Cannery Brewing Company – Wildfire IPA

IMG_1955.JPGRarely have I sampled a beer I’ve been so excited to try. For starters, Cascadian dark ales don’t exactly abound out here in the Maritimes. And ever since my brother moved to British Columbia, I’ve been listening to him rave about the great craft-beer scene out there. One of his favourites is the Cannery Brewing Company in Pentincton. I found some of their Skaha Summer Ale in Moncton last summer—just enough to pique my interest. So recently, I prevailed upon my brother to send me “their most unique beer.”

From the brewery: This unique black India Pale Ale is a tribute to the firefighters and emergency service workers who help fight our Canadian wildfires each year. Wildfire IPA is intensely dark and smooth. This black IPA has complex hops that rage through to the finish. Fierce hop, gentle bite! A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this beer go to the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

Appearance: A beautiful inky black pour—it looks like midnight in a glass. A rich aromatic head, with thick off-white froth and lacing that goes on for days.

Aroma: A little hit of wildflowers at first, followed by strong roasty smell—think burnt toast with a hint of sweet malt.

Taste: That burnt-toast sensation carries over into the first taste, but quickly gives way to big waves of grassy hops, one after the other. With lively carbonation and a light mouthfeel, it’s much easier-drinking than the aroma or appearance would suggest.

Overall: Complex without being overwhelming, deliciously hoppy without going too far—this is a well crafted, nuanced and surprisingly subtle beer. It was a fantastic introduction to the style, and well worth the wait.

86/100

Cannery Brewing Company can be found on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

Guest reviewer Trevor J. Adams is senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine. In 2012, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing).

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Brooklyn Brewery – Sorachi Ace

IMG_1945.JPGBrooklyn Brewery is world renowned for producing award winning beers, and this is no exception. Sorachi Ace is named after the single hop that is used in this beer. The hop was first produced in Japan in 1984 by one of Japans largest beer companies, but was deemed to be a bit odd. Because of its flavour profile it wasn’t widely produced until a farm in Washington state revived it in 2008. Giving a distinct lemon peel, lemongrass flavour and aroma, it’s a standout hop different from all others.

From the brewery: “Dry, sharp, and crackling with flavor, Brooklyn Sorachi Ace is reminiscent of lemongrass, verbena, dill and lemon peels … sunshine in a glass, a shining example of the versatility of one of the world’s most intriguing hops. This beer is a superstar at the table, and we enjoy it with seafood dishes, fresh cheeses, poultry, barbecue, and even tomato-based pasta sauces. All by itself it puts on a great solo performance too, and we can honestly say that you’ve never tasted any beer quite like it.”

And what did I think?

Appearance: The colour is golden and clear. Appears to be well carbonated as its quite effervescent. Pours with a fluffy white head that is long lasting.

Aroma: Interesting. Had a hard time picking out what this reminded me of, but I knew it was something from my grandmothers house as a child. The aroma is of lemon grass and is wheat-like and floral. Its fairly perfumey with lemon peel and lemon oil. Reminiscent of Lemon Pledge, but not in a bad way (that was what my gram used).

Taste: Very unique flavour. The Sorachi Ace hops used are different from any other. There is lots of lemon flavours, best described as peel and lemongrass. There is, once you get past the hops, a nice malt flavour that is supportive and balancing to the hops.

Mouthfeel: The body light, lightened by the high level of carbonation. This is an effervescent beer and is a bit prickly on the tongue.

Overall: I found this beer to be very impressive. The use of such a unique hop, a showcase even, is unheard of. It’s a bold statement fro Brooklyn Brewery for sure, but they are no strangers to that. A very refreshing beer and an experience every beer lover should have.

88/100

You can find Brooklyn Brewery on the web, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Big Spruce – Hoppily Remarried Harvest DIPA

IMG_1992.JPGBig Spruce Brewery is a small brewery located on an organic farm located in Nyanza on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. This award-winning brewery can hardly keep up with the demand for their beers. Selling their beers in local farmer’s markets, from the brewery store, and at select tap accounts, this is one small brewery with a big future.

From the brewery: “Brewed in early September and after weeks of hard work harvesting hops from our hop yard, this is a wet hopped beer that is all about featuring the best of the hops from our hop yard.”

And what did I think?

Appearance: This beer pours with a nice, but short lived off-white, creamy head. It has a great bit of lacing and is dark red-orange.

Aroma: The aroma is hoppy with fragrances of pine and a slight citrus. The smell showcases how fresh this beer is and the wet hops used.

Taste: Upfront it’s the hops. The flavour is bitter, orange peal, resin, pine, woody, and tobacco. It really is hops right through and a nice fresh flavour. It leans a bit more towards the pine as it warms slightly and becomes better – the hops are still there, but mellow and smooth out.

Mouthfeel: The body is medium with a light carbonation. There is a bit of a slickness from hops.

Overall: A very nice IPA, smooth and drinkable, even with the elevated alcohol. Each drink begs for another. Its bitter, but not a palate killer – the more I drink the better this gets. This is worth the trip to Cape Breton. Well done!

87/100

You can find Big Spruce on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Amsterdam Brewery – Boneshaker India Pale Ale

IMG_1845.JPGStarted as a brew pub in Toronto, Ontario in 1986, Amsterdam Brewery has continued to expand and produce many fine beers. Mostly available in Ontario, their distribution has started to expand – and this is good news for beer lovers. Making a varied array of year-round and seasonal ales and lagers, Amsterdam is a brewery to look for.

From the brewery: “Our very first batch of Boneshaker was brewed for a local IPA challenge. Our brewers poured copious amounts of hops into the brew, balanced it out with over 5 different malts, decided to leave it unfiltered it and allowed to naturally carbonate. The result? A truly unique taste experience and an award winning IPA! Expect fresh grapefruit & pine aromas followed by massive hop flavours!”

And what did I think?

Appearance: This ale pours with a dense, rocky, off-white, big head. The colour is a burnt, dark orange and is a bit hazy, but it is heavy on the hops and unfiltered.

Aroma: The first thing that is in the nose is the hops. There is a citrus aroma, most dominated by orange. There are some sweet, toffee-like notes.

Taste: The flavour is of bitter orange – the hops are dominate up front. The flavour fades to a malt sweetness with a slight leather flavour.

Mouthfeel: The body is medium-light and it’s well carbonated. The body is lightened by the carbonation.

Overall: Great balance in this beer. The hops are definitely there, but there is a nice malt backbone to balance everything else. Its a pretty easy drinking beer – not a hop-head’s dream, but certainly an IPA to try.

78/100

You can find Amsterdam Brewery on the web, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Propeller – Double IPA

IMG_1656.JPGPropeller is a staple of the Halifax, NS craft beer scene. Now operating at both their original brewery at 2015 Gottingen Street in Halifax and in their new brewery at 617 Windmill road in Dartmouth, they continue to produce award-winner ales and lagers.

From the brewery:

“At Propeller we craft classically styled world-class beers using all natural ingredients. We believe that there are only two major components that go into brewing great craft beer; ingredients of the highest quality and a brewmaster’s skill. The result is a taste experience that’s both unique and special.

“Propeller Double IPA is a full bodied, American style Double India Pale Ale that is brewed with premium Pacific Northwest hops and a rich blend of 2-row Pale and Crystal malts. Following fermentation it has been heavily dry hopped (a process that enhances the aroma without imparting bitterness in beer) giving this bold brew its big west coast nose. Double IPA delivers a huge amount of piney, floral, and citrusy hop aroma and flavour from start to finish that is balanced by sweet malt flavours. At 8.2% alcohol by volume and 85 IBUs, Propeller Double IPA is not for everyone… It is a TRUE hop bomb, for TRUE hopheads.”

And what did I think?

Appearance: The appearance is copper with orange highlights. It has an off-white head that is long lasting and has good lacing.

Aroma: The aroma is of malt with a caramel/toffee sweetness. The hops are really only slight presenting as a light citrus, a bit flowery, and dank.

Taste: The flavour is smooth. The balance is to the hops, but they are not as much as dominate as some IPAs but firm enough to counter the slight sweetness from the malt. Very easy drinking.

Mouthfeel: The body is medium body with a medium-light carbonation. There is a slight slickness to the mouthfeel, probably from the hops.

Overall: This is one of my go-to’s for an IPA. Its an easy drink with lots of flavour, but a balance that lets you have a couple – though after a couple you might not be walking so straight.

84/100

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Uncle Leo’s Brewery – Vohs Weizenbier

IMG_1753Apparently the folks at Uncle Leo’s Brewery in Lyon’s Brook, Nova Scotia aren’t given to bragging. Their sparse description of this German-style wheat beer scarcely does it justice. Smooth as melted butter with wave after wave of flavour, every mouthful is a delight.

From the brewery: A tribute to our neighbours, Matt and Brenda Vohs. Owners of Piper’s Landing Restaurant, Lyon’s Brook and our first customer to put us on tap.

Appearance: Beautiful golden pour, with a thick pearl head and lacing that goes on forever.

Aroma: Smells like a hot summer day in the country. Fresh and spicy—I swear, there’s a hint of sage in there.

Taste: The most dominant, and surprising, flavour is sweet corn and melted butter, followed by a hit of over-ripe banana. Just when you think it’s done, there’s a little smack of cloves.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and buttery, stimulates every taste bud without puckering the mouth or overwhelming the palate.

Overall: I hear that when Uncle Leo’s first offered this beer, it suffered from some quality-control problems, leaving an unpleasant soapy aftertaste. On the last two bottles, there wasn’t a hint of that problem—there’s nothing like that going on now. This is one of the finest beers I’ve tried all year, shockingly quaffable for a weizenbier. This pairs like a dream with a roast-chicken Sunday dinner.

88/100

Trevor J. Adams is a regular contributor to Drink N Brew, reviewing beers and curating social media. An award-winning journalist and editor, he’s been writing about libations, entertaining and related topics since 1998. He’s a beer enthusiast at heart, senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine by day. An avid sports fan, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing) in 2012.

Brooklyn Brewery – Brooklyn Lager

IMG_0702.JPGBeer snobs will tell you the lagers are passé, but anyone who honestly believed that has never tried this one. Brooklyn Brewery’s version is a textbook example of how good a lager can be. It’s crisp, clean, refreshing and perfectly balanced.

From the brewery: In the late 1800s Brooklyn was one of the largest brewing centers in the country, home to more than 45 breweries. Lager beer in the “Vienna” style was one of the local favourites. Brooklyn Lager is amber-gold in color and displays a firm malt center supported by a refreshing bitterness and floral hop aroma. Caramel malts show in the finish. The aromatic qualities of the beer are enhanced by “dry-hopping,” the centuries-old practice of steeping the beer with fresh hops as it undergoes a long, cold maturation. The result is a wonderfully flavorful beer, smooth, refreshing and very versatile with food. Dry-hopping is largely a British technique, which we’ve used in a Viennese-style beer to create an American original.

Appearance: Clear amber with a thick off-white head; beautiful lingering lacing.

Aroma: Smells of toasted brown bread and orange blossoms, with a hint of caramel.

Taste: Instantly refreshing; dry and crisp with a hint of lemon juice. Dry, hoppy aftertaste with a quick quenching finish. Goes down easily.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation and perfect balance. Just enough of an aftertaste to make you reach for another one.

Overall: My favourite lager, hands-down. Perfect for a hot summer day, but eminently drinkable in any season. This is ridiculously flavourful for a lager. Like most lagers, it pairs well with most any savoury food, but it would be a real treat with a fiery bowl of Southwestern chilli.

86/100

Guest reviewer Trevor J. Adams is senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine. In 2012, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing).

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