Brewsters Brewing Company Oktoberfest Marzen Style Lager (2016) – Oktoberfest / Märzen at 5.5% ABV | 25 IBU

Brewsters Brewing Company Oktoberfest Marzen Style Lager (2016) Oktoberfest / Märzen at 5.5% ABV | 25 IBU (C$6.49 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 13-Oct-2016, reviewed 15-Oct-2016)

Appearance: clear pale amber, two fingers of fluffy ivory head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: caramel and toasty malts, floral and earthy, nutty. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (6/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, medium duration finish. (3/5)

Doesn’t seem to be any different than last year’s version: easy-drinking and somewhat simplistic. Noble hops give an earthy, mild bitter, but the malt sweetness definitely wins out. Fairly flavourful for a lager. Probably my last Märzen of the year as I ease into fall – but I’m not done with IPA’s yet! (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Firestone Walker Brewing Company Oaktoberfest – Oktoberfest / Märzen at 5% ABV | 24 IBU

Firestone Walker Brewing Company Oaktoberfest Oktoberfest / Märzen at 5% ABV | 24 IBU (C$5.49 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 473 ml, bottle date 22-Aug-2016, acquired 13-Oct-2016, reviewed 15-Oct-2016)

Appearance: clear pale gold with one fat finger of rocky white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: light caramel and honey, crackery malt, grassy hay. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (6/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, sweetish medium duration lightly bitter finish. (3/5)

Not my favourite style, by a long shot, but a decent implementation regardless. Not as interesting as I was hoping for, though: it isn’t actually oak-aged, but rather named after Paso Robles, the hometown of Firestone Walker. So, no oak character, and only very mild hops. Still, pleasant enough. Very easy drinking and something one could drink a few of, presumably while eating large chunks of pig and listening to a tuba band. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Birrificio Brùton Bianca – Witbier at 4.5% ABV | 10 IBU

Birrificio Brùton Bianca Witbier at 4.5% ABV | 10 IBU (C$6.29 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 330 ml, best before 11-May-2018, acquired 13-Oct-2016, reviewed 14-Oct-2016)

Appearance:  nearly opaque straw with one fat finger of rocky white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (3/5) Aroma: mild/muted, citrus zest, coriander, yeast, wheat. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light tart. (6/10) Medium-light body, lively to moderate carbonation, short duration finish. (3/5)

Well, I wasn’t exactly expecting great things from an Italian Witbier – which is good, because I didn’t get great things. It looked crystal clear in the bottle, with a clearly-visible yeast layer on the bottom. No bottling date, but while the BB date would suggest that perhaps it was bottled in May of 2016, I’m not sure five months would be enough to cause that sort of settling, so maybe it was 2015 – or earlier! (I swirled the last inch or so in the bottle to lift up the yeast and get the proper wit/white appearance.) The mild/muted aromas would certainly be consistent with a longer bottling date, though it did liven up somewhat as the glass progressed and it warmed. Not bad, but not a great example of the style, either – and almost certainly not worth the hefty price tag. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Phillips Brewing Company Crookeder Tooth Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale (2016) – Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 7.3% ABV

Phillips Brewing Company Crookeder Tooth Barrel Aged Pumpkin Ale (2016) Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 7.3% ABV (C$6.30 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, best before 20-Feb-2017, acquired 13-Oct-2016, reviewed 13-Oct-2016)

Appearance:  clear pale to medium amber, one fat finger of creamy light ivory head, excellent retention and chunky lacing. (4/5) Aroma: vegetal pumpkin and spices, bourbon, vanilla, citrus, woody. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light tart. (8/10) Medium body, lively to moderate carbonation, short duration mildly warming finish. (4/5)

Unlike this thing’s little brother (Crooked), or its newly-discovered freak uncle they hide in the attic (Toothless) I’ve tried so far tonight, I’m actually pleased with this one. The flavours are as good as I remember last year’s being, but it looks slightly better, with better head retention and lacing. Bourbon-y, sweet, and slightly hot, but still lots of pumpkin pie character. I still like it. It might be the only one of its brethren I buy again next year, actually. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Phillips Brewing Company Toothless – Sour / Wild Ale at 4.7% ABV

Phillips Brewing Company Toothless Sour / Wild Ale at 4.7% ABV (C$6.35 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, best before 20-Feb-2017, acquired 13-Oct-2016, reviewed 13-Oct-2016)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale amber with one finger of short-lived fizzy white head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: malt vinegar, spices, light vegetal pumpkin, faint burnt rubber. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, mild bitter. (5/10) Medium body, lively carbonation, short duration tart finish. (3/5)

Yeah, can’t say I’m surprised by this: it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that this would be one of the new crop of characterless lacto kettle sours, despite the fact that they barrel age the Crookeder. The vinegar lacto character nearly completely overwhelms both any pumpkin and associated pie spice that might otherwise have been present, while the frisson of burnt rubber was just the blah icing on the cake of mediocrity this thing was always going to be. Not as good as the Crooked I suspect this is based on. (11/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Phillips Brewing Company Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale (2016) – Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 5% ABV

Phillips Brewing Company Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale (2016) Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 5% ABV (C$6.11 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, best before 20-Feb-2017, acquired 13-Oct-2016, reviewed 13-Oct-2016)

Appearance: clear pale amber with two fingers of rocky ivory head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: vegetal pumpkin and spices, light sweet malt, faint grassy and earthy hops. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light tart. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, short duration finish. (3/5)

Well, I said last year that I was slightly out on a limb when I rated it, and upon sober reflection, I think that was right. That’s not to say I’ve given up completely on it, though, and I still think it’s worth a try. I still think the mildness of the pumpkin and spice flavours feels both balanced and deliberate, like a half strength pumpkin pie, while the grassy, earthy hops keeps it smelling and tasting like beer. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Karlsberg Brauerei Becker’s Pils – Pilsener at 4.9% ABV

Karlsberg Brauerei Becker’s Pils Pilsener at 4.9% ABV (C$2.99 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 500 ml, best before 31-Jul-2017, acquired 13-Oct-2016, reviewed 13-Oct-2016)

Appearance: clear pale straw with one finger of rocky white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: pale malt, grassy, light citrus, hint of sulphur. (4/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (4/10) Palate: light body, crisp lightly bitter finish. (3/5)

Uh-oh. “Premium” on the label, as well as “Reinheitsgebot”? Danger! But, actually, I guess it’s fine for what it is. No major off flavours on the nose or the tongue (although there is a hint of almost metallic sulphur as it warms) and it finishes fairly clean and crisp. I was thirsty, now I’m not. Job done. (10/20)

5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Firestone Walker Brewing Company Double Jack (2016) – American Double / Imperial IPA at 9.5% ABV | 85 IBU

Firestone Walker Brewing Company Double Jack (2016) American Double / Imperial IPA at 9.5% ABV | 85 IBU (C$12.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, bottle date 25-Aug-2016, acquired 11-Oct-2016, reviewed 12-Oct-2016)

Appearance: clear medium gold with two fingers of fluffy near-white head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: tropical fruits, resiny pine, sharp citrus. (9/10) Taste: medium-high sweet and medium-high bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium-full slightly chewy body, lingering resiny bitterness. (4/5)

Another stellar example of a stellar beer. I actually drank the first half a pint faster than I should have, because I was thirsty, and it drinks so easy there was no warning to slow down – at least, not until the bitterness catches up. A shame, really, because this is a beer worth savouring. Last time I had this was a couple of years ago, which is too long – there’s really no excuse for me not re-evaluating this one at least annually, especially since they’re now available in AB. (18/20)

9/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Driftwood Brewery Raised By Wolves – American IPA at 7% ABV

Driftwood Brewery Raised By Wolves American IPA at 7% ABV (C$8.29 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 11-Oct-2016, reviewed 11-Oct-2016)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with two fingers of fluffy light ivory head diminishing rapidly to a thin cap, patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: tropical fruit, juicy grapefruit, mild pine, light funk. (9/10) Taste: medium sweet and medium-high bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry moderate bitter finish. (4/5)

This… might be the best Driftwood I’ve ever had, and that’s saying something. It’s at least as good as Fat Tug, but significantly different. Not only do they use Equinox hops (new hotness!) but there’s also a big Brett-like component. Unlike a lot of beers using brettanomyces, though, the funk doesn’t run away with the show: here, it’s even-handed, balanced, and fruity. (It appears that the so-called “Brett Trois” strain they use is actually a wild Saccharomyces, so maybe that’s why?) And, somewhat uncharacteristically for a confirmed hophead such as myself, I appreciate the fact that the bitterness is big, but not overwhelming. This is damn fine stuff, and I have no hesitation in recommending it. Hell, I’ll probably buy anther one just to enjoy, and given how rarely I buy a beer a second time, that should tell you something. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Phillips Brewing Company Green Reaper (2016) – American IPA at 6.5% ABV

Phillips Brewing Company Green Reaper (2016) American IPA at 6.5% ABV (C$7.29 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, best before 19-Feb-2017, acquired 11-Oct-2016, reviewed 11-Oct-2016)

Appearance: clear medium gold with two fingers of fluffy white head, excellent retention and well-defined lacing. (4/5) Aroma: mint, melon, citrus, pale malt, pine, grass. (7/10) Taste: medium sweet and medium-strong bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering and building bitter dank finish. (3/5)

I last had this when they rolled it out in the fall of 2015, so I figured a re-evaluation was in order – plus, I’m not ready to give up on IPA season quite yet. As far as I can tell, it’s the same lineup of starts-with-C hops here as last year, giving a wetly green and dank overall profile that manages to skirt the edge of onion and cattiness without quite getting there. I still can’t find any authoritative information on the actual bitterness, but it’s got to be at least 60-80 IBU or so. This remains one of my favourites from this brewer, and I think it’s going to have to be a fall tradition from now on. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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