Thursday, 29 November 2012

Triple Threat >> Scottish Ale / IPA / Winter Ale

I'm not sure how many people actually venture beyond their comfort zone when they drink their beer, but I decided to try three new brews in the same night!  I was at a tap house in West Vancouver, when I found the Whistler Brewing Co. "Valley Trail Chestnut Ale", the Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Co. "Devil's Elbow IPA", and the Storm Brewing Ltd. "Highland Scottish Ale".

Here's a pic I snapped, realizing I should take a picture before I end up with a picture of 3 empty glasses.

Let's start off with that Highland Scottish Ale (5% Alc, far right in picture) :

I wasn't quite sure what to expect, seeing as I've never really had a local Scottish Ale before.  The smell caught me off guard as I detected what seemed to be ginger emerging from within the beer. It also smelled like yeast, so I wasn't eager to down it.

The first sip wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Immediately I was put off by its average body, taste, and bitterness. It had a bit of nutty flavour to it, but aside from that, this beer is as average as the top of the bell curve in an E.S.L. class.

The "Highland Scottish Ale" gets a mediocre 6 / 10.

Moving on to the Devil's Elbow IPA (5.7% Alc, centre in picture):

There was a little more to be excited about with a new Howe Sound brew getting a go at my taste buds. I've been thoroughly impressed at the quality of the brews that have come out of their brewery in Squamish, and this IPA is pretty solid.  Through the first sniff I could smell citrus-y scents and even a hint of caramel.

The flavour transforms in this one from bitter to a very slight hint of caramel. Then the hops dominate the flavour until the citrus and what appears to be pine (yeah, weird) take over.  It's a weird and new after-taste, but not weird in a good way. I'm sure it would appeal to others, but the after taste brings down the score by half a point.

The "Devil's Elbow IPA" gets a good 7.5 / 10

And now the grand finale -- the Valley Trail Chestnut Ale (5% Alc, far left in picture):

This was definitely the black sheep of the beer tastings. From the first sniff of this beer, I was taken aback. The scent of sweetness and caramel and all things involving caramel-like sweets filled my mind. If there was ever a smell of a dessert beer -- it's this one.

As I tilted my glass back and let the beer gift my taste buds with its taste, the look on my face was priceless (according to my girlfriend). She immediately wanted a sip after smelling it, and she looked like her jaw was going to hit the table if it dropped any lower! The beer tastes like "Brandy-filled chocolates", and no kidding about that.

There are hints of vanilla, chocolate, caramel, almonds, pecans, chestnuts (duh), and so much more, I don't even know how to describe it more in words! You taste a lot of caramel with this beer, along with vanilla, and roasted chestnuts. This is honestly a dessert beer that I could drink forever. Reminds me a little bit of those tootsie roll pops, but better.

This is the absolute best winter ale I've ever had.

The "Valley Trail Chestnut Ale" gets an exceptional 9.5 / 10.

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