Kaffee Coffee Blonde – Steel & Oak Brewing Co. (New Westminster, BC, Canada)

Kaffee Coffee Blonde – Steel & Oak Brewing Company, 5.1% ABV – 17 IBU, 650ml., (New Westminster, BC, Canada) (*local BC craft beer)

on the front-right label:

“Locally roasted coffee, sourced from small holder farmers in Ethiopia’s Guji Sidama region, provides a rich yet delicate floral aroma with notes of brown sugar, grapefruit and caramel. A German malt base provides a crisp finish and a subtle biscuit flavour which plays with the wondrous coca and roasted flavours that the coffee provides.”


  • Style: (flavoured – Coffee) Blonde Ale
  • Taste: Grainy biscuity nutty coffee dull basic barley malt
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $7.50 CAD – 650ml., August 2017
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: no

Visual: (Guji Sidama region coffee bean edition) Pours clear golden yellow with a 3cm dissipating head, ringed retention, loose mix of slow and  and fast streams.

Nose: cacao-y nutty light roast coffee beans, background farty barley malt (lvl-7)-pungency

Attack: crisp bite, light frothy CO2, light coffee malty impression

Mid-palate: (lvl-3-sweetness), cocoa caramel nutty coffee, basic-thin liquid barley malt

Finish: hints of brown sugar, lingering biscuity grainy barley malt

Summary: The coffee flavour provides a good burst of flavour from the start to the mids but after that the barley malt base is just too basic and dull to carry it. The result is a beer that is decent at the start but falls flat by the end. A bit above average, but I’d still have a Rogue Cold Brew IPA [B+] if I wanted a non-stout coffee beer.

Punk IPA (5.6%) – Brewdog (Ellon, Scotland)

Punk IPA (5.6%) – Brewdog, 5.6% ABV, 330ml., (Ellon, Scotland)

description from ratebeer.com:

Ingredients: Extra Pale Malt; Chinook, Ahtanum, Amarillo, Cascade, Simcoe, Nelson Sauvin hops. IBUs 45
This fresh, full flavour natural beer is our tribute to the classic IPAs of yester-year. The post modern twist is the addition of amazing fruity hops giving an explosion of tropical fruit flavours and a sharp bitter finish.

  • Style: India Pale Ale
  • Taste: Medium crisp dull CO2 biscuity barley malt stealth orange stealth bitter
  • Where I got it : Legacy Liquor / Vancouver
  • How much: $4.25 CAD (after 5% off) – 330ml., November 2015
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: no, not enough body

Visual: (cellared for 2 years). Pours almost clear marmalade orange, not much head, a half layer of micro retention, scattered loose streams.

Nose: toffee biscuity barley malt, hints of hops. (lvl-5)-pungency

Attack: medium crisp, dull CO2,

Mid-palate: (lvl-4-sweetness), sligtht tingly, light grainy-light biscuity barley malt, gentle stealth orange citrus notes

Finish: super stealth soft hop bitter, grainy barley exhale

Summary: Very smooth without much lingering hop bitterness unlike North American IPAs. It seems to lack punch and depth characteristic of the other Brewdog brews I’ve had. Perhaps its due to the 2 year cellaring.

BC Gin Round 4 – Victoria (Champ) VS Queensborough (Challenger)

Welcome welcome welcome, and welcome again to the fourth round of the BC gin battle. Up first we have the newly crowned champ from R3, Victoria Gin up against Queensborough (QB) small batch dry gin. QB is the updated and permanent gin the liquor portfolio of Central City Brewers + Distillers, their older gin being Seraph Gin which lost out in R2 here.

1) Victoria Gin – Victoria Distillers – 45% ABV – 750ml., Sidney, BC, $46 CAD (8/2017) @ BCLiquor

  • new label and bottle since spring 2016, , victoriadistillers.com
  • 10 botanicals including: juniper berries, coriander, angelica, orris root, star anise, orange & lemon peel, cinnamon, and rose petals. (…and the 10th one?)
  • 2016 Winner, Vancouver International Spirits Competition
  • 2016 Gold, Beverage Testing Institute Awards


2) Queensborough small batch dry gin – Central City Brewers + Distillers – 43% ABV – 750ml., Surrey, BC, $46 (9/2017) @ BCLiquor

  • juniper sourced from BC interior, spruce tips from Vancouver Island.
  • 2017 Double gold @ San Diego Intl spirits competition
  • 2017 Double gold @ San Fran World spirits competition
  • etc etc a few more accolades


Nose: VG is clean, no doubt about it. There are hints of citrus, and soap, with some juniper in the backend. QB is reminds me of the banana-rose like quality of Wallflower, but only half the intensity and leaning more toward the rose. There’s a sense of the green spruce tips in there as well. VG = star anise, QB = spruce mineral. Both are clean and enticing.

Taste & Texture: VG hits you up front with a soft sweetness, followed by juniper, cinnamon, star anise, big licorice, a bit of citrus, and some medium throat heat – overall, clean flavours and smooth transitions. QB‘s entry is very bright and juicy with juniper berry at the start but there’s immediate alcohol detection and invasive heat from the get go. VG takes a different approach by gradually building up the heat. In any case, QB showcases green spruce, jasmine, mild rose and citrus notes, and slight licorice juniper at the finish. As a sipper, VG by TKO smoothness, hands down.

Final Notes:

  • Victoria Gin, the winner of rounds 3 and 4 is cool and composed which is remarkable considering its 45% ABV. It will make a smooth cocktail.
  • Queensborough Gin displays a superb bright fruity spruce-juniper-jasmine profile that would make any cocktail unique and flavourful, but there is an overall alcoholic harshness.

Title retained = Victoria Gin by Victoria Distillers, but Queensborough is still an excellent and recommended gin


Himalayan Blackberry Wine – Kermode Wild Berry Wines (Dewdney, BC, Canada)

  • My Rating: [B-]

Himalayan Blackberry Wine – Kermode Wild Berry Wines,12% ABV, 750 ml., (Dewdney, BC, Canada) (*local BC Wine*)

on the back label:

“Served slightly chilled, this wine is sure to please one and all with its exceptional body and full-flavored finish. These blackberries are harvested in BC’s lush Fraser Valley where the mountains meet the meadows, by dedicated locals who hand pick these voluptuous berries at the peak of ripeness. Enjoy this complex off-dry wine with any occasion.”


  • Style: (wild blackberry) Fruit Wine
  • Taste:
  • Where I got it : Liquor Depot @Cambie / Vancouver
  • How much: $21 CAD – 750 ml., sometime in ’11-’12
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to fruit wine aficionados: no, too plain

Visual: (cellared for at least 5 years). Pours clear dark magenta.

Nose: super fruity bright tangy blackberry juice, superbly clean. (lvl-10)-pungency

Attack: tangy fruity bright

Mid-palate: alcoholic zingy, (lvl-2-sweetness), background light alcoholic warmth, deep rich tangy blackberry, big tangy-firm acidity, building tartness

Finish: berry exhale, tart gums

Summary: Very drinkable with a clean and welcoming fruity entry displaying authentic blackberry depth and juiciness. As with most fruit wines, it becomes predictable after a glass.

Polaris Julebryg – Nanoq Beer Co. (Quqortoq, Greenland)

Polaris Julebryg – Nanoq Beer Company (dead homepage), 6.0% ABV, 50 cl., (Quqortoq, Greenland)

on the back label in Danish:

“Denne julebryg fra Grønland er opnævnt efter Polaris, Nordstjernen. Polaris har altid været vores og julemandens ledestjerne. Denne julebryg dufter og smager af julens sødme og er sammensat af de bedste råvarer, det reneste grønlandske vand – og tilsat indlandsis samt krydderier, som sammen vækker den rigtige julestemning i os alle. ”

(google translation):

This Christmas break from Greenland is established after Polaris, Nordstjernen. Polaris has always been our leader and Santa’s leader. This Christmas wreath smells and tastes of Christmas sweetness and is made up of the finest raw materials, the cleanest Greenlandic water – and added icecream and spices that together bring the true Christmas atmosphere together.

  • ]
  • Style: English Strong Ale
  • Taste:
  • Where I got it : 16th St Liquor / W. Vancouver
  • How much: $7 CAD (after 10% off) – 50 cl., September 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: no

Visual: (cellared for 5 years). Pours clear copper brown with no real head, a thin haze on top, not much activity.

Nose: sweet toffee barley malt (lvl-6)-pungency

Attack: crisp, sweet malt impression

Mid-palate: (lvl-4-sweetness), toffee barley malt, mild metallic tang

Finish: barley malt exhale

Summary: An easy drinking, no frills beer. Not terribly exciting, but no major flaws either, except for the dull appearance.

Dark Island Reserve – Orkney (Stromness, Scotland)

Dark Island Reserve – Orkney Brewery (Sinclair Breweries), 10% ABV, 330ml., (Stromness, Scotland)

on the bottle neck label:

“Dark Island Reserve is a rich, robust ORCADIAN ALE. After a gentle fermentation at our brewery in Quoyloo, the beer is finished in old oak casks formerly used to MATURE FINE MALT WHISKIES. This unhurried process creates a timeless classic full of fruit, spice, oak and roast malt aromas. An Extraordinary ale.”


  • Style: (scotch barrel aged) Old Ale
  • Taste: Thick heavy sweet balanced tangy molasses brown sugar caramelized barley malt
  • Where I got it : Liquors Hasegawa / Tokyo
  • How much: 900¥ ($9.90 CAD) – 300ml., November 2016
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: 50/50

Initial tasting 2012/05/16, [A-] Rating.

(2nd tasting, 5 years later)

Visual: Bailer top re-sealable cap. Pours cola dark brown with no head, micro bubbles along the perimeter, no activity, but a few bubbles surfacing now and then.

Nose: thick brown sugar sweet caramelized malts, molasses. (lvl-7)-pungency

Attack: slight oily, thick malt impression

Mid-palate: heavy brown sugar molasses, (lvl-6-sweetness), tangy backdrop, caramelized medium boozy barley malt, nutmeg

Finish: dates, vanilla, woody whisky exhale, residual barley malt

Summary: Thick and full but still manageable on the palate. Not enough smoothness in the mouthfeel to round it out. Still delicious though.

Mandarin IPA – 4 Mile Brewing Co. (Victoria, BC, Canada)

  • My Rating: [B+]

Mandarin IPA – 4 Mile Brewing Company, 6.5% ABV, 650ml., (Victoria, BC, Canada) (*local BC craft brew*)

  • Style: (flavoured – mandarin orange) Wheat Ale
  • Taste: Bursting mandarin orange toffee malt grapefruit bitter hops
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $6.50 CAD – 650ml., August 2017
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: yes
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yep

Visual: Pours translucent brown-orange with a low head, ringed retention

Nose: bright clean mandarin orange (lvl-9)-pungency

Attack: crisp, malty sweet impression

Mid-palate: bursting mandarin juicy, (lvl-4-sweetness), toffee malt

Finish: soft tangy prickly bitter hops, orange oil exhale, red grapefruit

Summary: A very bright and orange citrus fruity IPA that displays a super clean flavour profile and carries with it an extremely likable drinkibility. One the most surprising flavoured IPAs I’ve had this year.

Coorinna (Saison) – Steel & Oak Brewing Co. (New Westminster, BC, Canada)

Coorinna, Oceanic inspired saison – Steel & Oak Brewing Company, 4.8% ABV – 21 IBU, 650ml., (New Westminster, BC, Canada) (*local BC craft beer)

on the front-right label:

“Wild harvested Tasmanian pepperberries and a collection of New Zealand hop varietals contribute notes of fresh cracked pepper, citrus, tropical fruit, lime and lemon zest to this oceanic inspired saison. Finishing crisp and dry with a touch of spice. Bottled on 20 June 2017.”


  • Style: (flavoured – Tasmanian pepperberries) Saison
  • Taste: Trace pepper mainly banana lemon wheat malt
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $7 CAD – 650ml., July 2017
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: nah

Visual: Pours dirty yellow peach with a slowly dissipating foamy 1cm head, sticky lacing, barely visible micro streams.

Nose: lemony banana wheat malt. (lvl-5)-pungency

Attack: crisp, citrusy wheat malt impression

Mid-palate: hints of pepper, short tang-mild funk, (lvl-3-sweetness), lemony-banana wheat malt, slight custard

Finish: wheat malt dry, subtle low bitter hop

Summary: Smooth and drinkable but the I don’t find the Tasmanian pepperberries having much of an impact nor the NZ hops. Medium bodied and nothing really stands out about this one despite the unique ingredients. A bit above average.

Schieve Tabarnak – Le Trou du Diable (Shawinigan, QC, Canada)

Schieve Tabarnak – Le Trou du Diable & Brasserie de la Senne Collaboration, 5% ABV, 600ml., (Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada)

on the back label:

“The Schieve Tabarnak! is a light, hazy blonde beer with greenish highlights. Brewed with rye and a selection of atypical hops, it has a very floral scent reminiscent of roses with a fruity aroma which culminates into a very long finish, leaving the drinker wanting for more. This collaboration with Brasserie de la Senne gets the first part of the name stems from a Brussel curse word (Schieven architeckt!, meaning twisted architect). The Quebec curse word of course speaks for itself…”

Ingredients: water, malted barley, rye hops, yeast.


  • Style: Belgian Ale
  • Taste: complete sweet banana fruity sour tangy bitter finish
  • Where I got it : High Point / Vancouver
  • How much: $7.50 (after 20% off) – 600ml., October 2016
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: 50/50

Visual: (Their own bottle for their brewery, raised lettering and devil on the bottom, odd size 600ml). (Cellared for 1 year). Pours golden straw yellow with a ridiculously massive initial 90% head, thick retention, a plethora of singular tight streams.

Nose: sweet thick banana wheat malt (though no wheat) with floral nuances. (lvl-7)-pungency

Attack: crisp, sweet-sour impression

Mid-palate: sour-tangy undertones, (lvl-3-sweetness), ripe banana, controlled soft pukiness, pineapple-lemon curd

Finish: wheat malt exhale, stealth subtle hopped bitterness

Summary: A complete balance of sweet, sour, tangy, fruity, malty AND bitter. Great complexity and drinkability. Recommended.


Pipewrench Gin Barrel Aged IPA – Gigantic Brewing Co. (Portland, OR, USA)

Pipewrench Gin Barrel Aged IPA – Gigantic Brewing Company, 8% ABV – 85 IBU, 22 oz., (Portland, Oregon, USA)

on the front-right label:

“Our Gigantic IPA aged in Ransom Old Tom Gin barrels for 3 months. Botanicals from the gin meld perfectly with the citrusy hops and subtle wood in an incredibly complex beer.”


  • Style: (Ransom Old Tom Gin barrel aged) IPA
  • Taste:
  • Where I got it : Bottle Jockey / N.Burnaby
  • How much: $9 (after 10% off) – 22 oz., September 2015
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: doubt it
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: YES

Visual: Pours opaque deep coral pink with a large supremely foamy long-lasting head, thick sticky lacing, clusters of active micro streams – Flawless appearance.

Nose: floral orange citrusy sweet malt with some tangy curd (lvl-7)-pungency

Attack: silky-fine creamy-crisp, airy alcoholic, sweet malt impression

Mid-palate: fruity juniper/crème de violet, (lvl-4-sweetness), soft tangy citrus curd, toffee malt

Finish: soft dry woody oak, dry gin edginess, stealth low bitter hops

Summary: A deeply interesting IPA that absorbs compound flavours from both the gin and wine that were aged in that same barrel (Wine -> Ransom Old Tom Gin -> Gigantic IPA). An IPA at heart with a prominent floral gin component as well as a woody nuance. The finish is slightly alcoholic aggressive. I’d love to try more gin BA beers.