Calgary’s newest edition on the brewing scene is the nano startup of Dandy Brewing who have been releasing no holds barred bomber bottles for the last 10 months. Through a series of experimental and one off releases Dandy has released 7 unique and authentic beers. Bright Young Things is their first seasonal style and it is fashioned as a hoppy English Summer Ale that boasts a 5% ABV. Despite starting off with classic English styles such as an Oyster Stout and a Golden Brown Ale, Dandy has recently changed directions. By releasing a rauchbier, a sour and an upcoming Berliner Weisse the future of Dandy Brewing has an interesting and exciting road ahead as they continue filling a void in Alberta’s beer market. Personally I find the beers released to be very good both because of their flavour but also because of the originality of the styles themselves.
Bright Young Things pours a bright orange with hues of copper and straw in the glass. A light burst of carbonation towards the finger of frothy off white head. Aromatics cascade off the glass with notes of toasted bready malts, light citrus and grassy hops and a light floral note. Sweet up front with toasted caramel and biscuity malts; a very English style malt base. Notes of pear and apricot are subtle but present. Crisp and ultra refreshing style of beer that boasts the name of English Summer Ale very well. A fresh floral and grassy hop blend with a light estery note towards the finish. The finish itself isn’t overly bitter but has enough to showcase the profile. As I sip more the hops show off more spice notes than I ever saw in the aroma and first few sips. Initially this beer was a bit cut and dry but as it warms up and I enjoy more of it the complexity reveals itself. The mild bitterness builds up over time and lingers well into the aftertaste. Fruits are more present and sweeter in the middle of the profile. Very refreshing and crisp with a nice touch of bitterness to create a fantastic balance.
Based in Surrey, British Columbia Russell Brewing has been in operation since 1995. In addition to the Surrey operations, Russell also owns and operates Fort Garry Brewing in Manitoba. In recent years Russell have been developing more unique and complex brews. Peaks and Valleys is a 5.7% ABV Extra Pale Ale brewed with BC grown hops. Extra Pale Ale is a bit of a stylistic conundrum in that it lives somewhere between the hop content and alcohol of an American Pale Ale and an IPA.
Peaks and Valleys pours a bright orange and coppery hue in the body with a massive thick off white foam onto. The head dissipates slowly as it settles into a thin tight cap. The aroma is beautiful laden with fresh hop aromas. A nice blend of hop aromas including citrus, tropical fruits, floral and spicy notes. The first sip is a bit sweet with tons of fruity notes including grapefruit, pineapple and pear and tons of citrus zest. Light floral and green hop notes with a light peppery note. Caramel and a light toasted malt profile balances the hops well resulting in a very easy sipping brew. The finish has moderate hop presence with a solid but not out of place bitterness and lingering astringency. A smooth sipping brew with a ton of amazing hop flavour.
Newport, Oregon’s Rogue Ales has been one of the big boys of West Coast craft beer for the past 25 years. Since 1989 John Maier has been the brewmaster and has implemented the brewing of non-pasteurized, all natural beers mostly made with the proprietary yeast strain known as Pacman. As an interesting and unique twist John decided to cultivate a yeast strain from his beard which he has had for the last 30 years. To a beer geek this is intriguing and also a bit offputting but as all beer geeks know, we are also up to try something new. I’ve drank beer with civetcat coffee, chipotle peppers, mint, rosemary, oysters, coconut, bacon, maple syrup and the list goes on. Using John’s beard yeast, Rogue decided to brew a 5.6% ABV Belgian ale.
Beard Beer pours out a bright hazy golden colour in the body with a thick heady off white foam atop. There is a nice small stream of bubbles cascading up in the middle of the glass. The nose is rather nice with a subtle estery yeast aroma as well as milder grassy and floral hop accent. Mild spiced aromas of coriander and a nice beautiful floral aroma blend well with a bready and crisp wheat malt. My first sip is crisp and estery with a mild mustiness and floral notes. A bit of caramel and honey with crisp clean wheat malt blends rather well with the mild floral hops. A nice balance and a exquisite drinkability for a rather sessionable Belgian style ale. Although this seems like a rather standard Belgian style ale the use of the beard use is an interesting and intriguing idea. And it is a rather beardy ale!
The newest seasonal beer from Deschutes Brewery of Bend, Oregon to be released to Alberta beer shelves is Twilight Ale a refreshing Summer Pale Ale. Twilight is a 5% ABV American Pale Ale brewed with Amarillo hops from the Pacific NW. Deschutes is well known and well liked for not only their bold extreme specialty brews but their line up of sessionable flagship beers including Mirror Pon Pale Ale and Inversion IPA both of which are excellent summer brews.
Twilight pours with a golden and orange brilliance with steady carbonation and a thin finger of pure white head. A nice looking Pale Ale in general with a definite orange hoppy glow. The nose has a noted sweetness with mild caramalized notes as well as a hint of grapefruit and zesty citrus fruits. Overall a rather reserved and subtle aroma lacking the big hops I look for. Gorgeous caramel malt backbone in the mid palate with a juicy zest of grapefruit and citrus hitting soon afterwards. A rather sweet flavour profile with bitterness lingering a bit into the aftertaste. Nice balance with sweet caramel malts and a solid but not overbearing hop profile. A good sessionable pale ale from Deschutes but I think I’ll stick with Mirror Pond.
Price: $15/6 pack
Alley Kat Brewing in Edmonton, AB recently released a pair of early spring seasonal brew; one in the 650 mL bomber format and the other in the 330 mL six pack format.
The Full Moon Belgian Pale Ale is a 5% ABV Pale Ale brewed with a traditional Ardennes yeast to give floral and estery aromatics. This seasonal brew is based on the flagship Full Moon Pale Ale a fresh and mildly hopped American Pale Ale. This pours out a light muddled amber body with glowing golden hues and a huge foamy head that settles to a thin head. The nose has mild and aromatic hops with light grassy and citrus aromas with a hint of noble hop spice. A flowery and lightly estery yeast aroma with a good blend overall. The taste profile is mild and well mannered with light caramelized malts up front, moderately citric hops with floral notes and the light yeast flavor. Nothing too crazy in the flavour overall, but a nice sessionable Belgian Pale Ale overall.
The Summer Squeeze is a Grapefruit Ale brewed to 5% ABV with grapefruit and grapefruit extract. The pour has a light pinkish tinge and a bright yellow golden body with a fizzy and short lived white head. The nose is the best attribute with the aroma of Pink Grapefruit soda with a light beery backbone. Taking a sip, a mild bready malt with a hint of sweetness with more grapefruit notes towards the finish. After a few more sips, I notice a very mild hop note with a very generic mild malty flavor. Overall, just a bland sweet grapefruit brew with a lack of character. But on a hot summer day, I would drive the hell out of this brew.
Goose Island is considered to be one of the best breweries in the world despite their recent purchase by giant conglomerate AB-Inbev. Their lineup of barrel aged Bourbon County stouts have found huge critical acclaim among craft beer nerds. Matilda is a 7% ABV Belgian Pale Ale brewed with brettanomyces a wild fungi commonly found on the skin of fruits.
Matilda pours a gorgeous bright golden orange with a spritzy effervescence and a thin dense packet of yellowish head. Just a glorious appearance on all counts. The nose is subtly bretty with tons of floral hop and fruit notes. Notes of lemon peel, orange rind, pineapple, grains of paradise. Sweet and smooth complexion with a hop forward accent with just gorgeous floral and ester notes. The finish is mildly bitter and has a bit of hop resin smack with a mild Brett note. Opens up a bit with light funky and mold earthy green grape and fruity note. Overall, just an incredible brew with both intense Belgian ester and floral green leafy hop notes. Mild and subtle brettanomyces and musty Belgian accents round out the palate and make this a simply incredible beer.
Grade: 91/100. Price: $7.89 (in California
Green Flash Brewing Company located in San Diego, California is a truly creative craft brewery that creates unique American and Belgian beer styles. The brewery’s name “Green Flash” is in reference to a natural phenomenon which occurs as the sun sets or rises and for a brief if not fleeting moment, the suns rays appear green. “Rayon vert” is a translation from French for Green Flash. Formed in 2002 by a married couple whose avid interest in craft beer resulted in the opening of a then small brewery.
Rayon Vert in its most simple essence is a well hopped American style pale ale but with a twist. Brewed with a Belgian Ale yeast, and finished with brettanomyces gives Rayon Vert a unique quirkiness.
Brettanoymces like Rayon Vert is a quirky oddity in its own regard is a non-spore form of yeast that grows on the skin of fruits in the wild. Upon fermentation, “brett” produces large amounts of acetic acid and add commonly off putting flavours such as funk and sourness to the beer. But to many craft beer enthusiasts, beers finished with “brett” are appreciated and encouraged.
Rayon Vert pours a bright golden orange with a mild hazy appearance in the body. A fluffy pure white head sparkles atop the body with mild carbonation cascading upwards. A few solid lacing rings form around the glass making this brew look downright appetizing. An odd funky, well hopped aroma with light citrus and zesty esters with a bit of spices. Quite acetic and funky on the nose as well with a big lemony hop. The first sip is quite sweet with mellow toasty malts, mild caramel and a firm citrus hop base. Beautiful crisp flavour, floral and citrus esters with an impeding “brett” funk. The finish is rather sour and acetic with a big funk and barnyard flavour. The finish is quite strong but rather delightful with a intense crispness and a harsh funk that holds on far into the aftertaste. Regardless of the some of the more intense flavours, this remains a well balanced and drinkable brew, though perhaps not sessionable. Overall, an interesting and creative beer with an incredibly unique and almost bizarre flavour profile.
Grade: 88/100 Price: $11.99/4-pack