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A Six-Pack of Beer Reviews

WR barrelaged porterI have fallen behind in my reviews of recent prairie beer. It is a consequence of my busy life, I am afraid. So, in an attempt to catch up quickly, I am going to offer a post with a handful of capsule reviews. They don’t have as much detail as normal, but do reflect the notes I took while sampling. I offer them in no particular order.

 Wild Rose Barrel-Aged Cherry Porter

This limited release a month or so ago took the past winter’s Cherry Porter and aged it in bourbon barrels. It produces an inky black beer with a dense tan head. The aroma is of  musty dark cherry, sherry, slight burnt wood and chocolate, suggestive hints of bourbon. The flavour starts with sweet cherry and wood upfront, along with dark chocolate and a hint of burnt something. Middle brings a tart sourness and a woody slickness. Finish is moderately sweet countered by a tart linger. Cherry and chocolate with a lactic tinge. Bourbon is present but subdued. The wood eats away at the beer’s body, meaning it is thinner than the original, thus pushing the cherry character even more to the front. A bit unbalanced for me, but a worthwhile effort.

Alley Kat Jade Dragon

The latest in their Dragon Series, this one made exclusively with Citra hops. Like the others, it is light gold with a rocky white head that deposits notable lacing on the glass. The aroma is dominated by grapefruit, passionfruit, sweet citrus and a soft biscuit malt base. I quite like the aroma with this one – that classic fruity citrus character from Citra. The start of the taste is biscuit, soft sugar and hints of honey. The hop builds quickly. Big flavour of citrus, grapefruit and sweeter citrus fruit. Bitterness is not intense, but very flavourful. Body is medium, maybe a bit light for a DIPA. The classic Citra flavour and bitterness is the accent of this beer.

BR rosemarinusBig Rock Rosemarinus

Grant Big Rock points for pure determination here. Rosemary in beer. That takes some big courage. And it works much better than I had feared. It is a medium copper beer with not much head (due to low level of hopping?) and quietly carbonated. The aroma has a soft, earthy rosemary overlaying a biscuity, toffee malt aroma. Very clean beer allowing the rosemary to shine through. A gentle malt sweetness starts the flavour, accented by honey, light toffee as well as some generic fruitiness. Quite clean in the beginning. In the middle the rosemary begins to build, adding a soapy, floral, earthy character to the beer. The flavour itself never gets beyond an accent, but the rosemary does seem to alter the overall impression of the beer, cutting the sweet without bitter and sharpening the palate. I suspect there is a low level of hop in there, too, but not enough to alter the surface impression, just to give it a traditional beer balance. The rosemary is fascinating, but could they have gone a bit further with the base beer? Were they afraid of being too “out there”? This beer is very, very clean and subtle. I imagine this could be a good beer to cook with.

Wild Rose Gose Rider

Wild Rose’s first attempt at the rare German Gose style. It is deeply hazy with a consistent, medium white head. It has a lemony, citrus tart aroma with a hint of minerally character.  The front is lemon and sweetgrass with some mustiness. The middle sharpens noticeably into a tart tang. A moderate salt note literally lies along the side.  Some fruitiness manages to hang in there as well. The finish is tart with an accent of salt. The salt is not overdone, but is quite noticeable without tasting like the outside of a pretzel. The blend of tart and salt is interesting. I can’t say with any credibility how this stacks up to a traditional interpretation, but it is a refreshing, tart beer that is neither witbier nor lambic nor kolsch, but all in one.

Great Western Brewing Original 16 Copper

The follow-up to Great Western’s successful Original 16, commemorating yukon_belgiangothicsaisonthe 16 people who saved the Saskatoon plant from closure. As the name suggests, it is dark copper with a pock-marked white head that drops some lacing. The aroma is subdued, offering just a bit of light caramel and toffee surrounding light graininess. The first taste is sweet with caramel, demerara sugar, toffee and a bit of biscuit. The middle offers some richer malt, almost bread-y. The finish is sweet but not cloying. The beer sharpens up just a bit at the end. A decent copper ale that doesn’t conform to any particular style (which is fine) – much like an Irish Red but a bit lighter. A good alternative for those you are trying to wean off of Rickard’s Red.

Yukon Belgian Gothic Saison

Last but not least is Yukon’s latest A.D.D. beer, a traditional Saison. It pours medium gold with a tiny haze and builds a loose white head that lays a consistent blanket. The aroma leans toward sweet citrus with only a hint of pepper. The first sip accents grainy sweetness and citrus. In the middle some light fruit and a honey touch emerge. The lemon returns closer to the end, with a subtle tartness coming up the rear. Very summery and refreshing, this beer accents more the tart lemon ctirus of the style rather than pepper. I would have liked a bit more pepper, but the lemony note is quite attractive. It may also be a bit sweet for style.

There you have it. I am fully aware there are a few other beer I haven’t gotten around to yet. I hope to in the coming days.

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