Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. Word on the Street – American IPA at 7.1% ABV | 65 IBU

Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. Word on the Street American IPA at 7.1% ABV | 65 IBU (C$6.87 at Half Moon Bay Brewing Co., 473 ml, packaged on 21-Jun-2017, acquired 23-Jun-2017, reviewed 29-Jun-2017)

Appearance: opaque pale gold with one fat finger of rocky white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: juicy citrus, dank resiny pine, pale biscuity malt, tropical fruit. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Medium body, moderate-low carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Yep, that’s just over a week old (two days old when I bought it). And it’s pretty danged good, but Heady doesn’t need to start worrying quite yet. I mean, yeah, it’s got the requisite orange juice appearance, but I was almost standing in the Pacific when I bought it, so how “NE” could it really be? Fact is, it’s a really interesting West Coast-ish interpretation of the opaque IPA – juicy, sure, but big bitter with a fair amount of dank resin and an almost spicy finish. Citra and Simcoe are definitely present, but exhibit no cattiness at all. Well done. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company Haters Gonna Hate – Kölsch at 7.1% ABV | 40 IBU

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company Haters Gonna Hate Kölsch at 7.1% ABV | 40 IBU (C$6.87 at NLC Howley Estates, 600 ml, packaged on 2-May-2017, acquired 26-Jun-2017, reviewed 29-Jun-2017)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale gold with one fat finger of rocky ivory head, good retention and chunky lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grainy malt, grass, bready yeast, hint of citrus. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Medium slightly slick body, moderate-low carbonation, sweetish short duration moderate bitter and slightly boozy finish. (3/5)

Haters might well hate, but I wouldn’t go quite that far with this, the extreme silliness of an “Imperial Kölsch” designation notwithstanding. (No, I didn’t add that style to my database. If I ever see another such appellation on a beer, I’ll eat my hat. And, probably, quit craft beer.) It’s not bad, and I don’t hate it, but it is slightly unbalanced, and I can’t say I’m a big fan. Really comes across as a slightly boozy lager in my opinion, with malt, yeast, and weedy, grassy hops dominating. I don’t think this is clearly preferable to Lug Tread, but I wasn’t a huge fan of that either, so I guess that’s hardly surprising.(13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Muskoka Brewery Ruff Draught Tropical Blonde Ale – Blond Ale at 5% ABV | 25 IBU

Muskoka Brewery Ruff Draught Tropical Blonde Ale Blond Ale at 5% ABV | 25 IBU (C$2.84 at NLC Howley Estates, 473 ml, best before 18-Sep-2017, acquired 26-Jun-2017, reviewed 27-Jun-2017)

Appearance: clear medium gold with one finger of loose white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: pomes, grainy pale malt, light citrus and stone fruit. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Medium-light body, moderate-low carbonation, sweetish short duration mild bitter finish. (3/5)

Not very interesting, but then, what Blond Ale ever is? Fruit and grainy malt dominate both aromas and flavours, and the sweetish finish isn’t as clean and crisp as I’d prefer. Almost lager-like in some ways. OK, but nothing spectacular – I’d definitely choose Mad Tom over this, any time. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Sawdust City Brewing Company Golden Beach Pale Ale – Session IPA at 4.5% ABV | 25 IBU

Sawdust City Brewing Company Golden Beach Pale Ale Session IPA at 4.5% ABV | 25 IBU (C$2.84 at NLC Howley Estates, 473 ml, packaged on 5-Apr-2017, acquired 26-Jun-2017, reviewed 27-Jun-2017)

Appearance: opaque straw with three fingers of rocky white head, excellent retention and chunky, soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, tropical fruit, crackery wheat, light pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (8/10) Light body, moderate-lively carbonation, off-dry mild bitter finish. (4/5)

Really refreshing session ale that doesn’t sacrifice flavour. The bitterness seems quite mild at first, but the low sweetness prevents it from getting washed out, and it ends up finishing nicely balanced. So approachable, even for non beer geeks, that She Who Must Be Obeyed actually enjoyed it. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Tapas & Taps, SFO International Terminal 2017-06-23

Well, I’ve got a red-eye leaving in four hours. I’ve got a fold-flat seat in a pod, so I’ll be able to grab a couplethree hours of shuteye on the plane. What else is there to do, other than pre-load so I’m good and sleepy by the time we go wheels up?

Angel City India Pale Ale – American IPA at 6.1% ABV | 65 IBU – 6/10

Appearance: clear pale gold, short-lived off-white head, patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: citrus, pine, caramel. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (6/10) Medium body, moderate-low carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

A fairly “traditional” A/IPA, with less-than-pronounced aromas tending somewhat malty. Nothing too terrible, but also nothing too exciting. (12/20)

Calicraft Brewing The City IPA – American IPA at 6.4% ABV | 67 IBU – 6/10

Appearance: clear medium gold, short-lived off-white head, patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: floral, citrus, pine, caramel, earth. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (6/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, slightly tongue-coating and astringent bitter finish. (3/5)

This one’s commercial description is trying awfully hard, but I would never have guessed nine hops (including an experimental) went into this. The orange peel, yes, absolutely: it comes through as a bitter and astringent tongue-coating orange oil, especially in the finish. The blackberry root I’d’ve flat-out never guessed, but I’ll chalk up the earthiness to that. Though, that being said, there might actually be a hint of berry in there. Really not much to write home about, though. (12/20)

Napa Smith Brewery Golden Gate IPA – American IPA at 6.1% ABV | 66 IBU – 5/10

Appearance: slightly hazy medium gold, short-lived off-white head, no lacing. (2/5) Aroma: floral, caramel, faint citrus & pine. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (5/10) Medium body tending thin, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium bitter finish. (3/5)

Not much good to say about this: too much malt emphasis on both the nose and the tongue, and a pretty anemic hop character. (10/20)

Well, that’s enough of that – might as well go through security and see what else there is to find. Drinking free whiskey in the United lounge is better than this!

Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. 2017-06-23

So, I finished my training with a minimum of a couple of hours to kill – I couldn’t check my bags until 4 hours before my flight at the earliest, and it was closer to 8 hours until the flight. What to do? Hmm… how about a scenic drive to Half Moon Bay? Oh, look, they make beer there! Imagine that!

En Passant – Dry-Hopped Belgian Ale at 6.2% ABV | 38 IBU – 8/10

Appearance: Opaque straw with one finger of creamy white head, excellent retention and lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, yeast esters, crackery malt, light dry funk. (8/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, moderate bitter, light peppery spice and funk. (8/10) Medium-light body, moderate-soft carbonation, off-dry mild bitter finish. (4/5)

Might be the best Mandarina implementation I’ve had. Pleasant citrus leads over mild Belgian yeast esters. Really pretty, too, with excellent retention and lacing. (16/20)

Saison – Saison at 6% ABV | 25 IBU – 6.5/10

Appearance: Hazy pale straw with a short white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, soapy clinging lacing. (3/5) Aroma: toasted bread, stone fruit, honey, hint of burnt rubber. (6/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, mild bitter. (7/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry short duration finish. (3/5)

Not terrible, but not as good as their Belgian Ale. Hints of burnt rubber/band-aid slightly mar the aroma, but the taste and finish are decent enough. Acceptable, but not one to prioritize. (13/20)

IPA – American IPA at 6.1% ABV | 80 IBU – 7/10

Appearance: Hazy pale gold with one finger of fluffy ivory head, good retention and decent lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grapefruit, pine, caramel. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

Nice straightforward A/IPA. Nothing earth-shattering, but pleasant and fairly easy drinking despite the tending high bitterness. (14/20)

Full Swing – American IPA at 6.6% ABV | 80 IBU – 7.5/10

Appearance: Clear pale gold with one finger of fluffy off-white head, good retention and decent lacing. (4/5) Aroma: slightly dank pine, tropical fruit, grapefruit, pale malt. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter. (8/10) Medium slightly oily body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

Pleasant West Coast-style A/IPA, with slightly dank pine leading the way in front of tropical fruits and pithy citrus. Another one that’s easy to drink despite the higher bitterness. (15/20)

Simconed – American IPA at 6.2% ABV | 65 IBU – 7.5/10

Appearance: Slightly hazy pale gold with a short fluffy off-white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, patchy clingy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, pale malt, hint of dank pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry bitter finish. (3/5)

Solid example of a Simcoe-hopped ale. In particular, there’s no hint of the cattiness this hop can exhibit. Really quite pleasant. (15/20)

Hop Dogma Brewing Silly Gimmick – Imperial IPA at 8% ABV – 7/10

Appearance: Opaque pale gold with one finger of fluffy off-white head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, clingy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: citrus, resiny pine, tropical fruit, caramel. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, warming bitter finish. (3/5)

Yeah, I know, it’s not Half Moon Bay Brewing, but I can’t resist an NE/IPA. Problem is, this isn’t “really” an NE/IPA. It sort of is, I guess, but there’s more emphasis on slightly dank pine, and less bright juicy citrus than I expect of the style. Enjoyable, but not really what it’s claiming to be. (14/20)

Consumed but not photographed: Seafood Duo, ceviche and tuna poké. Also good fun.

Well, that was fun! Now just a couple of cans of their Word on the Street NE/IPA to stick in my checked bags and it’s off to the airport!

Sierra Nevada / Avery Brewing Co. Beer Camp Across the World: Dry-Hopped Barleywine Style Ale – American Barleywine at 9.4% ABV | 90 IBU

Sierra Nevada / Avery Brewing Co. Beer Camp Across the World: Dry-Hopped Barleywine Style Ale American Barleywine at 9.4% ABV | 90 IBU (US$2.15 at Beer Thirty Bottle Shop & Pour House, 355 ml, packaged on 19-Apr-2017, acquired 21-Jun-2017, reviewed 22-Jun-2017)

Appearance: clear medium amber with one fat finger of rocky beige head diminishing gradually to a thick persistent cap, clingy, soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: big hoppy pine and citrus, caramel malt, boozy dark and stone fruit. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter, light tart. (8/10) Medium-full slick body, moderate-soft carbonation, dry lingering bitter and warming finish. (4/5)

Is it a bad sign when you look at a beer style and cringe? I don’t know why Barleywines evince that response from me, especially when I look at my history with them and realize that, statistically speaking, they’re more likely to be a hit, than a miss. Not to mention, the same is true of both Sierra Nevada and Avery Brewing. All things considered, I should expect this to be a win, right?

And dang, if it’s not. I’ve actually had Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot, and several Averys (but not Hog Heaven), so the fact that the “Big Hog” is a success really isn’t that much of a shock for me. Big hops on the front end, just as you’d hope (but don’t always get) with a “dry-hopped” beer, but then an emphatic (but not overly sweet) malt backbone on a lingering bitter and boozy finish. Really, there’s nothing not to like here – and barring serious shocks in the remaining three cans, I think we’ve got a new frontrunner in the collab pack. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Sierra Nevada / Garage Project Beer Camp Across the World: Campout Porter – American Porter at 7.7% ABV | 32 IBU

Sierra Nevada / Garage Project Beer Camp Across the World: Campout Porter American Porter at 7.7% ABV | 32 IBU (US$2.15 at Beer Thirty Bottle Shop & Pour House, 355 ml, packaged on 19-Apr-2017, acquired 21-Jun-2017, reviewed 22-Jun-2017)

Appearance: clear ruby brown with one fat finger of rocky beige head diminishing gradually to a thick persistent cap, clingy, soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: dark roasty malt, vanilla, molasses, smoke, hints of cocoa and wood. (7/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium-full slightly creamy body, moderate-soft carbonation, dry bitter finish. (4/5)

At number 8 in the collaboration pack, we finally hit a brewery with whom I’ve had no experience, and so have no idea what to expect. It’s a very pretty ruby brown, clear and deep, with a beige head that diminishes to a persistent cap and then produces clingy, soapy lacing. Smoke is definitely there, but behind vanilla and molasses, with chocolate and woody notes following. “Marshmallows over a campfire” is actually not a bad description, except that despite the emphatic malt character, the sweetness is surprisingly restrained, and the finish never becomes cloying. All things considered, a pretty solid offering that I quite enjoyed despite the fact that it’s still triple digits outside, an hour after sunset. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Sierra Nevada / Ayinger Brewery Beer Camp Across the World: Dunkle Weisse – Dunkelweizen at 5.7% ABV | 10 IBU

Sierra Nevada / Ayinger Brewery Beer Camp Across the World: Dunkle Weisse Dunkelweizen at 5.7% ABV | 10 IBU (US$2.15 at Beer Thirty Bottle Shop & Pour House, 355 ml, packaged on 25-Apr-2017, acquired 21-Jun-2017, reviewed 22-Jun-2017)

Appearance: near opaque deep amber with one fat finger of rocky beige head diminishing gradually to a thick persistent cap, minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: toasted bread, coffee, caramel, mild banana, light coriander/clove. (8/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, mild bitter. (8/10) Medium creamy body, moderate carbonation, dry medium duration finish. (3/5)

Another decent offering in this collaboration pack, with Ayinger exhibiting a characteristic dark Hefeweizen. (Not sure what the “twist” promised by the label is, though?) Pleasantly mild, well-balanced, and easy drinking, regardless. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Sierra Nevada / Duvel Moortgat – Beer Camp Across the World: Hoppy Belgian-Style Golden – Belgian Golden Strong Ale at 8% ABV | 35 IBU

Sierra Nevada / Duvel Moortgat Beer Camp Across the World: Hoppy Belgian-Style Golden Belgian Golden Strong Ale at 8% ABV | 35 IBU (US$2.15 at Beer Thirty Bottle Shop & Pour House, 355 ml, packaged on 19-Apr-2017, acquired 21-Jun-2017, reviewed 22-Jun-2017)

Appearance: brilliantly clear pale gold with one fat finger of rocky white head diminishing to a persistent cap, moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: coriander, banana, bubblegum, lemon zest, black pepper. (8/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, moderate bitter, light peppery spice and funk. (8/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, dry warming spicy finish. (4/5)

Now that is nice – really Belgian in style, albeit not particularly hoppy. I’m guessing this will be the star of the collaboration pack, unless that IPA lurking in there really shines. The Duvel resemblance is coming through loud and clear, and that’s all to the good. Characteristic Belgian yeast leads the way over well-balanced bitterness and a spicy warming finish. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com