLDB stores, over 200 private stores in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and soon Ontario.

What does this mean for local beer drinkers? Who knows? Hopefully access to bigger beer markets will spill over into more seasonal releases and a greater chance for experimentation. This will only make things better for the craft beer scene in BC.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Son of the Morning (Driftwood)

So do you want the good news, or the bad news first? Bad news it is. I tried the Son of the Morning by Driftwood last night. Perhaps the name of the beer is in homage to the greatest strong Belgian pale ale, Duvel. Duvel means 'devil' in some Flemish dialects. In case you haven't Googled it already: Son of the Morning is another name of Lucifer. Check out Isaiah 14:12-15 for reference about the dark angel's throw down.  Judging by the rest of the label, I don't think they were referring to Venus. Was there truly Witchcraft used to make this beer? The pentacle in the label background hints at this fact.

What did the beer prick think?

Son of the Morning = 3/10

Perhaps I judge the beers from Driftwood a little harsher because most of their releases are awesome. I felt this one of was lackluster. Lets compare it with BCJP guidelines for a strong Belgian Ale. The aroma was heavy with the alcohols and earthy spices/hops. These esters became apparent as soon as the cap popped. Lots of fruit alcohols, fermenting pear and apricot baby food, and light Christmas cake. A little too burning perhaps. The earthy coriander spice was a nice touch. No luck in finding the long-lasting fluffy-white head. Strong Belgian ales should hide their alcohol well. Alcohol burns for the first few sips; luckily it numbs that tongue and you can pick out the flavours. Fermented pit fruits (apricots, pears), Rogers golden syrup, coriander and miscellaneous spices can be coaxed out of the golden elixir. At the end, a long burning alcohol washed away everything for a dry, mouthwash like finish. Maybe I am being a bit harsh, this is not a bad beer. It does have many outstanding benchmark brews. If you don't believe me, pick up a Duvel or a Delirium Tremens. Duvel should be at every BC Government liquor store. Rumour has it that Delirium is on tap at Vis a Vis in Oak Bay.

Taste +2
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 10%
Value 0
Appearance -1 (found the label undescriptive and offensive. Had to hide it from my daughter)

Other strong reviews
Delirium Tremens
Batch 666 Swan's
Rayon Vert (Green Flash)