Evil Twin Brewing The Art of Mixing a Beer: Blood Orange Margarita – American Double / Imperial IPA at 8% ABV

Evil Twin Brewing The Art of Mixing a Beer: Blood Orange Margarita – American Double / Imperial IPA at 8% ABV (C$7.56 at Collective, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 13-Feb-2020, reviewed 14-Feb-2020)

Appearance: hazy particulate-laden medium gold with two fingers of fluffy pale ivory head, excellent retention and moderate soapy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: orange juice and peel, tropical fruit, caramel, floral. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, juicy moderate bitter mildly warming finish. (4/5)

No date code, unless “ETBOM1-A1” follows some obscure pattern I’ve not encountered before. Why, oh why, do brewers not want you to know how old a beer is? I’m assuming the particulate is blood orange pulp, given the emphatic orange character, but I suppose it wouldn’t be the first chunky-style beer I’ve seen… or drunk… I’m a bit confused by the name, too, because there’s no margarita character I can discern – more like an industrial-strength Radler. All in all, it seems to be flailing about in all directions at once. Not bad, but not great. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery Freakshow Crush – American IPA at 6.3% ABV

Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery Freakshow Crush – American IPA at 6.3% ABV (C$4.18 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 22-Jan-2020, acquired 13-Feb-2020, reviewed 14-Feb-2020)

Appearance: opaque straw with one fat finger of rocky white head, excellent retention and moderate chunky lacing. (4/5) Aroma: juicy citrus, tropical fruit, pale crackery malt, melon, hint of dank pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry moderate bitter finish. (4/5)

The can is festooned with any number of let-your-freak-flag-fly encouragements, all pretty much boiling down to “Normal is weird”, but the bottom of the can contains the best text of all: “Jan/22/2020”. Three weeks old? Sweet! Flying Monkeys are probably one of the first craft breweries I became familiar with, so it’s nice to see them embracing new(er) styles with aplomb (unlike some of the old guard who seem to actively resent them). Yeah, it could stand to be a little juicier, and the bitterness just starts to hint at astringency in the finish, but overall it’s a solid example of the style. And yes, normal is weird. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

New Level Brewing Guava Lord – American IPA at 5% ABV | 30 IBU

New Level Brewing Guava Lord – American IPA at 5% ABV | 30 IBU (C$4.41 at Collective, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 13-Feb-2020, reviewed 13-Feb-2020)

Appearance: slightly dirty opaque pale gold with a thin fizzy head that retains poorly, no lacing. (2/5) Aroma: tropical fruit (guava), citrus, caramel, light chilli pepper. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart, mild peppery spice. (7/10) Palate: medium body tending slightly thin, moderate-lively carbonation, sweetish short duration moderate bitter lingering spicy finish. (3/5)

I don’t want to be too hard on this, because it’s genuinely refreshing. I particularly like the hint of chilli pepper, which can be so hard to get right – too little and it’s lost, too much and it grows until it overwhelms. But, man, it’s ugly, and the thinnish body and lively carbonation don’t match well with the flavours. Much like the base Haze Lord, I think the aroma and overall experience would benefit from a thicker body and maybe a slightly higher ABV. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Blindman Brewing Belgian Dark Strong Age in Port Barrels – Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 9.7% ABV

Blindman Brewing Belgian Dark Strong Age in Port Barrels – Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 9.7% ABV (C$14.76 at Collective, 500 ml, packaged on 25-Jan-2020, acquired 24-Jan-2020, reviewed 10-Feb-2020)

Appearance: clear ruby brown with a large fizzy loose beige head, good retention and moderate chunky lacing. (3/5) Aroma: tawny port, raisins, field berries, oak, brown sugar, ginger, spices. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, moderate tart. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-lively carbonation, off-dry medium tart warming finish. (4/5)

Any beer with this big an ABV can’t help but be a bit of a beast, but it’s actually less boozy than I expected it be. Lots of port character, though, along with raisin sweetness and berry tartness. Had to ding the appearance score, though, for the loose fizzy head and the gusher upon decapping. (The relatively light body and higher than normal carbonation could just as easily be a basis for a lower score, especially since but really none of this issues is a big problem so I decided not to over-penalize.) (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Yellowhead Brewery x Tool Shed Brewing Rococo Rose Saison – Saison at 6.8% ABV

Yellowhead Brewery x Tool Shed Brewing Rococo Rose Saison – Saison at 6.8% ABV (C$3.60 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 30-Oct-2019, acquired 24-Jan-2020, reviewed 3-Feb-2020)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with one finger of fine white head, good retention and moderate stringy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grape must, spices, field berries, light funk. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, light bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-lively carbonation, off-dry medium tart finish. (3/5)

The can says it’s a “Rose” Saison, but I assume that since it’s made with shiraz and zinfandel grape musts, they mean it’s a “Rosé”. Not that it looks much like that – there’s no pink or red in its colour at all – but flavour-wise, sure, white and red wine characters are there. A bit heavy for a Saison, but decent enough overall. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Canmore Brewing Company 3rd Double IPA – American Double / Imperial IPA at 6.5% ABV

Canmore Brewing Company 3rd Double IPA – American Double / Imperial IPA at 6.5% ABV (C$4.18 at Collective, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 24-Jan-2020, reviewed 3-Feb-2020)

Appearance: hazy pale amber with a short fine ivory head diminishing to a thick persistent cap, soapy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: caramel, wet cardboard, stewed fruits, acetone. (4/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (5/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, medium bitter fruity finish. (3/5)

I think I got an oxidized can. Brewer says “Hop forward with a bit of a fruity finish.” but I got malt, wet cardboard, and a hint of nail polish remover. A disappointing sink pour. (10/20)

5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Ecliptic Brewing Sixth Orbit Anniversary Release Hazy Plum IPA – American IPA at 8.5% ABV | 60 IBU

Ecliptic Brewing Sixth Orbit Anniversary Release Hazy Plum IPA – American IPA at 8.5% ABV | 60 IBU (C$9.81 at Collective, 500 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 24-Jan-2020, reviewed 3-Feb-2020)

Appearance: slightly hazy but heavily particulate-laden pale amber with two fingers of rocky pale ivory head, excellent retention and moderate soapy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: stone fruit, tropical fruit, citrus, caramel pine. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter slightly astringent finish. (3/5)

I dunno about “hazy” plum IPA – more like “chunky style”, if you ask me. Seriously, we’re not talking flakes, here, these bad boys have dimensions. Hell, I swear I could chew some of them, and I had to short pour to prevent the worst of the chunks entering the glass. I realize that’s a risk when working with fruit, but maybe they should either have filtered, or gone with a hazier yeast to hide those particular sins? There’s also a hint of astringency coming from the stone fruit, especially in the finish. On the up side, the stone fruit / plum flavour is well integrated with the tropical fruit and citrus from the hops, and the sweetness is restrained despite the emphatic fruit notes. It’s not without its charms, but overall it falls short in a lot of ways. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Against the Grain Brewery Clearly Everybody Wants Some Hazy Boi IPA – American IPA at 7.2% ABV

Against the Grain Brewery Clearly Everybody Wants Some Hazy Boi IPA – American IPA at 7.2% ABV (C$6.03 at Collective, 473 ml, best before 25-Sep-2020, acquired 24-Jan-2020, reviewed 2-Feb-2020)

Appearance: hazy medium gold with one fat finger of rocky white head diminishing gradually to a thick persistent cap, moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, tropical fruit, caramel, stone fruit, grass & pine. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, short duration mild bitter finish. (3/5)

The label calls this a “vicious display of conformity”, and I’m inclined to believe that all jokes aside they only grudgingly went with this style. That grudging attitude shows in the sort-of-but-not-really haze level, as well as the barely-beats-out-the-malt level of hopping. All in all, it’s fine, but not even close to the juiciness and hop dominance I like to see in the style. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bowen Island Brewing Main Sail ISA – Session IPA at 4.3% ABV | 40 IBU

Bowen Island Brewing Main Sail ISA – Session IPA at 4.3% ABV | 40 IBU (C$2.00 at Okotoks Co-Op, 355 ml, packaged on 18-Nov-2019, acquired 1-Feb-2020, reviewed 1-Feb-2020)

Appearance: clear deep gold with two fat fingers of high-lofted loose pale ivory head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: caramel, floral, citrus. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, short duration mild bitter finish. (3/5)

Brewer notes say it’s hopped with Nugget, Chinook, Centennial, and Cascade. Well, perhaps – but not very many of them! Despite its light malt bill, the hops still manage to take a back seat to the malt. On the other hand, it’s easy-drinking with no off character – even if it is boring. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Granville Island Brewing West Coast IPA – American IPA at 6.5% ABV

Granville Island Brewing West Coast IPA – American IPA at 6.5% ABV (C$2.75 at Econo Liquor Okotoks, 355 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 29-Jan-2020, reviewed 29-Jan-2020)

Appearance: clear deep gold with one fat finger of rocky pale ivory head, excellent retention and moderate soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: caramel, floral, citrus, pine. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, medium duration bitter finish. (3/5)

The brewer notes claim the “bright, floral, citrusy hoppiness of a modern IPA, rounded out by a subtle malt character” but in fact the malt is predominant in pretty much exactly the way one would expect for a near-macro, mass-market-ish offering. It’s OK, but it’s nothing special. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Beer Reviews