Garrison Brewing Company Double Jack Imperial Pumpkin – Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 8% ABV | 30 IBU

Garrison Brewing Company _Double Jack Imperial Pumpkin_ Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 8% ABV | 30 IBU _(C$6.27 at NLC Stavanger, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 21-Oct-2016, reviewed 21-Oct-2016)_

Appearance: clear medium amber with one finger of creamy ivory head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: pumpkin, spices, sweet malt, boozy fruitcake. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter, mild spice. (6/10) Medium-full body, moderate carbonation, sweet and mildly spicy finish. (3/5)

I know I sometimes get a bit harsh with Garrison – but to be fair, they usually deserve it. (To my mind, at their worst they can come across as a slightly less objectionable version of Alexander Keith’s.) So, when I say this isn’t terrible, I don’t mean to damn them with faint praise – the fact that I’m not slamming them (and hard, about a pumpkin beer, of all things) means just that: it’s not terrible, and I’m slightly… well, maybe not “surprised” by that, but at the very least “glad that my innate cynicism didn’t win out this time”. It smells like a not-entirely-fake pumpkin pie crossed with a boozy fruitcake (and I have boozy fruitcakes marinating in my cellar right now, so I know that of which I speak), and tastes much the same, complete with a not-insignificant alcoholic kick. So… win-win? (Or at the very least, not a loss.) (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Goose Island Beer Company Goose Rambler IPA – American IPA at 6.7% ABV | 65 IB

Goose Island Beer Company Goose Rambler IPA American IPA at 6.7% ABV | 65 IBU (C$3.54 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, bottle date 29-Jul-2016, acquired 21-Oct-2016, reviewed 21-Oct-2016)

Appearance: clear medium amber with two fingers of rocky light beige head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: pine, caramel, earth and wood, citrus, toasted bread, black tea. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (6/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

I can’t make up my mind whether this is intended to be a deliberately old-school A/IPA, or an attempt at a hybrid E/IPA+A/IPA… or is it supposed to be a Red IPA? Either way, the effect is somewhat less than impressive, feeling a little bit duller than I would like, and a bit earthier, and a bit sweeter. The bitterness is present at the level I like to see, but it’s not bright or sharp – at most, it’s predominantly piney and earthy, instead of citrus. Pleasant, I suppose, and pretty, but not really representative of the current state of the art. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Collective Arts Brewing Stranger Than Fiction – English Porter at 5.5% ABV | 25 IBU

Collective Arts Brewing _ English Porter at 5.5% ABV | 25 IBU (C$3.29 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 473 ml, bottle date 10-Aug-2016, acquired 13-Oct-2016, reviewed 19-Oct-2016)

Appearance: near solid black with a hint of brown at the margins, one finger of creamy beige head, moderate retention and lacing. (4/5) Aroma: roasty malt, chocolate and coffee, citrus, earthy, berry. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium-full body dropping off slightly watery, moderate carbonation, dry lightly bitter finish. (4/5)

A solid porter – actually, it’d be a halfway decent stout – from a brewer that continues to impress. Their pale and IPA were both good, and so’s this. The aromas lead out with dark chocolate and espresso notes, and there’s a significant hop presence here that doesn’t detract at all from the roasty malt goodness. In fact, the astringent roasted tones supplement the hop bitterness, making this seem more bitter than the 25 IBU would suggest. It’s a bit thin in the body, and could stand to be more aromatic, but still definitely worth a try. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Phillips Brewing Company Raspberry Wheat – Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 5% ABV

Phillips Brewing Company Raspberry Wheat Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 5% ABV (C$6.79 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, best before 7-Nov-2016, acquired 13-Oct-2016, reviewed 17-Oct-2016)

Appearance: clear ruby-tinged pale amber with one finger of fizzy off-white head settling rapidly to a thin ring, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: tart sweet raspberry, wheat, light funk. (6/10) Taste: moderate tart, moderate-low sweet, minimal bitter. (6/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lightly tart finish. (3/5)

Starts off with a pleasant raspberry balanced between sweet and tart, but as it warms a little, the fruit aromas diminish a bit and a wheat undertone becomes a not entirely pleasant funk. Not terrible, and not unbalanced, but less than impressive. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Postmark Brewing Raspberry – Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 4.7% ABV, 17 IBU

Postmark Brewing Raspberry Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 4.7% ABV, 17 IBU (C$7.49 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 13-Oct-2016, reviewed 17-Oct-2016)

Appearance: clear pale amber with one fat finger of fizzy off-white head settling rapidly to a thick persistent cap, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: sweet raspberry, perfume, floral. (6/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, mild tart, minimal bitter. (5/10) Medium-light body, lively to moderate carbonation, off-dry short finish. (3/5)

I’ve been reading some pretty harsh reviews of this one, but I can’t say I actively dislike it. The aromas are decent enough, with sweet raspberry tinged with a perfume floral that verges on fake, but doesn’t quite get there. The sweetness is relatively low by comparison, but I think I prefer that to if it had been sweeter. I guess the big negative is that there’s no “wild” character to speak of. OK, but that’s about it. (11/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Breakside Brewery Passionfruit Sour Ale – Berliner Weisse at 4.0% ABV | 4 IBU

Breakside Brewery Passionfruit Sour Ale Berliner Weisse at 4.0% ABV | 4 IBU (C$10.49 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, bottle date 29-Aug-2016, acquired 13-Oct-2016, reviewed 16-Oct-2016)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with a massive unwieldy and fizzy white head settling rapidly to a thin ring, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: tart stone fruit, tropical fruit, zesty lemon, wheat malt. (7/10) Taste: high tart, moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium-light body, lively carbonation, dry tart finish. (4/5)

The huge fizzy head followed an enthusiastic decapping, but then settled down rapidly to almost nothing, and left no lacing. The big sour is very nearly unidimensional lactic in nature, but the added tropical fruit flavours (presumably passionfruit, but I wouldn’t be able to identify a passionfruit to save my life, so hell if I know) make it nearly interesting. Decently good fun and a light ABV make this an “any time” beer, but it would excel as a thirst quencher on a hot beach (under an umbrella, of course – the sun hates me, and I return the sentiment). (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Deschutes Brewery Big Rig – Premium Bitter / ESB at 6% ABV | 46 IBU

Deschutes Brewery Big Rig Premium Bitter / ESB at 6% ABV | 46 IBU (C$7.49 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 13-Oct-2016, reviewed 16-Oct-2016)

Appearance: clear pale to medium amber with two fingers of rocky ivory head, excellent retention and good lacing. (5/5) Aroma: citrus, floral, resiny pine, biscuity/bready malt, grassy/earthy. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium bitter finish. (4/5)

This is not by any means “a classic pub ale” – it’s far hoppier than nearly any other ESB I can recall having, excepting only Driftwood’s Naughty Hildegard. An excellent brew all around, and one that I feel no hesitation in recommending. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Big Rock Brewery Dunkelweizen – Dunkelweizen at 5% ABV | 18 IBU

Big Rock Brewery Dunkelweizen Dunkelweizen at 5% ABV | 18 IBU (C$2.99 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 473 ml, best before 20-Feb-2017, acquired 13-Oct-2016, reviewed 16-Oct-2016)

Appearance: clear medium amber with a short, short-lived fizzy ivory head, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: toffee, nutty, chocolate, banana. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, mild bitter. (6/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, sweet short finish. (3/5)

Pretty basic Dunkel, with lots of sweet toffee and not much else going on. Too sweet for my preference, actually. Overall, not bad, just not interesting. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Knee Deep Brewing Co. Hoptologist DIPA – American Double / Imperial IPA at 9% ABV | 102 IBU

Knee Deep Brewing Co. Hoptologist DIPA American Double / Imperial IPA at 9% ABV | 102 IBU (C$8.13 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, bottle date 26-Oct-2015, acquired 13-Oct-2016, reviewed 15-Oct-2016)

Appearance: hazy pale amber with two fingers of fluffy ivory head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: resiny pine, caramel malt, grapefruit zest, grassy. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter. (6/10) Medium slightly oily body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

Please don’t be malt-forward, please don’t be malt-forward, please don’t be malt-forward…  huh. It’s… sort ofnot malt forward. Malt heavy, sure, but not dominant. But the malts and the hops appear to be a mish-mash of whatever they could get their hands on – there’s certainly no overriding theme here. And yes, it’s way, way too old. I’d try it younger if I could get it younger, except I’m in the friggin’ boonies, do they deliver this shit by walking it over the border, yadda yadda yadda. On the other hand, the big ABV doesn’t really factor, so there’s that. It’s a big, malty DIPA. If that’s your thing, go nuts – but I’m less than impressed. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Village Brewery Gardener Basil IPA – American IPA at 6.5% ABV | 50 IBU

Village Brewery Gardener Basil IPA American IPA at 6.5% ABV | 50 IBU (C$7.79 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 11-Oct-2016, reviewed 15-Oct-2016)

Appearance: clear deep amber with two fingers of fluffy ivory head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: big basil, caramel. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (5/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, medium duration finish. (3/5)

See? Said I wasn’t done with IPA’s yet. Though, this is one seriously odd duck of an IPA. Gotta be one of the darkest (non-black) IPA’s I’ve ever seen, and completely dominated by basil (and lots of it). I’m not really getting any hops to speak of, either. Still, would probably pair very well with a Pizza Margherita… Again, I like the concept behind this beer – locally brewed with community-grown ingredients – but I don’t like the flavours quite as well as the concept. (11/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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