YellowBelly Brewery Mummer’s Brew Cranberry Chocolate Porter (2015) – American Porter at 7% ABV

YellowBelly Brewery Mummer’s Brew Cranberry Chocolate Porter (2015) American Porter at 7% ABV (C$12.50 at YellowBelly Brewery, 1 l, bottle date 10-Dec-2015, reviewed 30-Dec-2015)

Appearance: clear brown with amber-brown highlights, one finger of fluffy light tan head, moderate retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: dark chocolate, coffee, cranberry, dark malt. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, medium duration bitter finish. (3/5)

Seasonally appropriate sweet porter with added flavours from locally sourced chocolate and coffee. Not bad, but the flavours don’t feel completely integrated, particularly in the finish. I’m going to cellar a couple of these to see how they develop in a year or two. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Russell Brewing Company Naughty & Spiced Porter – American Porter at 6.5% ABV

Russell Brewing Company Naughty & Spiced Porter American Porter at 6.5% ABV (C$4.37 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 28-Dec-2015)

Appearance: clear brown with amber-brown highlights, one finger of fluffy light tan head, moderate retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: nutmeg, cinnamon and the usual suspect spices, coffee, chocolate, roasty malts, vanilla. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter, moderate spice. (6/10) Palate: medium slightly oily body, moderate sustained carbonation, and a lingering spicy finish. (3/5)

A bit heavy-handed with the spices, which are pretty similar to typical pumpkin spice beers. As a result, it doesn’t seem very “christmasy” to me. A sweet, spicy mess on top of a fairly middle-of-the-road amber. OK, nothing thrilling. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Quidi Vidi Brewing Company Winter Ale (2015) – Winter Warmer at 6% ABV

Quidi Vidi Brewing Company Winter Ale (2015) Winter Warmer at 6% ABV (C$2.29 at NLC Howley Estates, 341 ml, bottle date 11-Dec-2015, reviewed 28-Dec-2015)

Appearance: clear amber-brown with a short, short-lived light tan head, patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: coffee, chocolate, roasty malts, light citrus and spice. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, mild spice. (6/10) Palate: medium body, moderate sustained carbonation, and an off-dry bitter and mildly spicy finish. (3/5)

Seems slightly different than last year’s: I’m getting more chocolate and roasty malts, and less citrus, than I recall in the 2014 vintage. And unlike last year’s vintage, I’m getting a nicely balanced amount of seasonal spice, which was previously conspicuously absent. Still quite thin for the style in my opinion, and could definitely be bigger and more emphatic, but it’s not a complete wash. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

The Bruery 8 Maids-A-Milking – Imperial Milk Stout at 11.3% ABV

The Bruery 8 Maids-A-Milking Imperial Milk Stout at 11.3% ABV (C$13.90 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, bottle date 11-Sep-2015, reviewed 27-Dec-2015)

Appearance: nearly opaque black with a hint of brown around the margins, one finger of pillowy beige head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: muted, chocolate, raisins, roasty malts. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, mild bitter, moderate alcohol. (6/10) Palate: full slick body, moderate carbonation, lingering boozy finish. (3/5)

Pretty sweet, even for a milk stout. On the other hand, it’s an imperial milk stout (I think maybe the first I’ve ever tried) so there’s lots of booziness there too. Might be worth cellaring to see if it settles down, but as it stands it’s a big hot sticky mess. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Central City Brewers + Distillers Red Racer Gingerhead Gingerbread Stout – Irish Dry Stout at 6% ABV

Central City Brewers + Distillers Red Racer Gingerhead Gingerbread Stout Irish Dry Stout at 6% ABV (C$6.11 at NLC Stavanger, 650 ml, bottle date 25-Sep-2015, reviewed 26-Dec-2015)

Appearance: nearly opaque black with a hint of brown around the margins, one finger of pillowy beige head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Aroma: gingerbread, toffee, coffee and roasty malt. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, mild bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, medium duration spicy and bitter finish. (3/5)

Well, it’s definitely a gingerbread stout. Smells a little more gingerbready than it tastes, but it’s not badly done. A little on the sweet side for me, and a bit thin in the body. Pleasant enough to sip, wouldn’t bother with it again. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

2015 Craft Beer Advent Calendar Summary

Well, folks, that’ll do it for another year’s Craft Beer Advent Calendar. I present the following 2015 summary, for future reference:

Anderson Valley Brewing Company: Fall Hornin’ (Spice / Herb / Vegetable) – 7/10
Lighthouse Brewing Co.: Black Sam Licorice Stout (American Double / Imperial Stout) – 6/10
Aspen Brewing Company: Independence Pass Ale (American IPA) – 7.5/10
Strathroy Brewing Co.: 1815 XXXX Peacemaker (Traditional Ale) – 6/10
Aviator Brewing Company: Devils Tramping Ground Tripel (Tripel) – 6.5/10
Big Sky Brewing Company: Biere De Noël (2015) (Belgian Strong Dark Ale) – 7.5/10
Cameron’s Brewing Company: Into the Shade Saison Limited Unfiltered Release (Saison) – 7.5/10
Spider Bite Beer Co.: Boris the Spider (Russian Imperial Stout) – 7.5/10
Iron Fist Brewing Company: Spice of Life (Bière de Garde) – 6.5/10
Bridge Brewing Company: Sleigh Booster Imperial Red Ale (American Strong Ale) – 8/10
The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company: Ursa Major Brown Ale (American Brown Ale) – 6/10
Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery: Saint Beatnick (Sweet Stout) – 7/10
Evil Twin Brewing: The Cowboy (Smoked Beer) – 7/10
Saugatuck Brewing Company: Blueberry Maple Stout (Sweet Stout) – 5.5/10
West Sixth Brewing: Christmas Ale (Christmas / Winter Specialty Spiced Beer) – 6.5/10
Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery: Baltic Porter (Baltic Porter) – 8.5/10
Black Market Brewing Co.: The Tradecraft Series Sour Ale With Cherries (Berliner Weisse) – 6/10
Black Oak Brewing Co.: Neck of the Woods Vintage Ale (English Strong Ale) – 7.5/10
Back Forty Beer Company: Trade Day Cuban Coffee Stout (American Stout) – 6.5/10
Paddock Wood Brewing Company: Marzyana (Tripel) – 6/10
Clown Shoes Beer: Bombay Berserker Indian Style Chocolate Stout (American Double / Imperial Stout) – 7/10
Yukon Brewing Company: Longest Night Cascadian Dark Ale (Black IPA) – 5.5/10
Sound Brewery: Old Yonder Star Yorkshire Style Holiday Ale (English Strong Ale) – 6.5/10
DuClaw Brewing Company: Sweet Baby Jesus! (American Porter) – 7.5/10

#ryansbooze  ryansbooze.com

DuClaw Brewing Company Sweet Baby Jesus! – American Porter at 6.2% ABV

DuClaw Brewing Company Sweet Baby Jesus! American Porter at 6.2% ABV (2015 Craft Beer Advent Calendar Day #24, 355 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 24-Dec-2015)

Appearance: opaque near-black with only hints of clear brown around the margins, one finger of loose light beige head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: peanut, chocolate, roasty malts. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate carbonation, off-dry slightly astringent
finish. (4/5)

Well, Sweet Baby Jesus! Nice solid finish to the advent calendar, and a particularly fun and apropos name to end on. Smells like it’s going to be overwhelmingly sweet, but in fact it’s pretty well-balanced, with emphatic chocolate and peanut flavour dominating, accompanied by only mild sweetness. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Sound Brewery Old Yonder Star Yorkshire Style Holiday Ale – English Strong Ale at 7.3% ABV

Sound Brewery Old Yonder Star Yorkshire Style Holiday Ale English Strong Ale at 7.3% ABV (2015 Craft Beer Advent Calendar Day #23, 355 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 23-Dec-2015)

Appearance: clear brown with a short, short-lived loose light beige head, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: mild, toffee, dark fruit, roasty malt, nutty. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry slightly astringent
finish. (3/5)

Fairly pleasant darker Wintereenmas-warmer-whatever ale, but it falls off rapidly. The aromas and flavours lend themselves to a more emphatic approach, rather than the light and easy-drinking aspect it has. That said, it’s no mean feat to make 7.3% so easily drinkable, so kudos there for sure. Not bad at all, but it felt like it could’ve been so much more. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Quidi Vidi Brewing Company Mummer’s Brew (2015) – American Amber / Red Ale at 5% ABV

Quidi Vidi Brewing Company Mummer’s Brew (2015) American Amber / Red Ale at 5% ABV (C$3.46 at NLC Howley Estates, 341 ml, bottle date 1-Dec-2015, reviewed 22-Dec-2015)

Appearance: clear medium amber with a short finger of off-white head diminishing rapidly to nothing, minimal patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: mild caramel malt, some roasted tones, minimal hops. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium-light body, lively to moderate carbonation, short duration mildly bitter finish. (4/5)

Seems to be pretty similar to last year’s version – I suspect there are no recipe or hop changes at all. Despite being named for a Christmas tradition, there are none of the traditional “winter warmer” characteristics or spices. Pretty standard amber ale – nothing offensive, and nothing special. (10/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Yukon Brewing Company Longest Night Cascadian Dark Ale – Black IPA at 6% ABV

Yukon Brewing Company Longest Night Cascadian Dark Ale Black IPA at 6% ABV (2015 Craft Beer Advent Calendar Day #22, 355 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 22-Dec-2015)

Appearance: clear amber-brown with one finger of medium dense light beige head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Aroma: chocolate malt, earthy, pine, citrus, herbal, tobacco & leather. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (5/10) Palate: medium body tending to watery, moderate carbonation, off-dry bitter finish. (3/5)

OK, bonus points for effort, what with the position in the advent calendar corresponding to the solstice in the calendar, but it’s sort of a “close, but no cigar” situation: yes, the solstice falls on December 22, 2015, but at shortly before 0500 UTC, so the longest night of the year is in fact the night following the evening of the 21st. That is, last night. So, unless you open your advent beer after midnight each day, you miss it by one… oh, well… The beer itself? Well, it’s kind of bland, to be honest: mild aromas, mild flavours, light colour and body. Not a particularly inspiring example of a style that’s actually pretty hard to get right. Could be good, with more of, well, pretty much everything, but pretty boring as it stands. (10/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com