R&B Brewing – You Say Barley! We Say Rye! (Band Beer)

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Part four of four for the CBC Band Beers here, and I left to last the one I was most interested in – a rye IPA from R&B Brewing.  I’m fortunate to have a good number of breweries and brew pubs within a short bike ride of my apartment, but R&B is the one of the closest – 4 blocks from my doorstep.  They are best known, at least for me, for their ‘East Side Bitter’, with East Vancouver influence on the classic English ESB style.  It is something I almost always get when found on tap at a local restaurant.

You Say Party! We Say Die! is a local band I’ve had the pleasure of seeing back when they went by that name – today they go by simply You Say Party, out of respect for their former drummer who died of a brain hemorrhage I believe, which actually occurred during their set on stage here in Vancouver.  The old name is used in the naming of this beer though, and a fantastic beer name it is.

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So the stats printed on this bottle are all fives.  5.5% ABV and 55 IBU.  So it’s not a strong beer but it carries full-fledged IPA level bitterness.  However, the 55 IBU masks itself really well (I know I’m not following internationally accepted beer reviewing process here by giving away that information now), and I wouldn’t call this beer bitter, personally.  The malts are creamy and sweet and the rye flavour is bready and earthy.  Maybe towards the finish there is a lingering pine-like bitterness where the hops starts to show its face.  It’s not fantastically exciting but I really enjoy this beer as a session beer.

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Ninkasi Brewing – Radiant Ale

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This beer is from a really nifty 4-pack of bombers I found at the local liquor store last week, put out by Ninkasi to welcome the summer season.  Included in the box was a music download as well, filled with a variety of rock, punk, and rap songs.  Marketing win, in my books.

This particular beer is a seasonal release penned as a crisp and refreshing summer beer.  It’s made up of Millenium, Galena, Northern Brewer, Liberty and Glacier hops – quite the variety for sure – and balanced with pale, Crystal, and Vienna malts.  The beer pours a deep orange with puffy head.  It smells quite citrusy, with the hops leading the charge.  It drinks like a clean and mild IPA, with earthy and grassy hops that offer orange peel and grapefruit notes through to the finish, with a toast-like malt profile offering some sweetness.  It is by no means a hop-bomb but that classic northwest hops feel still leads the palate.  I think I get why it’s called Radiant ale.  It’s not meant to blow your socks off with flavour but instead be refreshing and thirst quenching, yet it has a bright hops profile that satisfies in a way pale ales typically cannot.  Being that it’s playing a bit of a compromise role between IPA and pale ale, it is not particularly memorable, but a nice beer for this sunny, warm evening nonetheless.

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Phillips Brewing – Black Jackal coffee stout

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Phillip Brewing of Victoria, BC released this coffee stout sometime near the beginning of this year.  There are five ingredients listed on the bottle instead of the standard four, of which the extra you’ve probably already guessed – coffee.  Imperial stouts are often attributed as having coffee flavours thanks to the roasted malts used, but this takes things a step further – and puts coffee really on the forefront of the palate.

An aside on the jackal – pictured on the bottle is Anubis, a half-jackal half-human god that will keep you safe and sound as you transport from this life to the afterlife.  At least that’s what the Egyptians seemed to believe.  I think in this case, the Black Jackal is here to safely accompany me to a decent buzz.

So this stuff looks like a stout when poured with a nice medium brown head and tar-like blackness to the liquid.  The coffee infusion is noticeable on the nose, a nutty and sweet expression of coffee mixed along with some of the yeasty beer qualities.  The palate is heavily roasted malts with a significant espresso kick, medium bodied and smooth.  A very enjoyable beer, though beyond the coffee flavour there isn’t huge breadth.

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Innis & Gunn – Canadian Cherrywood oak aged beer

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I apologize for the rather sub-par photo of this beer – lighting was low and the choice of a red background wasn’t well thought out.  Anyway.  This is a special release from the Scottish brewery Innis & Gunn featuring a special recipe that has spent some time in Canadian Black Cherrywood infused with bourbon, and a dash of maple syrup added at the end.

This is a very aromatic beer, its scent being immediately evident from pouring distance.  It is sweet, with strong cherry notes – beyond placebo effects, the cherry is very much there.  The taste is sweet also but not overly so, with plenty of cherry flavour continuing along with a hint of maple and caramel.  The malts have a caramel sweetness while the hops simply offer some crispness and just a touch of earthiness to complement the wood.  Overall, the profile created from these influences is complex and full bodied, and really enjoyable.  The strength of 8.3% ABV is not noticable in itself, instead is simply a result of the big, full flavour of this beer.  It is worth grabbing if you see one on the shelf.

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Driftwood Brewing – The Heretic

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Not too long ago, Driftwood released a Dubbel (Clodhopper) using locally sourced malts.  Both from a local pride perspective and a social and environmental conscience perspective, this had its appeal. It was good, though not a show stopper.

Only a couple months later this local malt Tripel hit the shelves, undoubtedly a further step taken over the same stuff producing the Clodhopper.  Boasting a little higher ABV this should be the Clodhopper taken to the next level, so to speak.

The beer pours a lager-like clear gold with big lacey head.  It smells of banana and cloves.  The texture is smooth and slightly creamy with a great pale malt flavour that has strength behind it (thanks no doubt to the 8% ABV).  There is more banana and fruit, along with some breadiness that is cut by noticable hops presence.  A very drinkable and flavorful beer, dangerously strong.

Old Yale Brewing’s D.O.Ale (Band Beer)

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This is my third of four ‘Band Beers’ marketed by CBC Radio and local BC breweries.  Old Yale is the brewery that can be credited as one of the instigators making these band beers a reality, as it was Old Yale’s Jeremy Sibley who rounded up some willing brewers to take part in their creation [Reference: prettyugly.ca].  Old Yale Brewing calls Chilliwack home, 90 minutes or so east of Vancouver proper.  Their standard brew lineup is not terribly exciting nor creative, but their Sasquatch Stout is pretty nice if I recall correctly.  What their standard lineup does not have is a brown ale, which is exactly what we have here.

I don’t have anything against brown ales personally, but I rarely buy them.  I’m not sure if it’s the style that’s to blame or the lack of exciting expressions of the style that I’ve come across, but I cannot think of a single brown ale that I would recommend a friend pick up.  This one pours, well, brown and with a fairly small head.  It’s dark brown and translucent.  It smells like roasted malts, caramel and vanilla to me.  Taking a sip, the body is creamy but light with a solid hit of chocolately malts and nutty flavour.  The nuttiness is significant, I would say hazelnut and almond.  It is otherwise a mild beer, finishing like a pale ale but with the addition of sweet chocolate malts.

I was somewhat pleasantly surprised by the flavour of this beer, but it is by no means an exciting brew either.  It feels like a safe play – something anyone could enjoy, rather than taking a chance and making something with more flavour.  A brown ale at 5% ABV and 28 IBU isn’t likely to be anything else, I guess.  It’s going down smooth, but it’s not really a beer to blog about in itself.  Too late, though.

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Parallel 49’s Hopnotist imperial IPA

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If you take a look at my Reviews list right now, Parallel 49 is by far the most common brewery of the list.  I’m not intending to bias towards P49 brews, but my regular brewery visits plus my strong affinity for their beers … I guess I am biasing towards their brews.

Hopnotist is a late Spring 2013 release from Parallel 49 that features a HUGE helping of Mosaic hops.  It is a simple but strong brew – one malt, one hops.  Nothing in moderation, though.  The beer pours a tangerine orange with huge, huge fluffy head that sticks around.

The scent is alluring and fantastic, like most big IPAs.  Citrus and wood primarily from what I can tell.  The taste is sharp woody bitterness, like eating tree bark.   There is citrus, tangerine and apricot.  The sheer quantity of hops used is evident from start to finish; this is not for the faint of hops.  It’s 86 IBU, so pretty serious but not insane.  This beer also proves that you do not need a complex hops variety to have a complex flavour; Mosaic offers great complexity between the woody bark flavour, broad citrus flavours, and a little bit of floral quality.

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Cannery Brewing’s ‘Pink Mountainhops’ Maibock (Band Beer)

The second of four CBC Band Beers I’m enjoying is Cannery Brewing’s entry, a maibock named after a very well respected (and personal favourite) Vancouver band, Pink Mountaintops.  Pink Mountaintops is the mellower side project of Stephen McBean’s, better known for his classic garage rock band Black Mountain.  They were the first band I saw at the Rickshaw Theatre down on E Hastings.

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Maibock is named after May, like one might guess.  It is a transitional beer for this transitional time in the Bavarian Alps, when the cold is still biting but summer’s on the cusp.  The maibock shares a fair bit in common with a ‘typical’ lager, including its colour and the yeast profile.  However it receives a boost in the alcohol content and hops level, and as a result comes across with a bit of a heartier feel.  Maibocks can range from 6 – 12%, this one landing at 6.5%.

There are apples, pears and honey on the nose.  The taste is caramel and honey, hops crispness, and apple/pear on the sidelines.   The pilsner malts contribute strongly with a biscuit flavour.   This is perfect on a cool summer’s day, as it’s a sunshine beer at heart but has the warming quality of a cool weather beer as well.

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Phillips Hammer Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

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Phillips may not have the most clout in the BC craft scene, but they do continually put out pretty good beers at really good value.  Take for instance this beer:  it’s a barrel aged imperial stout, but I doubt I paid more than $8 for it, 50% less than I’d pay for a Singularity or P49 RIS.  This is my second bottle, the first I had fresh at the beginning of the year, the second I had saved until now.   It may have only been 6 months, but it was stored at room temperature for most of that time so I didn’t want to take any chances waiting longer.

Opening the bottle, sweetness hits the nose quickly.  The nose is full of chocolate and molasses at first, tapering off to more gentle notes after a few minutes.  The medium brown head does the same.  So then I took a sip, expecting a huge hit of molasses and chocolate, but it was different.  The body was lighter than expected (not light, but medium bodied at most) and quite crisp.  The chocolate flavour is somewhat muted.  In fact, most flavours are fairly muted.  Instead of chocolate, there is mostly mocha coffee flavour coming through.  Not much in the way of booziness – this is 8.3% ABV so my expectation of it to be similar to the 11%+ imperials I’ve had of recent was a little misguided.  There is also vanilla and coconut in there but subtle.  The coffee flavour cuts the sweetness, though.

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Parallel 49 Humphrey Biere de Garde

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Biere de Garde is a strong, French pale ale.  They are a farmhouse ale, similar to the saison though brewed with slightly longer maturation in mind.

As you hold the glass towards you there is both a fruity and floral scent approaching, moreso fruity by my nose.  Largely apple, slightly tart but also quite sweet.  Some banana and sugary bread too.  The nose is fizzy to start but dissipates pretty quickly.

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The taste is light and sweet, with a lager influence.  The rosewater is subtle but detectable.  This is a light and highly drinkable beer but it’s also quite full of flavour at the same time.  I am not familiar with the style but this I thoroughly enjoyed and will keep an eye out for other expressions of the style.  It is definitely a very close sister to the saison, which is my favourite summertime brew.  This is perhaps more floral than saisons I’ve had but the tart fruit flavour and crisp body are very similar.

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