Barley Mowat 

Archive for the ‘Beers’ Category

Whistler Lost Lake IPA

without comments

As you may recall, I’ve had some history with Whistler Brewing’s beers on this blog. As a result of that, I’m surprised that Whistler hasn’t posted pictures of me at every LDB in the province with instructions to not sell their product to me.

If they did, it didn’t work. The Groucho Marx glasses might’ve helped, I guess. In any event, I recently found myself staring down a bottle of their new Lost Lake Unfiltered IPA. I could feel my bad beer hormones getting all stirred up just looking at it.

Then I tasted it. What a let down. Not only was this beer not awful, it actually was flirting with being… good. I mean, it’s not great, but it’s not bad either. Yet, even though I liked it, I still have a big issue with this beer’s label.


And I don’t just mean that the label is missing Lost Lake’s bikini-clad sunbathers… um… what was my point again?

You see, it says “unfiltered” right there on the bottle. I’ve been semi-outspoken on this point before, but let me subtlety say it again here so I’m on record: BEER SHOULD NOT BE FILTERED. Leave the yeast in, folks. Think of it this way: have you ever had unfiltered or bottle conditioned beer and thought “this would be so much better if there wasn’t any yeast here”? How about the other way around?

Putting “unfiltered” right in the title of a beer might seem like a step in the right direction, and I guess it is a bit, but what I see when I read that is “all our beers are filtered. Except this one” or maybe even “not filtering beer is so weird that we just had to put it on the label. Aren’t we kooky?”

Anyway, the beer. This isn’t a big IPA like Driftwood’s Fat Tug, but it is a nice take on the milder English style. There’s lots to keep you interested: the hops are floral and fruity, the yeast holds the body together, and the sugars aren’t over done.

Overall, hands down the best beer from Whistler Brewing I’ve ever had: a solid “okay.”

Tasting notes:

NOSE Mild hop nose consisting of tropical fruit tones (grapefruit/passion fruit)
APPEARANCE Slightly hazy, but still quite a clear, orangey, amber. Thick persistent head.
TASTE Strong bittering hops, but overall a good tasting IPA. Yeast character is balanced and quite nice.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Yes. It’s cheap, it’s good, and buying it will encourage another mediocre brewery to brew better beer.

Coles notes:

Brewery Northam (Whistler)
From Whistler
Name Lost Lake
Style Unfiltered IPA
SOA Now None Awarded
SOA Potential Not a cellaring ale
Drink Lots. It’s not quite medal-worthy, but it’s still good.
Puzzler Where does all that yeast go when they filter? Down the drain?
Availability Widely available at LDB
Cost $5.84 per 650ml bottle.
Similar BC Beers Howe Sound Devil’s Elbow, Coal Harbour Powell

Written by chuck

April 24th, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with

Phillips Twisted Oak 2 and Double Dragon

without comments

Another month, and Phillips brings us another couple seasonal releases, and I’m happy because one of those is their next Twisted Oak Stillage release. To recap, Phillips decided to create a series of barrel-aged beers with no names. First was a Scotch Ale that was all about the oak and not so much about the scotch, and now we have a Red Ale. If the first was anything to go on, this one should be good.

Twisted Oak Stillage Red Ale takes normal barrel ageing and adds a twist. This isn’t aged in old wine barrels, or even old whiskey barrels, but rather old rum barrels. Notably, the identity of the rum that was in the barrels previously is not revealed, but the mere fact it was in a barrel at all rules out the lower end mixer varieties.

Tasting notes:

Twisted Oak Stillage Red Ale

Enough speculation, though, is it any damned good? Yes, yes it is. First off, this is a very pleasant red ale. Even though 6.8% strays a bit into Imperial territory, it’s not a harsh or off balance product. Throw on the barrel aging and we get something more complex, and unique.

NOSE Sweet caramel/toffee backed by rum. The rum isn’t over-powering, though. A hint of oak rounds it out.
APPEARANCE Translucent brown with a hint of deep reds; thin white lingering head. A pretty beer for sure.
TASTE The caramel/toffee is definitely first, with the rum perceived more as a faint alcohol burn. The oak is a bit harsh (providing a rough tannic bitterness), but not unpleasant.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Definitely.

Double Dragon Imperial Red Ale

With Twisted Oak comes this year’s Double Dragon Imperial Red, practically begging for the side by side comparison. Yup, they both have “red” in their names, and that’s about where the similarities end. At 8.2% Double Dragon rules out even being brewed from the same recipe as Twisted Oak, and it shows.

NOSE Thin malt, some cereal, bittering hops.
APPEARANCE Deep Auburn; persistent cream head.
TASTE Highly boozey. Decent malt with some roast character. The bittering hops are evenly applied, but in the end it’s struck through with that Phillips metallicness that ruins so many of their beers.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Nope. Buy Twisted Oak instead. Phillips has just managed to cannibalize their own sales.

Coles notes:

Brewery Phillips
From Victoria
Name Twisted Oak Red Ale Double Dragon
Style Red Ale Imperial Red Ale
SOA Now Bronze n/a
SOA Potential n/a; table beer
Drink Now Don’t
Pirate friendly? Yaaaar! Avast!
Availability Most LRSs
Cost $7.00+ per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers (you can buy) None. It’s pretty unique. Lighthouse Siren… if you can find it
Chuck says Moar please. Less please.


Please continue to screw around with barrels.

Written by chuck

April 17th, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with

VIB Absolute Darkness

without comments

This will be my last BC Beer Review for a few weeks. Adventure calls, and this time it takes the form of South America. I might live-blog about crappy Bolivian beer from a dirty La Paz warehouse during some downtime after being kidnapped, but I’ll likely save it all up for one big complaint post when I get back.

In the meantime, though, I stumbled upon some VIB Absolute Darkness this weekend and decided to give this more recent entrant in the growing BC CDA category a go. Sure, the label says “India Dark Ale” but “India Dark Ale” and its cousin “Black IPA” are just code words for the more contested “Cascadian Dark Ale.”

However, expect things to get significantly less confusing from here on out since Steamworks has graciously agreed to let everyone use “Cascadian” in a beer’s style name so long as they don’t use it as the name of the beer. Seems fair to me, and hat-tip to Steamworks for doing the right thing. Had the labels for this beer been printed last month instead of in December, it likely would have been properly labelled.

Anyways, enough political background. This is a beer review, and review beer I shall. VIB’s bomber series has had a few hits (Flying Tanker, Iron Plow) and a few misses (Dough head), so where does this guy fit in? Hit or miss? Well, slots in solidly in the miss column.

Slap “CDA” on a bottle and you expect certain things from the beer. Like hops, hops would be nice. Sure, there are some hops there, but not the big PNW aromatics or structured bitterness one expects from this style. The roasted malt of a CDA is also not quite there, as instead of a satisfying toasted oat flavour we get burnt molasses with a solid chemical punch.

Okay, fine, but surely that thick high sugar body that defines a CDA has to be there, for all that roasted molasses to be present? Nope. Somehow they got all that malt into there and still created a thin watery body.

If you ignore the label, and really love burnt malt, then you might enjoy this as a slightly strong (6.5% ABV) stout, but other than that its just a mess. Pick up a Howe Sound Gathering Storm instead. I’m disappointed, but at least VIB seems to be trying. If you don’t produce an off beer once in a while you’re not challenging your brewing team hard enough. Keep trying guys.

Tasting notes:

NOSE Burnt molasses, tobacco and a bit of leather. Capped off with an unpleasant chemically finish.
APPEARANCE Opaque black with a thin, quickly dissipating tan head. (Textbook CDA)
TASTE Roasted, nay burnt, malt. Body is watery and thing. Hops are there, but hidden behind the ash/charcoal of the malt, with no aroma or lingering bitterness to attest to them. Mmm… ash.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Nope. Lots of better CDAs, stouts, or just other beers out there.

Coles notes:

Brewery Vancouver Island
From Victoria
Name Absolute Darkness
Style Cascadian Dark Ale
SOA Now None Awarded
SOA Potential Not a cellaring ale
Drink Don’t.
VIB Bomber Batting Average 0.500 (2/4). Good enough to try #5 on sight.
Availability Widely available at LDB
Cost $5.50 per 650ml bottle.
Similar BC Beers Howe Sound Gathering Storm (out now), GIB Ltd Release CDA (out this summer)

Written by chuck

March 18th, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with