Tag Archives: Hoppy

Day 10 – Bridge Brewing Company – Sleigh Booster

Day 10 - Bridge Brewing Company - Sleigh Booster

We are nearing the halfway point of this 24 beer journey and so far I’ve been pretty impressed with the beers I’ve had.  Because I know people are not reading all of these, I want to take a minute to reiterate something.  I am not a beer judge, I just really like beer and as I’ve been drinking it my palate has become better. I’m by no means perfect and there are a lot of things I still have to learn.  All the ratings I do in this are based on my own personal opinion of the beer.  Like I’ve said before, I don’t always listen to people when they rate beers and I don’t expect you to either.

The main focus of these 24 posts is to learn about the breweries and the styles of beers. The ratings are so I can look back at the end of this and decide which one I liked the best. I hope that in reading these you will at least learn a bit more about the breweries, styles, and make up your own mind if you’d like to give them a try.

Today we have a beer from Bridge Brewing Company located in North Vancouver, BC.  The beer is called Sleigh Booster and it is an Imperial Red Ale.

Bridge Brewing Company opened in 2012 as Vancouver’s first nano-brewery. Bridge was housed in a 1,000 sq/ft space and was brewing beer in 800 litre batches. Craft beer drinkers loved their beers and they’ve been working hard to expand production as much as possible to meet their demand. They have since expanded their brew house and brought on some help in order to meet the demand for their beers.

What is really interesting about Bridge Brewing is that they are committee trying to be a zero-waste brewery. At present they are 99% waste free. As they brew in small batches their hops and grains in small quantities so that they make sure they get the most use out of them. This also helps them ensure high quality standards in all of their batches of beer.

Speaking of beer, they brew quite a lot of different styles from year-rounds, their iron-worker series, as well as seasonal beers.  The beer we are having today is from the Seasonal selection and sounds pretty tasty.  I’ve had the opportunity to try another one of their season beers, their Uganda Sipi Coffee Brown Ale and I thought it was pretty good.

Imperial Red Ales tend to use American hops and has a perception of hop bitterness to the flavour. Typically, with a solid malt profile and a beautiful deep amber to deep copper colour, these beers tend to bring a good balance between hop bitterness and malty sweetness. While Imperial Red Ale itself is not a traditional style, it is an example of North American brewers taking the traditional Irish Red Ale style and ramping up the flavours. Typically using a lot of hops to bring out that bitterness, these beers can also be bottled conditioned with results in slight fruity esters.  These beers also tend to be quite high on the ABV range, 7.9%-10%, and the alcohol flavour is a noticeable part of the taste profile. I’m looking forward to giving this one a try.

Rating: 80/100

Appearance:  Deep amber in colour with about 1” of off-white head that retains well.
Smell: Low aroma.  Slight spice, malty caramel and toffee notes. These malt notes are the most evident.
Taste:  Malt is front and centre on this with alcohol notes a close second. Front is chocolate, caramel and toffee with a bitter finish and strong hop notes.
Mouthfeel: Creamy mouthfeel with soft carbonation, bitter and alcoholic finish. This is a strong ale, alcohol notes are expected.
Overall:
As an Imperial Red Ale it is pretty good. The body, head, and flavour notes are near an Irish Red Ale but ramped up. The use of strong hop notes is uncommon to the Irish Red Ale category but to be expected in the Imperial Red Ale. Good tasting beer that balances the malty sweetness on the front with the hop bitterness on the finish.
Do I like it: I enjoyed drinking this beer but it wasn’t something I was over the moon about. I felt that the malty sweetness was good and it balanced well with the hop notes. I did enjoy it and I’d be happy to drink it again. It makes me curious to try the other brews from Bridge.

Day 3 – Aspen Brewing Company – Independence Pass Ale

Beer 3 - Aspen Brewing Company - Independence Pass Ale

Every morning when I wake up I am hit with a little twinge of excitement to see what new brew I will find today. This calendar is really something that brings a lot of joy to this craft beer lover’s morning.  This morning was a little bit more frustrating given that the particular beer had shifted and was rather stuck.  After about 10 minutes of shifting, opening the top of the box (my wife did so I wouldn’t peek) and shifting things around, we managed to remove the beer from it’s precarious position.

The third beer of the craft beer advent calendar is Aspen Brewing Company’s Independence Pass Ale.

Aspen Brewing Company was founded in 2008 by Duncan Clauss.  He had recently graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder and wanted to bring craft beer back to Aspen.  Previously Aspen had been home to Flying Dog Brewing Co. When Flying Dog moved all of it’s production to Frederick Maryland in 2006, it left a gap in the craft beer market in Aspen. Duncan and his crew of five, including head brewer PJ Goudreault, filled this gap and has been producing beers that represent the outdoor lifestyle of Aspen for the past 7 years.

Aspen Brewing Company focuses a lot of it’s profits and beer on the local community putting philanthropy and community support as one of it’s primary tasks.  They’ve supported dozens of local community ventures and take applications every year from those non-profits seeking support.  Aspen is also committed to the environment being one of three breweries to sign the Clean Water Act with environment Colorado and the US Environmental protection agency.  They’ve also signed onto the Brewers for climate change declaration.  They also practice a number of efficiency measures to keep their carbon foot print as low as possible.  Check out what they do for the environment here.

Aspen brews a number of beers divided into three “series” of beers.  The first is their Silver Queen Series.  The beer we have today comes from this series and it is their year round series of beers.  They also have a series of Seasonal beers as well as a Temerity Series of barrel aged beers.   The beer we have from them, the Independence Pass Ale, is a super-hopped IPA.  The beer is named Aspen’s eastern boundary and 12,095ft high elevation pass.  It comes in a 7% abv (alcohol by volume) and 62 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).

IPAs or India Pale Ale, have a storied history. The first known use of the term comes from the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser in 1829.  At this time, they were also referred to as a “pale ale as prepared for India”, “East India pale ale”, and “Export India Pale Ale”.  These types of IPAs were widely popular amongst the East India company and, while considered very hoppy, they were not much stronger than other beers brewed at this time. If you’re curious about IPAs check out Wikipedia or IPA Beer.

While these beers are part of the pale ale family, they are strongly hopped and often showcase the variety of flavours and complexities that can come from the simple ingredients used to brew beer.  Many will say the IPAs are an acquired taste, and they are rather unique, the bitterness brought by the use of a large quantity of hops is not for everyone. Now, onto this specific beer.

Appearance – Pours hazy, medium copper colour with about an inch of white head.
Smell – Passionfruit and blood orange on the nose.  Very fruity nose.
Taste – Very sweet for an IPA. Passionfruit comes through on the taste and is really balanced with a subtle bitterness that doesn’t denote the 62 IBUs this beer contains.
Mouth feel – smooth mouthfeel that lingers slightly with sweetness.
Overall – Pretty good IPA.  Not over the moon about it. The balance of the sweetness and the bitterness makes it a good IPA for someone who isn’t really into bitter IPAs and might be a good launching pad for those folks.
Do I like it?
– I think it is okay. I’m not going to go out and seek this particular IPA, there are so many really strong ones, but if I was at a friends and they had it I’d be happy to drink it.

76/100

Prairie Gem Hops

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As a beer drinker and a home brewer I am always looking for good quality beer and ingredients. I think it is important to support local farmers and industries so that our businesses in our province can thrive and be successfully.  I’m a huge supporter of local farms and buy from them as often as I can. So when I heard that there was a hop farm just outside the perimeter I had to check it out.

Sandra Gowan and Paul Ebbinghaus started Prairie Gem Hops and have been growing in Manitoba since 2009.  Sandra was a gardener and grew a variety of vegetables and plants and was always interested in pushing the limits of what can be grown in the Manitoba climate.  After reading an article about the hop shortage she decided to begin researching hop growing and eventually decided to give it a try.

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Her and her husband started with 3 varieties of hops to see how they would fair.  After a successful grow season they started adding varieties, moving to 12 and eventually to 18 different hop varieties. As well as a spin on a native hop (Brewers Gold) she produces many others including chinook, nugget, centennial, galena, sterling, cascade and Willamette.  All this is grown on a ¼ acres of farm land. While Sandra has 225 plants, producing hops is a little bit like making maple syrup.  You need more than you get.  From 5lbs of hops Sandra will produce 1lb of dried hops for sale.  Last year Sandra produced 280lbs of dried hops from her 225 plants.

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Prairie Gem Hops does their best to grow their plants as safely as possible.  They don’t use any chemicals and focus on composted fertilizer to provide the nutrients her plants need.  This becomes a challenge when fighting bugs, but Sandra wants to make sure her product is grown in the safest way possible and is willing to deal with them naturally.

The hops that are produced at Prairie Gem Hops are used not only in commercial beers, selling to breweries like Fort Garry, but also for the home brewer market.  Sandra sells to Grape and Grain as well as Hop and Vine and is willing to sell directly to home brewers.

Prairie Gem is harvesting now and this is the perfect time to be looking at buying hops.  Sandra is willing to accommodate brewers who are looking to make a fresh (wet) hopped beer with fresh local hops as well. This is also a great time to be growing hops in Manitoba due to the growth in the craft beer.  With all the breweries looking to open there is also the hope that they will be trying local producers to meet their brewing needs.

Sandra’s farm is fantastic.  She is passionate about growing hops and has a fantastic product. While there are a number of producers of hops to choose from, supporting local businesses is really important for me, it’s why I focus on local beer and breweries.  I’ve talked about how the brewing industry is incredibly supportive of new breweries opening their doors and I only hope that these same breweries will start to look local when brewing beer. I know that I’ll be using Sandra’s chinook hops for my next home brew and I hope others will do the same.

Happy Brewing,

-Beer Winnipeg

Garrison Brewing Co. – Imperial I.P.A.

Garrison - Imperial IPA

I am very happy that when I was in the Maritimes I grabbed some beer to bring back with me.  There are so many out there that are fantastic and the brewery scene is growing every day.  While I was back in Fredericton, NB two new breweries officially launched, Trailway Brewing Co and Grimross Brewing Co.  I had the opportunity to try beers from both of them which I will be blogging about in the near future.  Today though, I’d like to review Garrison Brewing’s Imperial IPA.

Garrison Brewing is located in the largest maritime city, Halifax.  The name comes from the fact that this one was of the major garrison sites for the protection of Canada being the largest eastern port.  As well, Halifax has a long history of brewing with William Steel opening shop as the first brewer in 1754 in order to serve the early settlers and troops who were stationed at Citadel Hill.  By prohibition, Halifax was home to some 20 brewing operations!

Garrison itself tries to follow this concept of independent micro-brewing and set this at their heart when they opened in 1997 with their first brew “Irish Red Ale”.  They have continued to produce and grow serving hand-crafted ales that use the best ingredients available.

After 15 years in business, in 2013 they expanded to develop over 13,000 square feet of industrial space to become their new home. Their setup is made up of tanks and equipment that were designed and fabricated in Charlottetown, PEI (keeping it local, very nice) and consists of a single-step infusion mash tun and a propane-fired kettle and whirlpool.  It takes them an average of 10 days start to finish to ferment and condition.  You can read all about their brewing process here.

The beer from them that I am excited to try is their Imperial IPA.  Launched in 2007 at the Halifax Seaport Beerfest, this unfiltered double IPA comes in at a strong 81 IBU (international bitterness units) and is sold all year round. It uses Cascade, Amarillo and German Magnum hops balanced with 2-row pale, caramel, dextrin and Munich malts.  I received word from Garrison yesterday that they have shipped a pallet to Manitoba, so I’ll be down at the MLCC looking for some soon!

Essentially what we have here in an Imperial IPA is a double IPA.  The names are fairly synonymous.  The term Imperial tends to come from the Russian Imperial Stout, a style of strong stout that was originally brewed in England for the Russian Imperial Court.  Double IPA tends to be the most common/preferred term and essentially indicates that you have an incredibly hoppy beer on your hands with high alcohol content and good robust malty balance.  IBU on these beers tend to range from 50-120 (although 90+ it’s hard to tell the difference) depending on the brewer.  Let’s get to the beer!

Rating: 90/100

Appearance:  Cloudy golden brown coloring with a good 1” head that retains well.
Smell: Hoppy, citrus (lemon, grapefruit and some orange) with some sweetness coming through on the backend from malt (some caramel notes).
Taste: Initial sweetness followed by some extreme hoppy bitterness with the citrus being front and centre.  Good resinous hops that balance with the caramel notes from the malt and the sweetness from the alcohol.  Long dry finish.  Certainly does not disappoint on the hop front as they overpower the malts.
Mouth feel: Good mild carbonation with a smooth mouth feel.
Overall: Very strong double IPA.  The hops chosen for this particular beer balance well together providing some good meshing with the choice of malts.  Alcohol content is at 8% but not noticeable in this beer.  Sweetness is great to start and balances well with the following Hoptacular assault.  Overall a very strong double IPA.
Do I like it: Yep.  Big fan of this one.  I love IPAs and the more bitterness the better for me.  Double IPAs are at the top of my favorite styles when they can be well balanced and don’t tread into the sickly alcohol sweetness neck of the woods.  This one had a strong IBU but was balanced well.  The hops went well together and complimented each other rather than competing for the spotlight.  I’ll be drinking this one again.

Craft Beer Advent Calendar – That’s a Wrap

Craft Beer Advent Calendar - All 24 Beer

The craft beer advent calendar, 2014, is complete.  It has been a really interesting 24 beers with a lot of variety and a veritable world tour of brews.  My wife asked if I’d be interested in doing this again.  ABSOLUTELY.  It was a fantastic experience that gave me the opportunity to try beers that I might never have the chance to try again.  I certainly hope I can for some of them, others…I’m okay not having them again.

So, let us wrap up the post with some statistics.

  • We had 24 beers all of which were a different style or variation on a style.
  • We visited:
o        United States (3)

o        Israel

o        Netherlands (2)

o        Germany (2)

o        Brazil (2)

o        Guyane Francaise

o        England (2)

o        Belgium

o        Norway

o        Austria

o        Scotland

o        Iceland

o        Mexico

o        New Zealand

o        Australia

o        Italy

o        Finland

o        South Africa

  • We managed to hit 6 continents through this with the following stats
    • Europe (Scotland, Finland, Norway, England, Iceland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, and Italy)
    • North America (United States, Mexico)
    • South America (Guyane Francaise, Brazil)
    • Asia (Israel)
    • Africa (South Africa)
    • Oceania (Australia, New Zealand)

Certainly the majority of the beers came from the European countries with absolutely NONE coming from Canada.  We had some repeat countries as listed above with 3 coming from the United States as the top contributor.

Now.  My favorite beer for the entire 24 days.  It’s actually rather funny that I should have my favorite beer on the fourth day of the Calendar!  My favorite beer from the entire calendar comes to us from:

Peak Brewing Company in Portland, Maine and is the Hop Blanc

Thanks so much for following along.  I hope that you enjoyed these reviews and found them useful.  I hope that you continue to follow along as I continue to blog about beer news and reviews.

– Beer Winnipeg

Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 15

Beer 15

My wife and I were going over in our heads the countries and continents we have already seen so far this month.  We were figuring out which continents we have yet to visit of the 6 featured.  So far we are only missing Africa and Asia.   I guessed that we would be seeing a beer from South Africa shortly and lo and behold, today’s beer is from Africa!  South Africa to boot.

Porcupine Quill Microbrewery is located in the Valley of 1000 Hills, Bothas Hill, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa.  Bothas is 600km southeast of Johannesburg and is on the eastern edge of South Africa right on the ocean. They produce beer under 3 labels: Porcupine Quills, Dam Wolf and African Moon. They produce a total of 8 beers under the labels in a variety of styles.

The brewery is located in the same building as a deli in the Bothas region and they serve locally made food as well as their local brew.  The brewery itself is a 6 barrel brewery system imported from the UK.  Another rather small brewery, they are only producing 980 litres of beer at any given time.  The system can only use whole flower hops as opposed to manufactured hop pellets, which are used in many other brewing processes.  This gives a fresher hop flavour to beer and combined with their chemical free production method makes for a very “wholesome” beer.

One important thing to note is that this brewery does what is called “natural bottle conditioning” for the beer. Conditioning has to do with how the beer becomes carbonated. While many larger breweries will artificially carbonate beer by forcing CO2 gas into the entire batch of beer, bottle conditioning is more traditional for small batch beer.  It is, actually, how home brew is carbonated.

At the end of the fermentation process some residual yeast is still in the beer.  Extra sugar, typically dextrose as it dissolves best, is added just before bottling.  This allows the beer to carbonate while in the bottle.  This results in a yeastier smell and flavour to the beer as well as mild sediment.  It is however also a more natural way of carbonating the beer.

The beer we are trying from them today is the Porcupine Quills Karoo Red. It’s an American amber ale that has been highly hopped with Williamette whole flower hops to give it a pronounced bitterness.  Coming in at 49 International Bitterness Units (IBU), it’s right up there with any IPA.  Similar in style to the Hopped Red Ale we had from Australia, I’m curious whether the makers of the Calendar consider this to be a different style simply because it is called a Red Ale rather than an India Red Ale.  Either way, I am excited to give it a try!

Rating: 77/100

Appearance:  Cloudy amber with no noticeable head.
Smell: Caramel, yeast and floral notes from the hops.
Taste: Sweet malty caramel that flows smoothly into bitterness that is enjoyable for those who like it.  Certainly well-hopped.  Balance is right for a hoppy beer with the sweetness making way for the bitterness on the finish and allowing it to shine as the star.  The hops in this beer are one that carry a citrus flavour that blends well with the other flavours, caramel, malt, and slight yeastiness from the natural bottle conditioning.
Mouth feel: Medium bodied beer that is well carbonated and has a coarse mouth feel.
Overall: Excellent hoppy red ale that shows of the flavour of the Williamette hop while still balancing well with the sweet malts.  The yeastiness from the bottle conditioning detracts somewhat from the overall flavour of the beer and brings the overall flavour of the beer down a bit.  While it is a decent red ale, there is certainly room for improvement.
Do I like it: Yes, I did like this beer.  I am a big fan of hops and I love having the opportunity to try ones which are being showcased.  Having a single hop in a beer and allowing it to shine is an excellent way to give someone the opportunity to really taste a particular hop.  Most IPAs and hopped beers use multiple hops to create broad flavour profiles.  I really enjoyed getting to try the Williamette hop and I’d be happy to see it show up in other beers.

Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 7

Beer 7

Today is the 7th day of the beer advent calendar.  One whole week has gone by with a new beer each and every day.  It’s been quite exciting each day and I think this is something any beer lover should try to invest in if they can.

We are sticking in the same region today for our 7th beer.  While we had an Aussie beer yesterday we are jumping islands and finding ourselves in New Zealand.  Today’s beer comes to us from Croucher Brewing Co and it is the “Nuclear Free Anzus IPA.” This is the first true India Pale Ale in the calendar. India Pale Ales are hoppy beers within the broader category of Pale Ale.  They are lighter in colour and are incredibly unique as the variety of hops used and the hopping method can significantly change tastes.

Croucher Brewing Co is located in Rotorua, a small town in the northeast part of the island near Lake Rotorua in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand.  Rotorua means “second lake” in Maori – the full name being “Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe.” It is best known for its geothermal activity, having many geysers, bubbling mud pools, thermal pools and the buried village (a village buried by the  Mount Tarawera eruption in 1886).

Croucher Brewing Co was founded by Paul Croucher.  It began as a dream in the 1990s that slowly developed into a non-commercial brewery in 2004.  Paul entered the Beer NZ brewing competition and won the non-commercial category. This gave him and his business partners, Richard Croucher and Nigel Gregory, the confidence to forge ahead as a commercial brewery.  In 2006 they opened as a commercial brewery and in August of that year won a bronze medal for their Croucher Pale Ale.  They have continued to grow over the years winning numerous awards and producing many styles of beer.

The Anzus IPA  we are trying today was made using Australian, New Zealand and US hops.  The name of the beer itself is quite important.  ANZUS was a military alliance between Australia, New Zealand and the US (hence the hop choice) formed in 1951 in the shadow of the developing cold war. As the south pacific became a testing ground for nuclear weapons in the 80s, relationships became strained between these three super powers as NZ banned Nucelar Weapons in their territories and the US refusing to confirm or deny if they had any on board their ships.  This lead to then NZ Prime Minister David Lange famous quote during debate saying “If you hold your breath just for a moment… I can smell the uranium on it as you lean towards me…”(2 minute mark of the clip)

The beer itself is an attempt to repair relations, so Croucher Brewing Co says. Let’s see what the “best hops” from these three regions can produce. Onto the beer!

Rating: 86/100

Appearance: Clear golden brown with a 1” head that dissipates slowly.
Smell: Pear, apricot and green olive on the nose.
Taste: The front is incredibly smooth, light bodied, with the pear, apricot and citrus coming through in flavor. The combination of hops makes for a unique taste that finishes with just the right amount of bitterness and leaves a sweet fruit taste on the tongue.
Mouth feel: Smooth and light bodied.
Overall: This is a very good IPA.  The combination of hops from three countries is interesting and works. The flavor profiles of the hops work well together and provide you with a very well balanced beer.
Do I like it: As I have said many times, I love IPAs. This one does not disappoint.  It brings full on hop action that isn’t too overwhelming even for someone who doesn’t drink a lot of IPAs. The light body provides a crisp and refreshing beer. This is certainly a beer I’d buy and be happy to drink. This is a close second as my favorite beer so far.