The Sound Brewery Ursus Spelaeus

Ursus Spelaeus from hence forth known as Ursus is one of three beers from Poulsbo, Washington’s Sound Brewery to recently arrive in Alberta. Ursus is an Imperial Stout brewed with a Belgian yeast strain at a modest 10% ABV with 68 IBUs. As Imperial Stouts are my favourite of all beers I find myself to rate them much differently than other styles with a probable bias. 

Pouring a bleak, opaque black with a finger of foamy beige head and a few splotches of short lived lacing Ursus looks like most Imperial Stouts from a distant. Taking a closer look with a quick sniff from the glass a prominent licorice as well as a robust roasted malt float off. As a person of Dutch heritage who grew up with licorice pastels as candy I love licorice especially in Imperial Stouts. I swoon with the thought of a licorice flavoured stout. The first sip has a noted roasty bitterness with sultry espresso and vanilla flavours as well as light fruity yeast notes albeit rather subtle. I am at first disappointed at the lack of licorice flavouring in the taste but after a while of sipping on Ursus a moderate lingering licorice takes form in the aftertaste. Ursus has a beautiful monstrous roast with espresso and vanilla notes but regardless of this, the licorice remains my centrepiece.

Grade: 92/100

Price: $10.49

La Guillotine

La Guillotine is a Belgian Strong brewed in the triple fermentation method to 8.5% ABV by the Belgian family brewery Huyghe in Melle, Belgium. The Brewery Huyghe is best known as the producer of Delirium Tremens which also comes in the ceramic-like painted bottles. A brewery has been in operation in Melle since 1654 but it wasn’t until 1906 when Leon Huyghe bought the brewery. In 1989 the Huyghe Brewery launched La Guillotine to celebrate the bicentennial of the French Revolution.  Within recent decades, Huyghe has bought many breweries and now brews close to 100 beers and brands. 

La Guillotine has a brazen copper toned amber appearance with a huge fluffy white head that settles at a snails pace. A few lacing rings form are short lived but the head tends to slide right off the glass. The nose has a bready malt base with spicy yeast notes and an accompanying handful of grassy vegetal hops. A definite alcohol aroma with a hint of honeyed and caramel malts. The first sip is quite sweet with big bready and light caramel toasted malt notes. Hints of lemon rind and citrus fruits with a few pinches of spices blend well in the middle. The finish has a gentle spice that lingers and a moderate hop bitterness.  The aftertaste has an impending and lingering alcohol presence that seems unrefined for a triple style beer.  After letting La Guillotine warm up to near room temperature I notice more cloves and a cracked black pepper in both the aroma and the taste. The hops have seemed to settle in well and have been covered by quite a forceful alcohol presence throughout the finish leaving a mild bitterness but quite a pungent booze filled aftertaste. Overall, a good Belgian style beer but the unrefined alcohol presence certainly draws away from its overall quality. 

Grade: 83/100                    Price: $4.49

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