The newest beer from Dieu du Ciel! to arrive in Alberta is Isseki Nicho an Imperial Dark Saison a style which has started to slowly develop in the craft beer community. Dark Saisons from breweries such as Stillwater, Widmer and Upright have all been recently released. Isseki Nicho is a collaboration project between Dieu du Ciel! and Shiga Kogen a Japanese sake producer. Isseki Nicho is described as having a grain bill of an Imperial Stout with a saison twist. At 9.5% ABV this brew is certainly a heavy hitter in the class on an Imperial Stout.
Twisting off the cap a slow hiss of vapor trails out of the bottle. A gloopy, pure black viscous body with a thick, bubbly, tan head forms in the glass. The head settles slowly with larger bubbles and small, dense bubbles forming well. The nose has a general rich malt aroma with a moderately heavy roasted note, hits of coffee and chocolate and a beautiful mild saison style yeast scent. Soft esters complement the light saison yeast well with light barnyard dust notes and mild citrus zest. The aroma is rather elogent and the heaviness is a refreshing change for the saison style. My first sip has a thoroughly roasted, heavy malt flavour with a note of espresso and vanilla. More subtle flavours of smoke, wood, bourbon, lemon zest and barnyard dust work their way through. The finish is heavy with a mild saison yeast and a roasted malt bitterness that lingers for a while. Well balanced, Isseki Nicho is a unique twist on the style of saison despite being alot like an Imperial Stout.
Since their inception and arrival on the Alberta Craft Beer scene I have had nothing but accolades for the small East Vancouver brewer Parallel 49. Starting as St. Augustine’s one of Vancouver’s best craft beer bars with a bonkers rotating tap list, the brewery has quickly grown into one of BC’s best. The cavalcade of amazing beers from Parallel 49 keeps on coming and the newest arrival is Black Hops Cascadian Dark Lager a Schwarzbier type of Black IPA.
Black Hops pours a purely black body with a foamy bubbly beige head and a few sparse carbonation bubbles in the body. The nose is rather exceptional with big grapefruit and mild spiced hop resinous. A subtle note of smokey cocoa tantalizes me to take me first sip. The body is incredibly light and nearly watery with a mild roasted malt unlike the nose made me believe. A light sweetness with a hint of cocoa and a subtle earthen woody note. The finish is mild and a bit disappointing with a hint of light grapefruity hops. After finishing this brew I found it a bit disappointing especially after the last several seasonal brews form Parallel 49. I hope the next East Vancouver creation from this generally awesome brewery exceeds my expectations.
Price: $7.49 Grade: 78/100
This newly released beer from Whitehorse’s Yukon Brewering Company in the 5th brew in the “tongue-in-cheek” named Brewers A.D.D. series. Since the series of seasonal offerings was launched last year, Yukon Brewing has offered a Birch Marzen, Spiced Winter Ale an Imperial IPA. The “Cascadian” is a Black IPA or Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA) by style with an alcohol content of 6% ABV. The A.D.D. series sets itself apart from other breweries and adds a touch of class by storing the bottles in eye-catching cardboard tubes.
The Black IPA or Cascadian Dark Ale style is a relatively new beer style emerging from the Pacific Northwest. The style is characterized by the malt characters of a stout or porter with the hop content of an IPA or American Pale Ale. Recently there has been some argument over the proper name and origin of the style causing some disagreement in the beer community.
Yukon’s “Cascadian” pours out a flat dark brown in the body with a fluffy and dense lightly beige coloured head. The head departs gradually leaving a few sticky bands of lacing on the glass. Delving into the aroma I am welcomed by a lovely roasted malt; sweet toffee and earthen malts, light chocolate and a hint of vanilla. The aroma has mild floral and citrus fruit hop notes which blend with the malts pleasantly. Taking my first sip, I find a touch of chocolate and roasted malts with a rather sweet mid-palate. The finish is of medium bitterness and does take some of the intense roasted notes away on the aftertaste leaving a mild roasted astringency. Not exactly a beer with many subtleties. Rather the Cascadian is pretty straightforward with medium roasted malts, a solid bitterness and a great balance.
Grade: 80/100 Price: $3.99