Apex Barleywine 2015 – Bomber Brewing Co. (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

Apex Barleywine 2015 – Bomber Brewing Company, 10% ABV – 86 IBU, 650 ml., (Vancouver, BC, Canada) (*local BC craft beer*)

on the front-left label:

“A Canadian winter is a time of traditions, from the first day on the slopes to the last game of shinny. We wait all year for the time to be right, as we’ve awaited the apex barleywine. Aged in cabernet franc barrels, and made with over 15 malts and mountainous hops, this brew is worthy of a tradition of its own.”


  • Style: (Vintage) Barleywine
  • Taste: Stealth alcoholic thick and sweet caramel barley malt with dark fruit dry woody finish
  • Where I got it : Bottle Jockey / N.Bby
  • How much: $10.60 CAD (after 12.5% off) – 650 ml., February 2016
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: not in particular

Visual: 2015 Vintage. Pours opaque reddish-brown with almost no head, a half island ringed retention, slow and steady singular streams.

Nose: sweet toffee-caramelized barley malt, berry-dark fruit overtones. (lvl-5)-intensity

Attack: incoming fruity hefty malts

Mid-palate: background light tangy, (lvl-8-sweetness), thick caramel barley malts, plum-dark fruit, alcoholic zingy

Finish: alcoholic heat, residual tangy, dry woody, residual dark fruity

Summary: This one hit pretty hard, stealth-like. It went down pretty easy as a sipper, good body and decent depth. No real memorable flavours, but the Cab Franc barrels definitely did impart some grapey/dark fruit flavs.

Central City / Parallel 49 2015 Craft Crossing Calendar Day #22 – Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine Bourbon Barrel Aged


Central City/Parallel 49 2015 Craft Crossing Calendar Day #22

Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine Bourbon Barrel Aged – Central City Brewing, 11.5% ABV – 330ml., (Surrey, BC, Canada)

on the front-left label:

“Our limited edition Bourbon Barrel aged Thor’s Hammer is matured for 1 full year. Mahogany in colour, this award-winning barley wine is crafted from the finest barley malt exuding deep, rich notes of dried fruit, plum and figs with a walnut ester. Decant to remove the sediment of lees. Enjoy lightly chilled now or cellar for 5 years or more.”


  • Style: (bourbon barrel-aged)Barley Wine
  • Taste: Sweet dark plum-prune fruity caramel-toffee malt soft alcohol warmth
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes, delicious

Visual: Pours cloudy reddish brown with no head and a few bubbles surfacing, super thin micro bubble ringed retention, suspended micro sediment.

Nose: caramel oaked sweet barley malt, raisin. (lvl-6)-pungency

Attack: thick viscosity, crisp-oily

Mid-palate: alcohol heaviness, (lvl-8)-sweetness, (MAIN) bourbon, biscuity caramel-toffee malt, plum-prune dark fruity

Finish: sweet bourbon oaked maltiness, subtle bitter, soft alcohol warmth, walnut exhale.

Summary: Incredibly smooth for a 11.5%’er, lots of bold flavour with a decent slick-crisp mouthfeel. A tad cloying halfway through, especially at the finish. An all-around solid brew; I have yet to try the non-barrel aged version, looking forward to it.

Phillips Snowcase 2015 Calendar Day #12 – Trainwreck Barley Wine 2015


Phillips Snowcase 2015 Calendar Day #12

Trainwreck Barley Wine 2015 – Phillips Brewing, 10.0% ABV – 341ml., (Victoria, BC, Canada)

on the front-right label:

“Here’s a little something to stoke your boiler. This year’s barley wine is full of rich malt flavours and mildly carbonated. Trainwreck should be served at cellar temp (8C) [cellar temp should actually be 13C/55F]. Careful not to derail your caboose.”


  • Style: Barley Wine
  • Taste: Thicker alcoholic sweet caramel roasted barley malt
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: solid, but not noteworthy.

Visual: Pours beer bottle brown with barely any head, a very thin layer of micro retention, lots of large CO2 fast streams.

Nose: brown sugar, caramel malts. (lvl-5)-pungency

Attack: thick viscosity, micro fizzy, boozy-tangy

Mid-palate: (lvl-8)-sweetness mixed with alcohol detection, sustained creamy, (MAIN) brown sugar, toasty-roasty barley malts

Finish: dark fruit, alcohol bitterness, alcohol throat warmth, dry hoppy bitterness, malty sweet finish.

Summary: Plenty of very sweet and alcoholic malts in this one. Some complexity in texture and alcoholic jolt, decently rounded. I probably won’t specifically remember this one but it was solid.

Red Wheat Wine Year One Anniversary Ale – Moon Under Water Brewery (Victoria, BC, Canada)


  • My Rating: B

Red Wheat Wine Year One Anniversary Ale – Moon Under Water Brewery, 11.5% ABV – 750ml., (Victoria, BC, Canada)

on the front label:

“This brew is a huge DANKE to our families, staff, old friends and new friends who helped us make it through our first year. Brewed to  be shared, this strong red wheat wine was hopped throughout with Citra and then fermented dry with three yeast strains on yellow birch. Prost from Anne, Chelsea, Clay and Steve!”

  • Style: (Red Wheat) Barley Wine
  • Taste: Fizzy-creamy alcoholic peach caramel malted hopped bitter
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek Liquor Store
  • How much: $11 (after 10% off) – 750ml., October 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: if you can handle strong beers

Visual: Bottles are individually numbered. Pours pale golden hazy orange with a good-sized lasting creamy head, a nice layer of retention, sticky lacing, lots of clustered activity.

Nose: stonefruit-fruity malts, faint. (lvl-2)-pungency.

Attack: super creamy, tingly-fizzy

Mid-palate: (lvl-4)-sweetness, (MAIN) peach-tangerine, lightly carameled, malts

Finish: alcohol detection, sharp bitter hops, woodiness, palate heaviness, boozy malty-hopped finish.

Summary: Quite smooth and drinkable for 11.5%, although it hits rather hard after continuous sipping.

Brùton Dieci (10) – Birrificio Brùton (Italy)


  • My Rating: C

Brùton Dieci (Bruton 10) – Birrificio Brùton, 10% ABV – 330ml., (Lucca, Italy)

on the back label:

“Amber coloured beer produced with high fermentation and with natural procedures at Brùton brewery. Our beer is not filtered, no pasteurized, it does not contain preservatives and refermentation in the bottle makes the  beer, if stored in a fresh place and protected from light, acquire complexity and become more harmonic with time.”

  • Style: Barley Wine
  • Taste: Alcoholic brown sugar malted fig strange-sour finish
  • Where I got it : Brewery Creek
  • How much: $8 (after 10% off) – 330ml., January 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Visual: A very simple label: 10 and Brùton, simple yet elegant. Pours root beer brown, unfiltered with lots of suspended bits of sediment, almost no head, thin ringed retention, some slow single lines of streams.

Nose: caramel malts, brown sugar, a bit of alcohol detection. (lvl-6)-pungency

Attack: oily thick, weighty

Mid-palate: tingly-fizzy mouthfeel, (lvl-8)-brown sugar sweetness, (MAIN) fig/dates, licorice, caramel MALTS, late alcohol detection, nutty

Finish: obscure citrus/acidic sourness, malty sweet heavy alcoholic finish.

Summary: Mainly brown sugar malts with fig overtones, but has a strange fishy/pukey/gag-reflex acidity at the end that didn’t bode well with my palate. Nicely crafted but the flavour isn’t for me.

Truth Serum Wheat Wine Ale – Russell Brewing (Surrey, Canada)


  • My Rating: C+

Truth Serum Wheat Wine Ale – Russell Brewing, 10% ABV – 650ml – 70IBU, (Surrey, BC, Canada)

printed on the back of the bottle:

“Brewed with 50% Canadian Wheat Malt and a blend of imported Pilsner and Munich malts. Aggressively hopped with French Strisselspalt and US Columbus hops. The Wheat Malt imparts a slight tang that ties in beautifully with the blackcurrant notes from the abundant use of Strisselspalt Hops. At 10% alc./vol. this ale is ridiculously smooth and easy to drink. Savour the dry, clean finish.”

  • Style: Barley Wine (with wheat)
  • Taste Profile: sweet malts/alcohol -> hoppy bitterness/caramel malts/cassis/tangerine -> grapefruit hoppy/alcohol bitterness/bittersweet malty finish.
  • Where I got it : Legacy Liquor
  • How much: $8 (after 10% off), Feb 2013
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yah; it is good value + decent

Tasting notes: pours translucent golden copper brown with almost no head, ringed retention, and a few steady streams. Sweet alcoholic malts and orange peel on the nose.

Attack: 7/10-rich malty sweetness, med-heavy/med-bitter alcohol

Mid-palate: sharp hoppy bitterness, thick caramel malts, creamy-light-fizzy mouthfeel, hints of cassis, tangerine backdrop

Finish: lingering grapefruit hoppy bitter, alcohol bitterness, bittersweet malty finish.

The alcohol is well-hidden but this beer becomes too heavy and predictable halfway through the bottle.


Russell Brewing Nectar of the Gods (Canada)

Nectar of the Gods 2010 – Russell Brewing, 10% ABV – 650ml, (Surrey, BC, Canada)

on the back label:

“Matured in Tennessee whiskey barrels for over four months, this Wheat Wine Ale delivers multiple layers of flavour complexity. Comprised of 50% Wheat Malt plus a combination of Pilsner and Munich Malts. Fruity-ester characteristics are beautifully complemented by vanilla-like flavours and tannins imparted from the barrels-aging process. US Columbus Hops provide a firm bitterness and French Strisselspalt Hops present a lusty black currant flavour and balanced finish. Bottle-conditioning results in natural carbonation and sediment – pour gently. Drink today or Cellar for up to a year.”

  • Style: Wheat Wine Ale
  • My Rating: C+
  • Taste Profile: Sweet heavy caramel malts -> whiskey alcohol/wood/chocolate -> malted bitter alcoholic finish.
  • Where I got it: Firefly
  • How much: $10 (after 10%), March 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: 50/50

Tasting notes: pours slightly opaque brown with a very small head, small CO2, lots of medium fast streams. Sweet malts and hints of whiskey on the nose. Bold aggressive 9/10-sweet heavy caramel malts up front, alcohol detection + whiskey, hints of chocolate, resiny wood, and a heavy alcoholic med-heavy malty bitter finish. Body is on the thinnish side for a high ABV beer. Medium complexity, med-high depth, okay transitions, good carry, okay drinkability. Doesn’t quite have the creaminess of fullness to carry the alcohol.

Brown Shugga’ – Lagunitas Brewing (USA)

Brown Shugga’ – Lagunitas Brewing, 9.99% ABV – 12 fl.oz., (Petaluma, CA, USA)

On the front label:

“We believe this Special Ale is Something Unique. Feeding Brown Cane Sugar to otherwise Cultured Brewery Yeast is a’kin to feeding Raw Shark to your Gerbil. It is unlikely to ever occur in nature without Human Intervention. And it looks weird besides. But it has happened and now it’s too late.”

  • Style: Barley Wine
  • My Rating: B-
  • Taste Profile: overly sweet molasses -> caramel & cane sugar -> malted prunes -> med bitter hops
  • Where I got it: Brewery Creek (?)
  • How much: ~$15 for 6pack, Summer 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: no

Tasting notes: pours red-amber-brown with small quickly dissipating head, minor lacing. Aromatic toasted malts and light toffee on the nose. Tastes of major malts and molasses, unrefined cane sugar, sweet fruity prunes, resiny hops, and a sharp medium-long bitter finish. I welcome the complexity but slightly too sweet and hits too hard without a creamy body or silky carbonation to counter-balance the high ABV

Old Cellar Dwellar 2010 – Driftwood Brewery (Canada)

Old Cellar Dweller 2010 – Driftwood Brewery, 11.8% ABV, (Victoria, BC, Canada)

On the extra ad:

“The third release of our now annual winter brew. Barleywine is the biggest of beers! Copious amounts of malt and hops are employed to produce a very limited release of this very special brew. Enjoy the bright and snappy hop character of this beer now and lay down a bottle or two to see how it mellows with time. This beer will last indefinitely- Cheers!”

My notes:
  • My Rating: B+
  • Why I like it: wow smooth and tasty for 12% ABV
  • Where I got it: Brewery Creek
  • How much: ~$18 , 650ml., Winter 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to beer aficionados: yes

Tasting notes: pours cloudy orangish-brown, small head, thin lacing, lots of medium-fast moving CO2 streams. Very malty on the nose. 8/10-level sweetness (way sweet) up front, alcohol is detected immediately, transitions into caramel & toffee malts, cinnamon, nutmeg, more alcohol in the mids and finish, brown sugar, medium hoppy finish. Long mellow bitter and malty finish lingers in the mouth. Medium complexity, med-high depth, good transitions, great carry, decent drinkability. Alcohol buzz kicks in 1/4 through the bottle. Smooth, beware.

Thomas Hardy’s Ale – O’Hanlon’s Brewing Co, 11.7% ABV, (Devon, England) (listed in “1001 beers you must taste before you die”)

  • first brewed in 1968, discontinued since 2009

On the back label:

“Britain’s strongest ale is a piece of brewing history. Bottles of this rare, bottle conditioned classic have kept for at least 25 years, maturing in flavour like fine wine. ‘Bottle Conditioning’ is a secondary fermentation in the bottle during which Thomas Hardy’s Ale develops its uniquely rich and complex character. The process produces a sediment which is laid down over time as part of the natural fermentation process.”

My Notes:

  • My Rating: C
  • Why I kinda like it: rich flavour but not exactly refreshing
  • Where I got it: Viti Wine & Lager
  • How much: $7, 250ml
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Would I recommend this to beer afficianados: Yes

Tasting Notes (bottled in 2006): vintage and individually numbered, pours with zero carbonation, thicker than water viscosity, cloudy hazelnut brown with quite a bit of sediment. Thick malts and light coffee on the nose. Initially watery as it enters the mouth, quickly thickens and turns alcoholic mixed with rich caramel malts,light bitter chocolate,medium-roast coffeehazelnut, brandy, 8/10-level sweetness, finishes with lingering bittersweetness. Medium-high complexity, high depth, long length, good transitions, great carry, not so good drinkability. Highly potent and flavourful but the lack of carbonation really doesn’t appeal to me.