Phillips Brewing Company Stump Coastal Forest Botanical Ale – Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 6.2% ABV

Phillips Brewing Company Stump Coastal Forest Botanical Ale Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 6.2% ABV (C$7.95 at Sundance Wine Market, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 26-Jun-2016, reviewed 30-Jun-2016)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale gold with one finger of rocky white head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: ginger, resiny evergreen, juniper, citrus. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter, light peppery spice. (6/10) Medium body tending to the watery, moderate carbonation, mildly spicy earthy finish. (3/5)

The initial impression is overwhelmingly ginger. Now, I know “ginger” starts with “gin”, but that’s a pretty thin reed upon which to build a comparison to gin. But then, as it warms (or, maybe, as you grow numb to the ginger), something interesting starts to happen: previously-hidden depths start to become exposed, and resin and juniper begin to emerge, followed by a little orange oil. Unfortunately, that’s also right about the time that the body starts to turn watery. I can’t decide whether it’s a case of “too little too late” or “one step forwards and two steps back”, but in either case, it’s not enough to turn this into a winner. It’s not bad, and certainly not without its charms, but that’s about as far as I’d go. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Whistler Brewing Co. Unique Brew SMaSH – American Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV

Whistler Brewing Co. Unique Brew SMaSH American Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV (C$9.99 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 946 ml, best before 31-Oct-2016, acquired 29-Jun-2016, reviewed 29-Jun-2016)

Appearance: clear pale amber with two growing fingers of fluffy ivory head, good retention and moderate clingy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grainy caramel malt, pine, light citrus and grassy/herbal. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

Philosophically, I like the idea of SMaSH ales – there’s something pure about them, a singularity of purpose. In the real world, the drawback to SMaSH ales is, well, their singularity of purpose – it’s hard to play a symphony with a one note horn. I don’t have major objections to the choices here. The Canadian Superior Pale Ale malt is fine, albeit somewhat plain-jane caramel in nature. And I guess Chinook hops aren’t a terrible choice here, since they’re considered dual-purpose, but they’re just not very… complex. Ultimately you end up with something that’s solid, but not exciting. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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4 Mile Brewing Co. Tangerine Dream Ale – Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 4.25% ABV

4 Mile Brewing Co. Tangerine Dream Ale Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 4.25% ABV (C$6.49 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 29-Jun-2016, reviewed 29-Jun-2016)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale amber with one finger of soapy white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: sweet tangerine, floral, grainy caramel malt. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, mild tart. (6/10) Medium-light slightly soapy body, moderate carbonation, short duration sweet finish. (3/5)

Almost a tangerine shandy. The citrus flavour tastes fairly authentic, and isn’t excessively sweet. The biggest down side with this is a slightly soapy texture (and taste?) that dulls the flavours. Would be nicer if it was brighter. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

DPR_1429-3

Parallel 49 / Barkerville Brewing Co. Run to the Hills – Belgian Golden Strong Ale at 8% ABV

Parallel 49 / Barkerville Brewing Co. Run to the Hills Belgian Golden Strong Ale at 8% ABV (C$2.29 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 341 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 16-Apr-2016, reviewed 29-Jun-2016)

Appearance: clear pale gold with one fat finger of fluffy white head, good retention and chunky lacing. (4/5) Aroma: stone fruit, candi sugar, grainy pale malt, apple. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, mild bitter, mild alcohol. (6/10) Medium-light slightly oily body, lively sustained carbonation, sweet and mildly warming slightly spicy finish. (3/5)

Well, it’s golden and strong, but I’m not getting a whole lot of Belgian character here – no banana or bubblegum, though there’s definite candi sugar. Fairly easy-drinking for a relatively high ABV, though, so there’s that. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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8 Wired Brewing Company Le Fût (2013) – Flanders Red Ale at 6.7% ABV

8 Wired Brewing Company Le Fût (2013) Flanders Red Ale at 6.7% ABV (C$15.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 500 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 26-Jun-2016, reviewed 28-Jun-2016)

Appearance: clear red-tinged deep amber with a short creamy light beige head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: oaky, vinous, cherry, balsamic, perfumey floral. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, mild bitter, light funk. (9/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, crisp tart finish. (4/5)

One of my favourite styles, by one of my favourite brewers. Obviously there’s nowhere for this to end but tears and disappointment, right? Except, when it works. And this works. Oh my goodness, does it ever work. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

DPR_1401-3

8 Wired Brewing Company Wireless Black IPA – Black IPA at 6.2% ABV

8 Wired Brewing Company Wireless Black IPA Black IPA at 6.2% ABV (C$11.49 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 500 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 26-Jun-2016, reviewed 28-Jun-2016)

Appearance: nearly solid black with brown margins, two fat fingers of growing rocky light beige head, good retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: roasty malt, horseblankety brett funk, pine, citrus, earthy. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, mild funk. (8/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, bone dry bitter funky finish. (4/5)

One of the few brewers I can automatically pick up without even looking at the label, knowing I’ll like it. And yeah, this I like. Funky and hoppy, all the best characteristics of the Black IPA style. Heckuva beer. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Cannery Brewing Company The Muse & The Golden Promise – American Pale Ale at 6.5% ABV

Cannery Brewing Company The Muse & The Golden Promise American Pale Ale at 6.5% ABV (C$6.25 at Sundance Wine Market, 650 ml, bottle date 12-Feb-2016, acquired 26-Jun-2016, reviewed 27-Jun-2016)

Appearance: clear pale gold with two fat fingers of growing rocky white head, good retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, grassy/herbal, biscuity pale malt, catty/skunky. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (7/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry mild bitter and warming finish. (3/5)

Definite Simcoe hops, starting off as almost-but-not-quite-catty and almost-but-not-quite-skunky before settling down somewhat – and I don’t mean that in a negative way: it tiptoes right up to the line, but stops just shy of being offensive. The net effect is one of decent complexity and depth in a pleasing APA. Kind of odd that the ABV is as high as it is for the style, but it’s not intrusive, and manifests only as a mild warming. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

DPR_1394-3

Wild Rose Brewery Peach-Apricot Berliner Weisse – Berliner Weisse at 3.8% ABV

Wild Rose Brewery Peach-Apricot Berliner Weisse Berliner Weisse at 3.8% ABV (C$7.29 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, bottle date 23-Jun-2016, acquired 26-Jun-2016, reviewed 27-Jun-2016)

Appearance: opaque straw with one fat finger of rocky off-white head, excellent retention and no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: lactic sour, pale malt, peach and stone fruit, earthy. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, mild bitter. (7/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, drying and tart finish. (3/5)

Wow, look at you Wild Rose, rolling out two sours in quick succession! Now, I’d be a bit more impressed if they didn’t taste so much alike… I’m not saying you stuck the same thing in bottles with two different labels, but I am reminded of that “Duff – Duff Dry – Duff Light” Simpsons episode. OK, OK, to be fair, this is a fairly true-to-form Berliner Weisse, despite the added fruit character (which I guess ends up being somewhat like a true Berliner with a shot of syrup, albeit peach instead of raspberry or woodruff). Decent enough, and quite refreshing. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Wild Rose Brewery Rare Farmhouse White – Saison at 4.5% ABV

Wild Rose Brewery Rare Farmhouse White Saison at 4.5% ABV (C$16.50 at Sundance Wine Market, 750 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 26-Jun-2016, reviewed 27-Jun-2016)

Appearance: opaque pale gold with one fat finger of rocky white head, excellent retention and chunky lacing. (4/5) Aroma: lactic sour, lemon, pale malt, peach, earthy. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, mild bitter. (7/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, drying and tart slightly funky finish. (3/5)

I went into this with essentially zero expectations, but it’s actually quite pleasant. As far as I can tell, it actually adheres pretty closely to the original saison style, particularly with the low ABV, where so many modern saisons depart fairly dramatically. I don’t think the lager yeast is an issue here, either, since again I can see that jiving with the original brewing technique. The brett seems to fade out fairly quickly, and I’d be happier with a bit more funk. Overall, though, it’s refreshing in a way I think the original style was intended to be. This might actually age well, now that I think about it – maybe I need to grab another one for cellaring. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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New Belgium Brewing Company / Hof Ten Dormaal Lips of Faith Series Golden Ale – Belgian Pale Ale at 7% ABV

New Belgium Brewing Company / Hof Ten Dormaal Lips of Faith Series Golden Ale Belgian Pale Ale at 7% ABV (C$6.00 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 355 ml, best before 12-Mar-2017, acquired 26-Jun-2016, reviewed 27-Jun-2016)

Appearance: clear straw with a short, short-lived white head, minimal lacing. (2/5) Aroma: carrot, floral, apple and pear, pepper, bready yeast, earthy. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light peppery spice. (7/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry spicy and mildly warming finish. (3/5)

Meh – not terrible, but not great, either. Almost like carrot cake: you know how, sometimes, carrot cake can be pretty good, but other times, it’s too carroty? And even when it’s not too carroty, it’s still not as good as chocolate cake? Well, that’s how this is like carrot cake. Except the chocolate cake is other Belgian Pale Ales. And the carrot is, well, carrot. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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