Ballast Point Brewing Company Sculpin – American IPA at 7% ABV

Ballast Point Brewing Company Sculpin American IPA at 7% ABV (C$9.27 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Appearance: clear pale amber, two fingers of rocky ivory head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: pale malt, citrus and fruity hops. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderately strong bitter. (9/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

A really good example of the A/IPA style: nicely balanced hop bitterness supported by a clean malt. Lots of citrusy tones from the hops, with a clean bitter finish. Really good, but for me not quite as good as the grapefruit version. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Ballast Point Brewing Company Grapefruit Sculpin – American IPA at 7% ABV

Ballast Point Brewing Company Grapefruit Sculpin American IPA at 7% ABV (C$3.45 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 355 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Appearance: clear pale amber, one finger of fluffy ivory head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: pithy grapefruit, pale malt, citrus and fruity hops. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderately strong bitter. (9/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Just excellent. The balance between the pithy grapefruit and the citrus from the hops is nigh-on perfect, and there’s just enough sweetness from the pale malt (and probably the grapefruit) to keep it from getting too sharp. Really good. (18/20)

9/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Pfungstädter Brauerei Hildebrand Edel Pils – Pilsener at 4.9% ABV

Pfungstädter Brauerei Hildebrand Edel Pils Pilsener at 4.9% ABV (C$3.09 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 500 ml, best before 27-Aug-2016)

Appearance: clear pale straw, one finger of rocky white head, good retention and patchy minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: grainy pale malt, grassy. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (6/10) Light body, lively to moderate carbonation, crisp dry and astringent bitter finish. (3/5)

I like the sharpness of the finish, which comes across almost as fresh-cut grass, but other than that, nothing remarkable. Pretty simple and straightforward, with not a lot to distinguish it from any other number of pale Euro legs or Czech style pilseners. Perfectly OK with supper, though. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brewsters Brewing Company Oktoberfest – Oktoberfest / Märzen at 5.5% ABV

Brewsters Brewing Company Oktoberfest Oktoberfest / Märzen at 5.5% ABV (C$5.79 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, bottle date 1-Aug-2015)

Appearance: clear pale amber, one finger of fluffy light tan head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: caramel and toasty malts, floral and earthy, nutty. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (6/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, medium duration finish. (3/5)

Yeah, yeah, I know – it’s November and I’m still drinking Octoberfests. Considering I was greeted by snow at 0500 this morning, it’s definitely the beginning of the end for autumn. Decent example of the style, if a little simplistic. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Phillips Brewing Company Longboat Chocolate Porter – Porter at 5.2% ABV

Phillips Brewing Company Longboat Chocolate Porter Porter at 5.2% ABV (C$5.39 at South Trail Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Appearance: nearly opaque black, one fat finger of fluffy tan head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: milky chocolate, light coffee, malted milk, lightly nutty. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Full body, moderate-low carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Sweet and milky chocolate leads out, but it’s backed up with enough bitterness to keep it from being cloying. Decent depth and pleasantly balanced. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Quarry Park Co-Op and Willow Park (2015-11-05)

Went to Quarry Park Co-Op and Willow Park today!

Alley Kat Brewing Co. Alberta Dragon
Bad Tattoo Brewing Full Sleeve Strong Stout
Ballast Point Brewing Company Grapefruit Sculpin
Ballast Point Brewing Company Sculpin
Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! Dernière Volonté Brett
BrewDog Dogma Scotch Ale
BrewDog Libertine Black Ale
Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck Kasteel Cuvee du Chateau (2015)
Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck Kasteel Tripel
Dageraad Brewing Wet-Hopped Blonde
Gigantic Brewing Company White Light White Heat (#28)
Mt. Begbie Brewing Co. Illa Swilla Wit
Ninkasi Brewing Company Noir
Plzeňský Prazdroj Velkopopovický Kozel Premium
Stone Brewing Company 08.08.08 Vertical Epic
Unibroue La Résolution
Wild Rose Brewery Flanders Ave Red

#ryansbooze  ryansbooze.com

Phillips Brewing Company Crookeder Tooth Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale – Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 7.3% ABV

Phillips Brewing Company Crookeder Tooth Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 7.3% ABV (C$7.49 at South Trail Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Appearance: clear medium amber, one fat finger of creamy light tan head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: vegetal pumpkin and spices, bourbon, vanilla, citrus, woody. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light tart. (8/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, short duration mildly warming finish. (4/5)

Oh yeah, that works – think pumpkin pie, with bourbon sauce. For me, this is pretty much the holy grail of pumpkin beers: a pumpkin beer that I like, without qualification. I would drink this without complaint, any time. Somewhat more intense pumpkin and spices than its little brother, but the big difference is the depth of flavour imparted by the bourbon barrel aging. And on that note, I’m done with punkin beer for the year – glad I saved the best for last! (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Stone Brewing Company Smoked Porter (2015) – American Porter at 5.9% ABV

Stone Brewing Company Smoked Porter (2015) American Porter at 5.9% ABV (C$7.22 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, bottle date 12-Mar-2015)

Appearance: clear amber-brown, one fat finger of creamy light tan head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Aroma: smoke, roasty malt, mild chocolate and coffee. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light smoke. (8/10) Medium-full creamy body, moderate carbonation, short duration slightly smoky finish. (4/5)

Good looking and nicely balanced, with the smoke being definitively present, yet not overwhelming. Pretty simple flavours, with just the basics on both the nose and tongue, but decently done. (16/20)

My 204th from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die (193rd from the 2013 edition), and 215th combining both editions.

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Phillips Brewing Company Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale – Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 5% ABV

Phillips Brewing Company Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 5% ABV (C$7.49 at South Trail Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Appearance: clear medium amber, one fat finger of creamy light tan head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: vegetal pumpkin and spices, light sweet malt, faint grassy and earthy hops. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light tart. (8/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, short duration finish. (4/5)

My brother recently pointed out to me that my reviews of pumpkin beers have a tendency to be apologetic in tone: that they boil down to “For a beer I don’t like, it’s not bad.” And there’s probably a lot of truth to that, but the fact is I kind of take what I can get when it comes to trying new stuff. Not only that, but Phillips (and to a lesser extent, Russell) tend to be brewers for whom my reviews tend to be apologetic – but that comes, not from disliking them, but thinking they have the potential of being so much better. (So this is pretty much a perfect match, right?) Anyway, this year I ended up with about six different pumpkin beers to try, but there was a bit of a method to my madness: I tried to do them in roughly the order I expected to enjoy them, saving the best for last. And dang, if it doesn’t seem like I nailed it. This is the penultimate (I have its big Crookeder brother left to go) and the scores thus far have gone 5.5, 6.0, 6.5, and 7.0. For this one, I’m going out on a limb a little on the scoring, but ultimately it’s a beer I would actually drink again – and for a pumpkin beer, that’s saying something! It’s not that it doesn’t taste or smell like pumpkin, because it does, but rather that the mildness feels both balanced and deliberate, like a half strength pumpkin pie, and it doesn’t lose sight of the fact that it’s also supposed to smell and taste like beer. This one really is worth trying on its own merits. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Russell Brewing Company Happy Jack Pumpkin Ale – Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 5.5% ABV

Russell Brewing Company Happy Jack Pumpkin Ale Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 5.5% ABV (C$5.99 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, bottle date 18-Sep-2015)

Appearance: clear deep amber, one fat finger of fluffy light tan head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: vegetal pumpkin and spices, nutty, caramel malt, faint woody. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (7/10) Medium body, lively to moderate carbonation, short duration finish with some lingering spice. (4/5)

As pumpkin beers go, a decent example of the style. In particular, there’s both a noticeable vegetal pumpkin flavour, and a pleasant spice character. I wouldn’t go looking for it again, but I’ve certainly had much worse. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com