Darkness Russian Imperial Stout 2014 (Aged 1 Year) – Surly Brewing Co


From Brooklyn Center Minnesota’s Surly Brewing Co comes their “Darkness” Russian Imperial Stout 2014.  The 2014 edition was barrel aged in High West Rye Whiskey barrels for 4-6 months.  To acquire a bottle of this beer you have to either attend the breweries event Darkness Days or be lucky enough to trade for a bottle (and I have never been to Minnesota)!  The beer poured an opaque black colour with a brown head.  The aroma consisted of chocolate, caramel, toffee, vanilla, oak, whiskey, sweetness and alcohol.  The flavour is of toffee, creamy milk chocolate, caramel, vanilla, burnt malts, earth, coffee, brown sugar, oak, whiskey with a boozy finish.  The alcohol content comes in at 10.3%.  The beer is worth the hype!  If I had the money and the time off I would have loved to go to Minnesota for the Darkness days this year on October 24th, 2015.  This is one huge beer in flavour and in alcohol content and I would love to drink it again if somehow possible.

Commercial Description:  The legendary Harpy tortured unwary travelers by stealing their precious food and drink.  This year’s cruel creature defends her cauldron of Darkness with razor claws and a dead stare of malevolence.  Don’t mess with her Darkness.  She’s hoarding this massively opaque barrel aged Stout screaming with notes of chocolate, coffee, dried tart cherries, vanilla, rye Whisky and raisins.  The thick body of this Russian Imperial Stout finishes sweet, with a piney resinous hop character.  Dar if you will to open this bottle and steal from the imagination of our 2014 Darkness artist, Erica Williams.

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Photo from Erica Williams website

Video From Surly Brewing on Darkness Days

Barley Wine – Persephone Brewing Company


From Persephone Brewing Company out of Gibsons BC comes their”Barley Wine” a 2014 Vintage ale and their first attempt at this style.  The beer pours a deep cloudy brown with a brown head.  The aroma consists of roasty malts, rasins, dark fruit and an overall sweetness.  The flavour is of dark fruits, rasins, sweetness, roasted malts, hops bitterness, and lots of alcohol warmth.  The alcohol content comes in at 11.9%.  Like most barley wines this beer needs some age still.  Very few breweries age theirs to make it more smooth due to lack of space.  If nothing else pick up a few bottles of this and age them for at least a year.  This will be great in a year!

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Barley Wine 2014 Vintage – Parallel 49 Brewing


From East Vancouver’s Parallel 49 Brewing comes their latest beer in their Barrel Aged series the “Barley Wine” 2014 Vintage.  The beer pours a cloudy brown colour with a tan head.  The aroma consists of sweet dark fruits, chocolate, caramel and some pretty big malts.  The flavour is of sweet dark fruits, chocolate, honey, caramel, malty, vanilla, oaky, hops bitterness and some alcohol warmth.  The alcohol content comes in at 11.8% with an IBU of 46.  This Barley Wine tastes different than most that I have tried but it is darn good!  I look forward to how this vintage ages over time and how subsequent versions taste.

Commercial Description:  The granddaddy of English ales, this beer pours a tawny amber and boasts a huge mat flavour. Aging in whiskey barrels for 10 months has added a woody vanilla note that will age beautifully. This beer begs to be cellared.

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Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine (2014 Vintage) – Central City Brewers & Distillers


From Central City Brewers & Distillers in Surrey comes their most anticipated beer of the year in “Thor’s Hammer Barley Wine” 2014 vintage.  This beer was released December 2014 and has been aged for a full year according to the bottle.  As Barley Wine’s often require a year to mature enough to be really drinkable it is a great thing that Central City cellars it for you.  The beer pours a Deep cloudy brown colour with an off white head.  The aroma consists of dark fruits, sweetness, sugar, malts and caramel.  The flavour is of dark fruits, sweet sugar, caramel, toffee, hops bitterness, pine and resin with some alcohol warmth in there also.  The alcohol content comes in at 11.5%.  This happens to be one of my all time favourite beers of all time.  This will get better with age but it is already amazing.

Commercial Description:  Matured for almost one year, mahogany in colour, this award-winning barley wine is crafted from fine barley malt exuding deep, rich notes of dried fruit, plum and candy with a walnut ester.

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Wooly Bugger Barleywine 2013, 2014 – Howe Sound Brewing (BC Beer Bloggers Local Winter Favourites Part 2, #3)


BC Beer Bloggers Local Winter Favourites – This special review is part of a multi-blog collaboration between five BC Beer Bloggers (including a guest from over the mountains in Alberta) where we each chose our top three local winter releases and are blogging about them. Please take a look at the bottom of this review for the other links to see all the beers we chose in no particular order and bookmark these sites so you can check them often.
West Coast Beer Geek

Winter beers are often higher in alcohol content and darker in colour.  With higher alcohol content comes the opportunity to age beer and see how they change over time.  With this in mind I got my hands on Howe Sound Brewing’s 2013 and 2014 vintages of their “Woolly Bugger Barelywine”.

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When I poured both beer side by side I did notice that the 2013 was slightly lighter in colour although both were a dark chestnut colour.  Much like the differences in colour the 2014 had a much more active and larger tan head than the 2013.

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Woolly Bugger Barleywine 2013 Vintage

The aroma consists of dark fruits, big malts, caramel and molasses.  The flavour is of dark fruits, big malts, caramel, molasses, some sweetness, pine and hops bitterness.  There is a hint of alcohol but more present as warmth.

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Woolly Bugger Barleywine 2014 Vintage

The aroma consists of dark fruits, sweet malts, caramel and some brown sugar.  The flavour is of dark fruits, big malts including caramel, brown sugar, sweetness, hops bitterness and pine.  This beer is still fairly hot with alcohol but it is still very drinkable.  It is obvious that this beer was fairly fresh with the high alcohol content.

Both Vintages of this beer come in at a big 10.5% alcohol by volume and an IBU of 75.  As both versions warm up the flavour builds and this is quite noticeable with the bitterness.  With a year of aging this beer looses a big chunk of its boozy nature and the malts take over.  Not every beer should be aged but when it comes to big winter ales like Barleywines it is almost better to buy a couple bottles and hold onto them for at least a year before consuming.

Commercial Description:  A rich, malty barley wine-style ale, with an intense the depth of flavour. Named for the Woolly Bugger wet fly, one of the most effective and widely used patterns in fly fishing. Brewed with pale, crystal, cara, chocolate and special B malts, Nugget, Fuggles and Golding hops, water and ale yeast.

Food Pairing as per brewery:  The malt & caramel flavours of this barley wine make it a great accompaniment with hearty meals and desserts and aged cheeses, nuts and winter specialties.

Awards for beer
2014 Bronze Medal in the North American Beer Awards
2013 Bronze Medal in the North American Beer Awards
2012 Gold Medal in the Canadian Brewing Awards
2011 Bronze Medal in the Canadian Brewing Awards

Participating Bloggers: be sure to check them daily, I’ll add in their links as they go up!

West Coast Beer Geek – A beer geeks perspective on craft beer, beer events, beer pairings and more.

Mike’s Craft Beer – Not for the weak of taste buds. Lots of great beer reviews, brewery reviews and events on this site.

Dennis the Foodie – Weaving a personal story of food and beer in Vancouver, BC. Very thorough food reviews, great photos and beer pairings.

Western Suds – An Alberta craft beer blog written by a craft beer enthusiast and ambassador for the growing Alberta craft beer scene.

Beer Rater – A beer guide without all the fluff, just some straight forward drinking advice.

How to stay tuned into what we are doing? Look for the hashtag #bcbeerbloggers as we will be using it a lot. Please engage us in conversations, enjoy our posts, try these beers and share our work if you like it.