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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BC Beer Baron #327 – Vancouver Island Black Betty Blackberry Saison

With the Sip Advisor’s annual beer pong tournament being contested, some good beers were needed for my red solo cups. I chose to fill some of them up with this Vancouver Island Brewing release and had a party!

The Black Betty Blackberry Saison is brewed using freshly hand-picked blackberries from the island and combined with Northern Brewer hops for notes of spice and pine flavour. The 5.5% ABV beverage has a tart finish, making for a refreshing summer beer. According to the brewery: “We brewed this Blackberry Saison and the damn thing went wild!”

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The summer seasonal is available in canned six-packs at BC Liquor Stores. I also recently came across the beer being part of Vancouver Island’s Pod Pack winter edition, as the feature brew, joined by three other VIB selections.

An homage to the classic rock song of the 1970s, Black Betty by Ram Jam, the tune’s lineage traces back to being an African-American work song. This has caused some controversy when various artists have recorded and released the track.

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BC Beer Baron #319 – Hoyne Off the Grid Vienna Lager

Each month, as part of this 366-day BC craft beer extravaganza that I will be sharing with you throughout 2016, I will highlight a specific style or theme of beers for a whole week of articles. With all the crazy brewing options out there, lagers sometimes get lost in the shuffle. That’s why the Sip Advisor is giving them their own feature week. After all, we should support and give thanks to the beers that brought many of us to this craft beer dance!

The Sip Advisor is a big fan of Hoyne Brewing, but I haven’t been able to highlight their work for some time. Lager Week affords me that opportunity with this very tasty and unique release.

The Off the Grid Vienna Lager is a redhead and a fine one at that. Featuring Noble German Tettnang hops, as well as Munich and Vienna malts, the beer is distinctly European. At 5.3% ABV, the drink is also a little stronger than your typical lager.

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The brew is available year-round in bomber-sized bottles. Hoyne describes the Off the Grid as: “Perfect for your trip into the wild.” Thus, it’s not surprising the beverage was bestowed a silver medal through Vancouver Magazine’s Craft Beer Awards in the Other Lager category.

During Lager Week, we’ve seen a number of Munich-inspired products, so what’s the difference with a Viennese option? Well, being amber or copper in colour seems to be the most distinguishing factor. The style dates back to 1841, before brewers brought the recipe with them to North America.

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BC Beer Baron #317 – Phillips Raspberry Wheat

While shopping for brews for my annual beer pong tournament, I went conservative by searching for a good variety case. Mrs. Sip on the other hand, not one to play by anyone’s rules, grabbed a few bombers, including this Phillips Brewing selection.

One of the brewery’s original products, upon launching in 2001, was the Raspberry Wheat. In honour of those tough early days, as the company struggled to survive, the Raspberry Wheat returns annually to quench summer thirst. It is available in bomber-sized bottles from various liquor stores.

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With a logo featuring a box of freshly-picked raspberries, it’s no wonder that the raspberry content in this beer is high. The 5% ABV beverage benefits from raspberry puree being added at the end of the fermentation process, so as not to dominate the brew’s profile.

Phillips is not adverse to creating fruit-based beers, as evidenced by their long list of releases, including the Pucker Plucker Sour Cherry Ale, Solaris White Peach Ale, and Scarfface Orange Cran Wit, among others. As for raspberries, they have also offered the Thorny Horn Sour Raspberry Brown Ale.

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BC Beer Baron #299 – Moon Under Water Hip As Funk Farmhouse IPA

What do you get when you combine two of my favourite beer styles – IPA and Saison? A very happy Sip Advisor, that’s what. It’s no surprise the folks at Moon Under Water Brewing were able to provide this treat at the recent BC Beer Awards.

The Hip As Funk Farmhouse IPA was very good. The brewery describes the 7% ABV, 35 IBU beverage as “Skittles in the attic,” thanks to the use of hops that provide flavours of tropical fruits and the mix of yeast and malts that round out the recipe.

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Released on International Women’s Day in 2015 and featuring the image of a strong lady on its label, Moon Under Water intended for the brew to represent the female beer drinker, who is often inaccurately depicted by the industry.

The drink’s label was designed by artist Bjauna Sorensen. “Female craft beer drinkers know what they like and unapologetically drink it,” said brewery co-owner Chelsea Walker. The IPA is available in bomber-sized bottles at private liquor stores.

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BC Beer Baron #286 – Phillips Toothless Pumpkin Sour Ale

Each month, as part of this 366-day BC craft beer extravaganza that I will be sharing with you throughout 2016, I will highlight a specific style or theme of beers for a whole week of articles. The season of pumpkin-spiced everything is upon us… and things are no different in the craft beer world. Let’s see what BC has to offer for fans of the flavour.

This fall, the folks at Phillips Brewing have unleashed onto the craft beer world, not one, not two, but three different pumpkin releases. Picking one to review wasn’t easy, but this variation seemed to be the most unique.

The Toothless Pumpkin Sour Ale features an interesting blend of pumpkin and spices and a tart finish. At only 4.7% ABV, the beer is light on everything, including malts, hops, and colour. The Sip Advisor isn’t a big sour beer guy, but this was fun to sample.

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Along with the Sour Ale, Phillips also has the Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale and Crookeder Tooth Barrel-Aged Pumpkin Ale products available for the season. Each beer can be found in bomber-sized bottles at various vendors, throughout the province.

Not content to just have three brews perfect for Halloween drinking, the brewery has also produced the Green Reaper Fresh Hop IPA. As is the norm, label designs for each piece of merchandise is top notch and eye-catching.

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BC Beer Baron #285 – Spinnakers Spiced Pumpkin Ale

Each month, as part of this 366-day BC craft beer extravaganza that I will be sharing with you throughout 2016, I will highlight a specific style or theme of beers for a whole week of articles. The season of pumpkin-spiced everything is upon us… and things are no different in the craft beer world. Let’s see what BC has to offer for fans of the flavour.

Given I’ve always been impressed by beers from Spinnakers Brewing, I was curious to see how they’d fare in the pumpkin ale world. As usual, I was left pleased with the results from Canada’s oldest brewpub.

The Spiced Pumpkin Ale utilizes locally grown Kabocha squash and the typical seasonings related to pumpkin treats. The 5% ABV, 15 IBUs beverage is on the lighter end of the spectrum, but that allows the varying flavours to enjoy the spotlight.

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The product is available for a limited time in bomber-sized bottles at BC Liquor Stores, as well as private establishments. Drinkers can also go directly to the source and enjoy a serving at the Spinnakers Brewpub in Victoria.

Spinnakers has also produced a Spiced Pumpkin Porter in the past, but that doesn’t seem to be part of their lineup this fall. As the brewery writes: “For some, the beginning of September means back to school. For us, it means Spiced Pumpkin Ale!”

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