Clown Shoes Beer Crunkle Sam – American Barley Wine at 11% ABV

Clown Shoes Beer Crunkle Sam American Barley Wine at 11% ABV ($11.39 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650ml, 4-Jun-2014)

Pours slightly hazy amber-brown with one fat finger of light beige head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, moderate patchy lacing. (4/5) Nose is brown sugar, dark boozy fruit, slight citrus. (8/10) Taste is moderate to strong sweet, strong bitter, some alcohol bite. (7/10) Medium to full body, smooth, slightly slick and oily, low carbonation, lingering bitter boozy finish. (4/5)

A decent enough winter warmer, but one that could perhaps use a little more time in the cellar to mellow. I don’t seem to have had the greatest luck with barley wines in general, but all things considered, this one is a solid performer. (Though, I am hoping the Old Guardian I have in my cellar might be the breakout for this style.) Certainly the 11% ABV makes me favourably inclined to it, and although it might contribute a little to the sweetness and the somewhat harsh edge, it also gives it a pleasant warming effect on the finish. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Clown Shoes Beer Chocolate Sombrero – American Double/Imperial Stout at 9% ABV

Clown Shoes Beer Chocolate Sombrero American Double/Imperial Stout at 9% ABV ($11.39 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650ml, 28-Apr-2014)

Pours near-solid black with faint ruby brown around the margins, two fingers of fluffy beige head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, moderate to heavy lacing (4/5). Nose is dark roasty malts, chile, dark chocolate, faint vanilla and spices (8/10). Taste is moderate sweetness and moderate bitter, building chile spice (7/10). Medium to full body, slightly syrupy and oily, low carbonation, lingering bitter spicy finish (4/5).

Not bad. I’ve had other chile spice beers in the past that were sufficiently bad that I concluded I must have had a bad bottle, sink poured and didn’t rate. This one is actually quite palatable, with only a very mild hint of chile heat playing nicely with the chocolate malt – almost reminiscent of chile chocolate bars. The high ABV is integrated well and doesn’t contribute any harshness. Not sure I’d rush out and buy another, but I’m not unhappy I tried it. (16/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Great Lakes Brewery Canuck Pale Ale – American Pale Ale at 5.2% ABV

Great Lakes Brewery Canuck Pale Ale American Pale Ale at 5.2% ABV (Price unknown, via trade, 473ml)

Pours clear medium gold with two fingers of fluffy white head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, patchy lacing (4/5). Nose is bright citrus and mango, light resin and pine, with a light caramel and bready malt background (8/10). Taste is low sweetness and moderate to strong citrusy bitter, building pepperiness (8/10). Light to medium body, moderate to low sustained carbonation, lingering bitter finish (5/5).

Another light(er), easy-drinking APA/IPA. Lighter and without the slight harshness of, for example, My Bitter Wife – but also not a DIPA, and with the associated significantly lower ABV. Loads of juicy, citrusy hops make this a very enjoyable and well-behaved thirst quencher. Well worth the cognitive dissonance detailed on the back of the can – a “fiercely irresponsible stereotypical image” on the can, but a “distinctly American style” of beer inside it. I’ll deal with my national identity crisis while I enjoy the beer. Sorry. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bellwoods Brewery Roman Candle – American IPA at 6.8% ABV

Bellwoods Brewery Roman Candle American IPA at 6.8% ABV (Price unknown, via trade, 500ml)

Pours pale amber with two fingers of fluffy white head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, moderate lacing (4/5). Nose is hop heavy, resin, pine, citrus, with a muted caramel malt background (8/10). Taste is low sweetness and moderate to strong bitter, growing pepperiness (8/10). Light body, moderate sustained carbonation, lingering bitter finish (5/5).

I’m liking this a lot. Mind you, it’s been, what, at least a week since I had a nice hoppy IPA? (Correction – my last APA was two weeks ago, and my last true A/IPA, almost a month! No wonder I’m liking this so much!) Lovely resin and piney hops from the instant the cap comes off the bottle, and the taste follows through, hop forward with just enough caramel malt to support the hoppy bitterness, without getting in the way. Kind of reminds me of the Phillips Bottle Rocket in that it’s light, easy drinking and crisp, while delivering a whole lot of hoppy goodness. (Although the Roman Candle has a much higher ABV, it’s completely integrated and doesn’t appear at all in the taste or the finish.) I’m rating this identically to the Bellwoods Boogie Monster, but for slightly different reasons. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Hop City Brewing Co. 8th Sin – Schwarzbier at 5.0% ABV

Hop City Brewing Co. 8th Sin Schwarzbier at 5.0% ABV ($3.98 at Dominion Stavanger)

Pours deep ruby brown with one fat finger of light beige head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, moderate lacing (4/5). Nose is muted coffee, roast malts, nuts, ashes (6/10). Taste is low sweetness and moderate bitter, smoke, burnt (5/10). Light body, moderate to low carbonation, bitter smoky finish (3/5).

Considering the only other schwarzbier I can recall having tried is the Krombacher Dark, I’m not entirely sure I know what this style is aiming for. If they were going for “watery stout in which somebody snuffed a cigarette”, well, bullseye, I guess. Dunno – if anything, I’m less thrilled with this than the Krombacher. Not all that interesting a style, though perhaps marginally preferable to a macro lager. Definitely not my favourite beer from this brewery. (10/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Orkney Brewery Dragonhead – English Stout at 4.0% ABV

Orkney Brewery Dragonhead English Stout at 4.0% ABV ($6.16 via Beer Club Offering #11)

Pours nearly solid black with just a hint of lightening around the margins, two fingers of beige head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, moderate lacing (4/5). Nose is coffee, faint chocolate, dark roast malts, dark fruit, leather, tobacco, faint smoke (8/10). Taste is low sweetness and moderate bitter with some citrus tart, spice, and a hint of smoke (8/10). Medium body, prickly to moderate sustained carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter finish (4/5).

Starts out quite well-behaved and pleasant – not too much sweetness, and a nicely bitter bite. The carbonation is too high for it to have a smooth texture, but it certainly prevents any mouth-coating behaviour, and keeps the body relatively light and crisp. It opens up nicely as it warms, with some dark fruit, leather, and tobacco coming out to play. A solid performer, and quite drinkable with its low ABV. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Founders Brewing Company Breakfast Stout American Double/Imperial Stout at 8.3% ABV (Price unknown, …

Founders Brewing Company Breakfast Stout American Double/Imperial Stout at 8.3% ABV (Price unknown, via trade)

Pours nearly solid black with just a hint of lightening around the margins, a short finger of beige head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, minimal to no lacing (4/5). Nose is coffee, oats, some chocolate, milkiness and sweetness (9/10). Taste is balanced moderate sweet and bitter with some citrus tart (9/10). Medium body, prickly to moderate sustained carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter finish with building alcohol warmth (5/5).

Maybe not quite up to the hype, but dammit, it’s close. The most surprising aspect is perhaps the body – I was expecting syrupy and mouth coating, but the carbonation and intense (but balanced) bitterness keeps that from happening. The coffee bitterness is supplemented by a nearly-hidden citrusy hop sharpness, and tempered by a lactose-like chocolate sweetness. The finish is nearly crisp as a result, the long bitter tail notwithstanding. The ABV is also extremely well integrated, coming through only as a gradual and mild warming. As a result, this is a surprisingly light stout that is very drinkable, and very dangerous. (19/20)

My 118th from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers, 111th by the 2013 Edition, and 121st overall.

9/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Microbrasserie Charlevoix Dominus Vobiscum Saison – Saison at 6% ABV

Microbrasserie Charlevoix Dominus Vobiscum Saison Saison at 6% ABV ($9.47 via Beer Club Offering #12)

Pours clear deep gold with two fat fingers of pillowy white head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, moderate to heavy lacing (4/5). Nose is hay, banana, cloves, slight barnyard, grassy hops (9/10). Taste is moderate sweet, moderate to strong bitter (9/10). Light to medium body, prickly sustained carbonation, lingering bitter finish (4/5).

Excellent. Very much a farmhouse style saison, yet I find it reminds me of a Belgian Tripel like Duvel. Some might dislike the somewhat aggressive carbonation, but I enjoy the additional crispness and sharpness it provides – no tongue coating here. The slight barnyard funk on the nose also turns into a decently sharp brett-like edge on the tongue, making this feel more bitter than its 35 IBU. Not sure I’d want to cellar this one much longer if that really is brettanomyces, though – it might get a little unbalanced. Best to drink this one on the fresh side, I think, and this one was just over six months old. Really very enjoyable and another example of a world-class Belgian style being brewed in Canada. (18/20)

9/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie des Rocs Abbaye des Rocs Grand Cru – Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 9% ABV

Brasserie des Rocs Abbaye des Rocs Grand Cru Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 9% ABV (Price unknown, via trade)

Pours muddy particulate-laden brown with one finger of light beige head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, no lacing (3/5). Nose is brown sugar, plums and other dark fruit, spice, alcohol (7/10). Taste is moderate to strong sweet malt, moderate tart (7/10). Medium to heavy body, smooth, soft carbonation, with a gentle alcohol warming (4/5).

Bit disappointed by this one. I wasn’t too perturbed by the muddy appearance or the particulate, but I was expecting more sour/tart presence. Instead, I’m getting a lot of malt sweetness, molasses / brown sugar, and raisins, but also an almost medicinal overtone. It’s certainly not working perfectly together for me. (15/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com