Mill Street Brewery Caribou Cream Ale – Cream Ale at 5% ABV

Mill Street Brewery Caribou Cream Ale Cream Ale at 5% ABV (C$8.00 at Mill Street Brew Pub St. John’s, 945 ml, bottle date 28-Jul-2016, acquired 28-Jul-2016, reviewed 29-Jul-2016)

Appearance: clear pale gold with one fat finger of white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: grass, honey, biscuity pale malt. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (7/10) Medium-light body, moderate-soft carbonation, crisp smooth finish. (3/5)

Not bad, actually! I’m not generally a huge fan of Cream Ales, but this is decently done – clean grassy hops, with just a hint more sweetness and subtle creaminess in the mouthfeel to distinguish from a Pale Lager or Pilsner. And I have to say, I’m a huge fan of being able to do growler fills of locally brewed beer. That alone would dispose me kindly towards this, but the fact is, it’s a not bad brew in its own right. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

DPR_1868-3

Garrison Brewing Company Rise ‘n’ Stein – Hefeweizen at 5.5% ABV

Garrison Brewing Company Rise ‘n’ Stein Hefeweizen at 5.5% ABV (C$5.36 at NLC Stavanger, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 17-Jul-2016, reviewed 27-Jul-2016)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with one fat finger of creamy white head, excellent retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: banana, cloves, pepper, wheat. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (7/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lightly spicy finish. (3/5)

That’s actually quite pleasant. A very authentic Hefeweizen that was pouring fairly transparent until I did the little “hefe swirl” near the end to pick up the yeast, and the colour developed appropriately. Typical banana and cloves on the front end, with an off-dry, slightly peppery finish. Straightforward implementation of a light-ish, pleasant style. Exciting? Nope. Refreshing? Yup. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

DPR_1864-3

Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche – Doppelbock at 8% ABV

Brauerei Heller-Trum / Schlenkerla Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche Doppelbock at 8% ABV (C$5.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 500 ml, best before 31-Aug-2016, acquired 23-Jul-2016, reviewed 26-Jul-2016)

Appearance: hazy medium amber with one finger of creamy ivory head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: hardwood smoke, dark fruit, caramel malt. (8/10) Taste: moderate smoke, moderate sweet, mild bitter. (8/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry smoky finish. (4/5)

A couple of weeks ago, I said that the Aecht Schlenkerla Fastenbier might be an excellent place for neophytes to begin exploring Rauchbiers, given its overall quite mellow character. Well, that’s still true, but this one might be an even better first Rauchbier. The oak smoke seems milder than the beech smoke, and it’s also slightly less evocative of smoked-cured meat. Not radically different than the Fastenbier, but just as good – and, interestingly, the much higher ABV is really not any more apparent than the much lower (5.5%) of the Fastenbier. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

DPR_1858-3

Blindman Brewing American Brown Ale – American Brown Ale at 5.8% ABV

Blindman Brewing American Brown Ale American Brown Ale at 5.8% ABV (C$3.87 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 473 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 23-Jul-2016, reviewed 26-Jul-2016)

Appearance: cloudy deep amber with two fingers of loose beige head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: citrus, pine, coffee, caramel/toffee. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, moderate bitter finish. (3/5)

Not bad at all. Interesting back story on the can, how they accidentally added four times the intended dark malt to a red IPA, ending up with something like a Cascading dark, before cutting it with a bunch of their session ale and a little IPA. I’m not unhappy with the result at all: there’s a distinct coffee presence, but overall the flavours are dominated by the citrusy hops. Even though they list Simcoe (and some others) there’s none of the cattiness that hop can sometimes bring. It looks a bit ugly, sure, but flavour-wise it’s definitely passable. (And for those of you who aren’t familiar with Alberta geography, “Blindman” is a local river, whose name might or might not derive from the number of twists and turns it describes.) (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

DPR_1853-2

Driftwood Brewery Entangled – Hopfenweisse at 7% ABV

Driftwood Brewery Entangled Hopfenweisse at 7% ABV (C$7.29 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 23-Jul-2016, reviewed 25-Jul-2016)

Appearance: hazy medium gold with two fingers of rocky white head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: tropical fruit, pithy citrus, resiny pine, pale malt, clove, banana. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Woo! That’s how you do a wheat beer. I’ve had the original Hopfenweisse – the G. Schneider & Sohn / Brooklyn Brewery collab – as well as Les Trois Mousquetaires’ kick at it, and even the surprisingly good Creemore Springs (Molson) rendition. To varying degrees, they all do the same thing: blend hefeweizen banana and cloves with forward American hops. This? Well, it does that… sort of. By which I mean, it nukes your nose and tongue with huge PNW hops, then the few surviving taste buds report a little banana and clove in the finish. It ain’t pretty, and it’s subtle as a brick. So, of course, I love it. (And another gorgeous Driftwood label, too!) If you’re a hophead like me, run, don’t walk, to your local yadda yadda yadda. And to be crystal clear: if you’re rating this as a hefeweizen, you’re missing the point. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

DPR_1851-3

Cannery Brewing Company Drupaceous Apricot Wheat Ale – Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 5% ABV

Cannery Brewing Company Drupaceous Apricot Wheat Ale Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 5% ABV (C$5.79 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 23-Jul-2016, reviewed 25-Jul-2016)

Appearance: cloudy pale gold with two fingers of loose off-white head, good retention and lacing. (3/5) Aroma: apricot, wheat malt, lemongrass. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, mild tart. (6/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lightly tart and slightly astringent finish. (3/5)

“Drupaceous,” huh? I think there’s a pill for that… a little blue one… (Yes, I know it refers to stone fruit – maybe you even knew that apricots, peaches and cherries are all drupes. But did you know coffee is too?) I guess it’s pretty much what it says on the label – apricot and wheat, and that’s pretty much it, without much complexity to speak of. A little bit plain and a little bit astringent, but not unpleasant. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

DPR_1845-3

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! Petit Détour – Belgian IPA at 6.5% ABV

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! Petit Détour Belgian IPA at 6.5% ABV (C$4.00 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 341 ml, bottle date 22-Apr-2016, acquired 23-Jul-2016, reviewed 25-Jul-2016)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with two fingers of loose off-white head, excellent retention and chunky lacing. (4/5) Aroma: lemon zest, dry hay, horseblankety funk, tropical and stone fruit, pale malt, Belgian yeast. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, mild funk and tart. (9/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, crisp bitter and spicy funky finish. (4/5)

Yep – that’s how you do a Belgian IPA. Not quite “bright” because of the funkiness, and there’s a spiciness that builds towards the end of the glass, but still crisp and refreshing. A really good example of one of my favourite styles. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

DPR_1843-3

Village Brewery Rancher Alberta Birthday Saison – Saison at 5.5% ABV

Village Brewery Rancher Alberta Birthday Saison Saison at 5.5% ABV (C$7.79 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 23-Jul-2016, reviewed 24-Jul-2016)

Appearance: hazy pale straw with a short-lived loose white head, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: white pepper, wheat, orange peel, light burnt rubber. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light tart. (6/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lightly bitter and tart  finish. (3/5)

I called it white pepper, but having looked up the brewer’s notes, I guess it’s Grains of Paradise and pink peppercorns – whatever. I’m a bit conflicted on this one: one the one hand, it’s got that rustic character that I like to see in a Saison, but on the other hand, I’m getting a hint of what I identify as burnt rubber (I’m a gearhead, so sue me), which is either an infection, autolyze, or light-struck – but an off flavour any way you slice it. Not one of their better efforts, unfortunately. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

DPR_1838-3

Phillips Brewing Company Atomic Buffalo Smokey Red Saison – Saison at 6.2% ABV

Phillips Brewing Company Atomic Buffalo Smokey Red Saison Saison at 6.2% ABV (C$7.09 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, best before 14-Nov-2016, acquired 23-Jul-2016, reviewed 24-Jul-2016)

Appearance: clear red-tinged medium amber with one fat finger of creamy off-white head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: caramel, stone fruit, bready yeast, very light smoke. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry mildly bitter and slightly smoky finish. (3/5)

Better than I was expecting, actually. I was expecting something a lot heavier and smokier, but this is actually fairly light and mild. I still have a beef with higher ABV, non-sessionable saisons, mind you. And this gets fairly sweet and mouth-coating after a while. Not cloying, as such, but not clean, crisp, or tart. So if we’re checking off label descriptions, we’re not doing so hot: smokey? not really. red? not so much. saison? eh…. sorta. Ultimately it’s more “saison” than “smoked”, I guess. OK for a change from the ordinary, but I don’t think it’ll be anybody’s go-to. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

DPR_1834-3

Bench Creek Brewing Naked Woodsman – American Pale Ale at 5.2% ABV

Bench Creek Brewing Naked Woodsman American Pale Ale at 5.2% ABV (C$3.37 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 473 ml, bottle date 4-Jul-2016, acquired 23-Jul-2016, reviewed 24-Jul-2016)

Appearance: clear pale gold with two fingers of rocky ivory head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: caramel and bready malt, grass, citrus, floral. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry mildly bitter finish. (3/5)

Eh. Not bad, but nowhere near as good as their White Raven. In particular, the malt is a bit more dominant than I’d prefer for an APA, and such hops as come through are mostly grassy in nature. (Actually smells a bit lager-y.) The body’s also a bit heavy for the style. Just doesn’t shine, overall. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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