Sound Brewery Entendez Nöel – Quadrupel at 11.5% ABV

Sound Brewery Entendez Nöel Quadrupel at 11.5% ABV (2014 Advent Calendar #24, 341ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear pale to medium amber with a very short and short-lived head, minimal lacing. (3/5) Nose is apples and pears, some Belgian yeast, perfume alcohol burn. (7/10) Taste is strongly sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Medium body, low carbonation, slick sticky boozy finish. (3/5)

Well, I wouldn’t call that a quadrupel. Lots of booziness, sure, but the colour, body, and aroma are all far too light for a quad – call it a boozy triple, perhaps? While we’re on the topic, I’m the last one to complain about high ABV’s, but this one is coming across as just too hot, with a slight but distinct harshness that suggest a little more cellaring might be helpful. Not unpleasant, but lacking the polish and depth that characterizes real Belgian quads. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! Disco Soleil – American IPA at 6.5% ABV

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! Disco Soleil American IPA at 6.5% ABV ($2.95 via Beer Club Offering #14, 341ml, bottle date 14-Nov-2014)

Pours cloudy pale gold with one finger of rocky white head, excellent retention, moderate lacing. (4/5) Nose is multiple variations on citrus: pulp, pith, and rind, with tropical fruit sweetness and pale malt. (8/10) Taste is moderate sweet and moderate bitter. (8/10) Light to medium body, prickly to moderate sustained carbonation, and a bittersweet finish. (4/5)

Really solid A/IPA: bright and juicy citrus, lots of fun to drink. The cloudy gold colour makes it almost look like the orange juice it smells like. Not sure I could clearly identify the citrus as kumquat, as opposed to sweet mandarins, for example, but I’ll take their word for it. The initial flavour is all fairly high (yet well-balanced) sweet citrus, giving way to a nice hoppy bitterness towards the finish, and the ABV never makes an appearance. I could drink a lot of these. (16/20)

(Yes, I forgot to take a photo before diving in. Draw your own conclusions.)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mosco Mosco Blond – Blond Ale at 6.5% ABV

Mosco Mosco Blond Blond Ale at 6.5% ABV (2014 Advent Calendar #23, 330ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours cloudy deep gold with some particulate and heavy lees, two fingers of foamy off-white head, excellent retention, no lacing. (3/5) Nose is bready Belgian yeast, apples, maybe some faint citrus peel. (6/10) Taste is moderate sweet and bitter, mild pepper. (5/10) Light body, prickly carbonation, off-dry finish. (3/5)

Can’t say I’m shocked that an Israeli beer isn’t all that great – somehow that just doesn’t strike me as a vibrant beer producing region. I suppose given the Judeo-Christian background of Advent, one could argue that, style notwithstanding, this is an appropriate calendar inclusion. Not actually bad, but not very subtle or well-put together. (10/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Microbrouwerij Rooie Dop Final Countdown – Saison at 6.5% ABV

Microbrouwerij Rooie Dop Final Countdown Saison at 6.5% ABV (2014 Advent Calendar #22, 330ml, bottle date 06/06/14)

Pours hazy pale gold with two fingers of rocky white head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Nose is bready yeast, white pepper, banana, cloves, faint orange peel. (7/10) Taste is moderate sweet and bitter, mild tart and pepper. (7/10) Light body, prickly carbonation, dry finish. (4/5)

I like this. It’s not the most subtle saison I’ve ever had, and I don’t see how it’s “winter” (or “Advent”) but all in all it’s a hearty, richly flavoured beer with a pleasant demeanour. I think its being somewhat rustic and rough around the edges lends an air of authenticity to the style – except for the somewhat high ABV, I could see drinking this on a farm as a thirst quencher. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Fürst Wallerstein Brauhaus Winter-Böckle – Dopplebock at 7.5% ABV

Fürst Wallerstein Brauhaus Winter-Böckle Dopplebock at 7.5% ABV (2014 Advent Calendar #21, 330ml, best before 17.06.15)

Pours clear deep amber with a short, short-lived head diminishing rapidly to nothing, no lacing. (3/5) Nose is caramel malt, brown sugar, faint dark fruit and grassy hops. (6/10) Taste is moderately strong sweet, mild bitter. (5/10) Medium to thin body, low carbonation, slightly sticky finish. (3/5)

Not particularly well-balanced, with a thinnish, watery body that doesn’t suit the style all that well. Starts out very sweet, but has a sharpish finish that isn’t all that well-integrated. Fairly mediocre, can’t say I’d recommend  looking for this one unless you’re a huge dopplebock fan. (10/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij Van Steenberge Gulden Draak – Belgian Dark Strong Ale at 10% ABV

Brouwerij Van Steenberge Gulden Draak Belgian Dark Strong Ale  at 10% ABV ($5.29 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 330ml, best before 21-Sep-2015)

Pours opaque deep amber with a fat finger of light tan head, excellent retention, moderate lacing. (4/5) Nose is caramel/toffee, slight bubblegum, raisins, spices. (8/10) Taste is moderately strong sweet, mild bitter. (8/10) Full body, prickly sustained carbonation, and a mildly spicy boozy finish. (5/5)

Another excellent BDSA – not quite as “christmas-y” as the 2012 Vicaris Winter I had immediately before, but still quite spicy and pleasantly warming. I was just reading the commercial description, and the idea of this in a stew or as a bordelaise base, makes me drool. I’ve got myself just about convinced I can taste the difference made by the wine yeast they use in the secondary fermentation, and am detecting a hint of vinous character as it warms. Just slightly better than the Vicaris, perhaps. (17/20)

My 127th from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers, retired from the 2013 Edition.

8.5/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij Dilewyns Vicaris Winter 2012 – Belgian Dark Strong Ale at 10% ABV

Brouwerij Dilewyns Vicaris Winter 2012 Belgian Dark Strong Ale at 10% ABV ($5.29 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 330ml, best before 21-Sep-2015)

Pours opaque deep amber with a fat finger of light tan head excellent retention  patchy lacing. (4/5) Nose is liquorice, dark boozy fruits, brown sugar, toffee, spices. (8/10) Taste is moderately strong sweet, mild bitter. (8/10) Medium to full body, prickly to moderate sustained carbonation, and a mildly spicy boozy finish. (5/5)

Excellent BDSA with well-behaved warming from the spices and the high ABV. Seems to have aged rather nicely, with mellow flavours. A nice winter evening sipper. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Cervejaria Colorado Vixnu – American Double / Imperial IPA at 9.5% ABV

Cervejaria Colorado Vixnu American Double / Imperial IPA at 9.5% ABV (2014 Advent Calendar #20, 310ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours hazy pale amber with some particulate, three fingers of foamy medium beige head, good retention, moderate lacing. (3/5) Nose is caramel malt, grassy hops with some very distant citrus and pine. (6/10) Taste is moderately strong sweet, moderate bitter. (5/10) Medium to full body, moderate to low carbonation, slightly sticky finish. (3/5)

Malt forward, with grassy hops somewhat to the background, so it’s already not my favourite type of DIPA. Add to that a somewhat off-putting aftertaste that I can’t identify, and it’s less than a winner in my book. Credit where credit is due, though: the ABV is pretty well-behaved. I’m guessing this is somewhat past its best before and would have been better had it been fresher. (That head is a little exaggerated, but the way – at first it was looking like no head would develop, so I got a bit overaggressive in the pour. Could have been poured with a decent fat finger of head, had I known what to expect.) Not bad, and probably worth a try, but not worth trying again. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mikkeller Hop Burn Low – American Double / Imperial Pilsner at 10% ABV

Mikkeller Hop Burn Low American Double / Imperial Pilsner at 10% ABV ($7.30 at Sherbrooke Liquor, 330ml, best before 16-Jul-2019)

Pours hazy pale amber with one finger of light tan head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, moderate lacing. (4/5) Nose is aggressive citrus and tropical fruit, mild caramel malt. (9/10) Taste is moderate caramel sweet, intensely bitter pine resin ahead of citrus and tropical fruit, building spice. (9/10) Medium body and slightly oily texture, low sustained carbonation, and a spicy, lingering bitter finish, with an immediate warming in the gut from the high ABV, the high IBUs, or both. (5/5)

This is very similar to its brother from another mother, the Hop Burn High (the major difference being that’s an ale instead of a lager like this one). Massive, ridiculous IBU’s – this is so massively bitter that the caramel malt is initially more apparent, because the bitter receptors just max out and give up. It actually gets more bitter as the initial malt flavour subsides. So, yeah – the Mikkeller Draft Bear that I earlier this evening said was the best Imperial Pilsner I ever had? Short reign. (18/20)

9/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mikkeller Draft Bear – American Double / Imperial Pilsner at 8% ABV

Mikkeller Draft Bear American Double / Imperial Pilsner at 8% ABV ($5.40 at Sherbrooke Liquor, 330ml, best before 6-Apr-2017)

Pours slightly hazy pale amber with two fingers of light tan head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, minimal patchy lacing. (3/5) Nose is tropical fruit, citrus, caramel malt, grass and hay. (8/10) Taste is moderate sweet, strong bitter. (8/10) Medium body, moderate to low carbonation. (4/5)

So Mikkeller, unsatisfied with making the world’s best coffee stout and pale lager, has to challenge To Øl for the best pilsner? Using my Achilles heels, massive doses of starts-with-C hops and a high ABV? Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate those things – but still think the To Øl Raid is a better beer despite its much lower ABV. I guess I could call this the best IMPERIAL pilsner I’ve ever had, though. Now stop fighting, you’re making the kids cry. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com