Boulevard Brewing Co. Smokestack Series Harvest Dance – Wheat Wine at 8.6% ABV

Boulevard Brewing Co. Smokestack Series Harvest Dance Wheat Wine at 8.6% ABV (C$15.49 at Quarry Park Co-Op, 750 ml, best before 1-Jul-2015)

Pours hazy (first glass) to heavily particulate-laden (last glass) pale gold with one finger of soapy white head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, patchy moderate lacing. (3/5) Nose is doughy wheat, mild banana and other fruit, oak, lightly boozy. (8/10) Taste is moderate sweet, mild bitter, very mild tart. (7/10) Medium body, soft carbonation, slightly oily, dry and slightly boozy finish. (4/5)

Not hot, but gently warming, particularly in the belly. Despite the moderately high IBU (42) I’m not getting a lot of identifiable hop character, and the bitterness is quite mild and well-integrated into the overall profile. Quite drinkable despite the beefy ABV. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Evil Twin Brewing Ashtray Heart – Smoked Beer at 8.9% ABV

Evil Twin Brewing Ashtray Heart Smoked Beer at 8.9% ABV (C$5.75 at Zyn, 330 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear (flashlight confirmed) deep ruby black with a short tan head diminishing to a thin ring, no lacing. (3/5) Nose is roasty malt, cocoa, dark stone fruit, toffee, light smoke. (7/10) Taste is mild sweet, mild bitter, mild smoke. (7/10) Medium to full body, low carbonation, oily and syrupy, dry and astringent smoky finish. (4/5)

It might pour the solid unrelieved black of a politician’s heart, but it has far less smoke than I’d expect of such an organ. Both Beer Advocate and RateBeer call this a smoked beer – but I’d call it a porter, first and foremost, with only a very mellow smoke presence. Very little hop character, but a fair amount of bitter astringency from the dark roast malts. And that moderately high ABV? Completely absent until most of the beer is, too, at which point a warm cigarette ember glow starts in the gut. A little challenging, sure, but worth the effort. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Beer Here Hoptilicus – American Strong Ale at 9.0% ABV

Beer Here Hoptilicus American Strong Ale at 9.0% ABV (C$11.00 at Zyn  650 ml, bottle date undecodeable)

Pours hazy (first glass) to cloudy (second glass) deep amber with two fingers of creamy tan head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, moderate spotty lacing. (3/5) Nose is caramel malt, dark boozy fruit, raisins and liquorice, pithy bitter grapefruit. (7/10) Taste is moderate to high sweet, moderately strong bitter. (6/10) Medium to full body, low carbonation, sweet and syrupy, lingering dry and astringent bitter finish. (4/5)

Kind of a hoppy version of a BSDA – combines the dark fruitiness of an Abt with the hop profile of an IPA. Not bad at all, but not an unqualified success – a bit of a kitchen sink of flavours, and not entirely balanced. And definitely not as hoppy/burny/over-the-top as the label promises/threatens: “It will enter your mouth with great fury, burn your tongue with alcohol and hop bitterness and leave you begin for more.” Quite aside from pedantic impulse to correct the absence of at least one comma, and my juvenile impulse towards a lewd joke, that statement is just wrong: the alcohol is warm but not hot, and the hops are big but not over the top. Not bad, and I certainly warmed up to it as it warmed, but ultimately it didn’t get past “good”. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Alley Kat Dragon Series Argyll Dragon – American Double / Imperial IPA at 7.5% ABV

Alley Kat Dragon Series Argyll Dragon American Double / Imperial IPA at 7.5% ABV (C$5.32 at Sundance Wine Market, 650 ml, bottle date unreadable)

Pours clear pale amber with one fat finger of fluffy off-white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (4/5) Nose is pithy grapefruit, pine resin, tropical fruit, caramel malt, some dank herbal. (7/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderately strong bitter. (7/10) Medium to heavy body, moderate carbonation, slightly syrupy and oily texture, lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

The best Dragon Series beer I’ve had so far – the blend of hops (the standard starts-with-C’s) works significantly better than the single-hop varieties. Moderately strong hops lead out, and are balanced and supported by sufficient but not excess malt. Definitely worth checking out. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Phillips Brewing Company Electric Unicorn White IPA – American IPA at 6.5% ABV

Phillips Brewing Company Electric Unicorn White IPA American IPA at 6.5% ABV (C$5.31 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, best before 23-Aug-2015)

Pours clear (first glass) to hazy (second glass) straw with two fat fingers of fluffy white head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Nose is lemon zest, mild banana and cloves, light white pepper and bubblegum, coriander, wheaty malt. (8/10) Taste is mild to moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, moderately dry finish. (4/5)

I’ve only ever had one other white IPA, and that one was a bit of a shelf turd (and pear, to boot). So, much like with the red IPA I had yesterday, I don’t have a real deep background upon which to base a review of this. (And how many more colour variations on IPA are we gonna see? I’ve seen white, red, and black so far – what’s next? Blue? Green?) That said, though this might not be the best Phillips I’ve had, but it’s up there. It’s an interesting combination of witbier and IPA characteristics, decently balanced and even-handed. Worth checking out, if you can find this limited release. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Black Market Brewing Co. Liberation Imperial IPA – American Double / Imperial IPA at 6.5% ABV

Black Market Brewing Co. Liberation Imperial IPA American Double / Imperial IPA at 6.5% ABV (C$10.25 at Sundance Wine Market, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear pale amber with two fat fingers of fluffy off-white head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Nose is grainy caramel, grapefruit, pine resin, some stone fruit and light floral. (7/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderately strong bitter. (7/10) Medium to heavy body, moderate carbonation, slightly syrupy and oily texture, lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Well, it’s maltier than I’d prefer, but I can’t really call it “malt-forward” like so many other DIPA’s tend to be. I’d call it balanced and even-handed… but I’d still prefer more hop-forward. Good, but short of great. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bad Tattoo Brewing West Coast IPA – American IPA at 6.2% ABV

Bad Tattoo Brewing West Coast IPA American IPA at 6.2% ABV (C$5.95 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours cloudy muddy brown with two fingers of creamy light tan head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, moderate lacing. (3/5) Nose is caramel malt, toast, toffee, citrus and pine. (5/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (5/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, surprisingly boozy finish. (2/5)

Deeply unimpressive right from the start – I actually did a double-take as I started to pour, convinced I had picked up the wrong bottle. The colour is far too dark for a “pale ale”, and though muddiness like that might be acceptable in an Abt, it sure isn’t in an IPA. And there’s no chance I’d call this a “west coast” IPA – there is no dankness to speak of, and it’s malt-forward to the point of toffee flavours. You might call it an English IPA, but even then I’d quibble, since the 6.2% ABV, by no means astronomical, is actually pretty hot on the throat. Perhaps it’s simply old and oxidized, but I of course have no way of knowing since THERE’S NO BOTTLE DATE. Give this one a pass – way too many good IPA’s out there to waste your time with this. (10/20)

5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Black Market Brewing Co. Aftermath Pale Ale – American Pale Ale at 5.8% ABV

Black Market Brewing Co. Aftermath Pale Ale American Pale Ale at 5.8% ABV (C$8.95 at Sundance Wine Market, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours slightly hazy pale amber with three fingers of fluffy off-white head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, moderate chunky lacing. (4/5) Nose is pithy grapefruit, mango and tropical fruit, light pine, pale malt. (8/10) Taste is mild sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry mildly bitter finish. (4/5)

Pleasant aroma with lots of the usual starts-with-C suspects, as well as some Mosaic and Amarillo: a blend that I tend to like quite a bit, and this is no exception. Dry hopped for lots of aroma, without huge bitterness on the tongue making this a more-ish and quite refreshing APA. (Though, truth be told, this could pass for an A/IPA just about anywhere.) Were it not for the >5% ABV, I’d suggest it’s even sessionable. Though I suppose that just means it would have to be a slightly shorter session? (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Heretic Brewing Company Evil Twin Red IPA – American Amber / Red Ale at 6.8% ABV

Heretic Brewing Company Evil Twin Red IPA American Amber / Red Ale at 6.8% ABV (C$8.25 at Sundance Wine Market, 650 ml, bottle date 9-Feb-2015)

Pours clear red-tinged deep amber with two fat fingers of light tan head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, moderate patchy lacing. (4/5) Nose is grapefruit, caramel malt, pine, earthy and woody tones, hint of chocolate. (7/10) Taste is mild sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry and lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

“Evil Twin”? Seriously? I wonder how Jeppe feels about his brewery name being applied to a beer… Anyway, this is my first “red IPA”, so I’m not all that conversant in what it’s supposed to be. Comes across as a slightly dark, somewhat malty A/IPA, with a little red ale character. Certainly not as roasty/smokey as a black IPA, but the maltiness doesn’t come across as the malt-forward character I associate with an old IPA, or a badly-executed DIPA. I think I might prefer this style to the fast-becoming-ubiquitous black variety… And it’s a pretty beer, so there’s that. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Coronado Brewing Company / Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company Devil’s Tale American IPA at 7.5% ABV

Coronado Brewing Company / Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company Devil’s Tale American IPA at 7.5% ABV (C$8.69 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear pale gold with two fat fingers of off white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, moderate patchy lacing. (4/5) Nose is pithy citrus, pine, light tropical fruit, dank, very mild onion. (7/10) Taste is mild sweet, moderately strong bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate to low carbonation, off-dry and lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

I’m not entirely convinced by this collaboration, but it might simply be age. I can’t be sure, of course, because there’s NO DAMN DATE ON THE BOTTLE. What I can be sure of, is it isn’t quite as good as Frog’s Breath, or Sock Knocker, or Idiot, or… (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com