Clown Shoes Beer Advent Party Crasher – American Double / Imperial Stout at 10% ABV | 80 [?] IBU

Clown Shoes Beer Advent Party Crasher American Double / Imperial Stout at 10% ABV | 80 [?] IBU (2017 Craft Beer Advent Calendar #8, 355 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 20-Nov-2017, reviewed 8-Dec-2017)

Appearance: opaque black with no hint of relief, one finger of fluffy beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin collar, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: orange peel, dark chocolate, caramel & toffee, liquorice. (9/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, high bitter. (9/10) Palate: full slick body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering finish. (4/5)

Gotta give credit where credit is due, Clown Shoes is up to the challenge of creating a smart one-off advent riff on one of their stronger performers. I had their Undead Party Crasher three years ago, and damn if this ain’t better. The orange peel in particular contributes a hugely festive note, alongside chocolate and liquorice. The mother beer claims an 80 IBU, and this one feels like it’s right about that level to me, but well-balanced against a supportive sweet malt and appropriately heavy slick body. Think Terry’s Chocolate Oranges liberally soaked in booze, and you’re not far off the mark. Except for admittedly minor quibbles about the head retention and lacing, this is a nearly perfect contender. I’m actually starting to get a little worried about the performance of the advent calendar at this point, because I’m starting to feel like there’s nowhere to go but down. Here’s hoping I get proven wrong! (17/20)

8.5/10 #craftbeeradvent2017 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Robinsons Brewery Iron Maiden Trooper Hallowed – Belgian Ale at 6% ABV

Robinsons Brewery _Iron Maiden Trooper Hallowed_ Belgian Ale at 6.0% ABV (C$3.40 at NLC Stavanger, 330 ml, best before 30-Sep-2018, acquired 7-Dec-2017, reviewed 8-Dec-2017)

Appearance: clear medium amber with one finger of fluffy ivory head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: floral, Belgian yeast, caramel, dark fruit, banana, spices. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light spice. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium duration bitter and spicy finish. (4/5)

That’s… actually quite interesting. I re-reviewed the original Trooper before trying this, but the fact is, they’ve got very little in common. I was expecting a fairly British beer with the vaguest of nods across the channel, but this is actually more Belgian than not. Well, perhaps more continental than not: it’s a little muddled by the banana making it feel slightly Hefe-like, but not to the point of really being a negative. Regardless, some good fun. The fourth of the Iron Maiden themed beers, and the strongest contender by far. (And yeah, I know it’s not really #properglassware but how many more times am I going to get to use that glass?) (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Robinsons Brewery Iron Maiden Trooper – Premium Bitter / ESB at 4.7% ABV | 35 IBU

Robinsons Brewery Iron Maiden Trooper Premium Bitter / ESB at 4.7% ABV | 35 IBU (C$9.99* at NLC Howley Estates, 500 ml, packaged on 15-Aug-2017, acquired 7-Dec-2017, reviewed 8-Dec-2017)

Appearance: clear pale amber with one finger of fluffy off-white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: bready malt, caramel, apple, herbal, grass. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry moderate finish. (3/5)

Not my first time reviewing this, but there’s a method to my madness: this is a refresher, and I’ll review the new version next. Plus, I’m a bit of a sucker for #properglassware, so that kind of tipped me over the edge. And yeah, lots of terms like “medium” and “moderate” in my description for this one, but that’s very much what it is: a solid ESB. It’s not going to get you excited, but you’re not going to find many faults in it, either. (14/20)

* Price includes gift tin and glass.

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bicycle Craft Brewery Velocipede – American IPA at 6% ABV | 70 IBU

Bicycle Craft Brewery Velocipede American IPA at 6% ABV | 70 IBU (C$3.50 Gift – Thanks, Rod H!, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 3-Dec-2017, reviewed 7-Dec-2017)

Appearance: clear pale amber with two fingers of fluffy pale ivory head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: floral, pine, pale malt, grapefruit. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium slightly oily body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Well, that’s all right! Never heard of the brewery before, but they can clearly bang out a hugely – verging on brutally – hoppy American IPA. Big pine and citrus notes on the nose, backed up by an emphatic oily hop bitterness on the tongue. This is one velocipede you’ll enjoy riding. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Duggan’s Brewery IPA 9 – American IPA at 6.2% ABV | 55 IBU

Duggan’s Brewery IPA 9 American IPA at 6.2% ABV | 55 IBU (C$2.85 Gift – Thanks, Rod H!, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 3-Dec-2017, reviewed 7-Dec-2017)

Appearance: muddy amber-brown with one finger of fluffy ivory head diminishing gradually to a thin persistent cap, minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: caramel, pine, biscuity malt, floral, citrus. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry moderate bitter finish. (3/5)

As an American IPA, this is a bit of a flop. Certainly I’m not getting the kind of hop blast I’d expect from nine different hops – at least, not in the aroma. As an English IPA, on the other hand, I could see this growing on me. The aroma is, if not actually dominated by malt, at the very least malt-heavy, but there is a pleasantly bracing hop bitterness on the tongue. I’m not at all familiar with this brewery or the history of this beer, but it strikes me as a slightly old-fashioned interpretation of the A/IPA style, heavily influenced by the British tradition. Solid, if slightly underwhelming today. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Belhaven Brewery Twisted Thistle – American IPA at 5.6% ABV | 45 IBU

Belhaven Brewery Twisted Thistle American IPA at 5.6% ABV | 45 IBU (C$3.17 at NLC Stavanger, 330 ml, best before 30-Sep-2018, acquired 25-Nov-2017, reviewed 7-Dec-2017)

Appearance: clear deep gold with one fat finger of fluffy white head diminishing gradually to a thin persistent cap, moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: mild, citrus, floral, caramel, light nutty. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry mild bitter finish. (4/5)

I guess it helped that I went into this with low expectations. I mean, honestly – an American IPA from Scotland? Not to mention, the label says this is made with Challenger, Cascade, and Hersbrucker hops. Now, boys and girls, one of these things is not like the other… But actually, you know what? This isn’t bad at all. There’s certainly some noble hop presence, and a bit of a Scottish feel to the malts (both of which increase as it warms) but it’s refreshing overall, with hints of A/IPA character. It’s not the “juicy” the label promises, but it’s by far the best I’ve had from this brewery. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Camba Bavaria GmbH Grisette Belgian Ale – Grisette / Petit Saison at 5.9% ABV | 17 IBU

Camba Bavaria GmbH Grisette Belgian Ale Grisette / Petit Saison at 5.9% ABV | 17 IBU (2017 Craft Beer Advent Calendar #7, 330 ml, best before 7-Jun-2018, acquired 20-Nov-2017, reviewed 7-Dec-2017)

Appearance: hazy straw with one finger of fluffy white head, good retention and spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: bready yeast, coriander, orchard fruit, floral, citrus. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (7/10) Palate: light body, lively carbonation, dry short duration finish. (4/5)

An extremely rare style for me – this is only my third one ever – so I don’t have much basis for a decent evaluation. Applying the same kind of criteria I would to Saisons or other farmhouse ales, though, it’s a decent brew: reasonably light and crisp and decently refreshing despite the bready yeast that dominates the front end. The ABV might be a touch high for such a style, but it drinks easily regardless. (14/20)

7/10 #craftbeeradvent2017 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Sawdust City Brewing Company Skinny Dippin’ Stout – Oatmeal Stout at 5.5% ABV | 35 IBU

Sawdust City Brewing Company Skinny Dippin’ Stout Oatmeal Stout at 5.5% ABV | 35 IBU (C$4.04 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, packaged on 15-Oct-2017, acquired 25-Nov-2017, reviewed 6-Dec-2017)

Appearance: near opaque black with brown relief at the margins, a short, short-lived fizzy beige head, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: chocolate, coffee, toasted malts, liquorice, hint of red berries, grass. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium slightly slick body, moderate carbonation, dry mild bitter slightly tart finish. (3/5)

Not quite as smooth as I like to see in an Oatmeal Stout – a bit more like a Dry Irish, actually, with a hint of ashiness in the finish. Speaking of the finish, there is a hint of mild red berry tartness that lingers there, but it’s decently drinkable, regardless, with none of the astringency that can sometimes develop with heavily-roasted malts. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

The Pump House Brewery Limited Muddy River – Oatmeal Stout at 4.5% ABV

The Pump House Brewery Limited Muddy River Oatmeal Stout at 4.5% ABV (C$2.29 at NLC Stavanger, 341 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 25-Nov-2017, reviewed 6-Dec-2017)

Appearance: near opaque black with brown relief at the margins, a short, short-lived fizzy beige head, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: mild, coffee, toasted malts, light smoke. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body tending slightly thin, moderate carbonation, dry bitter slightly astringent finish. (3/5)

Mild aromas notwithstanding, I find this too sweet and too thin for my preference, and the thinness ends up translating to a slight astringency in the finish. Nothing offensive, but it doesn’t stand out. I wonder if this bottled version might suffer by comparison to the original draft-only one, but that’s not a hypothesis I’m likely to put to the test any time soon, so as it stands, not one I can recommend making a special effort to locate. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Collective Arts Brewing Collective Project/ IPA No. 4 – American IPA at 6.4% ABV | 80 IBU

Collective Arts Brewing Collective Project/ IPA No. 4 American IPA at 6.4% ABV | 80 IBU (C$3.75 Gift – thanks, Rod H!, 473 ml, packaged on 24-Oct-2017, acquired 3-Dec-2017, reviewed 6-Dec-2017)

Great Lakes Brewery _Karma Citra IPA_ American IPA at 6.6% ABV | 65 IBU _(C$3.25 Gift – thanks, Rod H!, 473 ml, packaged on 27-Oct-2017, acquired 3-Dec-2017, reviewed 6-Dec-2017)_

Appearance: near opaque pale gold with one fat finger of rocky white head, excellent retention and chunky lacing. (5/5) Aroma: juicy citrus, resiny pine, floral, pale malt, tropical fruit. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry moderate bitter finish. (4/5)

CA nails another one – I’d have to say this is even better than their IPA No. 1. I wasn’t previously familiar with Hallertau Blanc hops, which are apparently nothing like the noble Hallertau hops, but a Cascade daughter – and that, in conjunction with the Citra and Mosaic, make for an emphatic citrusy punch, backed up with some pleasingly dank pine and a very clean supporting malt. I guess this would be considered an NEIPA, given the juiciness, but there is some West Coast dank going on as well. I seem to recall somebody doing a “bicoastal IPA”, but haven’t had one – but in any case, that’s pretty much what this is. Really good stuff. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com