Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist (Release #73) – American Double / Imperial Stout at 12.7% ABV | 65[?] IBU

Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist (Release #73) American Double / Imperial Stout at 12.7% ABV | 65[?] IBU (C$18.12 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, bottle date 24-Aug-2016, acquired 13-Dec-2016, reviewed 15-Jan-2017)

Appearance: opaque black with two fingers of fine dark beige head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Aroma: boozy, chocolate, roasty malt, coffee, dried fruit and red berries, hint of oak whiskey barrel. (9/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: full viscid body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter and warming finish. (5/5)

Boo-yah! That’s how I like my beers – big and bad(-assed). Starts off smelling like a boozy chocolate milkshake, but then the almost-milky chocolate fades slightly, to be overtaken by coffee and whiskey-soaked dried berries. The ABV is impressive, contributing smooth heat with no hint of solvent or sharpness. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Big Sky Brewing Company Ivan the Terrible (2014) – Russian Imperial Stout at 9.5% ABV | 39 IBU

Big Sky Brewing Company Ivan the Terrible (2014) Russian Imperial Stout at 9.5% ABV | 39 IBU (C$5.75 at Zyn, 355 ml, bottle date 10-Sep-2014, best before 10-Sep-2039, acquired 27-Mar-2015, reviewed 15-Jan-2017)

Appearance: opaque black with one fat finger of beige head, good retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: roasty malt, cocoa, dried fruit, coffee, lightly nutty. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate carbonation, moderate bitter and slightly astringent warming finish. (3/5)

A decent but fairly unremarkable RIS. The high ABV is relatively tame and well-integrated, possibly assisted by the two years I had this in storage. The flavours aren’t quite as smooth as I’d prefer, though, and there’s a little astringency in the finish. Good but not great. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Alley Kat Brewing Co. Back Alley Brews Black Star – Foreign / Export Stout at 6.6% ABV | 35 IBU

Alley Kat Brewing Co. Back Alley Brews Black Star Foreign / Export Stout at 6.6% ABV | 35 IBU (C$6.41 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, best before 25-Apr-2017, acquired 13-Dec-2016, reviewed 14-Jan-2017)

Appearance: nearly opaque black with brown margins, short beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: roasty (verging on burnt) malt, dark chocolate, coffee, caramel, earth, hint of citrus. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-full smooth body, moderate carbonation, moderate bitter finish. (3/5)

I kind of like the idea that this thing doesn’t technically have a name on the label, other than “”. Is it supposed to be a Bowie reference, d’ya think? In any case, it’s a solid, slightly emphatic stout, well in-spec for the “Foreign/Export” label, except for the less-than-impressive head retention. Might be very nice on a nitro tap, but serviceable as-is. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Granville Island Brewing Mocha Porter – American Porter at 6% ABV | 25 IBU

Granville Island Brewing Mocha Porter American Porter at 6% ABV | 25 IBU (C$7.79 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 13-Dec-2016, reviewed 14-Jan-2017)

Appearance: clear deep brown, one fat finger of dense beige head, good retention and clingy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: slightly over extracted coffee, roasty malt, dark chocolate. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-full body dropping off to slightly watery, soft carbonation, moderate bitter finish. (3/5)

Tastes a bit better than it smells: the aromas suggest a bit of over extraction of the coffee, but that doesn’t come through quite as much on the tongue. Mind you, I’d be happier if those over extraction notes weren’t there at all. The chocolate is short-lived, being quite promising on the initial pour, but dropping rapidly. I think this flavour profile would work better with a heavier beer, i.e. a Stout, but as a Porter it comes across as just a bit thin and anemic. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Evil Twin Brewing Calypso Single Hop Imperial India Pale American Wheat Lager – Imperial Pils/Strong Pale Lager at 8% ABV

Evil Twin Brewing Calypso Single Hop Imperial India Pale American Wheat Lager Imperial Pils/Strong Pale Lager at 8% ABV (C$15.20 at Sherbrooke Liquor, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 17-Dec-2016, reviewed 14-Jan-2017)

Appearance: slightly hazy medium gold, three fingers of rocky ivory head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grapefruit, tropical fruit, wheat malt, resiny pine, bready yeast. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, mildly warming lingering and building bitter finish. (4/5)

I have no idea how old this thing is – the caked-on lees on the bottom of the bottle suggest older rather than newer – but the aromas and flavours are still bright and pleasant. I was going to make fun of the ridiculously lengthy name they hung on this thing, but the fact is, it’s a perfectly accurate description of its character. A lager worthy of the best accolade I can give a lager: it doesn’t taste like a lager. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Evil Twin Brewing Liquid Double Fudge (Batch #02) – American Double / Imperial Stout at 12% ABV | 60 IBU

Evil Twin Brewing Liquid Double Fudge (Batch #02) American Double / Imperial Stout at 12% ABV | 60 IBU (C$12.86 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 13-Dec-2016, reviewed 12-Jan-2017)

Appearance: opaque black with no relief, two fingers of fine beige head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (5/5) Aroma: roasty malts, caramel, hint of red berries and dark fruit. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: full viscous body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter and warming finish. (4/5)

Well, smack my ass and call me Sally if that ain’t some serious what-for! (Yes, double-digit Imperial Stouts turn me into a redneck – go figure.) That’s a brew that numbs the pain of being alive, and then some. Good luck finding something else this big, boozy, and good at this price point. Jeppe might be the evil twin, but he does a fine beer. It wouldn’t take very many more of these for me to sign up for Team Evil. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mikkeller The Beer Traveler – Abbey Dubbel at 8.3% ABV

Mikkeller The Beer Traveler Abbey Dubbel at 8.3% ABV (C$24.20 at Sherbrooke Liquor, 750 ml, best before 16-Apr-2020, acquired 17-Dec-2016, reviewed 12-Jan-2017)

Appearance: clear medium amber with two fingers of fluffy beige head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: raisins, caramel, toast. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, medium duration mildly warming finish. (3/5)

Not a particularly exciting offering by Mikkeller. That’s not to suggest it’s not well done, because it is, but it’s just not very interesting – and certainly not as good as the standards for the style e.g. Westmalle. I think the bottom line for me here is the lack of complexity: there’s certainly nothing wrong with it, but it falls short when compared to the big guns in the genre. Sorry, Mikkel, but this is merely pretty good, falling short of great. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Evil Twin Brewing / Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project Ryan and the Gosling – Sour / Wild Ale at 4% ABV

Evil Twin Brewing / Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project Ryan and the Gosling Sour / Wild Ale at 4% ABV (C$15.70 at Sherbrooke Liquor, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 17-Dec-2016, reviewed 12-Jan-2017)

Appearance: clear straw with one fat finger of growing white head, excellent retention and clingy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: dusty straw, lemon zest, tropical fruit, pale malt, light earth. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light funk. (7/10) Palate: light body, moderate carbonation, mildly bitter and funky finish. (4/5)

Nice. Brett-dominant, without being overwhelmingly funky. (Not that there’s anything wrong with overwhelmingly funky, y’unnerstand, just that sometimes it’s nice to go in a slightly different direction.) This is basically a citrusy APA, except with Brett instead of more traditional yeasts. The Brett bookends the flavour profile, coming into play at both the front and in the finish, but the middle is basically a balanced hoppy APA. It could be a crushable patio-style APA if it weren’t so expensive! (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Evil Twin Brewing Imperial Doughnut Break – Imperial Porter at 11.5% ABV

Evil Twin Brewing Imperial Doughnut Break Imperial Porter at 11.5% ABV (C$15.51 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 13-Dec-2016, reviewed 11-Jan-2017)

Appearance: opaque black with no relief, one fat finger of dense dark beige head, good retention and moderate lacing. (5/5) Aroma: cocoa, lactose, coffee, vanilla. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: full viscous body, moderate-high carbonation, lingering bitter and mildly warming finish. (4/5)

Woof – what a beast. Basically a coffee and doughnut milkshake, with a seriously sneaky double digit ABV. When I say a mildly warming finish, I mean it: you’ll be most of the way through your first pint before you realize how hard it’s hitting you. Can’t find a reliable source for the IBU, but it’s gotta be 50+. However, given the sweetness and body for this thing, that’s completely appropriate – recommended. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mikkeller Spontanbeetroot – Lambic Style – Fruit at 7.7% ABV

Mikkeller Spontanbeetroot Lambic Style – Fruit at 7.7% ABV (C$10.76 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 330 ml, bottle date 16-Jun-2016, best before 16-Jun-2026, acquired 13-Dec-2016, reviewed 11-Jan-2017)

Appearance: lightly hazy ruby red with one finger of fizzy purple head diminishing rapidly to nothing, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: beet, cherry, wet hay funk, earthy, woody. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate tart, light funk, non-existent bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, prickly carbonation, dry moderate tart and lightly funky finish. (4/5)

Mmmm… beety. Yeah, this is just about as weird as it sounds. Initially, earthy beet notes dominate, but that gradually fades (perhaps as I acclimatize to it?) and more traditional (if that word can be applied to anything Mikkeller does) “spontan” character asserts. A little too weird to rate any better. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com