En Blanc (Barley Wine) Cellared 10 Months – Steel & Oak Brewing


From New Westminster’s Steel & Oak Brewing comes their “En Rouge (Barley Wine)” a Barley Wine aged in Chardonnay Barrels.  This beer was cellared for 10 Months after beeing aquired on November 10, 2016.  The beer pours a deep red almost brown with a tan head.  The aroma consists of dark fruits, mild chardonnay, sweetness and almost a candi sugar finish.  The flavour is of dark fruits, toffee, caramel, roasted malts, coconut, oak, chardonnay and grapes in general, leather, hint of bitterness and a mild lingering alcohol bite.  The alcohol content comes in at 10% with an IBU of 15.  Now that the Chardonnay is stepping back a bit I really enjoy this one not being a wine fan.

Commercial Description: En Blanc and En Rouge are the same 10% abv barley wine fermented with wine yeast, and aged for a year in Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon barrels respectively. En Blanc is described as having notes of “vanilla, coconut, apricot, peach, molasses and fruitcake with a touch of citrus,” while En Rouge offers “black currant, dark cherry, leather, tobacco, plum and dates.”

Original review

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Boris Russian Imperial Stout Cellared 1+ Year – Strange Fellows Brewing


From Strange Fellows Brewing Company in East Vancouver comes their “Boris Russian Imperial Stout” the first ever bottled release from the brewery.  This beer was a collaboration with Brasserie Trois Dames from Switzerland brewed November 2014 and held in bourbon barrels until March 2016.  This bottle I opened in January 2017 which makes it 1 year and 2 months old since its bottling date.  The beer pours a black opaque colour with a brown head.  The aroma consists of roasted malts, ash, chocolate, toffee, vanilla and oak.  The flavour is of ash, burnt malts, roasted coffee, chocolate, toffee, vanilla, oak, bitterness and some alcohol.  The alcohol content comes in at 9.5%.  If you can find a bottle of this beer I would recommend picking it up as it is tasting really good right now.

Commercial Description:  Swift & Silent, owl glides through the dark, his screech believed to portend death & misfortune.  Some revere him as a messenger of the spirit world, an oracle of secret knowledge.  Inspired by owl’s omniscience this barrel-aged stout penetrates the inky depths of the soul, illuminating unseen truths.  A collaboration with Brasserie Trois Dams in Nov 2014, this was one of our very frist brews & has aged in Bourbon barrels ever since, developing a deep, dark, rich smoothness & leathery aroma.

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Olde School Barleywine (Aged 2 years) – Dogfish Head Brewery


From Milton, Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery comes their “Olde School Barleywine”.  This bottle was brewed around January 2015 and consumed January 2017  The beer pours a deep chestnut brown colour with an off white head.  The aroma consists of dates, figs, brown sugar, toffee, syrup and earth.  The flavour is of dates, figs, dark fruits, brown sugar, toffee, treacle, sweetness, earth, bitterness and alcohol.  The alcohol content comes in at 15% with an IBU of 85.  At 15% this is a huge beer but it is also very tasty and not as boozy as you would expect.  If you can find this buy a few bottles.

Commercial Description: Fermented with dates and figs, this smooth barleywine has a unique flavor.  The concept for this beer came from an old cellerman’s manual Sam came across (for more on that, check out the video below).  At about 15% ABV, this beer is a great candidate for aging. Over time, the beer dries out and the pit fruit flavors come forward and the hops recede. Our recommendation? Grab a few bottles when you find it — enjoy one now, and age the others for a bit. Let us know which you prefer!  For more on the Olde School Barleywine (and our potential Olympic bid… yeah, there really is no connection, but it is in here anyway!), check out our Quick Sip Clip.

Food pairing as per the brewery:  Almond-stuffed dates, pumpernickel, tart cherries, Blue cheese with honey.

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Mad Bruin (Sour Brown Ale) Cellared 4 years – Driftwood Brewing


From Driftwood Brewing out of Victoria BC comes their “Mad Bruin Sour Brown Ale” the second release in their Birds of Pray series.  I have cellared this bottle for just over 4 years.  This beer was aged in oak barrels for 16 months.  This beer pours a deep redish brown colour with a tan head.  The aroma consists of dark fruits, cherry, oak yeast and sweetness.  The flavour is of cherries, dark fruits, huge oak notes, tartness, vinegar notes, earth and some alcohol.  The tartness seems to have really picked up over the 4 years this beer has been in my cellar.  While I liked this beer when it was first released back in 2012 it has aged very well and has upped its game.  I am sad this is the last bottle I had of this beer.

Commercial description:  This Belgian style, Oud Bruin (Old Brown), was aged in oak barrels for 16 months and then blended with a  young ale for a unique profile of delicate malt, acidity and oak ageing. Mad Bruin will continue to develop more complexity with cellaring.

Original review.

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Woolly Bugger Barley Wine – 2014 Limited Edition – Howe Sound Brewing, Squamish, BC


I want to start off and say that this 75 IBU, 10.5 % ABV craft beer is delicious after being aged for nearly a year and a half.

I first bought this beer back in early 2015. As a fan of Howe Sound Brewing craft beers, I knew that I had to pick it up. I’ve tried Barley Wines prior to this and do like them. I wanted to try one that Howe Sound brews.  I also have to admit that the bottle itself had one of the nicest designs I’ve ever seen. As an outdoor enthusiast in addition to being a craft beer fan, I liked the story it had to tell.

The description says that it’s “A rich, malty barley wine-style ale, with an intense depth of flavour. Named for the Woolly Bugger wetfly or streamer which is fished under the water surface. It is widely used for both freshwater and saltwater fish and is generally considered to be one of the best to have in any fly box”.

I also liked the illustration of an outdoor enthusiast fishing in an unnamed and from what I presume, a BC stream. It makes me think that this would be a perfect sipping beer to warm up with next to a campfire after a long day of fishing. So, it was something I could relate to.

As for the beer itself, I was very impressed with this English Style Barley-wine. I would say it`s very complex and well balanced. Hints of chocolate notes, hop bitterness, hop sweetness, malty and warm…. Nice aromatics. The ingredients include pale, crystal, cara, chocolate and special B malts. Hops include nugget, fuggles and golding. Ale yeast is used too. Awesome job Howe Sound Brewing. I give this nicely crafted beer 5 out of 5.

By Adam Leavitt