Raspberry Wheat – Phillips Brewing Co. (Victoria, BC, Canada)


TL:DR – “basic lightly raspberry flavoured boring wheat ale. Palate is rough after drinking.”


Raspberry Wheat – Phillips Brewing Company, 5.0% ABV, 650 ml., (Victoria, BC, Canada) (*local BC craft beer*)


on the front-right label:

“A crisp, dry and refreshing summer beer. Brewed with BC raspberries for a full nose and crisp finish, this beer pairs well with sunglasses and patios.”


  • Style: (raspberry) Fruit Beer
  • Taste: light raspberry light body wheat ale palate rough
  • Where I got it : BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: ~$6 CAD – 650 ml., sometime in 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Recommended: no
  • What made an impression: palate roughness at the end

Visual: (cellared for 6 years). Pours blush red with a dissipating 1cm head, fine ringed retention with an island, raspberry sediment, slow and steady micro streams.

Nose: clean fruity raspberry juice, inviting. (lvl-5)-pungency

Attack: crisp

Mid-palate: thin mouthfeel, off-dry, (lvl-2-sweetness), fruity raspberry jam

Finish: dry wheat malt, raspberry exhale, mild artificial sweetener-like roughness

Summary: A very basic and straightforward lightly flavoured raspberry wheat ale, not much body or depth to speak of. It’s just an easy-drinking brew, barely above average, hardly recommendable nor memorable. The best aspect is the nose.

BC Gin Round 7 – Victoria (Champ) VS Spirit Bear

Victoria Gin is that you? In the new 2016 bottle and a slightly lower ABV (42.5% now, 45% before), is it still as good as the last tasting? It may have a tough time in fighting off the Spirit Bear from Kelowna. Let’s get to it.


1) Victoria Gin – Victoria Distillers – 42.5% ABV – 750ml., Sidney, BC, $47 CAD (5/2018) @ BCLiquor

  • 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

[VS]

2) Spirit Bear Gin – Urban Distilleries, 40% ABV – 750 ml., Kelowna, BC, $51 CAD @website (5/2018)

  • 10 botanicals, including juniper berry, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, lemon zest, orange zest, angelica root, hop flowers, lavender, and apple.


Criteria:

Nose: Hmm.. first impression of the post-2016-42.5% ABV VG is that the nose is very underwhelming. I get a bit of plasticky alcohol and not much else. At least it isn’t overly aggressive or offensive. SB has a huge lemon balm and lavender notes but is mixed with a more stinging alcohol presence. Spirit Bear definitely noses better.

Taste & Texture: VG, what happened to you? I remember you being clean and finishing nicely with a star anise exhale. Gone is the serenity and replaced with a more aggressively alcoholic front, distracted juniper mids, finishing with star anise and a persistent alcohol and slight rose background. Maybe it was the fact that my previous bottle was old so that the alcohol was less harsh, but I can tell you than a new bottle of VG isn’t as smooth as it should/could be. Anyhow, SB tastes just like the nose, big on lavender, soapy citrusy apple notes, juniper in the mids along with alcoholic heat, coriander herbal finish. Spirit Bear why you so soapy? You leave a astringent bite-into-a-bar of soap kind of mouthfeel at the end of every sip. Man, VG ain’t as super great as the extinct 45% version, but still I prefer it over SB. VG takes it in R7.


Final Notes:

  • Victoria Gin, or V+ is the updated moniker, is still decent, but the juniper, star anise, and rose notes are more muddled and cloudy. Good, but not great.
  • Spirit Bear has a very distinct lavender, tangy lemon balm, and apple notes, but is quite soapy, hence it’s more suitable in a cocktail.
  • Victoria Gin is $4 cheaper ($47 vs $51 CAD -BCL/@website)

Verdict: Victoria Gin, ugh, not that Spirit Bear is bad; It’s just that Spirit Bear is more of cocktail-specific kind of gin in that it can really make something magical when paired with the right ingredients. In this BC Gin battle however, I’m looking for that all-arounder Gin. Unfortunately this new 42.5% isn’t quite as good the the ol’ 45% pre-2016 one, but it’ll have to do. I expect it to be dethroned in the upcoming rounds though.

Darksnout Bacon Oatmeal Stout – R&B Brewing Co. (Vancouver, BC, Canada)


TL:DR – “unexpected but controlled sour-tangy, good balanced compexity. Lots of smoke.”


Darksnout Bacon Oatmeal Stout – R&B Brewing Company, 5.4% ABV, 650 ml., (Vancouver, BC, Canada) (*local BC craft beer*)


on the front-right label:

“A delicious full bodied Oatmeal Stout with bacon. The use of smoked malt and house cured bacon from our friends at Cure gives this unusual beer a smoky, tangy edge.”


  • Style: (flavoured – bacon, bourbon barrel aged) Smoked Oatmeal Stout
  • Taste: hickory smoked sour dark fruit malt light bourbon
  • Where I got it : Firefly / Vancouver
  • How much: $7 CAD (after 10% off) – 650 ml., July 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Recommended: not really
  • What made an impression: tangy-sour, but controlled

Visual: (cellared for 6 years). Pours dark cola brown, soda-like dissipating fizzy top, small bubbles hugging the glass, very active soda-like streams. Looks like a I just poured myself a Coke.

Nose: hickory caramel malt, slight bourbon edge (lvl-7)-pungency

Attack: prominent sourness, light-crisp, dull CO2

Mid-palate: persistent but controlled tangy-sourness, big smokiness, hint of savoury, mild tart, (lvl-4-sweetness), dark fruit malt

Finish: mild bourbon exhale, residual light smokiness

Summary: Somewhat of an acquired taste at first, the complexity and drinkability makes this rather interesting. It leans a bit too much on the sour side and falls a bit flat in the mouthfeel department. Decent, went down easy.

Pale Ale Américaine – Les Trois Mousquetaires (Brossard, QC, Canada)


TL:DR – “dryish cereal barley malt with some wet cork aftertaste, overall boring.”


Pale Ale Américaine – Les Trois Mousquetaires, 5% ABV, 650 ml., (Brossard, Quebec, Canada)


on the back label:

“Here’s a most surprising and refreshing pale ale. Its hop leaves, grown on American soil, balance out lightly caramelized cereals with powerful citrus notes.”


  • Style: American Pale Ale (APA)
  • Taste: dry light metallic cereal-biscuit barley malt dull soft bitter
  • Where I got it : 16th St. Liquor / W. Vancouver
  • How much: $9 CAD (after 10% off) – 650 ml., August 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Recommended: No
  • What made an impression: the dryness of the malt

Visual: (cellared for 6 years). Twisty steel top cap that broke, composite cork, hefty bottle. Pours clear copper orange with a nice 2 cm head,  fine micro retention, very active clustered activity.

Nose: cereal barley malt, biscuity, light toffee. (lvl-5)-pungency

Attack: dry-crisp,

Mid-palate: dry low metallic, cereal-biscuity barley malt, (lvl-1-sweetness), wet cork

Finish: dull subtle bitter hop

Summary: No power citrus notes detected in the advertised back label, but likely because of cellaring this for 6ish years. Decent mouthfeel, but the overall character of the cereal barley malts are quite boring. A disappointing Trois Mousquetaires brew.

BC Gin Round 6 – Victoria (Champ) VS Yaletown

Victoria Gin is back at it again entering round 6 against the local downtown Vancouver distillery’s Yaletown Gin. Wax-topped, corked, hand-label, and fancy flat bottled, is Yaletown gin is as good as it looks? Let’s find out how it does against the R3-R5 champ, Victoria Gin.


1) Victoria Gin – Victoria Distillers – 45% ABV – 750ml., Sidney, BC, $47 CAD (4/2018) @ 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

[VS]

2) Yaletown Small Batch BC Gin – Yaletown Distilling Company, 42.0% ABV – 375 ml., Vancouver, BC, $27 (11/2015) @ BCLiquor

  • 8 botanicals, including Italian juniper, West African grains of paradise, liquorice root, and bitter almonds.
  • hand numbered bottle and barrel as well as the the distiller’s name


Criteria:

Nose: VG this time around is lemon balm minty, slight alcohol detection, and mostly clean. There’s a subtle but evident rose petal presence. YT is very juniper-forward, nasal-tingly manageable alcohol detection. Pretty typical. When compared side-by-side, VG definitely comes across as more elegant and refined. VG it is.

Taste & Texture: VG is quite minty, with an alcoholic rose petal edge, background juniper and coriander, citrus oils, slow alcoholic heat, and a very aromatic star anise exhale. YT has significantly more heat from start to finish, big berry juniper base accompanied by initial soapiness, woody licorice, spicy grains of paradise, and cinnamon. Sipping one after another, it’s clear that VG is smoother even at a higher ABV, but YT has a tad bit more depth. Still, if I had to choose one to sip, it would be VG.


Final Notes:

  • Victoria Gin has a very pleasant lemon balm minty, rose petal with a star anise exhale profile. Very clean and smooth to sip, also dynamic in a cocktail
  • Yaletown Gin is an enjoyable juniper-forward gin with a mostly clean spicy grains of paradise and cinnamon character. This definitely hold up in a cocktail.
  • Victoria Gin is $7 cheaper ($47 vs $54 (2x$27)@ BCL)

Verdict: Victoria Gin, mainly because of it’s unique (and delicious) floral taste profile. Pair that with being clean and smooth and you have a potential long-time reigning champ, as evidenced by winning rounds 3-6. Yaletown Gin is by no means bad as everybody has their own flavour preferences.

Evergreen Ale – Phillips Brewing Co. (Victoria, BC, Canada)


TL:DR – “plain sweet barley malt with a bit of honey spruce. Not terribly exciting.”


Evergreen Ale (ale with spruce tips) – Phillips Brewing Company, 5.5% ABV, 650 ml., (Victoria, BC, Canada) (*local BC craft beer*)


on the front-right label:

“This beer is rooted in Vancouver Island tradition-literally. Just like the first beers brewed in BC by Captain Cook back in 1778, local hand-picked spruce tips give this coniferous ale a crisp pine flavour!”


  • Style: (spruce tips) Herb Ale
  • Taste: sweet grainy barley malt subtle spruce honey
  • Where I got it : 16th St. Liquor / W. Vancouver
  • How much: $5 CAD (after 10% off) – 650 ml., August 2012
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Recommended: no
  • What made an impression: clean and drinkable

Visual: (cellared for 6 years). Pours cloudy copper orange with a small dissipating 1mm head, a thin layer of retention, suspended bits of sediment, just a few bubbles here and there – not much.

Nose: honey-toffee malt, green sprucey overtones – very inviting. (lvl-7)-pungency

Attack: soft crisp, airy-green, spruce bitter undertones

Mid-palate: (lvl-3-sweetness), bready sweet barley malt, honey, more subtle spruce, subtle tart

Finish: off-dry grainy malt, candy toffee exhale.

Summary: Too bad it doesn’t taste as inviting as it smells. Mostly sweet malt with a bit of spruce nuance, it drinks rather straightforward and basic. A bit above average, but not something I’d keep on my hard drive.

Apricot Dessert Wine 2009 – Elephant Island Winery (Naramata, BC, Canada)

  • My Rating: [C+]

TL:DR – “rounded apricot-plum flavour, but tangy sourness sweetness tires the palate”


Apricot Dessert Wine 2009, 9% ABV – 375 ml., (Naramata, British Columbia, Canada) (*local BC fruit wine*


  • Style: (Apricot) Dessert fruit wine
  • Taste:
  • Where I got it : Newport Liquor / Port Moody
  • How much: $23 CAD –375 ml., May 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: No
  • Recommended: no
  • What made an impression: huge fruity sourness

Visual: (cellared for 9 years). Pours slightly hazy dull copper brown, a few bubbles along the perimeter.

Nose:  (lvl-2)-pungency

Attack: big sour, medium tart, juicy entry

Mid-palate: rich sour apricot, japanese plum, controlled (lvl-7-sweetness), tangy-soft acidic sour

Finish: residual sugars and tang

Summary: Lots of sourness and tanginess in this one, medium bodied with decent complexity. The flavour is mostly clean but after sipping this without a meal, the sourness becomes a bit harsh and the sweetness too candy-like. A bit above average.