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Howe Sound Pothole Filler

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Howe Sound surprised the beer geek culture last week by dropping Pothole Filler (their Imperial Stout) upon us a few months early. It turns out this change in production schedule is the result of Howe Sound fully tripling their production capacity this year. The word from HS is that we can expect their seasonals to, overall, be much less seasonal.

A big reason for the increased production is Howe Sound’s recent penetration (heh, penetration) of the Ontario market. This might also explain the wording on the side of the bottle, extolling the virtues of their brewing process, which utilizes “Coast Mountain” water. Locally, we like to call this “tap water.” I guess we have it good, though.

So what about the beer? The recipe is quite different from last years, at least on the surface. Twelve months ago we were treated to a giant whack of alcohol and then something stoutish, while this year all that booze is hiding behind a massive heap of roasted malt. Lots of toasted cereal flavours here, on a rich creamy mouthful, backed up by something not-quite-licorice-y on the nose. Sharp, bitter coffee rounds out the palate, giving this a bit of an unfinished feel.

Overall this is a decent–if not great–imperial stout. However, it is the only brewed-in-BC option if you want to keep your pint of high-octane black local. Rumour has it that Parallel 49 is doing something decidedly Impy sometime soon, and come the New Year all true BC geeks will start lining up outside our local stores for the annual release of the provinces reigning beer king: Driftwood Singularity.

Until those two rear their heads, though, this is the only game in town unless you want to go Yankee.

Coles notes:

Brewery Howe Sound Brewpub
From Squamish, BC
Name Pothole Filler
Style Imperial Stout
SOA Now No seal awarded
SOA Potential No seal awarded
Drink Now; cellaring will not likely improve this, but I won’t stop you.
Best non-drinking application Brain panning burglars with the bottle
Availability Widespread LRS
Cost $10-13 per 1L bottle
Similar Beers Driftwood Singularity, Elysian Dragonstooth
Chuck says Since this is the only Imp Stout available right now, buy one and drink it. The second another good Impy comes out switch to that.

Written by chuck

October 29th, 2012 at 4:44 pm

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Hoyne Voltage

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On paper it sounds great: craft brewed, high-quality coffee beans (and hand-pressed at that), extremely limited batch, and even a slick label. What’s not to love about this beer? The problem comes in that quirkly little thing called execution.

The coffee half of this beer is thick and lucious. Usually the kind of coffee that winds up in beers is not exactly high grade, but even after being turned into stout and sitting in a bottle for a month you can tell that Habit Espresso is the kind you need more of.

And that’s the problem. The coffee so outplays the stout here that we quickly forget what we’re drinking. The beer half of this equation is thin with a disappointing mouthfeel. I wanted a massive punch of chewy, roasted malt to balance out that espresso, but alas it’s just not there. All I get is a watery stout that disappears behind the (great) coffee with each sip.

In the end this beer, much as the label hints, cannot decide if it’s beer or coffee, and it suffers for it. What had the potential to be an amazing home run from Hoyne on their first birthday winds up just being an okay version of an admittedly hard style to nail.

However, at the price point of $5-7 that’s what you’d expect. Even so, I just can’t help wanting more from this one, but that’s just the sort of beer geek I am, I always want perfection.

Since only one tank was made, and Sean Hoyne uses 10 hectolitre tanks, get this sooner rather than later. Even with the slow sales, those ~125 cases will be gone forever before you know it.

Coles notes:

Brewery Hoyne Brewing
From Victoria, BC
Name Voltage
Style Espresso Stout
SOA Now Bronze
SOA Potential N/A; Table beer
Drink Now
Recommened cut off for drinking espresso in beer 8:30 PM
Availability Some LRS, zero at LDB
Cost $5-7 per 650ml bottle
Similar Beers Elysian Split Shot Espresso Milk Stout
Chuck says Buy 1 or 2 to drink now, then more as required. If it still hurts in a week, come back to see me.


I get the feeling I won’t use the silver much.

Written by chuck

October 23rd, 2012 at 4:29 pm

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Driftwood Mad Bruin

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Yesterday, Driftwood put out their most recent one-off release: Mad Bruin. This sour/wild brown ale is the second in their Bird of Prey series, inspired because a Coopers Hawk flew into the brewery or some such. Hey, if you need a story behind your series of sour ales, you could do worse, I suppose.

And yesterday, Mad Bruin landed with a resounding thud. Unlike other Driftwood releases like Sartori, Singularity and Twenty Pounder, no one seems interested in picking this one up. So, what do I think? Well, it’s hard to gauge. This beer is clearly structured for aging, and that makes it hard to review, but I’ll try.

Right off the bat, this sucker hits you with a sweet astringency that settles in the back of your throat. That’s the lacto at work here, producing a bit of a puckerfest. After that, the malt lingers over a few sips, building a nice caramel tone.

A few sips later and you can tell where this bastard spent the past few months: in oak barrels. Used wine barrels, to be exact. Maybe something pinot-y. The oaking is very intense, and slowly grows to dominate the beer, so that by the end of your glass you’re pretty sure you just licked the hardwood floors.

So, right now it’s not much of a looker, but how will it age? Well, I think. It’s unfiltered, so the sourness should continue to develop while the extreme oakiness fades. The malty caramel will slowly come forward to play down the sour, but don’t be worried, this beer is definitely heading towards sour funk-town.

Overall, this will not be a top flight beer, but it will definitely be an interesting one, given enough time. Put a few in the back of your cellar and start pulling them out around April. If this plays out like similar beers I’ve had, look for a peak in July/August 2012, with a massive sour tone balancing out a slightly oaky sweet, but pronounced caramel.

Aside: What’s with the labels guys? You buy a $10 clip art CD and figure “Yeah, that’ll do”?

Coles notes:

Brewery Driftwood Brewing
From Victoria, BC
Name Mad Bruin
Style Sour/Wild Brown
SOA Now Bronze
SOA Potential Silver
Drink Spring 2013 to Late Summer 2013
Chance of this turning
to vinegar in 6 months
20%
Availability Very good at LRS, zero at LDB
Cost $11-13 per 650ml bottle
Similar Beers Upright Late Harvest
Chuck says Buy 1 to drink now, 6-12 to cellar


Look at me! Reviewing beer like a pro!

Written by chuck

October 16th, 2012 at 6:57 pm

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