Rogue Ales Pumpkin Patch Ale – Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 6.1% ABV | 25 IBU

Rogue Ales Pumpkin Patch Ale Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 6.1% ABV | 25 IBU (C$14.99 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 750 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 13-Oct-2016, reviewed 17-Nov-2016)

Appearance: clear medium amber with a thin beige head that retains poorly, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: cinnamon, nutmeg, vegetal pumpkin, caramel and brown sugar. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium body, lively to moderate carbonation, slightly sweet medium duration finish. (3/5)

Yeah, yeah – another punkin ale. Hey, I figured that since I love to hate on both the brewery and the style, it’s win-win either way: either I get to complain about one or the other (or both), or I get a good beer. And, it’s actually (sorta kinda) a good beer. So, I guess I’m vaguely disappointed that I don’t get to complain. Can I complain about that? Seriously, not bad – definitely as much vegetal pumpkin as spice character, and although it’s sweet it’s at least somewhat balanced by the bittering. I’ve had a lot worse examples of the style, and not many better. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Howe Sound Brewing Father John’s Winter Ale – Christmas / Winter Specialty Spiced Beer at 5.5% ABV | 18 IBU

Howe Sound Brewing _ Christmas / Winter Specialty Spiced Beer at 5.5% ABV | 18 IBU (C$11.35 at NLC Stavanger, 1 l, no bottle date or best before, acquired 31-Oct-2016, reviewed 17-Nov-2016)

Appearance: clear medium amber with a thin beige head that retains poorly, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: cinnamon, nutmeg, toffee, cloves, molasses, brown sugar, dark fruit. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-low bitter, mild astringent. (6/10) Medium body tending thin, lively to moderate carbonation, nutty and astringent finish ending watery. (3/5)

The spice blend for this might be intended to be “Christmas” or “winter” but is in fact reminiscent of any number of typical pumpkin ales – which, I guess, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not a particularly interesting thing. It definitely tastes as sweet as it smells, with relatively little bitterness in the middle. The body tends thinnish, though, so the astringency in the finish tends to be a bit sharp. I think I’d like this more with a bit more body and a bit less spice. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Rogue Ales Fresh Roast – American Brown Ale at 5.7% ABV | 37 IBU

Rogue Ales Fresh Roast American Brown Ale at 5.7% ABV | 37 IBU (C$9.89 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 15-Nov-2016, reviewed 16-Nov-2016)

Appearance: clear amber brown with two fat fingers of fluffy beige head, moderate retention and lacing. (3/5) Aroma: chocolate, coffee, caramel, dark fruit, hint of liquorice and citrus. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter, light astringent. (7/10) Medium body, mild to moderate carbonation, medium duration bitter nutty and lightly astringent finish. (4/5)

Interesting. Both the brewer and the style are, in my opinion and experience, as likely to disappoint as not – but this is actually all right. Roasty malt sweetness is somewhat high but well balanced against a moderate hop bitterness augmented by a light coffee astringency, with hints of liquorice and citrus. Overall, pretty mellow and pleasant. I think this would be particularly good on a nitro tap. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Rogue Ales Promise Gone Aw-Rye IPA – American IPA at 7.5% ABV | 75 IBU

Rogue Ales Promise Gone Aw-Rye IPA American IPA at 7.5% ABV | 75 IBU (C$9.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 15-Nov-2016, reviewed 15-Nov-2016)

Appearance: clear medium amber with two fat fingers of fluffy ivory head, good retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: sour rye, pine, bready malt, caramel, citrus. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter, mild tart and peppery spice. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter and lightly tart and spicy finish. (3/5)

One of the better Rogue products I’ve had – but then I’m always a sucker for a Rye IPA. And this is actually a pretty decent example of the style: a well-balanced blend of spicy and tart/sour rye with citrusy and piney hop built on enough bready and caramel malt to provide support without becoming intrusive. This particular promise didn’t go awry – not bad! (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Knee Deep Brewing Co. Citra Extra Pale Ale – American Pale Ale at 7% ABV | 45 IBU

Knee Deep Brewing Co. Citra Extra Pale Ale American Pale Ale at 7% ABV | 45 IBU (C$11.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, bottle date 13-Jul-2016, acquired 15-Nov-2016, reviewed 15-Nov-2016)

Appearance: clear pale amber with two fat fingers of fluffy ivory head, excellent retention and sticky soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grapefruit, resiny pine, tropical fruit, slight vegetal/onion. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry clean bitter finish. (4/5)

Well, that’s all right. Single-Hopped with Citra, with all the concomitant plusses and minuses. On the up side, there’s a decent pithy grapefruit citrus leading the way, with some pleasant, almost dank resiny pine, and pineapple-y tropical fruit tones. The down side is the all-too-common green oniony note that Citra can impart. It’s not strong, but it’s definitely there, and it prevents this from crossing over into world-class territory. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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De Molen Amarillo (Storm & Bliksem) – Imperial IPA at 9.3% ABV | 60 IBU

De Molen _Amarillo (Storm & Bliksem)_ Imperial IPA at 9.3% ABV | 60 IBU _(C$12 at Bottlescrew Bill’s, 330 ml, bottle date 18-Sep-2015, best before bottle date 18-Sep-2017, reviewed 15-Nov-2016)_

Appearance: hazy pale amber with one finger of loose off-white head, poor retention and no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: caramel, tropical fruit, resiny pine, faint citrus. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, warming lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

A bit unimpressive. Despite the BB date, this has definitely turned into the same old malt-forward DIPA that leaves me cold. Kind of a shame, really, and I’d like to try it fresh, but not great as it stands. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Unibroue Grande Réserve 17 (2016) – Belgian Strong Ale at 10% ABV | 35 IBU

Unibroue Grande Réserve 17 (2016) Belgian Strong Ale at 10% ABV | 35 IBU (C$12.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, bottle date 14-Sep-2016, acquired 8-Nov-2016, reviewed 14-Nov-2016)

Appearance: cloudy deep brown with three fingers of rocky beige head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: mildly boozy dark fruit, toffee and caramel, banana, clove. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light tart. (8/10) Medium body, lively to moderate carbonation, warming lightly tart finish. (4/5)

For those of you keeping track, yes, this is my third double-digit ABV beer today, a) what are you, my mother? b) don’t you have anything better to do? and c) yes, I am a little drunk. I have a bit of history with this beer: I’ve already reviewed the 2013 twice, once when it was a few months old, and then again after a year’s cellaring. I have one more 2013 in the cellar, and added a 2014 along the way (only one!) without doing a review. Somehow I managed to skip 2015, so when I saw the 2016, I figured I might as well grab a couple and do one review as soon as possible, and cellar the other one for a future long-term vertical – so here it is, at just about exactly two months in the bottle. It’s really quite interesting how much variation there is between fresh and aged: as this stands now, there are hints (but only hints) of the plethora of Belgian flavours I discerned in the cellared 2013. (And can you believe I once thought this was sour, or boozy? Wow… my tongue and throat must be pretty much leather by now…) At this stage, this thing is nearly light in aroma, flavour, and body. (There’s even a hint of hop character!) I can see where it’s headed, but it hasn’t gotten there yet. Actually, this makes me really interested to see how that old 2013 vintage will taste when I vertical it with another two… or three… or six… years’ worth of its brethren. I may or may not continue to do annual vintages as they come out – we’ll see – but at some point I think I’ll do a day-long multi-year vertical, then sleep for a day or two. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Hornbeer Black Magic Woman – Imperial Stout at 10% ABV | 113 IBU

Hornbeer Black Magic Woman Imperial Stout at 10% ABV | 113 IBU (C$9.20 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 500 ml, best before 17-Mar-2026, acquired 13-Oct-2016, reviewed 14-Nov-2016)

Appearance: solid black without even a hint of relief around the margins, one fat finger of rocky beige head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: smoky peaty malt, bitter dark chocolate, liquorice, boozy dark fruit. (8/10) Taste: high sweet, high bitter, high alcohol. (8/10) Full slick body, moderate carbonation, smoky warming sticky and bitter finish. (4/5)

Pours a viscous tarry black completely unrelieved by any transmission of light, topped by a rocky beige head that retains well. I initially thought it wasn’t as bitter as the IBU rating implied, but gradually it became apparent that there actually was a significant hoppy bitterness underlying the smoky malt and liquorice. Everything’s turned up to 11 on this: it’s not subtle, but it’s well-balanced and emphatic. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Big Rock Brewery Rum Barrel Aged Barley Wine – Barley Wine at 10.8% ABV | 24 IBU

Big Rock Brewery Rum Barrel Aged Barley Wine Barley Wine at 10.8% ABV | 24 IBU (C$5.09 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 330 ml, best before 27-Oct-2017, acquired 8-Nov-2016, reviewed 14-Nov-2016)

Appearance: clear deep amber with one finger of loose beige head retaining poorly with patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: rum, brown sugar, boozy vanilla extract, dark fruit, bready malt. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter, moderate alcohol. (7/10) Medium-full slightly slick body, lively carbonation dropping off to soft, warming sweet and sticky finish. (4/5)

Definitely warm in the finish, but surprisingly mild given the ABV. I was expecting something hotter, but this is well-balanced and even-handed, with strong but not overwhelming sweetness tempered by strong but not overwhelming alcohol heat. Gotta give credit where it’s due here: I’m not a huge fan of rum or barley wine, but this is pretty decent stuff. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Sound Brewery Mortal Kombat X Scorpion – American Double / Imperial Stout at 8% ABV

Sound Brewery Mortal Kombat X Scorpion American Double / Imperial Stout at 8% ABV (C$10.06 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 18-Aug-2016, reviewed 12-Nov-2016)

Appearance: nearly opaque brown with the merest hints of ruby at the margins, three fingers of rocky beige head, excellent retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: liquorice, milk chocolate, vanilla, hint of chilli. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter, moderate-high peppery spice. (8/10) Medium-full body tending slightly thin, soft carbonation, building warming bitter and spicy finish. (4/5)

Woof – that’s a big, hot beast, in more ways than one. Upon uncapping liquorice immediately leads the way, quite similar to Howe Sound’s Megadestroyer (and how bizarre is that similarity, huh? – beers by “Howe Sound Brewery” and “Sound Brewery” having so much in common?) but after the liquorice fades, and following a brief flirtation with the Madagascar Vanilla, the chillies crash the party and set the mouth on fire. After that, it’s all about damage control: drinking faster initially cools the heat, but then the chilli oils just build and really get entrenched – but slowing down just means dragging out the punishment. (Speaking of punishment, it makes me wonder to what degree it’s inspired by Stone’s Crime and Punishment – which I have yet had the opportunity to try.) I actually like this a lot – draw your own conclusions as to exactly what kind of vague self-loathing and guilt that implies. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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