Tree Hophead Double IPA (December 2008)
Claudio's review (December 10, 2008):
First the look...it pours beautifully. The beer's not overly carbonated as previous editions have been. The result is a beautiful, even sumptuous, head with the first hints of floral to come. Although unfiltered, the beer has a warm and inviting appeal to it and has nice clarity.
This beer has a tremendous subtlety in flavours. There's an inherent freshness, with the hops fairly popping through but at no point is it overwhelming, and this is where the mild but persistent floral nature comes through. Initially, there's a faint sweetness on the palate, perhaps a little caramel or molasses, that tempers the hops almost excessively. In an age of Dogfish extreme beer, and a race to create increasingly eye popping IPAs. The beer is good cold but actually comes across almost like a barley wine if drunk Guinness-cold. At no point does the elevated alcohol content impart any harshness, seeming instead to enhance the balance. The beer did seem to open up over 10-15 minutes due to a the higher alcohol content but remained smooth, if a little more floral, over those first few minutes.
All in all, this is Tree Brewing stepping up, trying to take the Hop Head more mainstream given that it is actually hoppier than the recent vintage of Granville Island (Vancouver) Whitecaps IPA, a reliable brewer that is hardly the paragon of leading edge beer making. This beer is lovely, surprisingly refined if a little timid, especially for the long time Hop Headers. Still, it's a worthy pour even though the threat was delivered with a velvet glove. 8.5/10.
Aidan's Review (December 13, 2008):
Tree have a winner here. There are 5 different hop varieties; however, Tree does not reveal what those five are, but we are on to it! This is a limited release, available only in single 650 ml bottles.
There is a rich, deep copper hue. The nose is as one would expect, all hops, but with no bitter notes. It is sweet and flowery, with a hint of citrus. The taste is so smooth. there is no acridity at all, as you get with many overly hopped beers. The sweetness fills your palate and the hops linger long and strong.
It's hard to believe this is an 8.0% ale. There is none of the highly alcohol notes (like an everclear depth charge in some 8.0% beers).
Big congratulations to Tree Brewing. Well done. The only downside is that it is only a limited release and it is already sold out or spoken for at almost all of the few stores that stock it. Drop us a line and we'll tell you where to get your bottle. You won't regret it! 8.5/10
Tree Spy Porter Review
Claudio's review (January 5, 2009)
Hot on the heels of the success of the limited release Double IPA, I thought that it was time to go see just how far this not-so-upstart brewery has come. Most N. American Porters are muddy and are a pudding mess on the tongue, alternating between too sweet, carbonated and harsh on the finish. The Spy Porter is a delight. Drinking cold, the beer is a refreshing complement to food, especially grilled/fatty meats, with the fresh barley peeking out and really carrying out the flavours of the meal (in this case, a decent pork roast) without being cloying or filling.
As it warms, there's a lovely cocoa overtone to it (not chocolate!) meaning that the there's no bitterness but like a nice Mexican mole sauce, an unexpected delight. Pairing this with a mild cheese might be a little much but a light chocolate mousse or maybe a chocolate Crème Brule would be a nice finish before switching to a little Cedar Creek "M" to round off the meal. A fine effort from a proud local brewery (we are all BC!) that seems to be on a nice upward track at the moment. 8.25/10.