Prairie Artisan Ales Christmas Bomb! – American Double / Imperial Stout at 11% ABV

Prairie Artisan Ales Christmas Bomb! American Double / Imperial Stout at 11% ABV (Trade – thanks Bayman4048!, 355 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 31-Mar-2016)

Appearance: nearly opaque black with brown highlights, one finger of fine creamy beige head, excellent retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: chilli pepper, dark chocolate, red berries, light ginger and Christmas spices. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, mild spice. (7/10) Palate: full creamy body, moderate carbonation, and an off-dry lightly boozy and building spicy finish. (4/5)

The chilli spice was somewhat unexpected, but surprisingly well-balanced and integrated. I’ve been at best less than impressed with pretty much every other chilli spiced beer I’ve tried, but this actually pulls it off. I suspect this works because of the addition of chocolate into the mix, which puts me in mind of a mole sauce. Add to that the nearly invisible double digit ABV, and you’ve got a seriously explosive mix. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Wells & Young’s Brewery Bombardier Glorious English – Premium Bitter / ESB at 5.2% ABV

Wells & Young’s Brewery Bombardier Glorious English Premium Bitter / ESB at 5.2% ABV (C$3.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 500 ml, best before 18-Aug-2016, reviewed 23-Mar-2016)

Appearance: clear deep amber with one finger of fine light beige ivory head, excellent retention and good lacing. (5/5) Aroma: caramel and toffee, nonspecific fruity esters, earthy. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body tending to watery, moderate carbonation, off-dry slightly astringent finish. (3/5)

“Glorious”? I think not. “Acceptable,” perhaps. I’m trying to avoid my tendency to want everything to taste like an IPA or a sour, but really, this is pretty plain. The other thing about this is, it’s really very reminiscent of their Sticky Toffee Pudding. In fact, when I reviewed the Sticky Toffee Pudding, I said it was like mixing “one unremarkable ESB and one bag of Werther’s Originals.” Well, I think this is that unremarkable ESB. It’s not terrible, and I could see drinking a large amount of it in some small dark pub, but it’s not exactly going to thrill you. (13/20)

My 223rd from the 2010 Edition (212th from the 2013 edition), and 234th combining both editions.

6.5/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Speakeasy Big Daddy – American IPA at 6.5% ABV

Speakeasy Big Daddy American IPA at 6.5% ABV (C$9.49 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 23-Mar-2016)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale gold with one fat finger (and growing) of fluffy ivory head, excellent retention and chunky lacing. (5/5) Aroma: pithy grapefruit, resiny pine, caramel malt, floral, woody? (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, somewhat lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

Nice: an emphatically hoppy IPA that verges on DIPA territory. Aromatic hops lead the way, but with a sweet caramel malt in hot pursuit – though, thankfully, the finish doesn’t “leave without a trace” as the label claims, but rather lingers with a moderate bitter. Still and all, a little maltier than I’d prefer, and the hops could stand to be brighter. (15/20)

My 222nd from the 2010 Edition (211th from the 2013 edition), and 233rd combining both editions.

7.5/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Unibroue Don de Dieu – Belgian Strong Pale Ale at 9% ABV

Unibroue Don de Dieu Belgian Strong Pale Ale at 9% ABV (C$8.99 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 750 ml, bottle date 5-Mar-2015, reviewed 22-Mar-2016)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale gold with two fingers of rocky white head, excellent retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: bready yeast, apples and pears, bananas, citrus, spices. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, mild tart. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, prickly to moderate sustained carbonation, and a dry mildly bitter and tart finish. (4/5)

Definitely an improvement over the 3+ year-old version of this I had previously: lighter in colour and body, and crisper. It still tends towards a sweetish tripel, and I think I’d like it better if it were dryer, but it’s still very good just as it is. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij de Molen Bloed, Zweet & Tranen – Smoked Beer at 8.2% ABV

Brouwerij de Molen Bloed, Zweet & Tranen Smoked Beer at 8.2% ABV (C$4.79 at Okotoks Co-Op, 330 ml, bottle date 7-Nov-2011, best before 7-Nov-2016, reviewed 22-Mar-2016)

Appearance: clear brown with amber highlights, on fat finger of rocky light beige head, excellent retention and no lacing. (4/5) Aroma: peaty smoke, dried dark fruit, leather, chocolate, slight alcohol. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, moderate smoke. (8/10) Palate: medium body, lively carbonation, drying smoky and slightly sticky finish. (3/5)

I dunno how much “bloed,” “zweet,” or “tranen” there is in here, but there’s definitely “rook.” That said, the smoke isn’t overwhelming by any means. Surprisingly lively carbonation is fairly far out of spec for the style, but probably helped in keeping the mouth feel light. (Well… light-ish, anyway – it’s a smoked stout with more than 8% ABV, after all.) (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Wild Rose Brewery Rare Cherry Porter Barrel Aged – Porter at 6.6% ABV

Wild Rose Brewery Rare Cherry Porter Barrel Aged Porter at 6.6% ABV (C$12.48 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 21-Mar-2016)

Appearance: clear deep brown with amber-brown highlights, a short light beige head diminishing rapidly to nothing, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: bourbon, dark malts, woody, sweet cherry. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter, moderate tart. (7/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate carbonation, sticky tart finish. (3/5)

Slightly better than the base Cherry Porter, in some ways, though there’s not really a lot more cherry present in the flavours. The barrel ageing definitely imparts a strong bourbon note, which is initially a little harsh, as is the woody tart. Ultimately not all that well put together. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Wild Rose Brewery Cherry Porter Porter at 6.5% ABV (C$13.99 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 1 l, no bottle…

Patrick Ryan originally shared this post:

Wild Rose Brewery Cherry Porter Porter at 6.5% ABV (C$13.99 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 1 l, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 20-Mar-2016)

Appearance: clear brown with amber-brown highlights, one finger of light beige head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Aroma: roasty malt, coffee, chocolate, light cherry. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (6/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, mild bitter and light tart finish. (3/5)

A fairly well-balanced porter, with an appropriately light(ish) body. Not a lot of cherry coming through – really more of an undifferentiated tart fruit, and I’m not sure I’d’ve identified it as “cherry” without the label. Opens up slightly upon warming, but not dramatically so. Ultimately, it’s not bad, but it’s not great, either. (12/20)

My 221st from the 2010 Edition (210th from the 2013 edition), and 232nd combining both editions.

6/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! Chemin de Croix – American Porter at 6.3% ABV

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! Chemin de Croix American Porter at 6.3% ABV (C$3.23 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 341 ml, bottle date 25-Jan-2016, reviewed 21-Mar-2016)

Appearance: clear brown with a short light beige head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (5/5) Aroma: toasty malt, coffee, chocolate, citrus, pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium slightly oily body, moderate carbonation, dry bitter finish. (3/5)

So apparently the “Old style India Porter” on the label really is a thing, and in fact apparently more porter was exported to India, than pale ale. And this is really quite nice, with nicely balanced roast malt character on the front end, and a hoppy bitter bone dry finish. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Big Rock Brewery Barrel Aged Edition Bourbon Porter – Imperial / Strong Porter at 10.4% ABV

Big Rock Brewery Barrel Aged Edition Bourbon Porter Imperial / Strong Porter at 10.4% ABV (C$8.74 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 20-Mar-2016)

Appearance: clear brown with a short light beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, minimal patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: coconut, bourbon, woody, vanilla. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter, moderate alcohol. (7/10) Palate: medium slightly oily body, moderate carbonation, mild bitter and warming finish. (3/5)

Not without its charms. I wasn’t completely sold on the coconut initially, but I have to say it did grow on me. (Although, really, where exactly is the coconut coming from in a bourbon barrel aged porter? And it’s not subtle – it’s big.) So there’s that. And the booze is actually pretty well-integrated. But dudes, seriously? You couldn’t come up with a better naming scheme than “exactly the same as the brown ale from last year,” except with “porter” added? Are you actively trying to prevent the various beer sites from differentiating between them, or what? (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bridge Brewing Company Uganda Sipi Coffee Brew – American Brown Ale at 6.1% ABV

Bridge Brewing Company Uganda Sipi Coffee Brew American Brown Ale at 6.1% ABV (C$6.54 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 20-Mar-2016)

Appearance: clear deep amber with one finger of light beige head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: astringent coffee, toasted bread, light citrus, nutty. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, mild bitter and light tart finish. (3/5)

Not doing it for me. The coffee is both overwhelming and astringent – think overextracted coffee grounds. Underneath that seems to be a nice light brown ale with some light tart, but those coffee grounds just swamp it. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com