Stone Brewing Company Ruination 2.0 – American Double / Imperial IPA at 8.5% ABV

Stone Brewing Company Ruination 2.0 American Double / Imperial IPA  at 8.5% ABV (C$$11.49 at South Trail Co-Op, 650 ml, best before 28-Jul-2015am)

Pours clear pale amber with two fingers of rocky white head, good retention and spotty moderate lacing. (4/5) Nose is strongly hoppy pine resin, citrus, tropical fruit, caramel malt, slight dankness. (10/10) Taste is moderate sweet, intensely strong bitter. (10/10) Medium slightly oily body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering and building intensely bitter, slightly sticky finish. (5/5)

The king is dead – long live the king! This is a worthy successor to the behemoth that was Ruination. Although it’s a shade heavier in ABV (8.5% from 8.2%) it feels a little cleaner, with a little more bright citrus hoppiness, and a little less generalized tropical fruitiness. I note that in addition to the usual starts-with-C suspects, nugget, and magnum, there’s Simcoe, and I think it’s coming through as support of the tropical fruit and pine, but I’m not getting any cattiness. The Azacca also helps with the tropical fruit, and though it’s no Nelson Sauvin, it’s an interesting hop all on its own. Taste is similar to the original, with just enough clean malt sweetness to support the massive bitterness, without being intrusive. This is DIPA the way DIPA should be done – just give me some nice lacing to look at while I drink it, and it’d be perfect. (19/20)

9.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Lagunitas Brewing Company Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale – American Pale Wheat Ale at 7.5% ABV

Lagunitas Brewing Company Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale American Pale Wheat Ale at 7.5% ABV (C$3.50 at South Trail Co-Op, 355 ml, bottle date 16-Dec-2014)

Pours clear pale gold with one finger of rocky white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, moderate lacing. (4/5) Nose is floral, pine resin, wheat, citrus and stone fruit, pale malt. (9/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderately strong bitter. (8/10) Light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

That’s a seriously drinkable – and seriously dangerous – beer. A lovely decently crisp finish encourages the next sip, and the complete lack of any hint of the 7.5% ABV provides no warning whatsoever. Nicely complex aromas and smooth wheat ale flavour. However, the smoothness of the flavour can tend to come across as a slight dulling of what used to be a bright IPA, instead of an intentional hefeweizen/kristallweizen character. I also find the body a bit too light given the complex flavour, and I’d like to see better retention and lacing. Those are, however, minor quibbles about what is in fact a damn fine beer. (18/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Lagunitas Brewing Company Olde Gnarlywine (2015) – Barleywine at 10.6% ABV

Lagunitas Brewing Company Olde Gnarlywine (2015) Barleywine at 10.6% ABV (C$5.78 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear medium amber with a short light beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (3/5) Nose is pine resin, dark boozy fruit, caramel and toffee. (8/10) Taste is moderately strong sweet, moderately strong bitter. (8/10) Medium body, moderate to low carbonation, warming and lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

An interesting barleywine. At this age, it’s still pretty strongly hoppy, but surprisingly not excessively hot, especially for a double digit plus ABV. Right now, the bitterness of the hops is just as pronounced as the toffee malt and the alcohol heat. I’m not sure if I’d call it “balanced”, as such – more like an armed détente, given the magnitude of each of these players. I’d be interested in seeing what this turns into as it ages – I might pick up one or two more to cellar. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Clown Shoes Beer Royal Standard – Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy at 10% ABV

Clown Shoes Beer Royal Standard Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy at 10% ABV (C$8.04 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, bottle date 8-Dec-2014)

Pours clear deep amber with one finger of light beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin cap, minimal lacing. (3/5) Nose is dark fruit, caramel malt, spices, tobacco, leather, earth. (7/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium slightly creamy body, lively carbonation becoming soft, warming and mildly bitter finish. (3/5)

Nothing “wee” about this – is “big heavy bastard” a style (as opposed to a description of myself)? Starts off feeling a bit hot. OK, fine, a lot hot. But as the bottle progresses, things smooth out a little. The carbonation is not unpleasant, even if it’s a touch prickly on the outset, and it settles down giving a slightly creamy body. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Samuel Smith Old Brewery Organic Chocolate Stout – Sweet Stout at 5% ABV

Samuel Smith Old Brewery  Organic Chocolate Stout Sweet Stout at 5% ABV (C$5.55 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 550 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear deep brown with a fat finger of beige head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, spotty lacing. (4/5) Nose is sweet milky chocolate, strawberry, mildly nutty. (7/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium body, low carbonation, creamy and bitter. (3/5)

Fairly intensely chocolate, but without being excessively sweet. Though it is sweet. And there’s a berry note – kinda strawberry – that comes across as a bit artificial. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Arrowhead Brewing Farmer’s Daughter – Saison at 6.8% ABV

Arrowhead Brewing Farmer’s Daughter Saison at 6.8% ABV (Gift – thanks, Doug! – 650 ml, bottle date 8-May-15)

Pours hazy pale gold with one finger of rocky white head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Nose is wheat, coriander, orange zest, mild herbal. (6/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry and lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

Bit more like a wit than a saison. Sweet for a saison, and not as dry or spicy as I’d like. Pleasant enough as a thirst quencher, though. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Stone Brewing Company Spotlight Series: Drew & Steve’s Imperial Mutt Brown Ale – American Brown Ale at 9% ABV

Stone Brewing Company Spotlight Series: Drew & Steve’s Imperial Mutt Brown Ale American Brown Ale at 9% ABV (C$9.39 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear brown with a fat finger of rocky beige head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, spotty lacing. (4/5) Nose is roasty dark malt, chocolate and coffee, brown sugar and molasses. (8/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderately strong bitter. (8/10) Medium to full body, moderate to low carbonation, building bitter and slightly boozy finish. (4/5)

Nice: a Stone interpretation of a nut brown. Much more interesting than the usual, certainly making for a much hoppier finish than is normal for the style. The extra weight and heat of an “imperial” malt bill don’t go astray, either. All things considered, this is one mutt that will hunt. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

New Belgium Brewing Company Lips Of Faith – Pear Ginger Beer – Spice/Herb/Vegetable at 7% ABV

New Belgium Brewing Company Lips Of Faith – Pear Ginger Beer Spice/Herb/Vegetable at 7% ABV (C$9.12 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, best before 23-Apr-2016)

Pours slightly hazy medium gold with one finger of medium white head diminishing gradually to a dense cap, moderate lacing. (4/5) Nose is ginger, white pear, candi sugar. (6/10) Taste is moderately strong sweet, mild bitter, mild peppery spice. (6/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, slightly sticky and spicy finish. (3/5)

A bit mellower than e.g Crabbie’s, but with the subtle (but definite) added flavour of pear. And a higher ABV… Pleasant, but not even close to New Belgium’s best. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Moa Brewing Company St. Joseph’s – Abbey Tripel at 9.5% ABV

Moa Brewing Company  St. Joseph’s Abbey Tripel at 9.5% ABV (C$5.08 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 375 ml, best before 4-May-2015)

Pours hazy medium gold with one finger of rocky white head, good retention and lacing. (3/5) Nose is yeasty, dark fruit, caramel/toffee malt, banana and clove. (5/10) Taste is moderate sweet, very mild bitter. (5/10) Medium to full body, prickly carbonation, off-dry boozy finish. (3/5)

Meh. Slightly past its best before, OK, but I dunno how much better it would be fresh. This is the type of triple I don’t really prefer: malt-forward and fuller-bodied, instead of crisp and dry. The ABV is intrusively present as well, with the heat feeling like an unbalanced afterthought. Couldn’t be bothered to finish it. (10/20)

5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Burnside Brewing Company Oatmeal Pale – English Pale Ale at 5.6% ABV

Burnside Brewing Company Oatmeal Pale English Pale Ale at 5.6% ABV ($6.84 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, bottle date 21-Nov-2014)

Pours hazy pale amber with three fingers of rocky and growing off-white head and moderate lacing. (4/5) Nose is oatmeal, citrus, floral, earthy, caramel malt. (7/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium bodied and slightly creamy, moderate carbonation, dry and lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

First time I’ve had an “oatmeal pale,” but it plays out pretty much the way you’d expect: the oatmeal adds body and smoothness to the base pale ale, but also seems to slightly dull the nose. Perhaps as a result, the hop character seems to split the difference between English and American styles – not quite as bright and fruity as APA’s, but definitely more aggressive than typical EPA’s. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com