Caldera Rose Petal Imperial Golden Ale
I spread the flavoured beer love last weekend at a  housewarming-science fair-Christmas party (yes, it was an epic night).  First up for crowd-sourced tasting was Caldera Brewing’s Rose Petal Imperial Golden Ale, which is brewed with Bulgarian rosewater and real rose petals.
The big question: Will a rose petal ale taste like grandma’s bathwater?
The Verdict:
 All tasters agreed that it had a slightly floral nose, but was not perfume-y.
I was expecting the flavour to be quite flowery and distinct, like the Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA,  but that wasn’t the case. Any rose flavours were extremely muted, so  much so that all tasters (except one) didn’t pick up any rosiness in the  ale.
The creativity behind this beer was great, and it was a smooth,  tasty golden ale. However, I would have liked to tasted a bolder  infusion of rose flavours.
If this beer was a cat: It’d be this guy, who also seems unimpressed with the minimal amount of rose presented to him.
Where to buy: I picked this up at 99 Bottles in Washington.

Caldera Rose Petal Imperial Golden Ale

I spread the flavoured beer love last weekend at a housewarming-science fair-Christmas party (yes, it was an epic night). First up for crowd-sourced tasting was Caldera Brewing’s Rose Petal Imperial Golden Ale, which is brewed with Bulgarian rosewater and real rose petals.

The big question: Will a rose petal ale taste like grandma’s bathwater?

The Verdict:

  • All tasters agreed that it had a slightly floral nose, but was not perfume-y.
  • I was expecting the flavour to be quite flowery and distinct, like the Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA, but that wasn’t the case. Any rose flavours were extremely muted, so much so that all tasters (except one) didn’t pick up any rosiness in the ale.
  • The creativity behind this beer was great, and it was a smooth, tasty golden ale. However, I would have liked to tasted a bolder infusion of rose flavours.

If this beer was a cat:
It’d be this guy, who also seems unimpressed with the minimal amount of rose presented to him.

Where to buy:
I picked this up at 99 Bottles in Washington.

Caldera Vas Deferens Ale
Artwork on beer labels ranges from boring to crazy, and the bottle art on Caldera Brewing’s Vas Deferens Ale is definitely not boring.
Look closely at the drawing – that devil is ripping apart a vas  deferens tube (possibly by using his teeth). Blood and sperm is spewing  everywhere. It’s a scene right out of Man Hell: the Botched Vasectomy  version.
To tie together the ale and the illustration, Caldera calls Vas  Deferens an extremely rare release that is “not meant to reproduce” and  incorporates “a little snip of this and a little snip of that.” In this  case, the snips are orange bitters and blood orange zest.
The Verdict:
Pours a beautiful dark mahogany colour. The blood oranges gives it a  slight cherry hue. Smells a little orange-y, but is not very prominent.  If I didn’t know blood orange zest was included, I wouldn’t have  noticed.
I was expecting a bit of a citrus kick, but nope – not really. In  fact, the added flavours seem to blend into the backing ale. The overall  taste is similar to a Belgian ale.
Very sessionable, which, at 8.1%, is tricky. Watch out for the sneak-attack factor.
If this beer was a cat: It’d be this guy. Like the bottle artwork, he’s also in his own version of hell and is getting roughed up by Satan.
Where to buy: I picked this up at 99 Bottles in Seattle.

Caldera Vas Deferens Ale

Artwork on beer labels ranges from boring to crazy, and the bottle art on Caldera Brewing’s Vas Deferens Ale is definitely not boring.

Look closely at the drawing – that devil is ripping apart a vas deferens tube (possibly by using his teeth). Blood and sperm is spewing everywhere. It’s a scene right out of Man Hell: the Botched Vasectomy version.

To tie together the ale and the illustration, Caldera calls Vas Deferens an extremely rare release that is “not meant to reproduce” and incorporates “a little snip of this and a little snip of that.” In this case, the snips are orange bitters and blood orange zest.

The Verdict:

  • Pours a beautiful dark mahogany colour. The blood oranges gives it a slight cherry hue. Smells a little orange-y, but is not very prominent. If I didn’t know blood orange zest was included, I wouldn’t have noticed.
  • I was expecting a bit of a citrus kick, but nope – not really. In fact, the added flavours seem to blend into the backing ale. The overall taste is similar to a Belgian ale.
  • Very sessionable, which, at 8.1%, is tricky. Watch out for the sneak-attack factor.

If this beer was a cat:
It’d be this guy. Like the bottle artwork, he’s also in his own version of hell and is getting roughed up by Satan.

Where to buy:
I picked this up at 99 Bottles in Seattle.

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout
When I tried Young’s Double Chocolate Stout,  I noticed strong cocoa flavours in the back of my mouth. I thought this  must be due to the bitter taste receptors located on the back of the  tongue. One quick google search for “tongue tastebud map” to confirm,  and…
The tongue map has been scientifically disproved.
Seriously? The tongue map is bunk? Shortly afterwards, I found out that brontosaurus and triceratops never actually existed. Add in the whole Pluto thing, and it’s clearly just a matter of time before everything I learned in elementary school turns out to be wrong.
Anyhow, on to the beer:
The Verdict:
Nose has a bit of coffee plus chocolate, similar to a dark chocolate mocha.
Chocolate and chocolate malt flavours come through. Not incredibly  intense, but definitely present. A little bit like chocolate cake. Very  pleasant.
The label states: “Silky rich and creamy smooth.” Bang on  description. Would be great over ice cream or in an ice cream float. Two  thumbs up.
If this beer was a cat: A silky smooth beer like this would be a silky smooth cat, such as the cat on Silky Cat bottle. (I’m also pretty sure the chocolate stout gave my coat a healthy sheen.)
Where to buy: Available at many BCLDB stores.

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

When I tried Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, I noticed strong cocoa flavours in the back of my mouth. I thought this must be due to the bitter taste receptors located on the back of the tongue. One quick google search for “tongue tastebud map” to confirm, and…

The tongue map has been scientifically disproved.

Seriously? The tongue map is bunk? Shortly afterwards, I found out that brontosaurus and triceratops never actually existed. Add in the whole Pluto thing, and it’s clearly just a matter of time before everything I learned in elementary school turns out to be wrong.

Anyhow, on to the beer:

The Verdict:

  • Nose has a bit of coffee plus chocolate, similar to a dark chocolate mocha.
  • Chocolate and chocolate malt flavours come through. Not incredibly intense, but definitely present. A little bit like chocolate cake. Very pleasant.
  • The label states: “Silky rich and creamy smooth.” Bang on description. Would be great over ice cream or in an ice cream float. Two thumbs up.

If this beer was a cat:
A silky smooth beer like this would be a silky smooth cat, such as the cat on Silky Cat bottle. (I’m also pretty sure the chocolate stout gave my coat a healthy sheen.)

Where to buy:
Available at many BCLDB stores.

Red Truck Christmas Cake Ale
I  guess it’s a natural progression to want to include an alcohol-soaked  item (brandy-doused fruitcake) into another alcoholic item (beer). Would  this be the beverage equivalent of a Turducken?
Brewmaster Dave Vargas was adventurous enough to give this fruitcake/beer combo a shot and created Red Truck Christmas Cake Ale.
The Verdict:
All the typical fruitcake ingredients are included in the Christmas  Cake Ale: spices, dates, currants, sultanas, sour cherries, pineapple  and a “generous portion of the cheapest brandy [Dave] could find.”
Though it was sweeter than your standard beer, I was surprised it  wasn’t more syrupy-sweet. Ginger spices really stood out and gave it a  little zip.
A mystery flavour lingered on my tongue post-sipping. After some  contemplation (and another pint), I narrowed it down to raisin/currant  notes.
I would definitely purchase this again. A neat mix of ginger and sweetness wrapped up in an ale.
If this beer was a cat: It’d be the cat on the left. You think it’s going to be all syrupy-sweet to go with the Christmas theme… but surprise! It has a little zip to it. 
Where to buy: I sampled this as part of Firkin Friday at Taylor’s Crossing in North Vancouver. It’s cask-only, so maybe it’ll also be poured at the Alibi Room?

Red Truck Christmas Cake Ale

I guess it’s a natural progression to want to include an alcohol-soaked item (brandy-doused fruitcake) into another alcoholic item (beer). Would this be the beverage equivalent of a Turducken?

Brewmaster Dave Vargas was adventurous enough to give this fruitcake/beer combo a shot and created Red Truck Christmas Cake Ale.

The Verdict:

  • All the typical fruitcake ingredients are included in the Christmas Cake Ale: spices, dates, currants, sultanas, sour cherries, pineapple and a “generous portion of the cheapest brandy [Dave] could find.”
  • Though it was sweeter than your standard beer, I was surprised it wasn’t more syrupy-sweet. Ginger spices really stood out and gave it a little zip.
  • A mystery flavour lingered on my tongue post-sipping. After some contemplation (and another pint), I narrowed it down to raisin/currant notes.
  • I would definitely purchase this again. A neat mix of ginger and sweetness wrapped up in an ale.

If this beer was a cat:
It’d be the cat on the left. You think it’s going to be all syrupy-sweet to go with the Christmas theme… but surprise! It has a little zip to it.

Where to buy:
I sampled this as part of Firkin Friday at Taylor’s Crossing in North Vancouver. It’s cask-only, so maybe it’ll also be poured at the Alibi Room?

Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Stout
The moment I cracked open Southern Tier’s Crème Brûlée Stout, a blast of thick vanilla scent shot straight up my nose. It smelled amazing. I could imagine bathing in this beer.
Of course, bathing in beer is wasteful, so I did the next best thing: bathing with beer.  Within minutes, I was lounging in a full bathtub while sipping on crème  brûlée stout. My hedonism-ometer was OFF THE CHARTS.
The Verdict:
A big milk stout with an even bigger infusion of vanilla. Definitely sweet, but not as  sweet as the smell implies. Creamy and heavy with burnt butterscotch and  toffee flavours. Roasted tones sit on the tongue for a long time  afterward. Incredible.
It’s deceptively boozy (10%) and my head was fuzzy after a third of  the glass. I split a bomber with a fellow drinker, which is perfect –  Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Stout is all about quality, not quantity.
I guess you could pour this beer over some vanilla ice cream, but  why bother? It easily stands on its own as dessert in a glass. This is a  stout to curl up with in front of a fire (a bathtub also works).
If this beer was a cat: It’d be Guily. Like this beer, Guily is really big, super sweet, and deserves to be more famous.
Where to buy: I picked this up from Viti (keep tweeting beer arrivals, Viti! I saw your tweet, I bought this beer as a result). I’ve also heard that it was spotted at Brewery Creek.

Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Stout

The moment I cracked open Southern Tier’s Crème Brûlée Stout, a blast of thick vanilla scent shot straight up my nose. It smelled amazing. I could imagine bathing in this beer.

Of course, bathing in beer is wasteful, so I did the next best thing: bathing with beer. Within minutes, I was lounging in a full bathtub while sipping on crème brûlée stout. My hedonism-ometer was OFF THE CHARTS.

The Verdict:

  • A big milk stout with an even bigger infusion of vanilla. Definitely sweet, but not as sweet as the smell implies. Creamy and heavy with burnt butterscotch and toffee flavours. Roasted tones sit on the tongue for a long time afterward. Incredible.
  • It’s deceptively boozy (10%) and my head was fuzzy after a third of the glass. I split a bomber with a fellow drinker, which is perfect – Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Stout is all about quality, not quantity.
  • I guess you could pour this beer over some vanilla ice cream, but why bother? It easily stands on its own as dessert in a glass. This is a stout to curl up with in front of a fire (a bathtub also works).

If this beer was a cat:
It’d be Guily. Like this beer, Guily is really big, super sweet, and deserves to be more famous.

Where to buy:
I picked this up from Viti (keep tweeting beer arrivals, Viti! I saw your tweet, I bought this beer as a result). I’ve also heard that it was spotted at Brewery Creek.

asker

vanmega asked: Since you just tried one coffee beer you really should try that Hitachino Espresso Stout and to a bit of a parallel tasting.

Awesome idea! Will look for the Hitachino to see how it compares. Thanks!

R&B Spirit Chaser Sumatra Coffee Porter
Today, The Vancouver Sun ran an article about pairing craft beer with food. One part jumped out at me:

Stout/Porter: Rich, roasty and often  with coffee and chocolate overtones, these beers are a natural with  desserts, especially chocolate and tiramisu.Best choice: R&B Spirit Chaser Sumatra Coffee Porter

Whoa. Moments before reading this article, I had pulled a batch of  chocolate-coffee cupcakes out of the oven. I also had a bottle of R&B Spirit Chaser Sumatra Coffee Porter in the fridge. Clearly, the beer gods had spoken – and I’m not one to anger the beer gods.
The Verdict:
Minimal coffee smell. Pours a rich dark brown (almost black) colour.
Subtle chocolate notes in the initial sip, with a long, roasted  coffee finish. The coffee flavour isn’t overpowering (so it doesn’t just  taste like cold espresso) and blends nicely with the underlying porter.  Quite tasty.
Paired incredibly well with my cupcakes. The sweetness of the  dessert contrasted with the beer’s more bitter roasted coffee flavour,  and the cocoa in the cupcakes pulled out the porter’s chocolate notes.  If you go for this beer, I recommend whipping up a batch of something  chocolate to chew on while tasting.
If this beer was a cat:
It’d be Muffin Cat, in recognition of the fantastic pairing of muffin-shaped baked goods with this beer.
Where to buy:
Available at Viti and Vancouver Firefly.
Special thanks to Vancouver Beer Blog for recommending R&B Spirit Chaser Sumatra Coffee Porter!

R&B Spirit Chaser Sumatra Coffee Porter

Today, The Vancouver Sun ran an article about pairing craft beer with food. One part jumped out at me:

Stout/Porter: Rich, roasty and often with coffee and chocolate overtones, these beers are a natural with desserts, especially chocolate and tiramisu.
Best choice: R&B Spirit Chaser Sumatra Coffee Porter

Whoa. Moments before reading this article, I had pulled a batch of chocolate-coffee cupcakes out of the oven. I also had a bottle of R&B Spirit Chaser Sumatra Coffee Porter in the fridge. Clearly, the beer gods had spoken – and I’m not one to anger the beer gods.

The Verdict:

  • Minimal coffee smell. Pours a rich dark brown (almost black) colour.
  • Subtle chocolate notes in the initial sip, with a long, roasted coffee finish. The coffee flavour isn’t overpowering (so it doesn’t just taste like cold espresso) and blends nicely with the underlying porter. Quite tasty.
  • Paired incredibly well with my cupcakes. The sweetness of the dessert contrasted with the beer’s more bitter roasted coffee flavour, and the cocoa in the cupcakes pulled out the porter’s chocolate notes. If you go for this beer, I recommend whipping up a batch of something chocolate to chew on while tasting.

If this beer was a cat:

It’d be Muffin Cat, in recognition of the fantastic pairing of muffin-shaped baked goods with this beer.

Where to buy:

Available at Viti and Vancouver Firefly.

Special thanks to Vancouver Beer Blog for recommending R&B Spirit Chaser Sumatra Coffee Porter!

Fraoch Heather Ale
Scotland’s highlands are carpeted in heather flowers. Yep, these  flowers look spectacular. More importantly, though, how do they taste if  you toss them in beer? I picked up a bottle of Fraoch (Gaelic for “heather”) to find out.
The Verdict:
Pleasant floral scent. Smells as though you’re standing in the middle of  a meadow filled with flowers and grasses.
Compared to other flower  beers (such as jasmine or hibiscus), the floral taste is minimal. Smooth with a touch of sweetness.
Definitely sessionable with a crisp, clean finish. Very easy to drink.
If this beer was a cat:It would be the historic Scottish Wildcat, which roam wild in the highlands of Scotland.Where to buy:Viti has these in stock.

Fraoch Heather Ale

Scotland’s highlands are carpeted in heather flowers. Yep, these flowers look spectacular. More importantly, though, how do they taste if you toss them in beer? I picked up a bottle of Fraoch (Gaelic for “heather”) to find out.

The Verdict:

  • Pleasant floral scent. Smells as though you’re standing in the middle of a meadow filled with flowers and grasses.
  • Compared to other flower beers (such as jasmine or hibiscus), the floral taste is minimal. Smooth with a touch of sweetness.
  • Definitely sessionable with a crisp, clean finish. Very easy to drink.

If this beer was a cat:
It would be the historic Scottish Wildcat, which roam wild in the highlands of Scotland.

Where to buy:
Viti has these in stock.

Brasserie Dieu du Ciel Rosée d’Hibiscus
Growing up, my mom had a tall hibiscus plant with huge red blooms. Eating these flowers was not something I’d ever considered.
So, my hibiscus tasting experience was nil – until I tried Dieu du Ciel Rosée d’Hibiscus. This wheat beer is brewed with spices and hibiscus flowers.The Verdict:
The colour is similar to the flesh of a red grapefruit (very pretty). Smells a bit like Trident Tropical Twist gum.
It’s hard to pin down an exact flavour, but there is a delicate hint of tropical, orange/grapefruit notes. Not overly floral or perfume-y. Also not particularly sweet, but not acidic or lip-pursingly citrus either. Unconventional, but pleasant.
Brasserie Dieu de Ciel recommends this beer for a hot summer day. I can indeed picture sipping it poolside or on a patio. 
If this beer was a cat:It would be one of Casey Weldon’s four-eyed cats: a little weird, and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it. But I think I like it.Where to buy:I picked this up at Firefly Vancouver.

Brasserie Dieu du Ciel Rosée d’Hibiscus

Growing up, my mom had a tall hibiscus plant with huge red blooms. Eating these flowers was not something I’d ever considered.

So, my hibiscus tasting experience was nil – until I tried Dieu du Ciel Rosée d’Hibiscus. This wheat beer is brewed with spices and hibiscus flowers.

The Verdict:

  • The colour is similar to the flesh of a red grapefruit (very pretty). Smells a bit like Trident Tropical Twist gum.
  • It’s hard to pin down an exact flavour, but there is a delicate hint of tropical, orange/grapefruit notes. Not overly floral or perfume-y. Also not particularly sweet, but not acidic or lip-pursingly citrus either. Unconventional, but pleasant.
  • Brasserie Dieu de Ciel recommends this beer for a hot summer day. I can indeed picture sipping it poolside or on a patio.

If this beer was a cat:
It would be one of Casey Weldon’s four-eyed cats: a little weird, and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it. But I think I like it.

Where to buy:
I picked this up at Firefly Vancouver.

Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale
After a month-long hiatus from pumpkin beer, I felt ready to delve back into autumn with Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale.
Fact 1: Night Owl is brewed with 7lbs of pumpkin per barrel and spiced with nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and allspice.
Fact 2: The bird on the label is a great horned owl. 
Bonus Fact! Great horned owls are the only birds that regularly eat skunks.
Now that I’ve bird-nerded out, onto the beer:The Verdict:
Unlike  many other pumpkin ales, the spices in Elysian Night Owl are muted. If I  didn’t know this was a pumpkin beer, I might suspect it was just an  delicious and unique tasting ale.
Very sessionable. Could do more than one pint in a row. Elysian nails it when they claim it’s “not too sweet and not too spicy.”
This  is a pumpkin beer for the beer drinker who typically shies away from  flavoured beers, yet wants to try something seasonal.
Would  pair well with a giant meal, as it’s 5.9% and not heavy, yet would also  be a fun holiday party brew. I would buy this again.
If this beer was a cat:It’d  be Ghostface Killa, @alanamairs and @zameericle’s friendly hostess cat. Features  Ghostie shares with this pumpkin beer: irresistible to most people,  super-fun at parties, warms your tummy.Where to buy:I picked up this beer at Viti.

Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

After a month-long hiatus from pumpkin beer, I felt ready to delve back into autumn with Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale.

  • Fact 1: Night Owl is brewed with 7lbs of pumpkin per barrel and spiced with nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and allspice.
  • Fact 2: The bird on the label is a great horned owl.
  • Bonus Fact! Great horned owls are the only birds that regularly eat skunks.

Now that I’ve bird-nerded out, onto the beer:

The Verdict:

  • Unlike many other pumpkin ales, the spices in Elysian Night Owl are muted. If I didn’t know this was a pumpkin beer, I might suspect it was just an delicious and unique tasting ale.
  • Very sessionable. Could do more than one pint in a row. Elysian nails it when they claim it’s “not too sweet and not too spicy.”
  • This is a pumpkin beer for the beer drinker who typically shies away from flavoured beers, yet wants to try something seasonal.
  • Would pair well with a giant meal, as it’s 5.9% and not heavy, yet would also be a fun holiday party brew. I would buy this again.

If this beer was a cat:
It’d be Ghostface Killa, @alanamairs and @zameericle’s friendly hostess cat. Features Ghostie shares with this pumpkin beer: irresistible to most people, super-fun at parties, warms your tummy.

Where to buy:
I picked up this beer at Viti.