Howe Sound Brewing Pumpkineater – Spice/Herb/Vegetable at 8% ABV

Howe Sound Brewing Pumpkineater Spice/Herb/Vegetable at 8% ABV ($13.69 at Dominion Stavanger, 1 l, no bottle date)

Pours clear medium amber with two fingers of fluffy off-white head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, moderate lacing. (3/5) Nose is pureed peaches and squash, caramel malt, pumpkin pie spices. (5/10) Taste is sweet tending to cloying, mild bitter. (5/10) Medium body, low carbonation, mild bitter finish. (3/5)

Hey, it’s Halloween! If I can’t have a pumpkin beer now, when can I? Well… Never, maybe? A bit disappointing, to be honest. I read the reviews before buying this, and thought it might be one of the (very) few pumpkin ales that bucked the trend. But this isn’t even close to being the best pumpkin beer I’ve had, and pumpkin beers aren’t even close to the best beers in general, so… Yeah. (10/20)

5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Wychwood (Marstons plc) Hobgoblin – Premium Bitter/ESB at 5.2% ABV

Wychwood (Marstons plc) Hobgoblin Premium Bitter/ESB at 5.2% ABV ($4.00 at Dominion Stavanger, 500ml, best before 31-Jul-2015)

Pours clear deep amber-red with a fat finger of off-white head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, moderate lacing. (4/5) Nose is caramel and bready malt, light grassy hops. (6/10) Taste is balanced moderate sweet and bitter. (6/10) Medium body, moderate to low sustained carbonation, decent bitter finish. (4/5)

I’ve rated this one before, but ended up with it in a combo pack and figured, why not re-do it for Halloween. I think this is a more accurate rating than my previous one(s). A decent, solid, reliable performer, and hard to beat for the price. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Lake of Bays Brewing Company River Walker Summer Ale – Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer at 6% ABV

Lake of Bays Brewing Company River Walker Summer Ale Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer at 6% ABV ($9.80 at NLC Sobey’s Mount Pearl, 750ml, bottle date 17-Apr-2014)

Pours pale gold with a fat finger of white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, moderate lacing. (4/5) Nose is doughy yeast, wheat, citrus, some faint ginger. (6/10) Taste is mild sweet, bitter and sour. (6/10) Light body, moderate to low sustained carbonation, crisp tart bitter finish. (3/5)

Not bad, but a little muddled. I’m not entirely clear on what style they’re going for here, other than “generic pale ale”. With spice. But not too much. I guess it’s sorta kinda like a wit? It’s certainly not offensive, but it’s nothing special either. And now I’ve got The Log Driver’s Waltz stuck in my head. I dunno whether that’s a good thing or a bad one. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Orkney Brewery Dark Island – Old Ale at 4.6% ABV

Orkney Brewery Dark Island Old Ale at 4.6% ABV ($$6.16 via Beer Club Offering #11, 500ml, best before 1-Apr-2016)

Pours deep drown with hints of amber-brown around the margins, two fingers of light beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin cap, minimal lacing. (4/5) Nose is muted, toasted malts, coffee, earthy hops, molasses, smoked peat, sour red berries. (7/10) Taste is mild sweet and bitter, moderate sour/tart. (7/10) Light to medium body, somewhat thin and watery, moderate sustained carbonation, lingering tart bitter finish. (3/5)

Still not a fan of Scotch Ales, overall. This looks like it should be a porter or stout, which it emphatically is not, but that’s more of an aside than a major issue. There’s just a hint of smoke and peat here, but even that feels slightly out of place against the surprisingly light body and vinous, sour flavours. It’s quite drinkable, but I wouldn’t go looking for another. (15/20)

My 119th from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers, 112th by the 2013 Edition, and 122nd overall.

7/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij De Koningshoeven La Trappe Quadrupel – Abt/Quadrupel at 10% ABV

Brouwerij De Koningshoeven La Trappe Quadrupel Abt/Quadrupel at 10% ABV ($11.39 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750ml, bottle date 6-Aug-2013)

Pours clear deep amber with one finger of off-white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, moderate lacing. (4/5) Nose is dark toffee/caramel, raisins and dark fruit, banana, slight spice. (8/10) Taste is moderate sweet and peppery, finishing mild bitter. (9/10) Medium body, moderate sustained carbonation, lingering tart bitter finish with distinct alcohol warming. (5/5)

Excellent quadrupel. The ABV isn’t even close to hidden, but it works well with the dark fruitcake flavours on the nose and tongue. The body is definitely on the light side of medium, I think partly due to the moderate sustained carbonation, and partly due to the sharp edge of the alcohol on the tongue. Not quite as mellow and perfect as the Westvleteren XII, the St. Bernardus Abt 12 or the Rochefort 10, perhaps (nor as interesting as Three Philosophers) but a solid performer regardless. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Great Lakes Brewery Thrust! An IPA – American IPA at 6.5% ABV

Great Lakes Brewery Thrust! An IPA American IPA at 6.5% ABV (Price unknown, via trade, 473ml, no date or best before)

Pours clear pale amber with two fat fingers of rocky off-white head, great retention, moderate chunky lacing. (4/5) Nose is pine resin, citrus, tropical fruit, caramel malt, slight spice. (8/10) Taste is mild sweet and juicy citrus giving way to moderately strong bitter. (9/10) Medium body, moderate to low sustained carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (5/5)

Another solid performer from Great Lakes Brewing. A little more body than the Canuck Pale Ale, a little less than My Bitter Wife. Pretty firmly splits the difference between the two in terms of ABV, presence, hoppiness, and so on. Juicy citrus and a slightly peppery finish make this extremely enjoyable. I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favourite among those three performers, but think this one just night be the front runner by a hair so have to rank it nearly identically to the other two. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Greene King Old Golden Hen – English Bitter at 4.1% ABV

Greene King Old Golden Hen English Bitter at 4.1% ABV ($4.00 at Dominion Stavanger, 500ml, best before 1-Jun-2015)

Pours clear medium gold with two fingers of white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, no lacing. (3/5) Nose is citrus, fruit, grassy hops, pale malt. (6/10) Taste is balanced moderate sweet and bitter. (6/10) Light watery body, low sustained carbonation, short bitter finish. (3/5)

A decent enough English bitter, if tending to the boring side of the style – which, let’s face it, is already pretty boring. At 4.1% ABV, it’s obviously a session ale, and the light body and low carbonation accentuate that. Definitely in the “inoffensive thirst quencher” category, and very similar to a plain old lager. And what’s up with the clear bottles, anyway? There’s no chance mine’ll be light-struck, since my cellar is completely dark, but not everybody is as spoiled as I am. Sure, it shows off the colour of the beer to maximum advantage, but that’s a poor tradeoff for some punter thinking your beer tastes like skunk if the bottles get mishandled at all, innit? (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Yellow Belly Brewery Root Cellar (Parsnip Ale) – Pale Ale at 6% ABV

Yellow Belly Brewery Root Cellar (Parsnip Ale) Pale Ale at 6% ABV ($8.00 at Yellow Belly Brewery, pint on tap)

Pours cloudy pale gold with one finger of white head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, no lacing. (3/5) Nose is pale malt, citrus and floral hops with slight spicy ginger. (7/10) Taste is mild sweet then moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate to low sustained carbonation, tart bitter finish. (4/5)

Interesting. I’m not entirely sure whether I’m getting any root vegetable tones from the beer, because they just tapped it today and I’m smelling a lot of yeast and associated aromas from the brew room. If there is any parsnip flavour, it’s mild and well-behaved, and mostly present in the aftertaste. There’s quite a bit of citrus from the Topaz, and a little bite from the ginger at the end. All things considered, it’s a thumbs-up. (16/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Oland Brewery (AB-InBev) Alexander Keith’s Saphir Hop Ale – American Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV

Oland Brewery (AB-InBev) Alexander Keith’s Saphir Hop Ale American Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV ($3.89 at NLC Sobey’s Mount Pearl, 473ml, no date)

Pours clear pale amber with one finger of off-white head diminishing quickly to a thick cap, minimal lacing. (3/5) Nose is corny malt, floral hops with faint citrus and grassiness. (6/10) Taste is medium sweet, mild bitter. (5/10) Thin watery body, moderate sustained carbonation, grainy corn finish. (2/5)

Well, it’s almost an IPA. And it only took them how long? The Hallertau hops give this a slightly European feel and taste, while the tea-like floral bitter is almost English enough to lend credibility to the IPA feel. Don’t get me wrong – there’s still plenty in the way of adjunct flavours, but at least it’s not the first thing that hits you. A marginally better product from a soulless macro brewer trying to pretend it has some character. (10/20)

5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Greene King IPA – English Bitter at 3.6% ABV

Greene King IPA English Bitter at 3.6% ABV ($4.00 at Dominion Stavanger, 500ml, best before 1-Jun-2015)

Pours clear pale amber with two fingers of off-white head diminishing quickly to a thick cap, minimal lacing. (3/5) Nose is bready malt, grassy weedy hops. (5/10) Taste is medium bitter, mild sweet. (5/10) Thin watery body, moderate to low carbonation, semi-dry finish. (3/5)

This makes me feel better about Canada. For the longest time, I’ve been deeply annoyed by the naming of Alexander Keith’s “IPA” – which is categorically not an IPA in any sense – and felt it to be our unique national shame. No more! No, if the ancestral home of IPA can call this malty mild bitter an IPA, then our guilt is expiated. Even allowing for the less aggressive, maltier characteristic of the traditional English IPA as compared to the A/IPA, this is pretty weak sauce. And if this really is the way IPA was traditionally brewed, I guess you have to count me among the rebellious colonials. “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. Sinners are much more fun.” (10/20)

5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com