Kleinbrouwerij De Glazen Toren Jan de Lichte Dubbel Witbier – Witbier at 7% ABV | 15 IBU

Kleinbrouwerij De Glazen Toren Jan de Lichte Dubbel Witbier Witbier at 7% ABV | 15 IBU (C$14.00 at Zyn, 650 ml, bottle date 25-Jul-2015, best before 25-Jul-2017, acquired 16-Feb-2017, reviewed 27-Feb-2017)

Appearance: translucent dirty pale gold with two fingers of fizzy white head diminishing rapidly to a persistent thick creamy cap, patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: doughy yeast, orange peel, banana, coriander/clove, hint of floral. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (7/10) Palate: Medium-light slightly slick body, lively to moderate carbonation, off-dry mildly bitter and spicy warming finish. (4/5)

I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever had a “double white”, and it’s not your typical Belgian, that’s for sure. Initially, the aroma is dominated by a bready, doughy yeast completely unlike anything I’ve encountered in a Belgian before. (Though quite similar to e.g. Council Brewing’s house yeast, which I’m sure is 100% Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or baker’s yeast.) That doughy aroma settles back along with the initially large and fizzy white head, allowing the more traditional Witbier aromas to come through. The higher alcohol seems to come through in the middle and finish, presenting as – well, it’s not fair to say “solvent-like,” since that implies a harshness that’s not present – but certainly a sweet slick warmth not present in a typical Witbier. For the second glass, I swirled in the lees, and both the curaçao orange peel and coriander spiciness amped up considerably. Not without its charms, but fairly middle of the pack both for Witbiers and for Belgian beers in general. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Firestone Walker Brewing Company Luponic DIstortion (Revolution No. 004) – American IPA at 5.9% ABV | 59 IBU

Firestone Walker Brewing Company Luponic Distortion (Revolution No. 004) American IPA at 5.9% ABV | 59 IBU (C$3.98 at Crowfoot Wine & Spirits, 355 ml, bottle date 28-Dec-2016, best before 28-Mar-2017, acquired 23-Feb-2017, reviewed 23-Feb-2017)

Appearance: clear straw with one fat finger of fluffy white head, moderate retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: tropical fruit, citrus, floral, crackery pale malt, light vinous, light dank. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry mildly bitter finish. (4/5)

I got this one a little older than the previous two revisions, both of which I had at about the one month mark, but I’m still well within the magic 90 days here. No real indications of age as such: the hops are still bright and flavourful. Pretty similar to the previous two revisions, with perhaps a bit of the vinous character I noticed in 002 returning, but also a little of the mild dank that I noticed in 003. Hoppy and bright, but still easy to drink and thirst quenching. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Boulevard Brewing Co. Long Strange Tripel – Tripel at 9.2% ABV | 23 IBU

Boulevard Brewing Co. Long Strange Tripel Tripel at 9.2% ABV | 23 IBU (C$12.99 at Zyn, 750 ml, best before 29-Feb-2016, acquired 16-Feb-2017, reviewed 22-Feb-2017)

Appearance: hazy pale amber with two fat fingers of rocky ivory head, excellent retention and thick lacing. (4/5) Aroma: caramel malt, boozy dark fruit, apples and pears, banana. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, lively carbonation, sweet slightly boozy warming finish. (4/5)

Whoa! An explosive uncorking caught me by surprise, but didn’t follow with the expected gusher. (And before we go any further: I’m sorry, but does anybody else who’s graduated high school and endured a valedictorian speech find “long strange trip” to be an unbearable cliché? Because I sure do.) Anyway. This was a bit of a gamble on my part: on the one hand, it was a year past its best-before. On the other, it was a high-ABV Boulevard Smokestack. I decided it was worth the risk. I have no regrets. I prefer a bone-dry Tripel, and this one tends sweet, but it still has decent Belgian character. Given the complete lack of hop character and the high ABV, I can say with a fair degree of certainty that this will keep forever, BB dates be damned. It might not be a home run, but it’s at least a triple. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Oast House Brewers Bière de Garde – Bière de Garde at 7% ABV

Oast House Brewers Bière de Garde Bière de Garde at 7% ABV (C$16.29 at Zyn, 750 ml, bottle date 11-Mar-2015, acquired 16-Feb-2017, reviewed 22-Feb-2017)

Appearance: hazy amber-brown with two fat fingers of fluffy beige head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: dried fruit, brown/burnt sugar, bready yeast. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-low bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, lively carbonation, mildly sweet warming finish. (3/5)

My second kick at this particular cat: I actually bought one of these at the brewery last summer, but made the lamentable error of throwing it in the freezer for a little chill, then letting She Who Must Be Obeyed convince me I didn’t need to run back to the room to take it out. I coulda cried. Anyway, on to the beer. I’m still trying to figure out the Bière de Garde style, despite the fact I’ve had three or four of the BJCP reference examples. The thing is, this can vary all the way from blonde to brown, and I think this might be the darkest of the style I’ve ever had. Add to the fact that there’s a couple years’ cellaring on this, and you’ve got something that, except for the carbonation and lower ABV, I’d be hard-pressed to distinguish from an Abt or Quadrupel. And not a bad one, either. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Upright Brewing Company Four – Saison at 4.5% ABV | 18 IBU

Upright Brewing Company Four Saison at 4.5% ABV | 18 IBU (C$15.00 at Zyn, 750 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 16-Feb-2017, reviewed 22-Feb-2017)

Appearance: hazy pale straw with a huge growing fluffy white head, excellent retention and well-defined lacing. (5/5) Aroma: lemon, wheat, crackery malt, floral, light funk. (7/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, moderate-low bitter, light spicy funk. (6/10) Palate: light body, lively carbonation, bone dry finish. (4/5)

Dunno how old this is, but there’s a hint of funk, but no runaway infection. Lightly tart and bone dry make this easily quaffable. It’s not overly complex, but it’s a decent table Saison – assuming you have no qualms about the price, of course. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Unibroue La Fin Du Monde – Tripel at 9% ABV | 19 IBU

Unibroue La Fin Du Monde Tripel at 9% ABV | 19 IBU (C$2.58 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 341 ml, bottle date 22-Aug-2016, acquired 15-Feb-2017, reviewed 21-Feb-2017)

Appearance: clear medium gold with two fingers of fluffy white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, banana, malt, candi sugar, stone fruit, and yeast. (9/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-low bitter, light spice. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, warming lightly spicy finish. (4/5)

Been just over a year since I last had this, and I saw a mixed dozen that included Terrible, so figured, what the heck. Not to mention, the last one I had was over a year old, while this one’s only six months old, which I think makes it the youngest example of this one I’ve had. Gotta say, seems like this one’s a pretty solid performer regardless of what age you have it. The mixed dozen had two of these, so the next one will go into the cellar for at least three or four years, and we’ll see what happens then. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Unibroue Maudite – Belgian Strong Ale at 8% ABV | 22 IBU

Unibroue Maudite Belgian Strong Ale at 8% ABV | 22 IBU (C$2.58 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 341 ml, bottle date 11-Aug-2016, acquired 15-Feb-2017, reviewed 21-Feb-2017)

Appearance: clear medium to deep amber with two fingers of fluffy ivory head, excellent retention and soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: brown sugar, banana, cloves, dried fruit. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-low bitter, light spice. (8/10) Palate: medium-full slightly slick body, moderate carbonation, warming lightly spicy finish. (4/5)

Been about two years since I last had this, and I saw a mixed dozen that included Terrible, so figured, what the heck. Not to mention, the last one I had was a couple of years old, while this one’s only six months old – making it the youngest example of this one I can recall having – so I wondered whether there’d be any differences. And… well… no, not a lot. Well, to be fair, it looks better – better head development, retention and lacing. Other than that, no, not a whole lot that I can identify. The mixed dozen had two of these, so the next one will go into the cellar for at least three or four years, and we’ll see what happens then. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Wild Rose Brewery Shady Character – Saison at 6% ABV | 32 IBU

Wild Rose Brewery Shady Character Saison at 6% ABV | 32 IBU (C$8.00 at Zyn, 650 ml, bottle date 26-Jan-2017, acquired 16-Feb-2017, reviewed 20-Feb-2017)

Appearance: clear deep brown with one finger of creamy beige head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: muddled, chocolate, roasty malt, bready yeast, dark fruit. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light spice. (5/10) Palate: medium-light body, lively carbonation, off-dry lightly spicy finish. (3/5)

Meh. Ignoring piddly pedantic objections that such a style doesn’t actually exist, if it did, I’d expect that a Black Saison would be subject to the same pitfalls as a Black IPA – and this one kinda blunders into all of them. The dark malt blunts the tartness and crispness that I most appreciate in Saisons, and the relatively high ABV feels out of place.  Can’t say I’m very impressed. (11/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Ninkasi Brewing Company Expo 58 – Belgian Ale at 5% ABV | 20 IBU

Ninkasi Brewing Company Expo 58 Belgian Ale at 5% ABV | 20 IBU (C$8.00 at Zyn, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before, acquired 16-Feb-2017, reviewed 20-Feb-2017)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale straw with one fat finger of pillowy white head, good retention and minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: pale crackery malt, lime, clove, grassy hay. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter, light spice. (6/10) Palate: medium-light body, lively carbonation, dry lightly spicy finish. (3/5)

Well, I went into this with zero expectations, so I can’t say I’m disappointed. And, initially, I thought this was going to be decent – but the lime and clove diminish rapidly, leaving behind a crackery pale malt that resembles a macro lager. Not a patch on a real Belgian. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Unibroue Raftman – Smoked Beer at 5.5% ABV | 15.5 IBU

Unibroue Raftman Smoked Beer at 5.5% ABV | 15.5 IBU (C$2.58 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 341 ml, bottle date 13-Sep-2016, acquired 15-Feb-2017, reviewed 20-Feb-2017)

Appearance: cloudy pale amber with one fat finger of rocky ivory head, good retention and minimal lacing. (4/5) Aroma: mild, clove and banana, caramel malt, apple, light smoke. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter, light spice. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderately lively carbonation, off-dry lightly spicy finish. (4/5)

Been about two years since I last had this, and I saw a mixed dozen that included Terrible, so figured, what the heck. Not to mention, the last one I had was nearing its best-before date while this one’s only six months old, so I wondered whether there’d be any differences. And yeah, there seem to be, if only minor ones: it seems like the smokiness is less pronounced in this younger one, and the overall aromas initially seemed a little muted compared to the other one. However, they did grow a little more emphatic as the pint progressed, and I think there’s even a little more complexity present with this younger one, with a little apple present that I don’t recall noticing before. Pleasant, overall. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com