Saltbox Brewing Jeezus Murphy – Irish Red Ale at 4.8% ABV

Saltbox Brewing Jeezus Murphy Irish Red Ale at 4.8% ABV (C$3.91 at Liquid Assets YHZ, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 12-Nov-2017, reviewed 29-Nov-2017)

Appearance: clear ruby-tinged deep amber with one finger of fluffy ivory head diminishing gradually to a think skim, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: caramel malt, mild nuttiness, light grass. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body tending slightly thin, moderate carbonation, sweetish medium duration finish. (3/5)

Not much to say here: a very plain, run-of-the-mill interpretation of a very boring style. Malt dominant with very little in the way of hop character, and not much to recommend it. Smooth, sure, and with no real negatives, but aggressively boring. That wraps up my four-pack by this brewery, and I can’t imagine I’ll go looking for any more. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

2 Crows Brewing Liesse – Belgian Pale Ale at 3.5% ABV | 13 IBU

2 Crows Brewing Liesse Belgian Pale Ale at 3.5% ABV | 13 IBU (C$3.91 at Liquid Assets YHZ, 473 ml, packaged on 7-Jun-2017, best before 31-Dec-2017, acquired 12-Nov-2017, reviewed 29-Nov-2017)

Appearance: clear deep gold with one fat finger of fluffy white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: bright citrus, floral, pale malt, Belgian yeast, coriander, white pepper. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light spice. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lightly spicy finish. (4/5)

Well, that’s quite nice – it starts out surprisingly bright, hoppy, and flavourful for such a low ABV, like a nice little APA. Then, as the pint progresses and it warms, something interesting happens: a little spiciness starts to take hold, and a coriander and white pepper note appears, almost like a Hefeweizen. They call it a Table Beer, but that characterization could fit any number of parent styles such as Saisons, Bières de Garde, or BPA’s. Given the Belgian yeast character, I’ve gone with the BPA designation here, but regardless of what you call it, it’s refreshing and drinkable all day long. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Saltbox Brewing Dynamite Trail Ale – Hefeweizen at 5.2% ABV

Saltbox Brewing Dynamite Trail Ale Hefeweizen at 5.2% ABV (C$3.91 at Liquid Assets YHZ, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 12-Nov-2017, reviewed 28-Nov-2017)

Appearance: hazy straw with one fat finger of creamy white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: banana, wheat, coriander, white pepper. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light spice. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, sweetish medium lightly spicy finish. (3/5)

Another OK implementation of a fairly uninspiring style by this brewery. Not great, by any means – the appearance is slightly disappointing, and I find it slightly excessively sweet and spicy – but drinkable. I’m not sure whether or not I’d like to see these guys try something more interesting: as it stands, my experience is that they do middle-of-the-road implementations of fairly stodgy styles, so I’m not sure where they’d end up if they tried something more my speed. Now that I think about it, it might be best to leave well enough alone…? (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Saltbox Brewing Nun on the Run – Cream Ale at 4.7% ABV

Saltbox Brewing Nun on the Run Cream Ale at 4.7% ABV (C$3.91 at Liquid Assets YHZ, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 12-Nov-2017, reviewed 28-Nov-2017)

Appearance: clear pale gold with one fat finger of fluffy white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: pome fruit, honey, grass. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium finish. (3/5)

I was all ready to be deeply unimpressed by this – come on, it’s a typically boring style, produced by a brewery I’d never heard of until a couple of weeks ago – but the fact is, it’s not bad at all. In fact, making allowances for the style, it’s a fair bit better than that. Noble and Huell Melon hops provide a fruity note on the front end, supported by mild honey and more Noble grassiness on the back end. The honey flavour comes through a bit more prominently on the tongue, but without adding excessive sweetness. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Shmaltz Brewing Company Symbiosis Star Trek The Next Generation 30th Anniversary Ale – American Pale Wheat Ale at 5.5% ABV

Shmaltz Brewing Company Symbiosis Star Trek The Next Generation 30th Anniversary Ale American Pale Wheat Ale at 5.5% ABV (C$4.70 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 355 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 17-Nov-2017, reviewed 28-Nov-2017)

Appearance: clear pale gold with one fat finger of fluffy white head, good retention and minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: mild, citrus, herbal, grass, caramel. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry slightly astringent finish. (3/5)

Another underwhelming offering from the Federation of Beer licensing lineup. You’d think I’d’ve learned my lesson by now, but apparently not. In this case, the fact that it was Shmaltz was enough to push me over the edge and buy it – in a four-pack, no less! – but I think that’s now pretty much exhausted my patience with the marketing. As far as the beer goes, not a lot to say: middle-of-the-road, verging on mediocre, with a fairly undifferentiated hop profile and a slightly astringent, tea-like finish. (And is anybody else shocked that TNG is 30 years old?) (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

San Tan Brewing Company Moon Juice Galactic IPA – American IPA at 7.3% ABV | 65 IBU

San Tan Brewing Company Moon Juice Galactic IPA American IPA at 7.3% ABV | 65 IBU (C$7.84 at Andrew Hilton Wine & Spirits, 710 ml, packaged on 2-Aug-2017, acquired 22-Nov-2017, reviewed 22-Nov-2017)

Appearance: clear pale gold with one fat finger of fluffy pale ivory head diminishing gradually to a thin persistent cap, minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: bready yeast, white grape must, caramel, stone & tropical fruit, hint of pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry building bitter finish. (4/5)

I was going to bring this home and share it with my brother-in-law, but it occurred to me that that would mean a) spending the time to review it instead of socializing and b) sharing it. So I didn’t. ¯\_()_/¯ (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Doan’s Craft Brewing Company Rye IPA – Rye IPA at 6% ABV | 60 IBU

Doan’s Craft Brewing Company Rye IPA Rye IPA at 6% ABV | 60 IBU (C$6.60 at Andrew Hilton Wine & Spirits, 946 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 22-Nov-2017, reviewed 22-Nov-2017)

Appearance: clear pale gold two fingers of fluffy white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: rye bread, caramel, sugary fruit, hint of coffee. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter, light peppery spice. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter mildly spicy finish. (3/5)

I’ve had a couple of Doan collaborations before (partnered with the usual suspects out of BC: Parallel 49 and Russell, doing an Altbier and a Pilsner, respectively) and they’ve both been right about this point on the quality meter… so… they’ve got consistency going for them, I guess? To be fair, there’s not a lot wrong here as such, but there’s not a whole lot great, either. This is kind of right on the line of “neither fish nor fowl”, making me wish they’d either committed more strongly to the rye, or backed off on it and made it a side note. As it is, though, it just comes across as a little confused – which, I guess, is an occupational hazard of attempting a Rye IPA, instead of a straight-up Rye Beer (or IPA). It’s OK, sure, but no better than that. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Fernie Brewing Company Base Camp West Coast Pale – American Pale Ale at 5.8% ABV | 39 IBU

Fernie Brewing Company Base Camp West Coast Pale American Pale Ale at 5.8% ABV | 39 IBU (C$5.95 at Andrew Hilton Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, best before 31-Jan-2018, acquired 22-Nov-2017, reviewed 22-Nov-2017)

Appearance: clear medium gold with a towering fluffy ivory head, good retention and moderate clingy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: mild, citrus, caramel, tropical fruit, resiny pine. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium bitter finish. (4/5)

I’ve put citrus ahead of caramel in my aroma notes, but the fact is, it’s more of a dead heat between those two, with some assorted (OK, muddled) fruitiness and lightly dank pine following behind. The aroma’s not bad, but it’s not brightly hoppy the way I’d like to see for the style. The flavour is slightly better balanced, and the finish is fairly dry and cleanly bitter. It’s almost a combination of English and West Coast Pale attributes, actually. This can’t be all that old, since it’s a new brew launched in July, but if it’s one of the first batch, it’s certainly conceivable that it’s lost some brightness as a result. I wish Fernie would date their bottles, instead of putting a fairly cryptic, presumably BB date code (“01.2018L”, I think – the printing isn’t clear) on the label. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Õllekunsti OÜ (Põhjala Brewery) Põhjala Rukkirääk – Rye Beer at 5.9% ABV | 20 IBU

Õllekunsti OÜ (Põhjala Brewery) Põhjala Rukkirääk Rye Beer at 5.9% ABV | 20 IBU (C$5.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 330 ml, best before 13-Aug-2017, acquired 18-Nov-2017, reviewed 21-Nov-2017)

Appearance: clear amber-brown with a thin beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin persistent cap, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: dark fruit, caramel, rye bread, liquorice, hint of smoke. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter, mild spice. (8/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate-soft carbonation, off-dry medium duration mildly spicy finish. (4/5)

“Rukkirääk”? Seriously? Is IKEA naming beers now? (It’s the Estonian name for the bird on the label, the Corncrake.) Yeah, I like this, possibly because it’s not completely unlike their Baltic Porter. Not a lot of hop character, of course, but there’s a little spiciness from the rye on both the nose and the tongue, that goes a way towards filling that role. The body tends slightly full and almost creamy, with softer carbonation and an off-dry spicy finish. A very old-fashioned feeling beer, but well done. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Õllekunsti OÜ (Põhjala Brewery) Põhjala Virmalised – American IPA at 6.5% ABV | 50 IBU

Õllekunsti OÜ (Põhjala Brewery) Põhjala Virmalised American IPA at 6.5% ABV | 50 IBU (C$6.49 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 330 ml, best before 15-Aug-2017, acquired 18-Nov-2017, reviewed 21-Nov-2017)

Appearance: hazy deep gold with three fingers of rocky ivory head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: melon, tropical fruit, citrus, pale malt, bready yeast, hint of onion and cardboard. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, dry bitter finish. (3/5)

“Virmalised”, huh? Sounds vaguely nasty, and quite possibility contagious. (OK, fine, it’s Estonian for “Aurora Borealis”. Take away all my fun, why don’tcha?) This bottle’s a bit elderly, so that may explain the lack of bright citrus notes promised by the label, as well as the hints of onion and cardboard. On the other hand, I might be overgeneralizing my expectations for Põhjala based upon the single other beer I’ve had by them (Öö) which in addition  to having the coolest name every was pretty stellar – but also a Baltic Porter, so pretty much the exact opposite of this, stylistically. Still and all, not bad. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com