Vancouver Island Brewing Hermannator Ice Bock (2013 – Collector’s Edition)

 

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This week I had the pleasure of discussing Vancouver Island Brewing Company‘s Hermannator Ice Bock with Jeff Kendrew, a sales rep from VIB and Certified Cicerone.  Jeff has been working in the beer industry for five years, four of those with Vancouver Island.  A multiple-award winning beer, Hermannator has been bestowed with the following prestigious honours;

  • Best of Show 2013 BC Beer Awards
  • Gold Medal 2013 BC Beer Awards
  • Gold Medal 2013 World Beer Championships
  • Gold Medal 2012 BC Brewing Awards
  • Gold Medal 2011 Canadian Brewing Awards
  • Gold Medal 2010 World Beer Championships

Hermannator has been brewed seasonally every year since 1987, when it was originally brewed in a small batch as a gift to friends and family.  Over the past 27 years the recipe has remained largely unchanged and has become a fixture amongst the Beer Illuminati in B.C.  Herman Hoerter was the brewmaster at VIB at the time and wanted to brew something traditional from his German roots, so an Ice Bock was chosen.  After  leaving Vancouver Island and passing down some legendary recipes, Herman eventually returned to Germany and even spent a few years brewing for the Bavarian Royal Family.  He’s still around, doing contract brewing occasionally, and remains deeply involved in the world of beer.

Ice bocks are a unique type of dark lager that begin with a massive load of malt relative to the amount of water.  This creates a mash so heavy that the brewer’s are cautious of the strain being put on their mash tun for fear that it could damage their equipment!  Once the brewing process is done the beer is just below water-freezing temperatures for three months which creates more starchable sugars for the yeast to turn into alcohol but it also lends itself to a smoother flavour which is why you don’t get a hot boozy nose from a 9.5 ABV beer.  Using the same lager-yeast used in VIB’s other lagers, this creates the necessary bottom-fermentation Hermannator needs to get the yeast attacking those sugars, although the process is significantly longer for this ice bock.

Did you know that bocks are often given a name with “ator” at the end as a way to pay homage to the original Doppelbock which was named “Salvator” by the monks who brewed it?  Now you do.

In the past this beer underwent minor filtering, however this year it was completely 100% unfiltered.  Also new to 2013 is the 650ml bomber bottle in a beautifully wax-sealed black on black bottle for those who choose to cellar this bottle for future enjoyment in hopes that aging this beer will allow the beer to develop new characteristics.  Jeff told me that he has known some who have aged Hermannators for as long as five years, but I bet there are a few older ones out there somewhere!

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Whether you are having it fresh or aging it for years, the Hermannator is best served in a snifter or tulip glass to focus the heavenly aroma.  Enjoy this beer at approximately ten degrees Celsius to ensure you are getting the full experience of all it has to offer.  If you want to try a simple experiment, try a small sample of this beer at a colder temperature, then wait a few minutes to let it warm.  Try it again at the warmer temperature and notice the difference between the complexity in taste.

 

Without divulging any secrets, Jeff assured me that Vancouver Island Brewery would certainly be doing something special for their upcoming 30th anniversary in 2014.   We’ll have to wait until Spring to find out more including details about a special 30th anniversary beer!

 

ABV: 9.5

My rating: 5/5

 

 

 

 

Spinnakers Festive Saison

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Throw your preconceived notions of beer styles away and simply pour this beer into a glass and enjoy it. Thumbing it’s nose at conformity is this Black Saison released in December with a heap of ginger. Saisons are supposed to be crispy white aren’t they? And released in the spring, right? And ginger?  GINGER?!?! Does it really exist???

Yes Victoria, as certainly as love for great beer, generosity of your fellow beer drinker and devotion to quality, locally-produced craft beer made by people with passion exists and you know that they abound here in the Beer-Capital of Canada and give love to the fruits of their labour, there is a Black Saison with Ginger.

As complex as this beer may be, it remains highly quaffable. Grab some soon and drop it into the stocking of someone you love.

ABV: 5.5%
IBU: 20
My rating: 4/5

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Birra Amiata Bastarda Rossa (The Red Bastard)

Birra Amiata Bastarda Rossa (The Red Bastard)

This spiced ale from Tuscany, Italy pleasantly exudes chestnuts prominently along with earthy herbal tones, nutmeg, yeasty esters and Thrifty’s Chipmunk Bread. Pours an effervescent slightly off-white head, micro-bubbly and holds for a fortnight. Savour this one in front of an open-fire or the Holiday Fire Channel in a pinch. Serve in a goblet or tulip and pair with sourdough and spinach dip, Kalamata olives, Gouda or hummus and naan.

A very sweet clerk at Six-Mile Liquor Store asked me to give her a full review, so here you go.

ABV: 6.5%
My rating: 4.0/5

Four Winds Brewing Company Wildflower Saison

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The spices and earthiness in this Saison have taken a sidestep to let the chamomile and elderflowers share the limelight. Combining an effervescence that you can hear with a beautiful white Belgian lace, a gentle flowery nose and a calmingly smooth and slighty fruity taste make this a truly multi-sensory pleasing beer.

ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 30
My Rating: 4/5

BrewDog Abstrakt Imperial Brown Ale (aged in red wine barrels)

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From a brewery who knows a thing or two about big beer is this monumental beer. Aged in 600L fresh red wine barrels from Spain in 2012 this beer imparts exceptional flavours and packs a hefty uppercut to your thinkin’ box.

Hot liquor nose with vanilla and roasted almonds. Definitely tastes boozy, but not 11.5. Nutella and spiced black rum. Worth every penny.

ABV: 11.5
My rating: 5/5