Beer for English Devolution

A beer for every region!

 

Talk of English devolution got me thinking. At first beer was, unusually nothing to do with any of thoughts, but memories of history lessons about Anglo-Saxon England and the original divisions of England emerged, before those pesky conquering Normans came along with their Dukes and Doomsday Books. I checked a few blogs and websites on devolution and came up with a modern version that might work today, dividing England up into modern day provinces that represented some historical roots but allowed for modern populations etc. etc…..’but what the hell does this tangent . . . → Read More: Beer for English Devolution

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Hoyne Wolf Vine Wet Hopped Pale Ale

Wrangler Rating: (Recommended)

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 . . . → Read More: Hoyne Wolf Vine Wet Hopped Pale Ale

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Cascadian Wheat Ale – a beer is born

I’m calling it! I’ve had enough with ‘IPA’ being used as a byword for ‘lots of hops’. IPA has a great history that has genuinely developed over time to mean a range of beers that have a common theme. Pale malts, well bittered and dry hopped aromatics. Which malt? what hops? how much? – its kind of up to the brewer, but whether you are enjoying a Lighthouse Switchback IPA from BC, Canada, the East India Pale Ale from the Brooklyn Brewery in New York or the IPA from Meantime Brewing in London, we know what family we are in, . . . → Read More: Cascadian Wheat Ale – a beer is born

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Lighthouse Switchback IPA

Wrangler Rating: (Excellent)

I keep drinking this beer, so it stands to reason that I

a) like it and b) should write about it.

The problem is that every time I crack one open I just want to relax and enjoy it, rather than actually open my rather neglected blog and get to it!

Lighthouse Brewing have really upped their game in the last year and a half with some cracking and interesting “big flavour” bombers. They waited a bit to follow up with an addition to their popular if conservative 6-pack range, but it was well worth it. The . . . → Read More: Lighthouse Switchback IPA

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Driftwood Twenty Pounder Double IPA

Wrangler Rating: (Recommended)

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 . . . → Read More: Driftwood Twenty Pounder Double IPA

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Pretty Things Hedgerow Bitter

Wrangler Rating: (Recommended)

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 . . . → Read More: Pretty Things Hedgerow Bitter

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IPA – A History

The History of IPA Pale Ale and Industrialisation

The history of IPA starts not in India but in London and then found its home in Burton-upon-Trent, an ordinary town in Staffordshire, Britain, where beer has probably been brewed since 1004, when an abbey was founded there. Monks were (and still are in Belgium) prodigious brewers, and would have used the water from the local River Trent to brew their early ale. What made Burton so special, therefore made it the most important centre of brewing in Britain (and even the world for a while) was the water from the river. . . . → Read More: IPA – A History

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Duchy Old Ruby Ale

Wrangler Rating: (Recommended)

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 . . . → Read More: Duchy Old Ruby Ale

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Driftwood Fat Tug IPA

Wrangler Rating: (Excellent)

Driftwood’s Fat Tug IPA is the long awaited addition to the brewery’s regular line up that filled in the gaping hole of a classic Pacific Northwest IPA. A hefty 7% ABV and 80 IBUs sees this beer punching in the heavyweight category for a ‘standard’ IPA. The hit of hops is fresh, fruity and sharp, and will please the hop-heads out there. On the palate the hops retain their power and vibrancy, and cover the alcohol admirably. The malt is there too, but it is in a supporting role, and props up the hop flavours nicely. This . . . → Read More: Driftwood Fat Tug IPA

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Spinnakers Blue Bridge Double Pale Ale

Wrangler Rating: (Recommended)

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 . . . → Read More: Spinnakers Blue Bridge Double Pale Ale

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Swan’s ESB (Buckerfield’s Brewery)

Wrangler Rating: (Recommended)

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 . . . → Read More: Swan’s ESB (Buckerfield’s Brewery)

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Howe Sound Total Eclipse Of The Hop

Wrangler Rating: (Excellent)

Howe Sound’s Imperial IPA has a nice name that some of its younger drinkers might not get. I am not sure if Bonnie Tyler is a fan of this beer, but she should be. Imperial or double IPAs are usually a mouthful of hops with a hit of alcohol, but the brewers at Howe Sound have managed to brew in a style that the original creators of the IPA in the 18th Century would recognise and hopefully approve of.

This is a supremely well balanced beer that has 9o IBUs and 8% alcohol, but manages to . . . → Read More: Howe Sound Total Eclipse Of The Hop

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Wells IPA

Wrangler Rating: (Mediocre)

Wells IPA suffers from a common British problem: mislabeling. During the First World War, breweries (with the government!) decreased alcohol in beers to conserve resources (barley) as well as limit drunkenness among essential workers and the military. Hop levels were also reduced, so the traditionally strong and hoppy IPAs were the first in line to be emasculated. Breweries continued using the term though, but it described a pale ale or a bitter rather than the full-on flavour of an IPA. Wells IPA is a very pleasant and drinkable British pale ale that would have been awarded 3 . . . → Read More: Wells IPA

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Propeller Extra Special Bitter

Wrangler Rating: (Recommended)

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 . . . → Read More: Propeller Extra Special Bitter

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Fat Cat Brewery Honey Beer

Wrangler Rating: (Mediocre)

Fat Cat Brewery are a small producer in BC Canada (there is another with the same name in the UK) and this is their Honey Beer, an ale made with New Zealand tree sap honey. This gives this light amber brew a slightly smokey honey aroma. This is not a sweet tasting beer as they manage to get the honey flavour without the sugar, and the malt is in there too, but not integrated with the honey. There is also an overall bitterness to the brew, which reminds me of an astringent tree bark flavour, found . . . → Read More: Fat Cat Brewery Honey Beer

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Driftwood Brewery Sartori Harvest IPA

Wrangler Rating: (Outstanding)

Driftwood Brewery Sartori Harvest IPA is a huge triumph for this small craft producer based on Vancouver Island. It has a nice ruddy amber colour and pours with a large frothy head. The aroma has a good even spicy hop note with a definite malt character. This beer has a great mouthfeel, and for me, has achieved perfect balance of malt and hops for an India Pale Ale. They use ‘wet hopping’, which means that the local Chilliwack Centennial hops go into the brew fresh, without being dried, and it really gives great flavours of grapefruit . . . → Read More: Driftwood Brewery Sartori Harvest IPA

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Brew Dog Punk IPA

Wrangler Rating: (Excellent)

Brew Dog Punk IPA comes from the new wave of British brewers whose beers may be more at home with the American west coast craft beer drinkers, than in a traditional pub. This should not put anyone off as their IPA is a delicious explosion of hoppy goodness! The colour of this beer is very pale for the style, and almost looks like a hefe-weizen, as there is a touch of cloudiness too. The Punk IPA has a floral-citrussy aroma, and the palate won’t disappoint fans of this style. It’s crisp, spicy and refreshing, with a . . . → Read More: Brew Dog Punk IPA

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Fuller’s ESB

Wrangler Rating: (Outstanding)

Fuller’s ESB lays claim to be the original Extra Special Bitter and its popularity across the world has made this one of Britain’s best known ales. It has a lovely medium amber colour with a loose head (typical for Southern English Bitters); the aroma is full of rich malt with some notes of yeasty bread flavours. The hops are far more noticeable on the palate, and are beautifully balanced with the strong maltiness that typifies the ESB style. They are present with a subtle spiciness that makes this a very drinkable and thirst-quenching beer. There are . . . → Read More: Fuller’s ESB

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Belhaven St. Andrews Ale

Wrangler Rating: (Excellent)

Belhaven St. Andrews Ale is a classic session ale in the style of a British Bitter. There are aromas of light caramel and fruity hops when I dipped my nose in the glass, the body is light-medium with a light head that leaves a little lacing behind. There are some caramel malt notes on the palate but they do not dominate or overwhelm, the hops are perfectly balanced for this style and give off a slightly fruity and grassy taste right through to the finish. This might not be the most pronounced bitter I’ve ever tasted, . . . → Read More: Belhaven St. Andrews Ale

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Tree Brewing Cut Throat Pale Ale

Wrangler Rating: (Recommended)

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 . . . → Read More: Tree Brewing Cut Throat Pale Ale

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Fiddler’s Elbow (Wychwood Brewery)

Wrangler Rating: (Excellent)

Wychwood’s Fiddler’s Elbow is an extremely drinkable Pale Ale, golden amber in colour and brewed with a touch of wheat, which is unusual for modern British Bitters and Pale Ales. This gives it a light refreshing feel, that makes it ideal as a summer session beer. The attack is bright, citrus-y and floral, followed by some nice medium malt flavours. The mid palate gives you a slight banana bread taste, balancing Fiddler’s Elbow rather nicely! The hops are still front and centre though, leaving you with a refreshing dry finish, and those notes of flowery citrus . . . → Read More: Fiddler’s Elbow (Wychwood Brewery)

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Fraoch Heather Ale (Williams Bros. Brewing)

Wrangler Rating: (Excellent)

This is a version of an old Scottish recipe, using heather flowers and gale to flavour the brew rather than hops. Gale is a plant traditionally use to make ‘Gruit’, a mixture of herbs to flavour ale. It is great to see someone make historic ales as the Williams Brothers do; their selection includes four other beers which are well worth investigating. The beer has a pale amber colour with a light head. There is a touch of malt on the palate followed by an attractive herbaceous floral flavour. The subtle sweetness of the heather and . . . → Read More: Fraoch Heather Ale (Williams Bros. Brewing)

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Granville Island Brewing Brockton IPA

Wrangler Rating: (Recommended)

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 . . . → Read More: Granville Island Brewing Brockton IPA

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