Spindrift Brewing Co. Coastal Lager – Oktoberfest / Märzen at 5% ABV

Spindrift Brewing Co. Coastal Lager Oktoberfest / Märzen at 5% ABV (C$2.29 at NLC Howley Estates, 473 ml, bottle date 12-Nov-2015, reviewed 21-Dec-2015)

Appearance: clear medium to deep gold with one finger of rocky ivory head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grassy, herbal, dank, caramel, honey, stone fruit. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering hoppy finish. (4/5)

A surprisingly dank and hoppy lager – not what I was expecting at all. Really quite a pleasant surprise, and although it’s a long way from your typical Märzen, I might be so bold as to say it’s the one of the better ones I’ve ever tasted (maybe for that reason), or at least one of the more interesting. Somewhat deeper colour and flavour, and certainly a lot more hops than one normally expects in the style. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Clown Shoes Beer Bombay Berserker Indian Style Chocolate Stout – American Double / Imperial Stout at 10% ABV

Clown Shoes Beer Bombay Berserker Indian Style Chocolate Stout American Double / Imperial Stout at 10% ABV (2015 Craft Beer Advent Calendar Day #21, 355 ml, bottle date 28-Jul-2015, reviewed 21-Dec-2015)

Appearance: semi opaque brown with deep amber highlights, one finger of medium dense beige head diminishing gradually to nothing, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: strongly spicy (ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, others), chocolate, chai tea, vanilla, roasty malt. (7/10) Taste: moderate-strong sweet, moderate peppery spice, mild bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate carbonation, spicy slightly warming finish. (4/5)

A bit unbalanced with the spice, perhaps, but the interesting thing about the particular spice balance is that it doesn’t linger and build the way more “Mexican” spices might (for example, as with their Mexican Sombrero). I’m not completely sold on spicy beers, but this isn’t badly done at all, and it’s almost perfectly seasonally appropriate even though it’s “Indian Style”, as opposed to “North American Christmas Style”. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Paddock Wood Brewing Company Marzyana – Tripel at 9.2% ABV

Paddock Wood Brewing Company Marzyana Tripel at 9.2% ABV (2015 Craft Beer Advent Calendar Day #20, 355 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 20-Dec-2015)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale amber with one finger of loose off-white head diminishing rapidly to a think skim, patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: apples and pears, candi sugar, caramel, yeasty spice. (6/10) Taste: moderate-strong sweet, moderate bitter, light peppery spice. (6/10) Palate: medium slightly syrupy body, moderate carbonation, sweet warming finish. (3/5)

A fairly authentic… ish… Belgian tripel, albeit of the sweet and hot variety that isn’t my preference. If one were uncharitable, the words “hot sticky mess” might be used, but that might be a tad harsh. Personally, I’d be happier if it were drier, with a bit less brown apple. It’s not terrible by any means, and I’ve had very similar beers in Belgium, but I wouldn’t go looking for this (or them) again. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Back Forty Beer Company Trade Day Cuban Coffee Stout – American Stout at 8% ABV

Back Forty Beer Company Trade Day Cuban Coffee Stout American Stout at 8% ABV (2015 Craft Beer Advent Calendar Day #19, 355 ml, bottle date 23-Jul-2015, reviewed 19-Dec-2015)

Appearance: opaque solid block with no highlights, one finger of dense beige head, good retention and no lacing. (4/5) Aroma: slightly astringent coffee, dark roasty malt, light chocolate. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-strong bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium-full slightly oily body, moderate-low carbonation, dry slightly astringent finish. (3/5)

The coffee starts off a little astringent, especially in the aroma, but it mellows a bit through the glass. I couldn’t find any indication of ABV on the bottle, but if the published value of 8% is correct, it’s quite well-implemented and doesn’t intrude at all. Not bad, not great. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Black Oak Brewing Co. Neck of the Woods Vintage Ale – English Strong Ale at 8.5% ABV

Black Oak Brewing Co. Neck of the Woods Vintage Ale English Strong Ale at 8.5% ABV (2015 Craft Beer Advent Calendar Day #18, 341 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 18-Dec-2015)

Appearance: clear medium amber with one finger of fluffy light beige head, excellent retention and well-defined lacing. (5/5) Aroma: caramel/toffee, dark dried fruit, toasty bready malt, nutty, herbal. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-strong bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, dry and mildly warming finish. (4/5)

I really need more Black Oak beers in my life – they’re a solid brewer who in my experience do an excellent DIPA (10 Bitter Years) and even manage to make Nut Browns OK. And they’ve done it again here with this, regardless of whether you call it an English Strong or an Old Ale. I wouldn’t call it exciting, but it’s a solid, well-crafted ale, and it’s prettier’n all git out – structurally it’s pretty much perfect. And although the aromas and flavours aren’t the most exciting, they’re well-balanced and carry the relatively high ABV so well that it comes through only as a mild warming. (In fact, the overall effect is almost one of a barleywine.) Really nothing negative to say here – a decent brew, and quite seasonally appropriate. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Black Market Brewing Co. The Tradecraft Series Sour Ale With Cherries – Berliner Weisse at 3.8% ABV

Black Market Brewing Co. The Tradecraft Series Sour Ale With Cherries Berliner Weisse at 3.8% ABV (2015 Craft Beer Advent Calendar Day #17, 355 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 17-Dec-2015)

Appearance: clear red-tinged pale amber with one finger of loose light pink head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: sour cherries, light cheesy funk and butyric, possible slight diacetyl. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, minimal bitter. (6/10) Palate: light body, moderate carbonation, clean tart finish. (4/5)

Bit disappointing compared to both the base 1945 Berlinerweisse, and to the blackberry variant. The cherries don’t come across as artificial, as such, and I’m not getting the dreaded cough syrup effect, but there’s something else going on there that doesn’t make me happy. I don’t know whether it’s the cherries themselves, or whether there’s an age or contamination issue, but the funk isn’t “clean” – there’s a cheesy or butyric (vomit) tone present that, although slight, is adverse. I’m halfway convinced there’s some buttery diacetyl there as well, just to top off the negative column. However, these are all relatively small problems, and don’t render the beer undrinkable – just not as good as I had been hoping. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Persephone Brewing Company Rum Runner Red Ale – American Amber / Red Ale at 6% ABV

Persephone Brewing Company Rum Runner Red Ale American Amber / Red Ale at 6% ABV (C$8.49 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 16-Dec-2015)

Appearance: clear reddish deep amber with three fingers (and growing) of fluffy light tan head, excellent retention and heavy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: pine, citrus, caramel/toffee, bready yeast. (8/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, moderate-strong bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate to low carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

A somewhat strange beer. I was initially intrigued by the hoppy aroma, but ultimately a bit disappointed by the final overall effect. Despite the initial redonkulously enthusiastic head, the carbonation rapidly drops off to low, causing the flavours to fall somewhat flat. The net effect of this is that it smells better than it tastes. Still, pretty interesting for a red ale. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Pfungstädter Brauerei Hildebrand 1831 Schwarzbier – Schwarzbier at 5.3% ABV

Pfungstädter Brauerei Hildebrand 1831 Schwarzbier Schwarzbier at 5.3% ABV (C$3.09 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 500 ml, best before 29-Aug-2016, reviewed 16-Dec-2015)

Appearance: clear amber-brown with one finger of dense light tan head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: muted, caramel, roasty grain, grassy, nutty, light smoke, metallic. (5/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, moderate bitter. (5/10) Palate: medium-light body tending to watery, moderate-low carbonation, off-dry slightly smoky and metallic finish. (3/5)

As usual, a schwarzbier that leaves me less than impressed. It’s just not a very interesting style at the best of times, and this isn’t the best, by a long shot. It’s drinkable, just not exciting. (11/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery Baltic Porter – Baltic Porter at 9% ABV

Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery Baltic Porter Baltic Porter at 9% ABV (2015 Craft Beer Advent Calendar Day #16, 355 ml, best before 1-Jul-2016, reviewed 16-Dec-2015)

Appearance: opaque deep brown /black with only the faintest hints of lighter brown around the margins, short, short-lived beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, no lacing. (4/5) Aroma: dark chocolate, toffee, dark roasty grains, boozy cherries, hint of smoke and leather. (9/10) Taste: moderate-strong sweet, moderate bitter. (9/10) Palate: full oily body, soft carbonation, medium duration slightly boozy finish. (4/5)

I usually find baltic porters a bit too sweet for my preference, but this one has the body and presence to pull it off. Alcohol doesn’t significantly affect the flavour, but is definitely present in the finish and a pleasant warming. Definite slow sipper for savouring. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Wells & Young’s Brewery Banana Bread Beer English Strong Ale at 5.2% ABV (C$5.79 at Quarry Park Calgary…

No numbering data as I ticked this one off ages ago without having done a proper review.

Patrick Ryan originally shared this post:

Wells & Young's Brewery Banana Bread Beer English Strong Ale at 5.2% ABV (C$5.79 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 500 ml, best before 28-Jun-2016, reviewed 15-Dec-2015)

Appearance: clear pale amber with a short, short-lived head, no lacing. (2/5) Aroma: banana, toffee, bready yeast. (4/10) Taste: moderate-strong sweet, mild bitter. (4/10) Palate: medium-light body tending to watery, moderate carbonation, off-dry slightly metallic finish. (2/5)

Yes, it sort of tastes like banana bread. Extremely sweet and artificially-flavoured banana bread. I suppose it’s OK as a one-time alternative to a macro lager, but that’s about it. (8/20)

4/10 #1001beers   #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com