Every year the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co of Chico, California collaborates with 12 breweries and their fans for a mixture of brews collectively known as Beer Camp. In 2014 the stand out was a brew made with San Diego’s Ballast Point and so has been resurrected as a spring seasonal in 2015. The Hoppy Lager is a strong Blonde lager with a heavy hop twist. Brewed to a heavy 7.0% ABV and an agreeable 55 IBU’s the Hoppy Lager is the perfect early spring brew. In addition to a lager yeast the hop manifest includes Palisade and El Dorado as bittering hops and Citra and Equinox as finishing hops.
Pouring out a bright, clear golden hay colour the body has a solid stream of carbonation and is capped by a dense cap of pure white head. The aroma is fresh and heavily accented with citrus hop notes. Light floral and spicy hops add a nice dimension to the hop profile. Impossibly light caramel and crisp bread malts have a touch of honey sweetness akin to the blonde style. Crisp lemon and grapefruit notes and a mild acidic crunch towards the finish. Overall the bitterness is moderate and mostly negated by the cascade of finishing hop flavours. Light floral and perfumey notes blend with zesty lemon and grapefruit notes. A pinch of pine resin on the aftertaste with moderate astringency and a heavy lager esque mouthfeel. A nice brew overall with a bit of a unique take on the style. My only wish is that we Albertans could get our hands on Sierra Nevada’s products.
Hog’s Head Brewing Company is Alberta’s newest brewery; located in St Albert near Edmonton, Hog’s Head currently brews only a few beers but have a heavy handed hop style. The Hop Slayer is a 7.5% ABV “pseudo Imperial IPA” with above 100 IBU’s.
Hop Slayer pours a rather dark burgundian amber with a thick frothed up creamy yellowish beige head. Tons of massive lacing splotches and rings form along the glass as the massive head calms down. Overall, this looks like a rather malty IPA. The aroma has a caramelized and toasted malt aroma with light roasted notes and a moderate grapefruit and lemony citric hop nose. A rather smooth sip up front with a rather heavy roast for and IPA with noted toasty and toffee malts. Light grapefruit hop flavours with mild resinous and pine needle notes. Not exactly my type of an IPA and more so an Imperial Brown Ale via the heavy toasted (roasted) malts and toffee notes. Overall, a nice addition to Alberta’s beer market. I genuinely hope Hog’s Head continues to create unique and tasty craft brews.
Grade: 86/100 Price: $15/ 6 pack
Anvil ESB is the flagship ale produced by San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing Company and was the first beer ever produced by the brewery. AleSmith is one of California’s most awarded craft breweries known for their unfiltered hoppy brews as well as heavy hitters like Speedway Stout and Old Numbskull Barleywine. The Anvil ESB is a bit of a San Diego twist on the standard British Premium Bitter style of session ale. Premium Bitters or Extra Special Bitters are higher alcohol (4.5 to 6%) versions of the more sessionable bitter style. At 5.5% ABV, Anvil ESB is certainly within the range of alcohol to be called a ESB stylistically.
Cracking the cap and beginning to pour I find a solid heavy and creamy foam forming atop the brilliant ruby and copper toned body. Slowing the pour down, it comes to rest with a thick mess of a chunky two finger creamy beige head and some heavy lacing around the glass. The nose is a bit abrupt and has a solid hop with pleasant floral and fruity notes. The nose is rather odd stylistically with an enhanced fruitiness pairing with toasted bready and caramel malts. Taking my first sip of the Anvil I notice a pronounced fruit flavour of both banana and apples which is certainly odd. Toasted bread and grainy malts with caramelized sweetness and a hint of toffee pairs well with the intricate floral hop notes and a rather unusual fruity character. The finish is really crisp and has a mild but not overbearing bitterness that lingers for a short time. On the whole this is an exceptionally well done ESB in that the hops aren’t too foreboding and there is still plenty of grainy and bready malts as well as tasty fruit and floral hop centric notes. In general, a very well done and well balanced ESB.
Grade: 86/100 Price: $4.69 (in California)