Beer Review: Barrelholder Belgian Golden Strong from Category 12 (Aged One Year)

20170707_003513Back in 2015, Category 12 Brewing in Victoria BC ran an Indiegogo campaign for what they called their Barrelholder program. The purpose of the campaign was to raise funds to purchase lots of oak barrels and all of the equipment required for aging beer in them.

The first beer that resulted from this barrel-aging project was a red wine barrel-aged version of their Belgian Golden Strong. This beer was first released a year ago this month and thankfully I had the willpower to keep a couple of extra bottles aside, just for the purpose of aging.

Commercial desciption:

This limited release Belgian Golden Strong Ale is crafted to be bright and crip with a medium body. Lightly fruity and spicy, the aging in red wine oak barrels has imparted delicate toasted oak and caramel notes. Combined with sweet vanilla overtones and a deceptive 10.6% ABV, the barrel process has added depth and complexity to an already delicious beer.


This beer poured out a red-gold colour with a finger of puffy white head that dissipated slowly and left gentle spots of cloudy lacing as the glass drained.

The nose was rich with vanilla bean sweet malts, tropical fruits from the yeast esters, oak, a vinous aroma, and booze.

The palate had a strong vanilla presence, with Belgian yeast esters reminiscent of pineapple and guava, caramel-like malts, a touch of red wine grapes, and gentle undertones of wood and tannins.

The mouthfeel was medium-bodied and smooth, with strong carbonation considering the age. The finish medium-sweet and boozy.

When this beer first came out, some complained that the flavour profile was a little muddled. I found that aging the beer for a full year allowed some of the vinous and tannic notes to settle a little, which has provided the beer with a lot more balance. I actually get really bad jaw pain from the astringency of the tannins in red wine and found I got a touch of it the first time I drank this beer. Thankfully, I found I did not have this reaction after aging the bottle.

I really enjoyed this beer and I’m glad that I bought a bunch to stash in the cellar. I still have another couple tucked away for future years.

Next up: Anomaly!

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Serving temp: 12-14C

Glassware: Teku, tulip, snifter, chalice


Beer Review: Disco Nap from Twin Sails Brewing

IMG_20170601_004328.jpgTwin Sails Brewing in Port Moody released Disco Nap last weekend, which is the latest in their ongoing line of tasting room-only double IPAs. This time they heavily hopped with Azacca, Ekuanot and Denali hops.

I got a chance to head over on the day of release to pick up a 4-pack and here’s what I though.

Stats: ABV: 8.1%; IBU: unlisted


This beer poured out a hazy orange-straw colour with three fingers of puffy white head that dissipated slowly and left puffy clouds of lacing as the glass drained.

The nose had hoppy tropical fruit aromas of pineapple, papaya, and mango, with citrus notes of melon, orange peel, and lime, plus a touch of pine.

The palate was dominated by the taste of fresh pineapple, with lesser notes of mango and papaya, accompanied by notes of citrus, resin, and dankness. The malt base has been kept light and crackery, in order to let the bright hop notes pop. Fitting with the NE style, there was also a mild yeasty bite on the back-end.

The mouthfeel was medium-bodied, smooth, and juicy, with moderate carbonation. The finish was off-dry with low bitterness and some nice alcohol warmth.

The last full review I wrote was of Rainbow Machine from Superflux, which is another North East-style DIPA. I found that Disco Nap was a very similar beer, but the tropical fruit flavour here was way more focused on the pineapple notes, which is awesome. However, the pineapple wasn’t too overpowering, like it can be in a radler, it was more like the essence of pineapple, which I loved!

The only upsetting part of this is that it’s a super limited release and I promised two cans to friends. I can afford to lose two friends, right?

Overall Rating: 4.75/5

Serving temp: 7-10C

Food pairing: Cured meats, sausages, sharp cheddar, lemon cheesecake

Glassware: Spiegelau IPA glass



Beer Review: Rainbow Machine from Superflux

rainbowmachine.jpgThe ever enigmatic Superflux Brewing Company released their third beer last week, the enticingly named Rainbow Machine.

Like with previous releases Colour & Shape and Happyness, the can features absolutely no description, no IBUs, and no SRM. Only the ABV is listed, which is 7.5%. So let’s cut the bullshit and get on with the the review.

Review machine:

This beer poured out a hazy straw colour with two fingers of puffy white head that dissipated quite slowly and left light clouds of lacing as the glass drained.

The nose was dominated by hoppy tropical fruit aromas of pineapple and mango, citrus notes of grapefruit flesh and orange peel, with a touch of pine and dankness.

The palate had these same hop notes of pineapple, mango, grapefruit, and orange, with a touch of lychee. The malt base was light and crackery, which really allowed those bright hop notes to shine though. There was also a mild yeasty character.

The mouthfeel was medium-bodied, smooth, and juicy, with moderate-to-high carbonation. The finish was off-dry with some nice alcohol warmth.

Well, I guess I’d call this a North East style double IPA. At 7.5%, it’s certainly on the boozy side of things, but conceals its alcohol incredibly well. It was super juicy and hazy, with big tropical fruit notes—making it incredibly crushable!

I’d compare it to an imperial version of Colour & Shape. This beer could be very, very dangerous!

Overall Rating: 4.25/5

Serving temp: 7-10C

Food pairing: Cured meats, sharp cheddar, caramel cheesecake

Glassware: Spiegelau IPA glass

Beer Review: 150 Heritage Ale from Lighthouse Brewing

Lighthouse Brewing in Victoria BC recently released a special new beer to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the confederation of Canada. Called 150 Heritage ale, this malt-forward wee heavy is infused with subtle notes of maple, smoke, and rye.

ABV: 6.3%
IBU: 14
SRM: 19

We Proudly join the rest of Canada in celebrating the country’s 150th birthday. At the same time, we’d like to shine a light on the heritage of this nation’s lighthouse keepers, who have quietly served mariners on both coasts. For example, Newfoundland’s Cape Spear Lighthouse was tirelessly manned for over 150 years by several generations of the same family, the Cantwells. A tip of the watch cap to them and all Canada’s Keepers. This beer honours them with a malt-forward flavour infused with maple (for Canada), smoke (for oil lamps), and rye malt (for colour).

20170420_222037.jpgThis beer poured out a ruby-brown colour with half a finger of effervescent white head that faded quite quickly and left a light ring of lacing.

The nose was primarily smoky and peaty, with secondary aromas of sweet maple and doughy malt, along with a hint of spiciness from the rye.

The palate was really malt-forward and decadent, with rich maple flavour and just the right amount of peaty smokiness, along with a touch of rye spice.

The mouthfeel was full-bodied and smooth, with moderate carbonation. The finish was off-dry, due to the addition of rye to offset the sweetness of the maple.


I love a good Scotch ale. It’s one of my favorite styles and it drives me a little nuts when Canadian breweries try to put their stamp on it by dumping maple into it. You typically end up with a sweet and cloying beer that leaves you feeling like your tongue has been coated in syrup. This is not the case here, though, as the addition of rye to the recipe really tempered the sweetness of the maple to make it finish off-dry. A very smart move!

I also love a bit of peat and smoke in my scotch ales and here it really complemented the richness of the malt and the sweetness of the maple to create a wonderfully balanced Scotch ale that I think is the best Lighthouse beer since Numbskull.

This was like eating a stack of pancakes, topped in bacon, and drenched in maple syrup.

Overall Rating: 4.25/5

Serving temp: 12-14C

Food pairing: Haggis with a side of poutine (how could I not?)

Glassware: Tulip; thistle

Beer Review: Dry-Hopped Hazy Sour Double IPA from Field House

Field House Brewing in Abbotsford BC recently released a beer that they call a Dry-hopped Hazy Sour Double IPA. Now, you might be asking yourself, what in the heck is a dry-hopped hazy sour double IPA. Me too! It’s not an actual BCJP-recognized style, so let’s find out what the heck they are talking about…


  • ABV: 7.5%
  • IBU: 22


This sour and juicy beer was aggressively dry-hopped, giving it loads of flavour without the bitterness. Strong and hazy, this concoction was sourced with our house lacto culture and fermented with brett trios to even further pump up the juiciness of this wild hybrid.


This beer poured out an opaque light-amber with two fingers of puffy white head that dissipated slowly and left pretty cloudy lacing patterns as the glass drained.

The nose was dominated by the hops, with tropical fruit notes of pineapple, mango, papaya, and passion fruit, along with stone fruit notes of peach and nectarine, as well as citrus fruit notes of grapefruit. There was also a mild floral hop aroma and a touch of tang and funk.

The palate was super juicy with the same fruity hop notes of pineapple, mango, passion fruit, peach, nectarine, and grapefruit, with a touch of light biscuit malt in the background.

The mouthfeel was medium-bodied, smooth, and gently tart, with moderate carbonation. The finish was quite dry with a touch of alcohol warmth, and while there was no hop bitterness in the aftertaste, there was a lingering acidity that left the mouth watering and craving more.

To be honest, the beer’s name is a bit of a gimmick, because it’s not actually anything brand new. Really, it’s either a sour double IPA or a dry-hopped sour.

This beer was actually remarkably similar to Nectarous from Four Winds, which is also a dry-hopped sour made with Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces Trois. However, this had a little added alcohol warmth and a dryer finish. This isn’t a bad thing, as that is a fantastic beer!

Overall Rating: 4/5

Serving temp: 4-7C

Food pairing: Spicy Chinese food—Kung Pao Chicken, Singapore noodles

Glassware: Tulip; IPA glass

Beer Review: Shiori Peach Sour by Fuggles & Warlock and Liquor Plus

Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks in Richmond BC recently released a special collaboration brew with Liquor Plus called Shiori.

This latest addition to their kettle sour line-up, Shiori is a refreshing and tart wheat sour brewed with fresh peaches. Lactose was also added to the brew to provide a little extra sweetness and a smoother mouthfeel.

This is their first ever non-brewery collaboration and bottles are available exclusively at Liquor Plus stores.



  • ABV: 5.6%
  • IBU: 8


This beer poured out very cloudy and was amber at the bottom of the glass and yellow at the top—almost like a Tequila Sunrise. It only had a thin sliver of white head that that left a light ring of lacing near the rim.

The nose was rich with aromas of peach and nectarine flesh and had a gentle floral perfume quality.

The palate followed through on these juicy stone fruit fruit notes, with an added milky/creamy flavour from the lactose. The finish was off-dry from the combination of the lactose and the wheat.

The mouthfeel was medium bodied, smooth, and creamy with moderate tingling carbonation and very low perceived bitterness. Being a kettle sour at has a lip-puckering lactic acidity, but the added lactose seems to make it short-lived, so it doesn’t linger on the tongue.

In the UK we have dessert called peaches and cream. You basically take a peach, chop it up and cover it in cream and sugar. Well, that’s if you are feeling fancy, mostly we’d use canned peaches, because who has money for fresh fruit? Well, this beer tasted exactly like that! It took me right back to my childhood.

This is probably one of the tastiest and most interesting kettle sours that Fuggles has made in quite some time. If you find yourself near a Liquor Plus soon, be sure to pick one up. I even picked up a few extras to send to friends in Vancouver.

Overall Rating: 4.25/5

Serving temp: 4-7C

Food pairing: Tricky… maybe vanilla ice cream. Definite dessert beer.

Glassware: Tulip


Last Week’s Craft Beer Tasting Notes— Apr 3–9 (26 beers)

I was planning a quiet week this week, but it looks like I managed to clock in another 26 beers.

Enjoy this week’s tasting notes!


Bottles and cans

Kool Koala by Twin Sails Brewing

This double IPA was dry-hopped with huge amounts of Australian and New Zealand hops and had a thick tropical fruit and citrus nose. On the palate it had pineapple, watermelon, grapefruit, and candy with a background of sweet caramel malt. This is a big beer and will end your night!

Winter Warmer (Terminus Series No 1) by Blindman Brewing / Steel & Oak

This one took me back to the old country (England). It had tons of dark malt, molasses, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and a touch of rye. It was perfect to get me through these last rainy days.

Scottish Heavy Scotch Style Ale by Big Rock Brewery

Caramel, toffee, vanilla, and a big hit of peat. I actually like peated ales, but many don’t. It wasn’t a terrible Scottish Ale, but it wasn’t great. The balance was a bit of and it felt like there was something missing.

Moralité by Brasserie Dieu du Ciel!

This was a gorgeous IPA with tons of Citra hop notes of orange peel, pineapple, and grapefruit with a satisfying bitter finish. It had an almost North East IPA level of juiciness.

Belle Royale (2017) by Driftwood Brewery

I wanted to love this beer. I really did. I’ve had the previous versions many times and they were always good. I tried a taster last week when I had a bad cold and it was decent. However, once my cold passed, I learned the horrible truth. I don’t want to slam this too much, but if you didn’t like Venatrix, you won’t like this.

Brews Brothers Gettin It by Parallel 49 Brewing Company

This farmhouse ale had mild yeast character, with a touch of spice, citrus, and pear. It was decent, but like most of this year’s Brews Brothers pack, I found it a little lacking.

Solstice d’Hiver (2016) by Brasserie Dieu du Ciel!

Wow! That’s was a real barley wine! It had a malt-forward flavour profile with notes of toffee, caramel, and plums; just a touch of earthy and floral hops. It was more like an English barley wine than an American one.

Seas Between Us Red IPA by Twa Dogs

This first seasonal from Twa Dogs had a nice malt-forward body with caramel, toffee, and a touch of dark fruit. The hops brout floral, pine, citrus, and tropical fruit notes.

Barrel Aged Root Beer Milk Stout by Russell Brewing Company

I did not like the original version of this root beer stout, but here the sassafras really comes out and plays really well against the bourbon and oak notes. a vast improvement!

Western Promises by Russell Brewing Company

This pilser had a little bit of citrus and pine from the American hops, which was a nice difference from the the spicy, earthy noble hops. However, I found the hop presence to be a little too subtle.

Algerine Collaboration No. 2 by Gladstone Brewing Company / Townsite

This was light and gently tart with lots of citrus, mostly lemon and white grapefruit. The nose was a little odd and abrasiveness, but it tasted great.

Kama Citra Ale by Off The Rail Brewing

This was a light session ale with some nice lemon rind and orange peel from the Citra hop. It had a moderate amount of bitterness from the Magnum hops.

Raj Mahal India Ale by Off The Rail Brewing

I Don’t think it is gold medal worthy, but was interesting. It had a biscuit malt backbone with a touch of citrus aroma/flavour, but mainly it was herbal and vegetal with a touch of grass/onion.

The Big One IPA by Longwood Brewery

The nose was herbs, grass, pine, and vegetable—an interesting combo. It had a biscuit malt backbone that was overpowered a bit by the hops. I was expecting the finish to be a lot more bitter.

Winding Road For 7km by Sawdust City Brewing Co

This was a nice winter saison with lots of clove and cinnamon. The spice took prominence over the fruit and the body was a touch more full than a standard saison.

Wild Brett Wasp Sour // Coolship Collaboration Series 02/04 by Field House Brewing Co. / Brassneck

The floral, herbal, and pollen notes combined with tingling acidity of the Brett and wild yeast almost made this taste like a wasp sting. Crazy!

Lazy D’haze IPA by Powell Street Craft Brewery

This East Coast-style IPA had notes of tropical fruit, grapefruit, melon, berries, and bready pale malt. Fitting the style, it was smooth with low perceived bitterness. Strangely, it had none of the NE haze you’d expect from a beer called Lazy D’Haze.

Spring Fever Gruit Ale by Salt Spring Island Ales

Really herbal and floral with a very different bitterness. I gothints of ginger, cinnamon, lavender, and heather. An interesting change. Full review.

Valis Imperial IPA by Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks 

This imperial IPA had a big malty body with a nose of tropical fruits like pineapple and mango, and a touch of dankness.

On tap at Hanks

Popinjay Sour by Strange Fellows Brewing

This sour had slightly tart lactic and citric acidity with big tropical fruit notes. Tastes quite a lot like Jolly Rancher candy.

Ancho Stout by Strange Fellows Brewing 

this one-off cask was brewed specially for Hanks and had big roasted malt notes of chocolate and caramel complemented by sweet chili. What was great is that it had lots of pepper aroma and flavour without the heat.

On tap at Smiths

Slam Dank by Twin Sails Brewing 

This was batch #2 on tap at Smiths. Somehow they managed to make it even more dank and resinous than batch #1. It was like delicious bong water! (don’t drink bong water)

Cobblestone Stout by Mill Street Brewery

This was a OK stout, but not all that remarkable. It had a touch of coffee and the regular notes.

Incredible Pulp by Boneyard Beer Company

The blood orange was really well represented in this pale ale and played well with the tropical fruit hop notes. It had a bready malt backbone with a bit of toffee. It was pretty great, but Tone Def from Twin Sails and Boombox is my favourite example of the style.

Amoeba Brett IPA by Mikkeller Brewing San Diego

This one had a touch of barnyard funk with some peach and mango and was mildly tart. It wasn’t as funky as Mikkeller’s Farmhouse Invasion Brett IPA; however, it was on tap, so not bottle conditioned, which may have been a factor.

Phillips tasting

Scythe Matters by Phillips Brewing Company

The taster I had seemed decent. It had standard hefe banana, bubble gum, and cloves notes with a bit of perfumey alcohol and extra warmth.