Archive for category 3 Tankards

The Great Pumpkin beer tasting

 

 

So I decided to try some Pumpkin beers on Hallowe’en while watching some bad horror movies (starting with “The Children”- murderous kids and toddlers go on the rampage!) I had five different beers from four breweries. I started with Parallel  49’s Shadenfreude Pumpkin Oktoberfest. A clever idea marrying the easy, malty marzen style lager of the Oktoberfest with some pumpkin and spices of Hallowe’en and Thanksgiving.

 

 

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Parallel 49 Schadenfreude Pumpkin Oktoberfest

This is the only lager from the group and it certainly is easy drinking. There is some nice sweet pumpkin flavour, a hint of vanilla and some  nutmeg and cinnamon perhaps. The spices are light and match the medium bodied maltiness of the beer. Quite a dry spicy finish that, although stops this from being a sweet beer, can be too dry for some.

All in all a good first effort from this brewery and I would recommend this and buy it again next year for sure!

Wrangler Rating:

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 Lighthouse Pumpkin Ale

This one is a mid amber colour and starts off surprisingly light. There is a mild sweetness from the demerara sugar and a little spice. It finishes very quickly and I felt there was not anything to it. I guess they went for the restrained approach, seeing as some pumpkin ales are cloyingly sweet and spiced out of all proportion, but I feel they were too cautious and missed out on some seasonal flavours.  A rare miss from this reliable brewery!

 

 Wrangler Rating:

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Tree Brewing Jumpin Jack Pumpkin Ale

Tree brewing have a number of seasonals that are usually well received, so how will  their pumpkin ale stack up against some stiff competition? It pours a dark amber and, weighing in at 7%, promises a fuller tasting beer than the other two. With a malty spicy aroma, it doesn’t taste like it’s as strong as it is. It has an even maltiness, a medium body and well integrated spicy flavours. This was a really well balanced beer with all the flavours combining well! This beer is not overly sweet, and the pie spices match the pleasant malt nicely. An easy 3 almost 4 Tankards!

Wrangler Rating:

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Cannery Knucklehead Pumpkin Ale

The Cannery pumpkin ale comes with a well-dresssed knobbly headed pumpkin gentleman on the label, and pours a bit darker that the others so far. It seems to be based on an amber-brown ale, which leads me to let it warm up a bit, rather than having it straight from the fridge.  It has a slightly smoky note to the spice aroma but the malt seems a bit thin for me.  The spice is definitely dominant, with a touch of black liquorice  but there is almost no sweetness or maltiness, which I like a bit of  in my pumpkin ales. Having said that it went well with my pumpkin BBQ ribs, and the dryness contrasted with the sweetness of the sauce. This one just squeaks a 3 tankards!

Wrangler Rating:

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Parallel 49 Lost Souls Chocolate Pumpkin Porter

This is a bit of a departure from the others in that it is a much fuller bodied beer than the others, with dark malts, mocha notes and made with real chocolate. There is some spice and ginger, but they are laid back and the rich chocolate is definitely king! Pumpkin flavour? well I struggle to taste it, let’s face it, the large orange squash is not known for its strong flavour and it gets a bit lost in this beer. On the other hand this is a delicious beer and my favourite of the ones here, but…. I might struggle to put this in the pumpkin ale group if I was tasting blind. Soooo… what does this mean? Well this is the best beer here but as a pumpkin ale?

Wrangler Rating:

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So to conclude the Great Pumpkin Beer Tasting I feel that there is a split decision! Parallel 49 Lost Souls Chocolate Pumpkin Porter was the best beer out of the five, but … I think Tree Brewing`s Jumpin Jack was the best ‘classic’ pumpkin ale here. On Hallowe’en I want to taste pumpkin pie in a glass but not be overwhelmed by any one element and Tree managed it well.

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Hoyne Wolf Vine Wet Hopped Pale Ale

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Hoyne Wolf Vine is the first beer I have reviewed from this fairly new brewery. Their IPA is popular as is their version of a dark mild, Dark Matter. This is a limited release due to the availability of the fresh hops and sees Sean Hoyne, formerly of Swans brewpub and Canoe brewpub, and brother of Lighthouse founder and brewer Paul Hoyne, enter the fresh/wet hopped beer fad that is gripping British Columbia at this time of year.

Instead of going for an IPA, Hoyne has gone for the less bitter pale ale, and given it the fresh treatment. It pours a mid amber colour with a bubbley head and leaves heavy lacing around the glass. The aroma is terrific with a big hit of fresh, green leafy notes, lime zest and lime flower. The palate is a bit more restrained but develops more as the beer warms up to cellar temperature. There are less of those aromatics than I expected and it tastes less hoppy than it smells. There is a good balance of bitterness on the finish, leaving a leafy, herbal note in my mouth. Overall a good beer that I enjoyed but it didn’t totally wow me. This would be nice with a (real) mature cheddar ploughman’s lunch.

Serving: 650ml Bottle

ABV: 5.5%

Best Served: 7-10°C

 

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Phillips Garrison Mash-Up Baltic Porter

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East and West united; Canada going forward as one, whether you are in the Maritimes or the West coast beer is a universal pleasure and one that has united two great Canadian craft breweries on opposite sides of the country.

What is Baltic Porter? It is a relatively modern name used to describe strong Porters brewed in Russia and the Baltic nations that copied strong porters and stouts brewed in Britain for export to those regions. One difference is that many of those breweries now use lager yeasts rather than the warm/top fermenting ale yeasts that brewers in Britain used. Modern craft brewers are now making their version, and bringing this beer to a new audience. Garrison Brewing already produce a good Baltic Porter, and now they’re joining up with Phillips to make a new version; so how does it stack up?

It has a dense black colour with a loose tan head and an aroma of black coffee, baked dried fruit and black molasses. Once sipped it has a full body, but not the intensity I expected. The flavours are full of sweet molasses and burnt mocha. There is a lengthy,  fairly sweet finish and that I find detracts from the balance of the beer, but it is still a good and boozy drop!

Serving type: 650ml bottle

ABV: 8%

Best Served: 8-10 °C

 

 

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Ommegang Three Philosophers

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Ommegang Three Philosophers is a Belgian style quadrupel dark ale, blended with an authentic kriek (cherry lambic). It has a dark reddish brown colour and a loose head that disappears fairly quickly. This beer has a powerful flavour that saturates my mouth as soon as it enters. The thick caramel notes and cooked, dried fruit are the main players, and it overwhelms the subtle (or is it buried?) cherry from the kriek. There are sherry-like armoas and a winey finsh that give this a bitter-sweet note that is good for strong cheeses.

I was a bit disappointed with it as I was expecting a bit more complexity from such a grand beer, and the cherry was just a hint, nothing more. On the whole though it is a very pleasant ale that is best enjoyed on a cold winter`s evening .

Serving: 750ml bottle

ABV: 9.8%

Best served: 10-12°C

 

 

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Lost Coast Winterbraun

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The Lost Coast Winterbraun is a strong dark brown ale brewed especially for the winter months. The label sports a Picasso-esque snowboarder with skin the colour of this rich and deeply hued brew;  the sweet, dark caramel and rye bread aromas that greet you are a comforting reminder of why we drink different beers when the nights draw in and there is a chill in the air.

The flavours are warming too, a hint of black treacle, roasted malt, baked dried fruit, and sweet caramel are all there and give this beer a cake-like appeal. This can be drunk with a rich beef and ale pie and gravy or on its own, some might enjoy this with desert, such as a steamed sponge pudding made with lots of dried fruit and a caramel flavoured custard.

ABV: 6.5%

Serving type: 650ml bottle

Best Served: 9 – 11 °C

 

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Beers of British Columbia

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Whether you’re a fan of BC craft beer, live in BC or just visiting, then this is a book for your collection. It is a dossier of brewpubs and microbreweries and covers fundamental information of a brewery’s offerings and sometimes with a bit of history is thrown in.  If you can see past the clunky and inconsistent formatting, (this is a self published book) and get to the ‘meat and potatoes’, then you will really find a lot of great information from this guide.  If you’re planning any beer related trip in British Columbia, this guide will likely motivate you to check out what’s in the area of your visit.

   From beer neophyte to established aficionado, there is information that everyone can use in this publication, and call upon it as a consistent reference.  Keep in mind that this book was published in 2010 and already many changes have occurred in the craft beer industry in “Beautiful BC”, but for the most part, it is still very relevant;  that being said, I wholeheartedly look forward to the 2nd edition in the future.

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Driftwood Twenty Pounder Double IPA

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Driftwood Brewery Twenty Pounder Double IPA comes with trademark fabulous graphic artwork on the label. At the very least they have raised the game when it comes to bottle labels! Happily this is not where the game raising ends. They have produced many of British Columbia’s (and canada’s for that matter) best craft brews. A double IPA (thanks for not using ‘Imperial’) has been keenly awaited by the craft beer fans of the West coast. Since the two IPAs that have been on the shelves – regular IPA Fat Tug and super seasonal Sartori Harvest have proved so popular, a double IPA seemed to be an obvious choice for a seasonal specialty.

On with the review! It pours a rich mid-amber colour and has a small foamy head. The aromas are full of dried fruit and candied orange peel. There is some pink grapefruit there too and it promises to be a big mouthful of a beer, full of richness and power. There are obvious notes of sweetness, from the malt, but not a giant amount of depth. The hop notes are still king and a real pithiness is present on the tip of my tongue.  There is, however a slight cloying note and a bit of a metallic taste on the lengthy finish which tempers my total enjoyment.

I can’t help thinking that Driftwood’s real skill has been some of the farmhouse ales like Spring Rite and the great ESB Naughty Hildegard and that’s where their passion lies. The plethora of Double IPAs from many North American breweries have made the style a “standard” and perhaps this hasn’t showed off their indisputable talents at their best.

Having said all that I still like this beer, but I can’t help thinking that it will improve with a bit of age. I will put one down for six months and I’m sure it will show better. I did this with the Lighthouse Shipwrecked Triple IPA and it’s disjointed flavours greatly harmonised after a few months in the Beer Wrangler’s cellar.

I also feel that this would would work better with some food – perhaps a blue cheese to temper the sweetness or on the other hand a funky but creamy Limberger might just be perfect!

Serving Type: 650ml Bottle

ABV: 9%

Best Served: 9 – 11°C

 

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Brewdog Trashy Blonde

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What makes a great Summer ale? Whether you call it a Blonde, a Golden or a Summer ale, the style has to refresh, not be too heavily flavoured, but definitely not bland. There also has to be a good level of (here I go – a word I hate!) drinkability. (I feel soooo dirty!)  However a drinkable balanced golden coloured ale would only get a 3 tankard rating. A great beer has a certain something that inspires and delights, and as all beer connoisseurs know, when you come across it, you mark it down in your mind and make sure you revisit that beer at a future date. Brewdog comes with a lot of hype, and are well known for their super strong and heavily hopped ales, but can they pull off a great session style summer seasonal without overdoing it or being too cautious?

It has a nice pale golden colour, and crisp slightly hoppy, almost lagery nose. There is a hint of grainy malt but no real sweetness, and a good dose of dry herbal hops on the finish. The hop notes linger for a bit, almost drying my mouth, which in turn makes it start to water!

This is a nicely made Summer blonde ale and I could sink quite a few on a hot day on the deck!

Seving type: 330ml bottle

ABV: 4.1%

Best Served: 5-7°C

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Kona Brewing Oceanic Belgian Style Saison

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Kona Brewing’s Oceanic Organic Belgian Style Saison is brewed on the Big Island using Belgian yeast and organic ingredients. It has a medium gold colour and if you tip the whole bottle out, the small amount of yeast inside will give it a slightly cloudy appearance, with an aroma of spice and citrus. The flavour is a touch one dimensional, but has a nice crisp refreshing flavour with a citrus note. There is a hint of the coriander and dry spice on the finish and is pleasantly drinkable. This seemed to get better as it warmed up, so if you don’t want to miss the subtle spiciness, don’t drink it too cold!

ABV: 6%

Serving type: 650ml Bottle

Best Served: 6-8°C

 

 

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Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat

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Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat is sold by the brewery as a ‘Belgian Wit’  but this is no ordinary Hoegaarden imitation that some breweries, large and small churn out in the summer. This could be the fruitiest wheat beer on the market with the vibrant orange colour of the liquid echoed by the flavour. Sweet tangerine dominates the palate with juicy blueberry notes there as well. With a touch of sweet spice and a balancing note of bitterness, this beer is a great summer refresher.

Although simple, I really enjoyed this beer and would definitely have this again on a hot afternoon.

Best Served: 5-7°C

ABV: 4.9%

Serving Type: 355ml Bottle

 

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It’s Hammer Time -Phillips Style

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Phillips Brewing make a highly regarded Imperial Stout every year in limited amounts which usually sells out fairly quickly. This year they released a bourbon whiskey barrel aged version in even smaller numbers. But is all that extra effort and cost worth it? I decided to gather the Wranglerette and have a taste off. Is the barrel aged pure gold bullion, or is it full of bull? I always like to start with the original so here goes:

In the Blue corner….

Phillips Hammer Imperial Stout

Wrangler Rating:

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It pours as dark as beer gets, with a dark, creamy tan head. There are aromas of black molasses and burnt caramel with sweet roasted coffee beans. The palate follows on and adds hints of sweet dark cocoa and a hint of cooked dried fruit. It has a creamy and silky texture, so doesn’t lie too heavily, and remains very drinkable. The finish is fairly long with the creaminess of this beer lingering.

In the Red corner….

Phillips Hammer Bourbon Aged Imperial Stout

Wrangler Rating:

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Despite the previous description of colour – I swear this is actually darker and even denser, but with the same creamy, dark tan head. The aroma is much more different than I had imagined with a lot of the burnt characteristics smoothed out with a touch of vanilla-like sweetness.  The notes of whiskey are there too, but not overpowering, lending some richness to this big stout. The flavours echo the aromas and feel more integrated than the non-aged version. I don’t know how long this block-buster gets in barrel, but it certainly gives it a smooth rich evenness. But…. the bourbon aged stout seems to have lost something along the way, the bite of those heavily roasted malts have been reigned in and replaced by a simpler sweetness. Don’t get me wrong it’s a good beer but it’s not as drinkable as the original, and a small glass is enough before my palate needs refreshing. It gets a lower score than the original, which is totally against my preconceptions, as I generally like barrel aged beer, but this time it only added a sweetness which smoothed out those peaks of flavour I rather enjoyed!

Phillips should be applauded for trying this out as it keeps BC’s breweries right up there with all the current trending on craft brewing, and I’d like to see them try it again next year with different barrels. If they could buy some of the Samuel Smith Stingo barrels – now that would be interesting!

Both Stouts:

ABV: 8.3%

Best Served: 14 – 16°C

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Pretty Things Hedgerow Bitter

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Pretty Things make beer with some interest, as opposed to just brewing standard styles to fill their portfolio. This time out they have used three Dwarf Hop varietals from England, Sovereign, Pioneer and First Gold, and made a well hopped British Best Bitter.  The hoppy flavours may not be familiar to those used to drinking North American IPAs, but these fairly new varieties give it a distinctly wild herbaceous twang.

This is certainly reminiscent of Bitters I’ve drunk in the UK but with an extra helping of hops. The Dwarf hops taste fresh and vibrant and leave a lingering dry aftertaste on the palate. This is an interesting, refreshing and drinkable beer if a bit one dimensional. This is great on its own or perhaps with a traditional fish and chips; the hops will cut through the grease and revitalise the palate.

ABV: 5.4%

Best Served: 8-10°C

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Duchy Old Ruby Ale

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Duchy Originals Organic Old Ruby Ale is made with a historic malt called Plumage Archer which gives this beer a deeply pleasant roasty malt flavour. The bright amber-ruby colour sparkles, and the gentle nose of biscuity and fruity malt make this a great session ale. The slightly tea-leafy and floral hops break through enough to make this a nicely well balanced beer.

This is not a flavour bomb by any stretch of the imagination, and it falls into a cross between a Best Bitter and an Amber Ale in style, but don’t be put off. This is a well-crafted traditional style ale that makes it a breeze to drink three or four in an evening – perhaps accompanied by a steak and ale pie!

ABV: 5%

Best Served 10-12°C

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Spinnakers Blue Bridge Double Pale Ale

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Spinnakers Blue Bridge used to be labelled a Double IPA, but they have renamed it a Double Pale Ale, perhaps because it is not as much a hop explosion as some Double IPAs. It still has a good dose of hoppiness though, but seems to be carefully balanced with the malt, which makes this beer a refreshing change from the wealth of similar double or imperial IPAs on the market.

Spinnakers is one of those breweries that are hard to find outside of its local neighbourhood (Victoria, British Columbia) but are well worth the effort as the line-up includes some great Canadian takes on some classic British Ales.

This is a very enjoyable strong pale ale that hides its alcohol well, has some grainy sweetness and a good herbal hoppy finish. Although this won’t blast your taste buds away, it may well tickle your fancy, especially if you serve it at the correct temperature – too cold and you’ll miss half the flavour!

ABV: 8.2%

Best Served: 10°C

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Les Trois Mousquetaires Sticke Alt

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Les trois Mousquetaires is a small but dedicated brewery from Quebec, Canada, and it produces a range of European style and seasonal specialties. Sticke Alt is not a common style of beer, least of all outside its home nation of Germany, and is an Altbier on steroids. Many Alts are a well rounded malty beer with a nice hit of herbal hops on the finish, making a good session ale.

A Sticke Alt is a far more serious affair, and this Canadian version is no exception. It has a deep red-amber colour with a creamy head, that leaves plenty of attractive lacing around the glass. The first thing that hits you is the body; this is a very full beer, with a rich maltiness and a viscous feel to it. There are notes of dried fruit and black molasses, but without too much sweetness. It is counter-balanced by a strong herbal bitterness on the finish from a good dose of hops, with some woody touches that sometimes feels a bit drying. Over all this is well worth a go, and would pair well some rich, fatty meats as the bitterness would be a good foil for the fat, and the body can match the strong flavours too!

ABV: 6%

Best Served: 10°C

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Russell Black Death Porter

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Russell Black Death Porter is a terrific offering from a brewery that is best known for a rather mediocre cream ale. With their range of 650 ml ‘Brewmaster series’ they have definitely shown that they are more serious about beer than their 6-pack selections, sometimes suggest. This is a really rich and malty porter with a ton of black molasses , and a subtle note of hop, but it plays second fiddle to the delicious sweet, roasted flavours that dominate. The finish isn’t cloying though as there is just enough bitterness to balance it all out. All in all a very nice porter!

ABV: 6.5%

Best Served: 10°C

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Maredsous Abbaye Triple

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Maredsous Triple is golden amber in  colour, a touch darker than many triples, and has a strong, spicy, alcoholic aroma, which is not surprising when you see the 10% ABV on the traditionally styled label.  The palate gives off a strong hit of the solvent-like alcohol at first, and is followed up by grainy dried fruit, with over ripe pineapple and boozy marmalade oranges leading the way. The finish is dry, with a hint of orange peel and herbiness. This powerful triple is not as refreshing as some and struggles to balance its flavour with its alcoholic strength; having said that, it is still a worthwhile beer to try, and if you are comfortable with the warming mouthfeel, then savour the notes of fried fruit and spice with pleasure.

ABV: 10%

Best Served: 7°C

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Swan’s ESB (Buckerfield’s Brewery)

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Swan’s ESB is brewed by Buckerfield’s Brewery on Vancouver Island in a popular hotel and brewpub in Victoria, that tends to brew British style ales and German style lagers. The ESB has a nice dark amber colour and is gently carbonated, in the tradition of ales from the other side of The Atlantic, but has a slightly more robust hop aroma than some. There is a nice malty body to this beer, with plenty of sweet caramel notes; these lead to a bitter hoppy finish that seem to envelop the initial malt sweetness.

Although I really enjoyed drinking this one, the flavours are not that well integrated, and the hops on the finish seem strangely separate fom the mid-palate. Never the less, it’s definitely one to try for fans of the style, as it goes down easily, and as it is lower in alcohol than most ESBs, makes a good session beer.

ABV: 5%

Best Served: 9°C

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Driftwood Brewery Blackstone Porter

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Driftwood’s Blackstone Porter is a very dark version of this classic beer that has its origins in 18th Century London. It is a completely opaque black in the glass, looking like a stout, and is made with a partial sour mash, similar to the method used for some Tennessee whiskies. This imparts a subtle tartness to the beer, making it less sweet than many Porters. The main flavours that come through are cocoa and coffee bean, and is followed by a smokey finish. There are vague notes of hop in the background, but they are bit part players, (a welcome break for some!) supporting the dark bitter-sweet malt that dominates. This would be great with smoked meats, or flame grilled pork.

ABV: 5.1%

Best Served: 12°C

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Rogue Mogul Madness Ale

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Rogue Mogul Madness Ale is a  Winter warmer with bite. It has a dark ruby-brown colour and a fairly creamy tan head that stays with the beer. There are some caramel flavours with some faint notes of banana bread. The unusual thing for a winter warmer, but not unusual for Rogue, are the obvious handfuls of hops used in the brew. They offer a pleasant bitterness on the finish that tastes a little grapefruity, and tends to last for a while after the beer has been swallowed. This is an enjoyable beer, but tastes like a good ESB to me. Rogue don’t seem to want to make a beer that has been lightly hopped, and perhaps are now victims of their own dogma, producing a lot of excellent but similar tasting products. I would love to see them do a really rich malty winter warmer, as they are brilliant brewers but are in danger of becoming just a bit one-dimensional.

ABV: 6.5% (approx)

Best Served: 12°C

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Swans Coconut Porter

coconut porterWrangler Rating:

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I have to admit that I’m bit torn about Swans Coconut Porter. I love a good porter and really enjoy porters that are layered with other flavours (Kona’s Pipeline Porter with coffee is my personal favourite) so when I saw this coconut porter I became very excited. This beer is very dark in colour with a frothy cappuccino colour head and a strong caramel malt nose with a hint of roasted coffee bean.  The flavour of dark bitter chocolate fills the mouth and slowly gives way to a toasted coffee aftertaste. Unfortunately (for me anyway) I don’t taste any coconut which, considering the reason I bought the beer was to try the coconut, is disappointing. That said, I think this beer stands well on its own as a porter and would taste great with some strong English cheddar

ABV: 5.5%

Best Served: 11°C

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Tree Brewing Black Tree Dark Ale

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Tree Brewing are based in The Okanagan, where this summer (2009) there were large scale wild fires that destroyed thousands of trees. This beer was released in aid of the BC Fire ReLeaf Fund that aims to replace all the trees lost in the fire. This is described as a dark ale but is in fact a blend of two beers, probably the Cutthroat pale ale and the Spy porter. This makes up a well appointed version of a Black and Tan beer. The dark mahogany ale has a roasted malt note throughout that serves as its backbone. There are pleasant hop notes on the nose as well as the palate that continue through to the finish along with a dry, toasty flavour. This is a simple yet effective beer, whose smoothness and balance make it really drinkable and can be enjoyed with a grilled steak in the knowledge that it all goes to help a good cause.

ABV: 5%

Best Served: 9°C

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Propeller Extra Special Bitter

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Propeller ESB is a rich dark amber / brown and is brewed in the traditional style of a British Extra Special Bitter. It has a nice fruity aroma, with strong hints of malt that remind me of a classic pub pint in the UK. This Nova Scotian brew is a breeze to drink, as the balance of malt and hops are good and makes drinkability a key factor in recommending this beer. The malt has a touch of sweetness to it, but mainly you get to taste its richness. The hops are North American though, and there is a nice herbal note and a refreshing bitter finish. This might not be a show stopper, but it’s a well made and drinkable beer, almost making it a session ale due to the alcohol being on the lighter side of a typical ESB. Pair this with a richly flavoured lamb dish, like a roasted lamb shank, as the bitterness will offset the rich fattiness of the meat.

ABV: 5%

Best Served: 9°C

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Anderson Valley Brewing Boont Amber Ale

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Anderson Valley Brewing Boont Amber Ale comes in the large 650 ml bottles, and it’s a good thing too, as this is a rather quaffable ale. It is a nice bright mid-amber in colour, with a medium frothy head that doesn’t linger for too long. There is a hint of sweetish toasted malt on the nose and maybe a touch of hop, but not a whole lot else. This has a nicely balanced palate with the malt leading the way followed by some spicy hop notes. There is a bit of light fruitiness in the background but not enough to take away from the nice drinkable toasted caramel flavours of the malt. This is a well made west coast amber ale, and finds itself regularly in my mix of brews in the fridge! This would go great with a big plate of nachos or a juicy burger.

ABV: 5.8%

Best Served: 7°C

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Hacker-Pschorr Münchener Gold Helles

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Hacker-Pschorr Münchener Gold is a golden-straw coloured Helles lager from the great brewing city of Munich. The light frothy head dissipates, leaving a little lacing down the sides of the glass. The aroma has a pleasant light sweet malt note with a hint of the noble hops promised by the ‘edelhell’ tag on the bottom of the label. The body is light, crisp and refreshing, as a Helles should be, and feels very well balanced. The finish is subtly hoppy with a touch of sweet pale malt, and is supremely thirst-quenching. This is an ideal session beer to drink all afternoon on its own, or with delicately flavoured seafood. It won’t blow you away, but it does what a Helles lager is supposed to do – be easy drinking, pleasant and a good social lubricant!

ABV: 5.5%

Best Served: 5°C

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Granville Island Brewing Pumpkin Ale

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Granville Island Pumpkin Ale is a tasty bright ruddy amber coloured beer. The aroma is really quite sweet, and is reminiscent of a Belgian strong pale ale, smelling of candied orange peel and sweet spice. The flavour is thankfully not as sugary as the nose suggests, containing toasted pumpkin seed, and the roasted flesh of the pumpkin. The beer notes are not lost though, there are plenty of roasty malt flavours and a nice refreshing bitter finish. Why not pair this with some cold roast meat and chutney left over from a Thanksgiving lunch – it’ll go perfectly!

ABV: 6%
Best served: 8°C
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Cannery Brewing Blackberry Porter

New Blackberry Porter - Bottle With Star  Glass

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Cannery Brewing Blackberry Porter is a robust beer with a strong taste of blackberry. The Porter flavour is fairly good and is not overwhelmed by the fruit, but the blackberry notes are stronger.  The berry flavours are not sweet but give a long aftertaste which some of the Wrangler’s guests loved but the other half were not so sure. It has an off white, creamy head that lingers to the bottom of the glass and a deep opaque black/brown colour. There are some bitter notes from the hops but it’s in a supporting role to the dark fruit.  Do not have this too chilled or you will miss the balance of the porter and the fruit will dominate. Fruit beers are not for everyone, but if you don’t like the sweet and light styles that abound in the summer, go for a more full-bodied and balanced option like this well made Porter. Pair this with a fruity and creamy dessert.

ABV: 6.5%

*                                                         Best Served: 10°C

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Tree Brewing Cut Throat Pale Ale

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Tree Brewing Cutthroat Pale Ale is a well made (Canadian) American Pale Ale that does all its supposed to. It’s crisp, refreshing and a great hit of hops on the finish. This is a more-ish session beer, particularly good on a hot summer’s afternoon. The malt flavours are a bit on the laid back side for me and could do with a bit more oomph. The hops are good though and give off a nice citric, grapefruit twang. All in all I could drink a few of these without too much trouble. Pair with a grilled chicken salad, or perhaps as a refresher with an oily Chinese dish.

ABV: 5%

Best Served: 6°C

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Erdinger Weissbier

Erdinger_Weissbier

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Erdinger Weissbier pours into the glass with an attractive straw colour with a large fluffy head and a slight yeast haze. This is a lighter and crisper style of weissbeer than some, and its flavours are subtle. A touch of banana and apple with a hint of a hop on the finish makes this an easy drinking beer. This may be mild-mannered but it is true to the style of a German ‘breakfast beer’ and that’s why I like it and almost gave it a 4 tankard rating, but I felt it needed a bit more to get that extra mark.. Alot of this could be drunk without too much trouble, and I would heartily recommend it as a pre-lunch drink or to go with poached white fish. For a more spicy brew, try the Erdinger Urweis which is a benchmark of the fuller bodied style of Hefe-weissen.

ABV: 5.3%

Best Served: 7°C

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Duckstein Copper-Gold (Alt Bier)

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Duckstein is an example of an alt bier which is now widely available around the world, and it’s about time too! Copper-gold describes the colour well, and after pouring, a nice thick head appears.  The flavour starts with a clean maltiness and a splash of hops which is then complimented by the taste of caramel. A light breadiness fills the mouth, and the finish is dry and hoppy. Overall this is a very drinkable beer full of flavour but with a light finish. It will pair well with a creamy pasta or a refreshing foil to traditional German sausage.

ABV: 4.9%

Best Served: 8°C

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Big Rock Traditional Ale

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This ‘Trad Ale’ is described by Big Rock as an English Brown Ale, which I find particularly interesting coming from a Canadian brewer, and it definitely has some of those sweetish, malty notes associated with an English Brown. Although it is only just medium-bodied it does have some nice, very light hoppy flavour, making it an easy beer to drink. It would be well paired with summer evening barbecues or slices of emmental cheese.  Although not overly nutty in the mouth, it does leave you with a hazelnut flavour on the finish. Not bad at all!

ABV: 5%

Best Served: 10°C

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Granville Island Brewing Belgian Wit

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This is an enjoyable, lightly flavoured summer wit beer. Gentle citrus notes are joined by hints of clove and nutmeg. Lightly hazy, rather than cloudy, it is not a blockbuster of the style, but gives you a nice refreshing beer on a hot day. Great with delicately flavoured seafood.

ABV: 5%

Best Served: 8°C

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Granville Island Brewing Brockton IPA

GIBbrocktonIPAWrangler Rating:

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Granville Island Brewery finally have added a beer with a bit more ‘oomph’.  A very accessible IPA, and I feel it is in the Pacific Northwest Style as it says on the back. Although not as highly hopped as some, this is a nice refreshing hoppy pale ale. The hop flavour is definitely North American as the hops used taste citrusy with a little bite and very refreshing, rather than the more floral style of English Hops. I can drink this all summer day long, which is the point of an IPA, and it does what it is supposed to. This is not an extreme beer, but one you can just enjoy!

ABV: 6%

Best Served: 8°C

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Carlsberg Jacobsen Dark Lager

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This is a very enjoyable beer. Carlsberg’s premium line is named after the company’s founder – J.C. Jacobsen and it certainly trumps the usual Carlsberg output. This dark lager is a deep amber, ruby brown, and has the beer has a light head. There are notes of lightly toasted caramel, perhaps a hint of banana and roasted coconut. Despite these traditionally heavier flavours the finish is still crisp and refreshing.  I drank this with grilled pork, marinated in a BBQ sauce and served with a Greek salad,  the subtly sweet toasted flavours of the beer matched the meat very well.

ABV:  5.8%

Best Served: 6 – 8ºC

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