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What I'm drinking tonight: From Chilliwack, B.C., Old Yale Brewing Co.'s "Devilfish" Single Malt & Single Hop IPA! 

Where most IPAs achieve their unique and complex tastes through careful, skillful blending of various varieties of hops and barley malt, Devilfish's pride is in its simplicity: The distinct flavours of the limited ingredients come through loud and clear as soloists in stark contrast to the hoppy harmonies found in most other pale ales.  Its simplicity is its prime selling point.

Pours with a thick, generous head to a medium amber (the brewer calls it "deep gold") colour, ever so slightly milky.  There are no flavour illusions created by hop blends here - Devilfish tastes of Ella hops and amber malt. 

It would seem a good choice for someone like me who has been sampling a lot of over-the-top wunderbiers lately and longs for a change of pace, a step back to simpler times, without resorting to a bland commercial beer. 

While generally enjoyable, I found that Devilfish does seem to have a flaw - during the evaluation I happened to burp several times - not uncommon when drinking beer, but this time the exiting gas had a rather unpleasant flavour resembling burnt plastic.  This could possibly be a reaction with something I had eaten earlier, or it could be the ale itself.  After noticing this, I took several careful sips but struggled to observe any of that unpleasant flavour with the beer actually on my tongue.

The bottle came with a cute little feature - a musical scale ruler printed on the label!  Drink the beer until its level reaches a note on the label, blow on the bottle and it will produce that note!  I tried this at the "G" gradation, using an instrument tuner app on my phone, and found that if I blew hard enough, it actually did come fairly close to "G"!  

My rating: 6/10.  Mostly tasty but the aftertaste in the burp gas persisted for over an hour after the last sip, that was the deal breaker for me.

5.5%abv, about $6.50 in the 650ml bomber shown.


Time for some fun! 

I have not seen a beer label that says "Party on eh!" like tonight's sip, Parallel 49 Brewing's "Toques of Hazzard!"

An Imperial White ale, Toques pours with a thin head to a pale golden colour.  Right away the first thing you notice is that this is very much an IPA; it's a veritable a-hopalypse!  If the hop blend was perhaps a little better chosen, this could have been an epic brew, but the hops are a bit overdone in Toques, leaving it tasting like a bit too much Hop Drop was poured into a cheaper beer.  Mercifully, the hop overload subsides quickly and is less noticeable on subsequent sips.  Or maybe that's the high alcohol content clouding my faculties.  Maybe <conspiracytheory>that's the intent.</conspiracytheory>

I love IPAs, so it take a lot for me to say a beer is over the top in hops.  But here we are.

At 9.2%abv it's a powerful brew, though, and it won't take much before you find yourself driving an orange Zamboni around too!  I had just one and was definitely not fit to drive when I finished it.  So enjoy responsibly.

My rating: 7.5/10.  Parallel 49 is a has many exceptionally well-conceived products, and Toques is not a bad beer.  But it seems to try too hard, and the result is just shy of their usual standard.


A few months ago, I tried a new, apparently limited-time offering from Driftwood Brewery, makers of my beloved Fat Tug IPA.

This limited offering was "Obscuritas" Dark Sour, and I had found myself pleasantly surprised, a risk rewarded with a liquid treat to which I would award a 9/10 rating!

Now, Driftwood has followed up the Dark Sour concept with a Wheat Sour.  As those close to me know, I am not a fan of wheat beers at all.  I have reviewed only a couple of them with checkered results.  So if the sour Obscuritas was a gamble that paid off, then surely the same concept applied to a style of beer I don't even like would be the ultimate test!

Pouring De Auras, I found a rich-looking, somewhat reddish medium amber comestible that was just a little darker than wheat beers I have tried before.  The head, generous at first, dissipated quickly.  I then caught a whiff of the signature nose of wheat beers but... was there something else?  It smelled peaty, like it had aged in a wooden cask.  The brewer's website offers no real information about this beer save for a brief story which follows this review, so no help there. 

Then I took a sip, and found myself whisked back in time a few months to when I tried De Auras' elder sibling, the enigmatic Obscuritas Dark Sour.  De Auras is almost the same drink!  Lighter than Obscuritas, peaty and yes, wheaty, but the main thrust here - the driving beat in the dance tune that is De Auras - is the sour, not-lemon-but-definitely-citrus main event!  Again, like Obscuritas, this is not a gratuitously acidic drink, but it has a bite and a pH level noticeably lower than most beers! 

There is a point, of course, where a drink (be it beer, wine, or spirits) becomes so acidic that it is basically vinegar.  Some might argue that a brew that sets out to be sour risks crossing the line.  But I don't think that has happened here.  Driftwood has tiptoed up to the line between awesome and failed-chemistry-experiment, looked out into the abyss, and fully understood the consequences of going an inch further.  This must have been an incredibly challenging product to get just right!

Like Obscuritas, the citrus emphasis of De Auras makes for a refreshing, best-served-cold drink for warm weather.  Its fall release was, in my opinion, ill-timed -- June would have been a better month than November for De Auras.  Being a considerably lighter beer than Obscuritas, which I had already pegged as a surprise refresher, only serves to underscore De Auras' need to be enjoyed in warmer months than this one (November)!

And the wheat factor?  Not a factor for me in this sip.  I enjoyed it every bit as much as Obscuritas, possibly a bit more because it is a lttle less sweet - that had been Obscuritas' only real demerit.  My rating: 9.5/10!

6.5%abv, $11.30 in the 650ml bomber shown here.

If in a golden field a wanderer should appear as from the air, beware. Harvest is upon, the sickle raised, and through the haze, his sour leer. As quickly as the winged pilgrim travels near from nowhere, shall your spirit melt into thin, thin air.

This is all the information there is on Driftwood's website about De Auras.

"If in a golden field a wanderer should appear as from the air, beware. Harvest is upon, the sickle raised, and through the haze, his sour leer. As quickly as the winged pilgrim travels near from nowhere, shall your spirit melt into thin, thin air."


It must be that time of the year, when the weather turns frightful, people stay in, and the beer store gets busy!  "What I'm Drinking Tonight" is well on its way to becoming a nightly feature, at this rate.

Tonight's sip was purchased as part of a seasonal variety pack from Okanagan Springs, and it's a flavour I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have discovered without OSB's decision to bundle it with some of their other lesser known flavours.

Opaque black in colour, with a thin white head, Chili Porter has the nose of a traditional porter - dark, heavy, rich.  I was prepared for a spicy assault but the chili is actually very subtle -- the first taste I noticed was a heavy peaty note, evoking a good scotch whisky.  Then the chili, which never really came on very strongly, and that's probably for the best.  It is, after all, a porter with a taste complex of its own and would hold up well on its own merits without the spice.

6.5%abv in 341ml bottles.  My rating: 8/10.


From Mill St. Brewery in the centre of the universe (Toronto), comes a seasonal signature brew: Tankenstein!

What struck me first about this bottle, before I even grabbed it from the beer store shelf, was the 750ml bottle with a waxed potstopper!  The wax was harder to break than I expected but that's how you know you've got an untampered seal, so it's all good.

Medium-dark amber in colour and a modest, white head. 

Perhaps its greatest surprise is the flavour curve.  The first sip starts out with a massive onslaught of citrus - Valencia orange or perhaps grapefruit, that was so strong that I actually looked for "orange" in the ingredients, but it was not to be found.  That's just a really good illusion created by the careful selection and use of hops.  Mercifully, the citrus overload backs off very soon after and you are left with a gently floral taste and feel, akin to lavender.  Quite hoppy but not terribly bitter. 

Indeed, after the brief fireworks show of hops subsides, you are left with a smooth, somewhat uneventful but highly drinkable sip (not too full-bodied, just enough!) that will leave you wanting more, but it's done.  Great start, but the finish is so smooth it's almost a let-down.  Almost.  Really there is nothing disappointing about Tankenstein!

7.5%abv, and reasonably priced for a larger-than-bomber specialty brew at about $8 for the bottle. 

Really, the only demerit was that the finish doesn't match the start, other than that, it's really really well made, enjoyable, and well worth the extra buck or two.

My rating: 8.75 (yes, eight and three quarters!) out of 10. 

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