Beer of the Week #12 – Vancouver Island Carmanah Ale

Vancouver Island Brewing seems to be going through a bit of a rebranding, featuring a few old favourites with new names. Of those included in the new campaign is this product, which I picked up a six-pack of recently.

The Carmanah Ale is of the amber ale variety, featuring flavours of pine “as deep as a forest of Sitka spruces”. The 4.8% ABV easy drinking beverage was perfect for a long day of sipping, including drinking games, providing longevity and durability.

Vancouver Island Carmanah Ale

Joining the Carmanah Ale (aka Sea Dog Amber Ale) with new packaging is the Piper’s Pale Ale and 48 Dark Lager (formerly Hermann’s Dark Lager). The movement is using geographic coordinates, along with the tagline: “Where’s Next?”

The brewery did change ownership last summer, thus the company reboot. This particular release is named for Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park, located on Vancouver Island. The park features numerous hiking trails.

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BC Beer Baron #362 – Spinnakers Jolly Hopper Imperial IPA

Perfect for the holiday season and all the celebrations that come with it, this Spinnakers Brewing product was quickly scooped off the shelf by the Sip Advisor. To boot, the beer is fairly red in colour, making it more than festive!

The Jolly Hopper Imperial IPA comes exactly as advertised, with a hearty 8% ABV and a whopping 100 IBUs. Despite the strong hops content, I didn’t find the brew to be too bitter and even Broski Sip (a less experienced beer drinker) liked the taste.

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The release is available in bomber-sized bottles at BC Liquor Stores. The Sip Advisor’s process for purchasing drinks includes weighing alcohol percentage and cost, with beverage IBUs and style also playing a smaller role in my decision making.

I really enjoyed the pirate theme of this selection.  The beer’s label states: While the Jolly Roger is flown to identify that pirates are about to attack, our Jolly Hopper signifies an imminent attack on your tastebuds… Surrender or walk the plank.”

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BC Beer Baron #359 – Driftwood Blackstone Porter

Through winter, there’s nothing better than cuddling up in front of a roaring fire with Mrs. Sip and throwing on a classic Christmas movie. Add in a dark beer, such as this Driftwood Brewing selection and the picture is complete.

The Blackstone Porter is highlighted by flavours of cocoa, coffee and chocolate. The 6% ABV beverage may be on the heavy side, but the flavours are totally worth it. Hired Guns Creative once again knock the beer’s label out of the park.

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This seasonal release is available from fall, through to early spring, in bomber-sized bottles at BC Liquor Stores and private retailers. The brewery suggests that this is “A drinkable platform to explore dark malt!” I couldn’t’ agree more.

Driftwood has suggested a myriad of food pairings for the beer. These include oysters, smoked foods, barbecue, mushrooms, onions, rosemary, thyme, cheeses such as Stilton, Caerphilly or aged Cheddar, chocolate, or pecans.

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BC Beer Baron #358 – Category 12 Unsanctioned Saison

As we near the end of this 366-day BC Beer Baron project, the Sip Advisor is busy accumulating the last few brews to be featured. That includes this Category 12 Brewing release, which a friend was very generous to share with moi.

The Unsanctioned Saison is a nicely spiced drink, containing the brewery’s own Belgian yeast. At 6.9% ABV and 27 IBUs, this beverage is stronger than the average farmhouse ale and that’s just fine with the Sip Advisor, who likes ‘em hard.

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The product is available in bomber-sized bottles at private liquor stores. I like how Category 12 features “standout ingredients” in their recipes. For this beer, that would include “Superior Pilsner and Belgian Caravienne malts and a hint of rye.”

The saison seems to have a secret agent theme, with the beer’s label showing a character holding a briefcase. Its story states: “Exceptional taste is the only thing that will get you through the gate at this point… Keep your cool, you got this.”

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BC Beer Baron #356 – Phillips Anxiety Ale

The Sip Advisor loves it when brewery’s come up with libations specific to a certain season or holiday. Phillips Brewing is probably one of the more consistent breweries in capitalizing on themed beer releases and such is the case with this product.

The Anxiety Ale is of the Belgian Quad variety, so you know it’ll be boozy (8% ABV), which certainly helps with all the “challenges” that Christmas brings us. The beverage is light on hops, which should make it more accessible to the general drinking audience.

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Featuring the classic character of Uncle Lewis, from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on its label, this beer is meant to “deliver some sweet relief from seasonal pressures”. Last year, the brew featured the iconic Cousin Eddie as part of its artwork.

The beer is available in bomber-sized bottles. Also offered by the brewery for the winter season is the Scarfface Orange Cranberry Wit (in tall cans for 2016-17), which is intended to provide a “welcome break from the heavy winter ales”.

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BC Beer Baron #353 – Hoyne Appleton ESB

At last month’s Chowder Chowdown, hosted by the Vancouver Aquarium, one of my top beer picks for the night was this offering from Hoyne Brewing. It paired very nicely with my chowder serving at the time, which is always a good start.

The Appleton ESB was smooth and hoppy, with a nice roasted malts/caramel element to the recipe. ESBs (standing for Extra Special Bitter) are not among the Sip Advisor’s favourite styles of beer, but the type has grown on me in recent times.

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The 5.2% ABV beverage is available in bomber-sized bottles at private liquor stores. Hoyne touts that the brew is “free of any pernicious ingredients”… which a thesaurus search tells us means there are no malicious, evil or wicked elements.

While most would conclude the beer is named as it is because of the inclusion of Appleton Rum, it’s actually an homage to Frank Appleton. Appleton conceived BC’s first craft brewery, the Horseshoe Bay Brewing Co., and inspired many.

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BC Beer Baron #332 – Spinnakers Lion’s Head Cascadia Dark Ale

In search of new beers to get me through the Remembrance Day long weekend (saluting the troops and our freedom in my own way), I ended up with a couple Spinnakers Brewing selections. That included this gem.

The Lion’s Head Cascadia Dark Ale uses English pale and roasted malts, as well as northwest hops to achieve its look and taste. The 6.5% ABV, 55 IBUs beverage is right in my wheelhouse and I enjoyed its chocolate and coffee notes.

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First released in 2009, the brew is available in bomber-sized bottles, as well as regular cans. I found my bottle at a BC Liquor Store location and the chain seems to routinely stock Spinnaker’s products, at very decent prices.

The beer is named in honour of the Lion’s Head Pub in Robson, BC, which was the Kootenay region’s first craft beer-focused watering hole. The place also offers a number of smokehouse meal options on its diverse menu.

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