Smuttynose Brewing Company Rocky Road – Milk / Sweet Stout at 7.3% ABV | 25 IBU

Smuttynose Brewing Company Rocky Road Milk / Sweet Stout at 7.3% ABV | 25 IBU (US$5.99 at Knightly Spirits Williamsburg, 650 ml, bottle date 1-Dec-2015, acquired 1-May-2016, reviewed 29-Sep-2016)

Appearance: nearly opaque black with only hints of clear amber-brown around the margins, one fat finger of loose and slightly fizzy beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: roasty malts, chocolate, caramel, woody, hints of coffee and nuts. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Full slick body, moderate-low carbonation, drying and lightly boozy mild bitter finish. (3/5)

A cold, rainy, and generally horrible day today, boding the return of six months (at least) of cold, rainy (or snowy – or both), and generally horrible days, necessitated a comfort beer. (On the up side, I should now have about six months’ worth of excuses to drink down the glut of dark and heavy beers in my cellar.) Can’t say I got much of the marshmallow fluff, but the cocoa nibs seem to contribute both chocolate notes and more bitterness – particularly in the slightly astringent finish – than the lower IBU would suggest. There’s also some hoppiness in the finish as well, though. All in all, pretty well-balanced despite the higher sweetness. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Cannery Brewing Company Thornless Blackberry Porter – American Porter at 6.0% ABV | 45 IBU

Cannery Brewing Company Thornless Blackberry Porter American Porter at 6.0% ABV | 45 IBU (C$7.99 at Liquor Depot McKenzie Town, 650 ml, bottle date 6-Sep-2016, acquired 19-Sep-2016, reviewed 27-Sep-2016)

Appearance: clear ruby to deep brown with two fingers of rocky beige head, excellent retention and well-defined lacing. (5/5) Aroma: blackberry, roasty malts, chocolate and coffee, light booziness. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter, mild tart. (6/10) Medium-full body, soft carbonation, sweet and lightly boozy mild tart and bitter finish. (3/5)

Might be thornless, but it sure as hell ain’t sugarless. Think chocolates filled with blackberry liqueur and you’re getting pretty close. But, other than being way too sweet, it’s not terrible. It doesn’t actually taste artificial, and the berry flavours work well with the chocolate, for pretty much the same reason people make berry-filled chocolates. It all ends up being a bit of a mess in the finish, though, with sweet, bitter, tart, and alcohol all fighting it out for dominance. I’m not sure what to suggest to fix that, actually, but I wouldn’t say no to another while I thought about it, so there you go. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Cannery Brewing Company Kiss Yer Cousin Kentucky Common – California Common at 5.0% ABV | 15 IBU

Cannery Brewing Company Kiss Yer Cousin Kentucky Common California Common at 5.0% ABV | 15 IBU (C$6.25 at Sundance Wine Market, 650 ml, bottle date 20-Jun-2016, acquired 19-Aug-2016, reviewed 27-Sep-2016)

Appearance: clear pale to medium amber with one fat finger of loose ivory head diminishing rapidly to a think skim, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: grainy malt, caramel, bready, light nutty and coffee. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (6/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, clean short duration bitter finish. (3/5)

So, what, it’s “Kiss Yer Cousin Kentucky Common” because it’s a kissing cousin to that other, California, Common? Yeah, OK, I can see that. It actually starts off pretty similar to Anchor Steam. Not quite as much depth, perhaps – and if you’ve had Anchor Steam, you know that’s not saying much! Still, though, it’s reasonably clean, and the corn (Kentucky, get it?) doesn’t feel like a macro adjunct. But, if you ask me, you coulda called it “Kiss Yer Sister”, because it’s about as exciting as that. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Mikkeller Centennial Single Hop IPA – American IPA at 6.9% ABV | 100 IBU

Mikkeller Centennial Single Hop IPA American IPA at 6.9% ABV | 100 IBU (C$4.85 at Liquor Crossing Red Deer, 330 ml, best before 26-Feb-2016, acquired 24-Aug-2016, reviewed 27-Sep-2016)

Appearance: hazy medium amber with one fat finger of rocky ivory head, excellent retention and chunky lacing. (4/5) Aroma: resiny pine, caramel, grapefruit pith, candied fruits. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter. (7/10) Medium slightly oily body, moderate carbonation, off-dry warming and lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

Yes, another dusty shelf turd, but “only” seven months past its BB date, so that hardly counts, right? This higher ABV and high bitterness certainly seems to have protected it to some extent, and it’s still hop forward – hell, even a hop bomb. It’s possible the malts and fruit flavours have turned a little darker, perhaps, but hard to tell. Still lots of fun, but not for the faint of heart. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Moody Ales Hardy Brown Ale – English Brown Ale at 5.5% ABV | 22 IBU

Moody Ales Hardy Brown Ale English Brown Ale at 5.5% ABV | 22 IBU (C$8.50 at Sundance Wine Market, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 19-Aug-2016, reviewed 26-Sep-2016)

Appearance: clear medium to deep amber with one finger of rocky light beige head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: coffee, toasted bread, light chocolate and nutty, earthy and grassy. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry mild bitter finish. (3/5)

I make no secret of the fact that I generally find Brown Ales to be boring, often excruciatingly so. This, though, is quite pleasant: it starts off with so much coffee that I actually had to read the label several times to verify there wasn’t actually any coffee present. As the pint progresses, the flavour balance changes and layers are revealed, including a mild and unexpected – but pleasant – Noble hop bitterness. A bit light in colour and body for the style, perhaps, but the unexpected depth of flavour makes up for that. I hesitate to say it’s better than e.g Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown, but it’s as good, albeit slightly different. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Red Collar Brewing Co. Cherry Sour – Sour / Wild Ale at 7% ABV | 10 IBU

Red Collar Brewing Co. Cherry Sour Sour / Wild Ale at 7% ABV | 10 IBU (C$8.75 at Sundance Wine Market, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 19-Aug-2016, reviewed 26-Sep-2016)

Appearance: slightly hazy golden pink with one fat finger of rocky white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: tart cherry, light funk, light acetic vinegar. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, mild bitter. (6/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, dry moderate tart finish. (3/5)

My first thought pouring this was “Huh – a cherry beer that isn’t the obligatory fake red. This could be promising.” And it’s not like I had any great expectations here – the cautious optimism I had after trying their (English-style) India Pale Ale was cruelly shattered by their Belgian IPA. This, though, isn’t bad. It’s not great, granted, but it’s not bad, either. The funk in the aroma isn’t completely clean, but the taste is a little better. Ultimately, it’s a fairly basic kettle sour. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Mikkeller MAD3 ’92 Dream Team – Pilsener at 5% ABV

Mikkeller MAD3 ’92 Dream Team Pilsener at 5% ABV (C$4.59 at Liquor Crossing Red Deer, 330 ml, best before 6-Aug-2015, acquired 24-Aug-2016, reviewed 26-Sep-2016)

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

I bought this knowing full well it was a dusty shelf turd, but I figured if anybody had the ability to produce a beer that magically transcended best before dates, it’s Mikkeller. I’m not convinced I was completely wrong about this, since what I’m getting doesn’t seem dramatically different than reviews from two years ago. Still fairly pleasant, and actually poured quite a bit clearer until the final half inch of the bottle. Ultimately, though, it’s a Pilsener, so it’s going to be tough to make exciting, but it might’ve been better when fresh. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Sound Brewery Mortal Kombat X Raiden – Imperial Saison at 8% ABV

Sound Brewery Mortal Kombat X Raiden Imperial Saison at 8% ABV (C$10.19 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 18-Aug-2016, reviewed 25-Sep-2016)

Appearance: clear pale gold with one fat finger of rocky white head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Aroma: cloves/coriander, apples and pears, bubblegum, citrus, wheat? (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Medium slightly oily body, moderate carbonation, off-dry moderate bitter finish. (3/5)

Look, I know railing against high ABV Saisons is something of a hobby horse of mine, but seriously, doesn’t an Imperial Saison make about as much sense as an Imperial Kölsch, or an Imperial Pale Lager? … aaaand of course a quick search reveals that there are lunatics out there making both. All right, fine, I give: go ahead and swig 8% beer as a thirst quencher while working in the hot sun. I’m sure those furrows don’t actually need to be straight. And, yeah, the fact is, this is actually good – a little heavy-hand, perhaps, but still quite good. To the point where I’m actually looking forward to the Imperial Stout from the lineup – but I’m not about to crack that just yet. I’m still working up my courage for the inevitable onslaught of oktoberfest and pumpkin spice beers that the next four to six weeks will bring. Come talk to me about Imperial Stouts in November. And December. And January, March, and April, actually. Assuming I haven’t actually eaten my gun in response to the iron grey skies and sideways sleet by then, I mean… :/ (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Russell Brewing Company Luck of the Irish – Irish Red Ale at 5% ABV | 30 IBU

Russell Brewing Company Luck of the Irish Irish Red Ale at 5% ABV | 30 IBU (C$7.25 at Sundance Wine Market, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 19-Aug-2016, reviewed 25-Sep-2016)

Appearance: clear deep amber with one fat finger of fluffy ivory head diminishing gradually to a persistent cap, spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: caramel/toffee, brown sugar, floral, earthy, light nutty. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, mild bitter. (6/10) Medium-light body tending somewhat watery, moderate carbonation, sweet mildly bitter finish. (3/5)

Well fiddle-dee-dee potatoes! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mv3exCOkJNo) Why do people keep making these boring-ass beer styles anyway? Is there really that much demand for characterless plonk invented by bogtrotters who should’ve stuck to poitín? … dammit, now I want poitín. Anyway, yeah, this is an Irish Red. It’s not a bad one. Get it if you like them, I guess? (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Tofino Brewing Co. Blonde Ale – Blond Ale at 5.5% ABV

Tofino Brewing Co. Blonde Ale Blond Ale at 5.5% ABV (C$8.29 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 18-Sep-2016, reviewed 25-Sep-2016)

Appearance: clear pale gold with one fat finger of fluffy light ivory head diminishing moderately quickly to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: sweet cereal malt, honey, vegetal. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, mild bitter. (6/10) Light body, moderate carbonation, short duration lightly bitter finish. (3/5)

“Blonde” ale? More like bland ale, amiright? Inoffensive but frankly boring. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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