Ritual Brewing Co. Hop-o-Matic IPA – American IPA at 7.1% ABV | 80 IBU

Ritual Brewing Co. Hop-o-Matic IPA American IPA at 7.1% ABV | 80 IBU (C$10.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, packaged on 13-Jun-2017, acquired 4-Aug-2017, reviewed 5-Aug-2017)

Appearance: clear pale amber with three fingers of rocky ivory head, excellent retention and patchy soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: slightly dank pine, citrus, grainy caramel. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

That’s a bit more like it – at least I can smell the Citra in this “Citra” labelled beer, unlike the last one. Well, sort of. I mean, the citrus is there, even if it’s not out front. Plus, the bottle is dated, so yay? Huh. What’s the world coming to, when your SIPA, with half the ABV of your big boy beers, is the most fun in your lineup? Oh, wait, they called it “Funner”, didn’t they? Who knew it was so true? (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Ritual Brewing Co. Single Rye IPA Citra – American IPA at 7% ABV | 87 IBU

Ritual Brewing Co. Single Rye IPA Citra American IPA at 7% ABV | 87 IBU (C$12.49 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 4-Aug-2017, reviewed 5-Aug-2017)

Appearance: clear deep gold with three fingers of rocky ivory head, excellent retention and well-defined lacing. (5/5) Aroma: spicy rye, citrus, caramel, dank pine. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter, mild peppery spice. (7/10) Palate: medium-full slightly oily body, moderate carbonation, off-dry building and lingering bitter and mildly spicy finish. (4/5)

Decently well-balanced, in that the rye, malt, and hops are pretty much in a three-way tie for the pole. However, I don’t buy a Citra beer in the hopes that the Citra shares the spotlight with malt, or even rye. I mean, look at the label: “Rye” is, what, half an inch high, while “Citra” is an inch and a half? It’s not shared billing, so why is it shared spotlight? Don’t get me wrong: I love me a spicy rye beer, and this is certainly that. But I get cranky when I don’t get a promised blast of Citra. Could be age, I guess, because there’s no date on the bottle – but then as I always say, if you ain’t gonna date your bottle, I’m just gonna assume you meant it to taste like this. Decent overall, but falls short. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Ritual Brewing Co. Funner IPA – American IPA at 4.6% ABV | 50 IBU

Ritual Brewing Co. Funner IPA American IPA at 4.6% ABV | 50 IBU (C$10.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 4-Aug-2017, reviewed 5-Aug-2017)

Appearance: slightly hazy straw with three fingers of rocky white head, excellent retention and well-defined lacing. (5/5) Aroma: citrus zest, resiny pine, pale crackery malt, stone fruit. (8/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, dry lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Hells yes, that’s funner! That’s how you do a SIPA: good base hopping in the boil (five different hops, including Lemondrop, Citra, and Mosaic), topped off with dry hopping (Citra and Mosaic again) for extra fun. Probably one of the best examples of Lemondrop I’ve had, almost certainly because it’s got Citra and Mosaic coming along for support. Despite the low ABV and associated lower malt presence, this never comes across as thin or sharp. Very nicely done. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Big Rock Brewery Oak Aged Rye Ale – Rye Beer at 5% ABV | 18 IBU

Big Rock Brewery Oak Aged Rye Ale Rye Beer at 5% ABV | 18 IBU (C$2.83 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 330 ml, best before 18-Nov-2017, acquired 2-Aug-2017, reviewed 5-Aug-2017)

Appearance: clear deep gold with one finger of fizzy white head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, minimal patchy lacing. (2/5) Aroma: caramel and toffee, vanilla, oak, weeds and grass. (5/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-low bitter. (4/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, sweetish lightly bitter finish. (3/5)

To the extent there’s any rye apparent in this at all, it’s coming through as a limp, weedy note. Well, perhaps there’s a hint of whisky late in the finish, after most of the beer’s gone – but it’s too little, too late, to prevent this from being simply sweet, malty, and boring. (9/20)

4.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Little Known Brewing Co. Je Ne Sais Quoi – Session IPA at 4.2% ABV

Little Known Brewing Co. Je Ne Sais Quoi – Session IPA at 4.2% ABV (C$3.59 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 473 ml, packaged on 3-May-2017, acquired 4-Aug-2017, reviewed 4-Aug-2017)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with three fingers of fluffy and growing white head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grapefruit, grainy pale malt, pine, grass. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body tending slightly thin, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering building bitter and slightly astringent finish. (3/5)

Pretty respectable for a first-time attempt to scale up a home-brew recipe via contract brewing with Flying Monkeys out of Barrie. (What? It so happens I do sais quoi. I know people, OK?) And this is pretty decent, but even as an inveterate hophead, I have to say the bitterness is a bit unbalanced to the high side for this. It ends up falling prey to the common issue for Session Pales: the lighter malt bill ends up being unable to support the enthusiastic hops in the boil, resulting in a slightly thin and astringent finish. I’m not unhappy with this, but a little tweaking of the recipe might provide some polishing. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bench Creek Brewing Cloud Break Hopfenweizen – Hopfenweisse at 5% ABV | 20 IBU

Bench Creek Brewing Cloud Break Hopfenweizen Hopfenweisse at 5% ABV | 20 IBU (C$6.95 at Andrew Hilton Wine & Spirits, 946 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 3-Aug-2017, reviewed 4-Aug-2017)

Appearance: opaque medium gold with one fat finger of rocky ivory head, excellent retention and soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: banana, wheat, clove & white pepper. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering building bitter finish. (4/5)

The aroma doesn’t come across as particularly hoppy, but there’s definitely a far more emphatic bitterness on the tongue and in the finish than typical for a Hefe, so I guess the Hopfenweisse characterization is correct. Pleasant enough, if not exactly ground-breaking. Another situation of damning with faint praise perhaps, but one, these guys knocked it out of the park with their Apex Predator, and two, I’ve had some stonking good Canadian-brewed Hopfenweisses, so yeah – the bar is somewhat raised here. Add some dry-hopping to bring up the aroma and you might have a real contender here, but as it stands, it’s definitely good, but very definitely a hair shy of world-class. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

 

Outcast Brewing Neon Dreams – American Pale Ale at 6.0% ABV | 30 IBU

Outcast Brewing Neon Dreams American Pale Ale at 6.0% ABV | 30 IBU (C$4.37 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 473 ml, packaged on 23-Jul-2017, best before 10-Sep-2017, acquired 4-Aug-2017, reviewed 4-Aug-2017)

Appearance: opaque medium gold with one fat finger of loose off-white head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, minimal lacing. (2/5) Aroma: big pine and spruce, tropical fruit, flaked oat, citrus. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, lively to moderate carbonation, off-dry medium bitter finish. (4/5)

Not quite the orange juice / creamsicle appearance I associate with the NE style, but instead tending slightly muddled and unclean. Also, retention and lacing are basically non-existent, so the appearance really needs work. The aroma is dominated by huge pine and spruce, instead of the fruit and citrus I associate with the style. Don’t get me wrong: there are some tropical fruit and citrus notes there, but they’re faint and late to arrive. The label doesn’t specify what varietal of powdered lupulin is being used for the dry-hopping, but I’m not really sure it’s working for this style.

I know it sounds like I’m being a bit harsh with the new guy here, but there are some improvements that could really ratchet this beer up in a big way. On the up side, the bitterness is reasonably restrained despite the big hop aromas, with dry-hopping working well there. And the label is exactly what I’ve been ranting for, for ages: in addition to ABV and IBU, it’s got canned on and best-by dating. Well done! Now, go fix the appearance and the aroma, and make me even happier. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! Ultra Mosaika – American Pale Ale at 5.4% ABV | 43 IBU

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! Ultra Mosaika American Pale Ale at 5.4% ABV | 43 IBU (C$3.87 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 341 ml, packaged on 10-Jul-2017, acquired 4-Aug-2017, reviewed 4-Aug-2017)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with three fingers of fluffy light ivory head, excellent retention and moderate clingy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: resiny pine, grapefruit zest, crackery malt, floral. (9/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, moderate bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, dry medium bitter finish. (4/5)

Went into this with high hopes, and was not disappointed. Lovely example of Mosaic hops, with restrained sweetness but huge flavour. The dry finish invites the next sip, and the low(er) ABV makes this pretty sessionable. Very easy to drink, and a whole lotta fun – and the fact that it’s just over 3 weeks old probably didn’t hurt, either! Well worth an effort to seek out. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Big Rock Brewery Grasshopper Wheat Ale – Kristallweizen at 5% ABV | 16 IBU

Big Rock Brewery Grasshopper Wheat Ale Kristallweizen at 5% ABV | 16 IBU (C$2.83 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 330 ml, best before 18-Nov-2017, acquired 2-Aug-2017, reviewed 4-Aug-2017)

Appearance: clear straw with one fingers of fluffy white head diminishing rapidly to a thin cap, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: grainy and doughy malt, light banana and clove. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (5/10) Palate: medium-light body, lively to moderate carbonation, crisp short finish. (3/5)

Better than a macro lager, but without much more character. I’ve drunk more than enough of these to know it’s not one I’d seek out again, but it was part of their Canada 150 mixed six pack, so I was kind of stuck with it. On the other hand, it’s easy-drinking and was fine with lunch. (10/20)

5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Phillips Brewing Company Thunder Punch – American IPA at 6.3% ABV

Phillips Brewing Company Thunder Punch American IPA at 6.3% ABV (C$7.25 at Andrew Hilton Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 3-Aug-2017, reviewed 3-Aug-2017)

Appearance: clear deep gold with three fingers of rocky light ivory head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: tropical fruit, grapefruit, caramel, resiny pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium slightly creamy body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Had to do at least one real IPA for IPA Day. And this? This is decent. Pretty: nearly crystal clear despite being unfiltered, with good head retention. Pleasant hop character leads the way over a solid caramel malt backbone and the body exhibits the general smooth creaminess one usually finds with the addition of oats. Solid, but now I want buffalo wings… (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com