Saint Somewhere Brewing Company Lectio Divina (2013) – Belgian Strong Ale at 8% ABV | 25 IBU

Saint Somewhere Brewing Company Lectio Divina (2013) Belgian Strong Ale at 8% ABV | 25 IBU (US$11.99 at Knightly Spirits Williamsburg, 750 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 1-May-2016, reviewed 29-Nov-2016)

Appearance: clear medium amber with two fingers of fluffy light beige head, moderate retention and minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: stone fruit, dark fruit, apples, leather, horseblankety funk. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light tart and funk. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, lively to moderate carbonation, lightly tart and funky gently warming finish. (3/5)

It was obvious, from the way it did its damnedest to uncork itself, that this desperately wanted to be a foamy gusher, and even with the gentlest of handling it ended up with an impressive head. It didn’t retain as well as might be expected, though, and left behind no lacing to speak of, while the carbonation dropped off fairly rapidly from lively to moderate. A fair bit too high in ABV to conform well to the style of Saison in my opinion, though to be fair they do call it a “Belgian Style Ale” and describe it as a cross between Saison and Abbey Dubbel. I can see elements of both, and it’s an interesting hybrid, but it’s also a bit clunky. On the up side, the relatively high ABV is well integrated and it never becomes a challenge to drink. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Muskoka Brewery Winterweiss – Dunkelweizen at 5% ABV | 12 IBU

Muskoka Brewery Winterweiss Dunkelweizen at 5% ABV | 12 IBU (C$3.57 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, best before 2-Mar-2017, acquired 27-Nov-2016, reviewed 29-Nov-2016)

Appearance: hazy medium to deep amber with one finger of thinnish light tan head, moderate retention and minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: muted, cloves, banana, woody and smokey, corn and wheat malt. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light tart. (5/10) Palate: medium-light body tending to the watery, moderate-low carbonation, mildly bitter and slightly astringent finish. (3/5)

Doesn’t appear to be significantly different than last year’s vintage, which at the time I called “a deeply unremarkable example of the style.” (Well, except for dropping a space from the name, I mean.) I always have to check my assumptions when it comes to Dunkelweizens, because they always seem to tend to the thin in my opinion. This one, however, is particularly so, with a finish tending slightly to the astringent as a result. Can’t say I see any particular reason to go looking for this one. (10/20)

5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Anchorage Brewing Company Anadromous (Batch #4) – American Wild Ale at 8.5% ABV | 30 IBU

Anchorage Brewing Company Anadromous (Batch #4) American Wild Ale at 8.5% ABV | 30 IBU (C$17.19 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, bottle date 1-Apr-2016, acquired 18-Aug-2016, reviewed 28-Nov-2016)

Appearance: deep ruby brown with a hint of lightening around the margins, one finger of creamy beige head, excellent retention and spotty lacing. (5/5) Aroma: dried tart cherry, vinous red wine, dark chocolate, brown bread, leather and tobacco. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high tart, moderate sweet, mild bitter, light funk. (8/10) Medium-light body, moderate-soft carbonation, medium duration tart and lightly funky finish. (4/5)

So, “anadromous” means a fish that migrates upriver, and the horrible monster on the label is actually a salmon. Not entirely sure what that has to do with the beer, mind you – it’s not fishy, that’s for sure. It’s red wine tart and lightly funky, with complex notes on a somewhat light body. It might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it works for me. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Brasserie McAuslan St-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe Special Reserve (2016) – Russian Imperial Stout at 9.2% ABV | 84 IBU

Brasserie McAuslan St-Ambroise Stout Impériale Russe Special Reserve (2016) Russian Imperial Stout at 9.2% ABV | 84 IBU (C$6.01 at NLC Stavanger, 341 ml, bottle date 12-Oct-2016, acquired 27-Nov-2016, reviewed 27-Nov-2016)

Appearance: opaque unrelieved black  with two fingers of creamy dark brown head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: toasty malt, boozy dark fruit, chocolate, marshmallow, leather and tobacco, oak, bourbon, vanilla. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, high bitter. (8/10) Full viscous body, moderate-soft carbonation, lingering bitter and warming finish verging on astringent. (4/5)

Considering I’ve now collected four different vintages of this one, I figured it was time to try it new, just to establish a baseline. I’m glad I did: I’m not disappointed by it, as such, but I feel like there’s room for improvement, and I suspect ageing might accomplish some of that improvement. As it stands now, as a young RIS, it’s definitely hot, with some edges that I think (hope?) ageing might smooth. In particular, it feels to me like both the alcohol heat and the slight astringent thinning in the finish could stand to mellow. Very good, but I have high hopes that it will exceed that some day. I’d recommend buying at least two, with the intention of ageing one, but you won’t be disappointed by trying it fresh, either. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project Our Finest Regards – English Barleywine at 11% ABV

Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project Our Finest Regards English Barleywine at 11% ABV (C$13.37 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, bottle date 1-Nov-2015, acquired 18-Aug-2016, reviewed 26-Nov-2016)

Appearance: clear brown with amber-brown highlights, one finger of creamy light tan head that retains well, light lacing. (4/5) Aroma: molasses, chocolate syrup, caramel, dark boozy fruit, light coffee. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium-full slightly slick body, moderate carbonation, lingering sweetish and warming finish. (4/5)

Nice. Opens up nicely as it warms, developing rich and complex flavours on a medium-full body, with a pronounced but not harsh alcohol warming. The sweetness is high but not cloying, and smoothly transitions into pleasant coffee-like tones, but remains a bit sticky on the finish. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Royal Unibrew Tempt No. 9 – Cider at 4.9% ABV

Royal Unibrew Tempt No. 9 Cider at 4.9% ABV (C$2.54 at NLC Stavanger, 330 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 4-Jun-2016, reviewed 26-Nov-2016)

Appearance: clear straw with a very short-lived fizzy head, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: syrupy sweet and artificial berry and lime. (3/10) Taste: high sweet, mild tart. (3/10) Light body, lively carbonation, cloyingly sweet finish. (2/5)

Bleagh. (7/20)

3.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Council Brewing Co. Béatitude Three Berry Tart Saison – Saison at 4.5% ABV | <2 IBU

Council Brewing Co. Béatitude Three Berry Tart Saison Saison at 4.5% ABV | <2 IBU (C$19.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 1-Jul-2016, reviewed 26-Nov-2016)

Appearance: clear ruby red with a short, short-lived fizzy light pink head, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: doughy yeast, tart berry, horseblankety funk, lemon, light oak. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high tart. (8/10) Medium-light body, lively carbonation, crisp lightly tart and funky finish. (4/5)

Better than the Raspberry version (the addition of blueberry and blackberry seems to make the aromas both more robust, and more complex) but just slightly inferior to the Mosaic. Again, though, I find myself disagreeing vehemently with their yeast choice. Perhaps it’s exacerbated by their no-boil methodology, but for me the bread dough character overshadows nearly everything else. Actually, in my opinion this thing shines in the finish, precisely because the pleasant tart and funk linger after the bread dough character dissipates. It really does have a lovely tart and funky flavour, and I’d love to see it done with a more neutral yeast, for example a French champagne/saison yeast. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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YellowBelly Brewery Labrador Lager – Maibock at 6.5% ABV | 30 IBU

YellowBelly Brewery Labrador Lager Maibock (Helles Bock) at 6.5% ABV | 30 IBU (C$9.34 at NLC Howley Estates, 1 l, best before 29-Dec-2017, acquired 19-Nov-2016, reviewed 25-Nov-2016)

Appearance: clear deep gold with a short, short-lived white head, poor retention and no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: lightly toasted malt, earthy and grassy, light spice. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light spice. (8/10) Medium body, moderate-soft carbonation, short duration bitter and lightly spicy finish. (4/5)

To be utterly blunt, I wasn’t expecting much – whenever a beer has “lager” in the name, I’m generally disappointed. This, however, is decent. (And no, not “decent for a lager”: just plain decent.) It’s a bit unfortunate that they decided to incorporate “lager” into the name, actually, because at 6.5% ABV, 6 or 7 SRM, and 30 IBU, this bears about as much resemblance to North American pale adjunct lagers as chalk does to cheese. The label calls it a Helles Bock, and I’m inclined to agree with that style designation. I’ve lumped it in with Maibock because BJCP does so, and though it’s a tad light for a Maibock, it’s not completely out-of-spec. It’s certainly a whole bunch deeper in flavour and colour than a standard Helles Lager, so classifying that way would be misleading. It has clean, lightly toasted malt leading the way, with earthy and grassy noble hops in the background, and a lightly spicy finish. Quite pleasant, actually, and good enough that I wouldn’t mind picking up another. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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YellowBelly Brewery Flatrock Freshie Ryan’s Farm Black Currant Saison – Saison at 5.6% ABV | 20 IBU

YellowBelly Brewery Flatrock Freshie Ryan’s Farm Black Currant Saison Saison at 5.6% ABV | 20 IBU (C$13.51 at YellowBelly Brewery, 1 l, best before 15-Dec-2016, acquired 8-Oct-2016, reviewed 25-Nov-2016)

Appearance: clear pinkish deep amber with a thin, sort-lived fizzy off-white head, poor retention and no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: muted, sweet and tart red berry, light rubber/band-aid. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild tart, light bitter. (5/10) Light body, moderate-low carbonation, off-dry lightly tart finish. (3/5)

An undefined berry sweetness and tart leads the way over a slight burned rubber or band-aid aroma, with no Saison character to speak of whatsoever. Warming didn’t improve the bouquet or flavour. Definitely a disappointment from YB. (11/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company The Tom Green Beer! – Milk / Sweet Stout at 5% ABV | 27 IBU

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company The Tom Green Beer! Milk / Sweet Stout at 5% ABV | 27 IBU (C$5.12 at NLC Howley Estates, 600 ml, bottle date 22-Sep-2016, acquired 23-Nov-2016, reviewed 24-Nov-2016)

Appearance: clear brown with two fingers of rocky beige head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: lactose, toasty malt, coffee and chocolate, light earth. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (6/10) Medium body, moderate-soft carbonation, sweetish mildly bitter finish. (3/5)

My reaction to this beer is not unlike my reaction to its namesake: “meh”. This isn’t interesting at all – it’s got a little sweet lactose character, and some mild coffee and chocolate, but the body tends thin for the style, and everythimg_7909-3ing falls flat fairly quickly. OK, but uninspired. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com