Yellowbelly Brewery and Public House Black Gold – Black IPA at 4.5% ABV

Yellowbelly Brewery and Public House Black Gold Black IPA at 4.5% ABV (On tap, reviewed 7-Apr-2016)

Appearance: nearly opaque deep brown with amber-brown highlights, one finger of fluffy tan head, good retention and spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, red berries, tropical fruit, caramel. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, drying moderately bitter finish. (4/5)

Nice. Citrus and an almost black currant berry-like note, nearly vinous. Despite the dark colour, there’s no roastiness at all – I’m sure in a blindfolded taste test, this would be identified as an APA or A/IPA. The only aspect of the “darkness” that I’m getting is the brief, drying, almost astringent finish. I could drink a lot of this – even more so since it’s only 4.5%! (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Wold Top Brewery Shepherd’s Watch Ale – Old Ale at 6% ABV

Wold Top Brewery Shepherd’s Watch Ale Old Ale at 6% ABV (C$5.28 at NLC Stavanger, 500 ml, no bottle date or best before, reviewed 6-Apr-2016)

Appearance: nearly opaque deep brown with amber-brown highlights, one finger of fluffy tan head diminishing rapidly to nothing, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: molasses, dark fruit, toffee. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body tending somewhat to watery, moderate carbonation, off-dry moderately bitter finish. (3/5)

Not unpleasant. Somewhat surprising bitterness in the finish keeps the sweetness under control, without getting astringent. Drinkable example of the style. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

St. James’s Gate (Diageo) Guinness The 1759 – English Strong Ale at 9% ABV

St. James’s Gate (Diageo) Guinness The 1759 English Strong Ale at 9% ABV (C$31.57 at Specs Main Houston, 750 ml, bottle date 10-Sep-2014, reviewed 5-Apr-2016)

Appearance: clear deep amber to amber-brown with one finger of light beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: toffee and butterscotch, light smoke, slightly nutty. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (5/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate carbonation, sweetish and slightly boozy finish. (3/5)

So I figured I’d keep going with my “pretentious beer by mainstream brewer” theme, and get this over with. Yeah… really not much to recommend this. Like an unremarkable Wee Heavy, more than anything. Really, really not worth the price of admission. (11/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Molson Coors Canada John H.R. Molson & Bros 1908 – American Pale Ale at 6.8% ABV

Molson Coors Canada John H.R. Molson & Bros 1908 American Pale Ale at 6.8% ABV (C$6.11 at NLC Stavanger, 625 ml, bottle date 10-Jan-2016, reviewed 5-Apr-2016)

Appearance: clear pale to medium amber with one fat finger of fluffy off-white head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grainy caramel, biscuity malt, light citrus. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (5/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, sweetish finish. (3/5)

Look, I went into this… well… I’d be lying if I said “optimistically”. “Less deeply cynical than my experience has indicated I should’ve,” perhaps? I mean, come on, they’ve been brewing for over a century, you’d figure that somebody at some point might’ve accidentally brewed something that didn’t suck. Y’know, blind hogs, truffles, and all that. Sure, it’s a decent-looking beer. And, OK, it’s marginally better than their normal swill. But that’s about as far as it goes. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Collective Arts Brewing Rhyme & Reason – American Pale Ale at 5.7% ABV

Collective Arts Brewing Rhyme & Reason American Pale Ale at 5.7% ABV (C$2.58 at NLC Stavanger, 355 ml, bottle date 28-Jan-2016, reviewed 5-Apr-2016)

Appearance: clear pale amber with one fat finger of fluffy ivory head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: resiny pine, catty, citrus, pale malt. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Can I just say, their decision to integrate their labels with the Blippar app is just fucking genius? Crack a beer, scan the label, and rock out (in this bottle’s case, to a choral rendition of Toto’s “Africa”) – what’s not to like? Oh, and the beer’s quite decent, too. Resiny pine leads, with a mild and inoffensive catty edge, and just the right pale malt supporting. The bitterness in the finish is fairly lingering and aggressive, and I can see it being a deal breaker for some – but not me. Yeah, it’s got some rough edges, but ultimately it’s a solid APA. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Lake of Bays Brewing Company 10 Point India Pale Ale – American IPA at 6% ABV

Lake of Bays Brewing Company 10 Point India Pale Ale American IPA at 6% ABV (C$3.34 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, bottle date 25-Jan-2016, reviewed 4-Apr-2016)

Appearance: clear pale to medium amber with one fat finger of fluffy ivory head, good retention and moderate lacing. (3/5) Aroma: resiny pine, pithy grapefruit, pale malt, tropical fruit. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

Much better than their Crosswind Pale Ale. Actually a halfway decent example of an American IPA, with piney and citrusy hops leading the way over just enough pale malt to balance. Ends with a lingering resiny bitter finish. A little rough around the edges, perhaps, but a solid performer. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Lake of Bays Brewing Company Crosswind Pale Ale – Blond Ale at 5% ABV

Lake of Bays Brewing Company Crosswind Pale Ale Blond Ale at 5% ABV (C$3.34 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, bottle date 2-Mar-2016, reviewed 3-Apr-2016)

Appearance: clear pale gold with one fat finger of fluffy white head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: pale malt, grassy, yeasty. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (5/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry short duration mildly bitter finish. (3/5)

As an “American Pale Ale”, this is a fairly dismal failure. As a Blond Ale, it’s… well… less of a failure – but still a bit of a failure. Limited hop character coming through only as a weedy grassiness, so it ends up tasting not much different than a pale lager, especially as it warms. Really quite a pretty beer, but other than that it’s nothing special. The best I can suggest if you have some of these is, drink them quickly and cold. (11/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck Kasteel Hoppy – Belgian Pale Ale at 6.5% ABV

Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck Kasteel Hoppy Belgian Pale Ale at 6.5% ABV (C$10.80 at Sherbrooke Liquor, 750 ml, best before 3-Aug-2016, reviewed 3-Apr-2016)

Appearance: clear medium gold with one fingers of fluffy white head, excellent retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: apple and pear, pale malt, bready yeast, grassy, citrus rind. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, mild tart. (6/10) Palate: medium-light body, prickly to moderate sustained carbonation, and an off-dry mildly bitter and lightly tart finish. (3/5)

A bit like a sweetish tripel. Not really all that hoppy, and what hops there are come through as an almost vegetal or grassy spiciness in the finish. A straightforward golden blond, reasonably pleasant, with nothing to really recommend or reject it. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

New Belgium Brewing Company Lips of Faith Cocoa Molé – Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 9% ABV

New Belgium Brewing Company Lips of Faith Cocoa Molé Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 9% ABV (C$12.75 at Sundance Wine Market, 650 ml, best before 29-Jan-2017, reviewed 1-Apr-2016)

Appearance: clear brown with one finger of loose light beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: roasty malts, chocolate, red berries, chilli pepper, caramel, cinnamon? (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, mild spice. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry building spicy finish. (3/5)

Not radically dissimilar to e.g. Prairie Artisan’s Christmas Bomb!, in that it has a decently integrated chilli spice, but the thinner body and lighter chocolate flavours don’t seem to work quite as well. Certainly I’m not getting the impression of Mexican hot chocolate or mole (molé? my research indicates no) sauce the way I did with Christmas Bomb! The upside here is that although the spice builds, it never becomes overwhelming. Pleasant, but not overly memorable. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com