Four Winds Saison – Saison at 6.5% ABV

Four Winds Saison Saison at 6.5% ABV (On tap at Craft Beer Market Calgary, reviewed 23-Feb-2016)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with one finger of rocky ivory head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Aroma: lemon zest, banana, light dry funky hay. (7/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, mild bitter, light funky tart. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, drying finish. (3/5)

Decent saison. Some fruity esters were not quite what I expected, but otherwise a pleasant example of the style. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Borg Brugghus Leifur Nr. 32 – Saison at 6.8% ABV

Borg Brugghus Leifur Nr. 32 Saison at 6.8% ABV (C$4.39 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 330 ml, best before 6-Jun-2018, reviewed 22-Feb-2016)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with two fingers of rocky ivory head, excellent retention and lacing. (5/5) Aroma: lemon zest, honey and pale malt, hay, apples, light dry funk. (7/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, mild bitter, light funky tart. (5/10) Palate: medium-light body tending to watery, moderate-low carbonation, short duration finish. (3/5)

Starts off strong, looking pretty much perfect for the style, and smelling promising with the appropriate lemon zest, hay and so on. But the taste, while not actually off, just doesn’t live up to the smell. And the body quickly drops away to a watery, short finish. I suppose it’s possible that this is actually more in keeping with the traditional implementation of the style, but that argument falls a little flat in light of the ABV, which is about double what one might’ve served to farmhands as a thirst quencher. (Although that in itself is a pretty good trick, since it’s a bit on the high side yet well hidden.) Easy-drinking, yes, but I’d prefer this if it were a bit more tart, and a bit more carbonated, and, well, I guess just a bit more. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mikkeller …Zest Please! – American Porter at 7% ABV

Mikkeller …Zest Please! American Porter at 7% ABV (C$6.40 at Sherbrooke Liquor, 330 ml, best before 15-Apr-2017, reviewed 22-Feb-2016)

Appearance: near opaque black with some particulate, one fat finger of medium dense beige head, good retention and moderate lacing. (5/5) Aroma: orange zest, cocoa, liquorice, dark roasty malt. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter, light tart. (8/10) Palate: moderate slightly oily body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter, tart, and warming finish. (4/5)

Well, that’s more than a little weird, but not in a negative way. The citrus tones really are orange zest, with not even a suggestion of juice or pith. (I’m also more than a little convinced that the particulate is actually the orange zest itself.) The sweetness is actually less than it seems at first, and is really barely sufficient to offset the bitterness of both the hops and the orange peel, which build and become progressively more aggressive as the pint progresses. Well balanced with a mild ABV that manifests only as a gentle warming towards the end. Not your typical beer, but well worth a try. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Dageraad Brewing Londen Unfiltered – Porter at 7% ABV

Dageraad Brewing Londen Unfiltered Porter at 7% ABV (C$5.39 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 21-Feb-2016)

Appearance: slightly hazy brown, a short, short-lived light beige head, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: coffee, dry cocoa, roasty malt, dark fruit. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: moderate-light body, moderate carbonation, bitter lightly tart finish. (3/5)

So, it’s supposed to be ‘a couple of Canadian brewers imagining how a Belgian brewer would reimagine an English porter”. Huh. Y’know, I get that. It’s lighter in the body than a typical English porter, with high carbonation and higher ABV, with a little dark fruit and a slightly tart finish. Yes, I realize those are all characteristics that a Belgian would inject – the Canadians would be too polite to add anything of their own. The politeness carries through to the ABV, which is certainly respectable but in no way intrusive. Oh, wait, I get the Canadian aspect – it’s so polite, it’s slightly boring. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Farmery Estate Brewery Premium Lager – American Pale Lager at 5% ABV

Farmery Estate Brewery Premium Lager American Pale Lager at 5% ABV (C$3.49 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 473 ml, best before 20-Jan-2016, reviewed 21-Feb-2016)

Appearance: clear pale gold, a short, short-lived white head, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: biscuity malt, grassy, light fruit. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-light bitter. (5/10) Palate: light body, moderate carbonation, light bitter finish. (3/5)

Pretty bog standard Pale Lager. The “Best Served Ice Cold” indication on the label is a pretty clear warning, in my experience. It’s not terrible – fairly OK as long as it’s cold – and a least a little better than a macro lager. (10/20)

5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Hopworks Urban Brewery Abominable Winter Ale – American Strong Ale at 7.3% ABV

Hopworks Urban Brewery Abominable Winter Ale American Strong Ale at 7.3% ABV (C$4.79 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 473 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 20-Feb-2016)

Appearance: clear medium amber, one finger of creamy ivory head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: caramel/toffee malt, resiny pine, citrus, melon, floral. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

A decent American Strong. Similar to Arrogant Bastard, which is pretty much my gold standard metric for the style, but not quite as emphatic and interesting. Not quite the same profile as a malt-forward DIPA, but really not all that different. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mikkeller I Beat yoU. – American Double / Imperial IPA at 9.75% ABV

Mikkeller I Beat yoU. American Double / Imperial IPA at 9.75% ABV (C$6.49 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 330 ml, best before 15-Jul-2015, reviewed 20-Feb-2016)

Appearance: cloudy pale amber, short eggshell head, good retention and no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: caramel malt, pine, citrus, floral, nutty. (5/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (5/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate-low carbonation, sweet malty and bitter finish. (3/5)

Malt forward caramelly DIPA that is exactly the style I don’t like. Mind you, it’s months past its BB, so that’s probably a factor – I’m sure any hop character it might once have had is long faded. I think I’m going to bring this back to Co-Op and yell at them for putting expired stuff in their “Beer Discovery” packs. It’s honestly the worst Mikkeller I’ve ever had. Reminds me of Green Gold, but even more malt forward, almost toffee. And, actually, when I think about that in the context of some of the other hoppy Mikkeller brews I’ve had, with truly stupidly long shelf lives, I start thinking maybe it’s not age at all. Still gonna go yell at Co-Op though. And no, Mikkeller, you aren’t beating much with this. (11/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Evil Twin Brewing Femme Fatale Sudachi – American IPA at 6% ABV

Evil Twin Brewing Femme Fatale Sudachi American IPA at 6% ABV (C$12.11 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 20-Feb-2016)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale straw, massive fluffy white head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: lemon zest, tropical fruit, dry hay funk, floral and earth. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter, light tart. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off dry funky and lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Yep, that’s a brett head, all right. And a funky tart brett finish. Nice. Juicy, hoppy, and funky – what’s not to like? (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Yukon Brewing Company I’m Leaving Today – American Pale Ale at 5.7% ABV

Yukon Brewing Company I’m Leaving Today American Pale Ale at 5.7% ABV (C$7.49 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 20-Feb-2016)

Appearance: clear pale amber, two fingers of rocky light beige head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, stone fruit, grassy, caramel malt, light onion. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off dry bitter finish. (3/5)

Not a bad APA – certainly a pretty one, if otherwise not all that impressive. The hops are a little muted, and there’s a slight onion (or cattty) note that grows as the pint progresses. It’s not bad, even so. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Powell Street Craft Brewery Le Vagabond French Saison – Saison at 6% ABV

Powell Street Craft Brewery Le Vagabond French Saison Saison at 6% ABV (C$5.39 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 18-Feb-2016)

Appearance: clear pale gold, one fat finger of rocky eggshell head, excellent retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: stone fruit, pale malt, coriander, mild funk and smoke, light earth. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off dry bitter finish. (3/5)

Not quite sure what makes this a “french” saison. I mean, saison is a franco-belgian style, so… Department of Redundancy Department much? I mean, it’s not bad, but it’s not very interesting, either. It’s a fairly typical saison, without a lot to recommend a special effort. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com