Aviator Brewing Company Devils Tramping Ground Tripel – Tripel at 9.2% ABV

Aviator Brewing Company Devils Tramping Ground Tripel Tripel at 9.2% ABV (2015 Craft Beer Advent Calendar Day #5, 355 ml, bottle date 26-Aug-2015, reviewed 5-Dec-2015)

Appearance: clear medium gold with one finger of white rocky head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Aroma: doughy yeast, candi malt, honey, stone fruit, floral. (6/10) Taste: moderately strong sweet, mild bitter, lightly tart. (6/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate carbonation, syrupy, sticky, and slightly hot finish. (3/5)

A fairly authentic-tasting Belgian-style tripel, albeit of the sweet style rather than the dry which I prefer. It’s a bit of a handful, syrupy and hot, but reasonably drinkable despite the high ABV, and with a mild funk lending an air of Belgian authenticity. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Strathroy Brewing Co. 1815 XXXX Peacemaker – Traditional Ale at 6% ABV

Strathroy Brewing Co. 1815 XXXX Peacemaker Traditional Ale at 6% ABV (2015 Craft Beer Advent Calendar Day #4, 341 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 4-Dec-2015)

Appearance: nearly opaque brown with clear amber-brown margins, a short dense tan head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: roasty malts, dark fruits, caramel, earthy, light smoke. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. light tart, hint of umame. (6/10) Palate: medium body tending a little to the watery, soft carbonation, off-dry slightly astringent finish. (3/5)

A bit on the bland side, but the style doesn’t tend to be the most exciting at the best of times. Not actually unpleasant, but probably not worth seeking out unless you’re a die-hard fan of the style. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Waterloo Brewing Co. Spiced Dunkel – Dunkelweizen at 6.1% ABV

Waterloo Brewing Co. Spiced Dunkel Dunkelweizen at 6.1% ABV (C$3.46 at NLC Howley Estates, 473 ml, bottle date 28-Nov-2015, reviewed 3-Dec-2015)

Appearance: clear deep amber with a short, short-lived light tan head, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: cinnamon, ginger, light vanilla. (4/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (3/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry sticky and spicy finish. (2/5)

Not great. Actually, that’s overly generous: not good. Not even “good enough,” really. Aggressive spice and sweet don’t change the fact that this is at heart a very boring beer, but do succeed in making it a cloying, mouth-coating mess. You might call it more-ish, if only because the finish inclines one to drastic measures – like another sip. The only reason I’d rather have this than e.g. a Coors Lite is because I already had a half case of Coors and was looking for a change. And then only if I had some more Coors to take the taste out of my mouth. Do yourself a favour and avoid this. (8/20)

4/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Aspen Brewing Company Independence Pass Ale – American IPA at 7% ABV

Aspen Brewing Company Independence Pass Ale American IPA at 7% ABV (2015 Craft Beer Advent Calendar Day #3, 355 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 3-Dec-2015)

Appearance: clear pale amber with two fingers of pillowy ivory head, excellent retention and good lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, floral, pine, pale malt, perfume, black tea. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, soft carbonation, off-dry bitter and warming finish. (4/5)

Tastes good, but actually smells a whole bunch better. I find the carbonation just a touch low for the style – it’s kind of riding the line between an IPA and a D/IPA, in my opinion (which isn’t a bad thing, by any means). The beefier ABV is indicated by the slightly heavier feel in the body and a slight edge and warming on the finish. A little more carbonation might act to lift the body just a touch and address that issue. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Lighthouse Brewing Co. Black Sam Licorice – American Double / Imperial Stout at 7.2% ABV

Lighthouse Brewing Co. Black Sam Licorice Stout American Double / Imperial Stout at 7.2% ABV (2015 Craft Beer Advent Calendar Day #2, 355 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 2-Dec-2015)

Appearance: opaque black with one finger of dense tan head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: roasty malts, dark fruit, light liquorice, faint chocolate/coffee. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Palate: full slightly oily body, soft carbonation, off-dry and sticky bitter finish. (3/5)

Decent stout. The liquorice is there, but much less dominant than the name would suggest – if anything, it starts off smelling and tasting almost like an oatmeal stout. Not sure if the sweetness is driven by the malts and liquorice, or whether there’s a little contribution from the somewhat higher ABV, but it succeeds in being sweet without being cloying. The sweetness and the higher ABV work together to make this a decent slow sipper, but I’m not sure I’d want to try more than one at a go. (16/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Anderson Valley Brewing Company Fall Hornin’ – Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 6% ABV

Anderson Valley Brewing Company Fall Hornin’ Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 6% ABV (2015 Craft Beer Advent Calendar Day #1, Sherbrooke Liquor, 355 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 1-Dec-2015)

Appearance: clear deep amber with one finger of medium dense ivory head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Aroma: vegetal pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices, caramel and slightly bready malt, mild red berries, faint pine and chocolate. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate-soft carbonation, off-dry bitter finish. (4/5)

I was a little disappointed to see a pumpkin ale as the first selection in this year’s advent calendar, but upon reflection I can sort of see it as autumn’s last hurrah, ushering in the winter season. And, to be fair, it’s an OK pumpkin ale – a nice blend of real pumpkin flavour and the usual suspect spices, with enough boldness to avoid being watery and boring. I find myself warming up to it the more the glass progresses. Just as long as there’s not a second one lurking in there… (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com