Bellwoods Brewery Donkey Venom – Baltic Porter at 9.5% ABV

Bellwoods Brewery Donkey Venom Baltic Porter at 9.5% ABV (C$10.62 at Bellwoods Brewery, 500 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 29-Aug-2016, reviewed 30-Aug-2016)

Appearance: opaque deep brown with one finger of thin beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: tart red wine, dried fruit, chocolate, oak, leather. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, moderate-low bitter. (8/10) Medium-full body, moderate carbonation, medium duration moderately tart finish. (4/5)

Whoa. That’s a Baltic that might make you change your mind about Baltics. I usually find the style to be too sweet, often to the point of being sickly, but this is all about the tart. In fact, the vinous tart, and to a lesser degree, the oaky woodiness, dominate this so completely that I’m not getting much of the “Brettanomyces and other bugs” it was supposedly aged with, at all. To the point where I’m equal parts disappointed and intrigued by the hypothetical: “What would happen if I aged this for a year or three, just to give the Brett a chance to really take hold?” The other really noteworthy thing about this is the thing that’s barely noticeable at all. Sort of a “Hound of the Baskervilles” thing, if you follow: the ABV. This is almost 10%, but if it’s a sipper at all – and I submit it need not be – it’s because the vinous tart makes you adopt red wine drinking behaviour, not because it’s hot, because it isn’t. At all. In fact, it’s dangerously easy to drink. All of which isn’t to say I consider this without fault. It’s got a fairly serious flaw, and I’m not being facetious at all here: it’s too simple. This is all about the big barrel woody tart, and nothing else. “All right, all right!” I hear you say, “Bottom line it for me. Enough waffling. What’s your opinion of it?” Well, I’ll tell you this: it’s good enough that I don’t regret drinking a porter during the summer. ‘Nuff said? (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Bellwoods Brewery Jutsu – American Pale Ale at 5.6% ABV

Bellwoods Brewery Jutsu American Pale Ale at 5.6% ABV (C$3.98 at Bellwoods Brewery, 500 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 29-Aug-2016, reviewed 30-Aug-2016)

Appearance: opaque pale gold with one finger of rocky white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, moderate lacing. (3/5) Aroma: grapefruit, mango, pale malt, grass, stone fruit. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (9/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, medium duration mildly bitter finish. (4/5)

Looks like grapefruit juice, smells like grapefruit juice, tastes like grapefruit juice… well, sort of. Lovely beer, well balanced, great character – too bad it’s so fugly. Just a pleasure to drink, though. Think a lovely IPA, then reduce the bitterness slightly, without reducing the flavour, and you’ve got this. One of the best APA’s I’ve ever had, I think. In all honesty, if you told me I could only ever drink this, ever again, I wouldn’t complain too much. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Brutopia Brasseur Artisanal visit on 26-Aug-2016

Brutopia Brasseur Artisanal visit on 26-Aug-2016

Centennial IPA India Pale Ale at 6.5% ABV | 65IBU | 7/10

Appearance: slightly hazy pale amber with one fat finger of rocky ivory head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: pine, caramel, mild citrus, light earth. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry moderate bitter finish. (3/5)

Kind of a blend of English and American styles: it’s single hopped with an American hop, but with English yeast, and carbonated like an English ale. Decently bright hops stay at the forefront, with a pleasant caramel body supporting. A little earthiness, presumably from the English yeast, adds a little depth to the single hop. (14/20)

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IPA English IPA 5% ABV | 58IBU | 6.5/10

Appearance: clear pale amber with one fat finger of rocky ivory head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: bready caramel, grass and earth, light floral. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, malty lightly bitter finish. (3/5)

A pretty typical E/IPA – malty, grassy, little bit floral. They tell me they sneak a little Centennial in there, but it doesn’t really seem to come through over the East Kent Goldings and the Tettnang. Fairly sessionable pint, though – a guy could spend a long leisurely afternoon with a few of these. (13/20)

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Overall, a decent brewpub. Nice size, three bars on three floors, plus patios. Fairly quiet on a Sunday afternoon, but not dead by any means – a fair contingent of regulars and a few loud drunks, so all good. Knowledgable bar staff and reasonable prices ($5.50 for a pint of their beer before 8PM, $6.50 after, with micros and imports slightly more).

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Victims of their own success, apparently: they expanded to three floors but had no room to expand their equipment, so they have no room to do barrel ageing or much in the way of variants. Their beers therefore tend to be somewhat similar, all using the same yeast, without a great deal of experimentation. I tried a little sampler of their sour, but decided against going for a full pint (or even a half) since it was just a bog-standard kettle-soured blonde. Similarly, I didn’t even bother to try their framboise, since the same knowledgable staff told me it was just a blonde, with maybe 5% wheat in the malt bill, and raspberry extract added after the fermentation. I could live with this as my neighbourhood go-to, actually.

#ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! Rescousse – Altbier at 5.3% ABV

Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! Rescousse Altbier at 5.3% ABV _(C$3.29 at Marché Cosmopolitain, 341 ml, bottle date 7-Apr-2016, acquired 27-Aug-2016, reviewed 28-Aug-2016)_

Appearance: clear medium amber with short, short-lived off-white head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grainy caramel, mild fruit, faint berry, light earth. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-light bitter. (6/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, sweetish mildly bitter finish. (3/5)

A decent altbier, although the style’s not my favourite. Pleasantly well-balanced malt with a mild hoppiness that could nonetheless stand to be more pronounced. A bit too tame for me, but pleasant enough. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! La Païenne – Blonde Ale at 5.5% ABV

Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! La Païenne Blonde Ale at 5.5% ABV (C$3.59 at Marché Cosmopolitain, 341 ml, bottle date 11-Dec-2015, acquired 27-Aug-2016, reviewed 27-Aug-2016)

Appearance: clear pale straw with one finger of fluffy white head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: crackery malt, light lemon and floral. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-light bitter. (6/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry mildly bitter finish. (3/5)

Fairly bland but also a bit elderly for the style. Probably my fault for not checking the date before buying, but it was in a cooler, so ultimately I’m not sure how much damage has been done by age. Might try again if I find it fresher. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Brasserie McAuslan St-Ambroise Session IPA – Session IPA at 4.5% ABV

Brasserie McAuslan St-Ambroise Session IPA Session IPA at 4.5% ABV (C$3.99 at Marché Cosmopolitain, 473 ml, bottle date 2-Jun-2016, best before 2-Nov-2016, acquired 27-Aug-2016, reviewed 27-Aug-2016)

Appearance: slightly hazy straw with one finger of rocky white head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: citrus, pine, grainy caramel. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry shortish bitter finish. (3/5)

A fairly unremarkable SIPA. Threatens to drop off to a watery finish but doesn’t, quite. Maintains a fairly good bitterness throughout, but ultimately ends up being fairly mediocre overall. On the up side, the Citra doesn’t come through as catty or oniony. Decent enough thirst quencher, I guess. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Microbrasserie Archibald visit on 26-Aug-2016

Microbrasserie Archibald visit on 26-Aug-2016

Nuit Blanche White IPA at 6% ABV 7/10

Appearance: hazy pale gold with a short white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: grapefruit, grassy, caramel, hint of Belgian yeast. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry bitter finish. (4/5)

Not bad at all. The bitterness builds as the pint progresses, making it a decently respectable IPA. Not sure I’m getting a whole lot of Belgian floral or fruit character here, but to be fair, they’re not claiming it’s “Belgian”, just “white”. And it’s definitely that, so… pretty good… I guess? (14/20)

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La Ciboire English IPA at 5.6% ABV 6.5/10

Appearance: hazy medium gold with one finger of rocky white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (3/5) Aroma: pine, earth, pale malt. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (6/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry bitter finish. (4/5)

Not quite as good as the white version, which was at least fairly citrus-dominant. This starts off a bit piney, but then becomes more earthy, tending to muddy. English means noble hops, and earthy kind of goes with the territory there, sure, but this seems a bit muddled. Not terrible, and at least it’s got an unabashed lingering bitterness going for it. (13/20)

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Désirée India Session Ale at 4.2% ABV

Appearance: slightly hazy pale straw with one finger of rocky white head, moderate retention and lacing. (3/5) Aroma: grassy, light citrus, pale crackery malt. (7/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, short duration bitter finish. (4/5)

I actually quite like this. Punches a bit above its weight when it comes to bitterness – the lighter body and lower sweetness work to emphasise the fairly moderate IBUs, to good effect. A pretty decent example of how you can have decent flavour and bitterness without a heavy malt presence and associated ABV. I could actually drink a lot of these on a hot patio some time. (14/20)

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All in all? I’ve been in worse airport bars. At the end of the day, it’s a microbrewery, with at least two fairly decent beers. Loud, crowded, hot, and small, yes. But, y’know, if I weren’t waiting for the wife and kids to show up, that could actually be considered a positive. If you’re flying through YUL, give it a chance.

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#ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bridge Brewing Company North Shore – American Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV

Bridge Brewing Company North Shore American Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV (C$5.80 at Liquor Crossing Red Deer, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 24-Aug-2016, reviewed 25-Aug-2016)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale amber with two fingers of rocky ivory head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: earth and pine, caramel malt, citrus, stone fruit. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry moderate bitter finish. (3/5)

Decent if fairly unremarkable Pale. Not as bright as I like APAs to be, but it’s hard to know whether that’s just age dulling the hops, because – you guessed it – THEY DON’T DATE THEIR FUCKING BOTTLES. The only one of theirs I’ve been really impressed with was their Sleigh Booster Imperial Red, which at 9% is by its nature fairly impervious to the ravages of time. People – at least put a bottling date on there. Get a government grant and give a job to someone of limited capacity, give ‘em a Sharpie or a stamp, and turn ‘em loose. It’s really not rocket surgery. Good, not great, maybe better if fresh, I dunno. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers Tin Can Pale Ale – American Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV

Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers Tin Can Pale Ale American Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV (C$7.55 at Liquor Crossing Red Deer, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 24-Aug-2016, reviewed 25-Aug-2016)

Appearance: slightly hazy deep gold with an enthusiastic rocky ivory head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: earthy, caramel, stone fruit, citrus. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate-high carbonation, off-dry moderate bitter finish. (3/5)

Well, I wasn’t very hopeful about this after trying their Tea Saison. (And that’s why I might’ve been a touch aggressive on the pour, at first, thinking it was going to be another low carbonation, but I should’ve known better from the enthusiastic decapping. The second glass, with a gentle pour, still had two fingers plus of head.) But, y’know, it’s not bad. Not my preferred hop profile for a Pale, by any means, but it tastes a touch better than it smells. Kind of neither fish nor fowl, with an English-style hop profile and a more American-feeling malt bill. Hugely gassy, too, which makes me wonder why their Saison was so under-carbonated. OK, but hardly worth making a special effort for. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers Sun Kissed Tea Saison – Saison at 5% ABV

Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers Sun Kissed Tea Saison Saison at 5% ABV (C$8.50 at Liquor Crossing Red Deer, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 24-Aug-2016, reviewed 25-Aug-2016)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with a short white head, moderate retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: tropical fruit, wheat, yeasty, coriander, white pepper. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (6/10) Medium body, moderate-low carbonation, off-dry finish. (3/5)

“Oh!” I said, “A Tea Saison! That sound interesting. I wonder, will it be black tea boosting the bitterness of the hops, or maybe a delicate bergamot floral overtone?” What it was, was… well, nothing. Not much of anything, anyway. I argued with myself as to whether I was actually detecting a subtle green tea, but I’m not certain if it’s even there, and if it is, it’s completely overwhelmed by the yeast flavours. This isn’t terrible, but ultimately it comes across as a heavy-handed, low carbonation version of something that should be light, bright and (moderately) highly carbonated. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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