Mikkeller Mastodon Mother Puncher – American IPA at 6.6% ABV

Mikkeller Mastodon Mother Puncher American IPA at 6.6% ABV (C$4.79 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 330 ml, best before 21-Sep-2018, acquired 18-Nov-2017, reviewed 21-Nov-2017)

Appearance: hazy medium gold with one finger of rocky pale ivory head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: passionfruit, kiwi, hay funk, pale malt, pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, moderate tart. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, drying medium bitter and lightly funky finish. (3/5)

I’m not usually one to complain about funk. Or Mikkeller, for that matter. And I’m not really complaining now – I’m just not as happy with this as I sort of expected to be. At the outset, all seemed well: there was lots of passionfruit, and to a lesser extent some other tropical fruit notes like kiwi, backed up by a little pine in the finish. (The oats promised by the label don’t ever really seem to make an appearance.) But about halfway through, the Brett funk made its presence a bit more known, and its effect – to my surprise – was ever-so-slightly negative. It adds complexity, sure, but there’s also a slightly astringent note in the finish, that almost becomes metallic towards the end of the bottle. On the other hand, it was developed for and with Mastodon, so there’s that. Ultimately, though, it ends up getting lost somewhere in the middle of the pack for Mikkeller beers, ending up in neither my top nor my bottom ten. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Central City Brewers + Distillers Red Racer Super Solar IPA – American IPA at 6% ABV

Central City Brewers + Distillers Red Racer Super Solar IPA American IPA at 6% ABV (C$3.29 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 473 ml, packaged on 23-Aug-2017, acquired 20-Nov-2017, reviewed 20-Nov-2017)

Appearance: brilliantly clear pale amber with two fingers of loose ivory head, excellent retention and well-defined lacing. (5/5) Aroma: resiny pine, grapefruit, caramel, petrichor. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, drying lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

That’ll do, pig. That’ll do. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Big Rock Brewery / Common Crown Brewing / Northern Girls Hopyard 3-Way IPA – American IPA at 6% ABV | 35 IBU

Big Rock Brewery / Common Crown Brewing / Northern Girls Hopyard 3-Way IPA American IPA at 6% ABV | 35 IBU (C$3.29 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 473 ml, best before 6-Mar-2018, acquired 20-Nov-2017, reviewed 20-Nov-2017)

Appearance: cloudy pale amber with two fingers of fluffy ivory head, excellent retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: mild, bready caramel, grass, faint citrus. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (5/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry mild bitter finish. (3/5)

I wish I could say I was disappointed, but sadly I’m not, because I wasn’t expecting any great things here – and I surely didn’t get them. As an E/IPA, this isn’t terrible, but as a showcase for wet-hop Citra, it’s a fairly dismal failure. Caramel malt dominates, and what little hop character there is, is grassy instead of citrusy. Almost aggressively bland. (11/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Fernie Brewing Company Slow Drift Witbier – Witbier at 5% ABV | 10 IBU

Fernie Brewing Company Slow Drift Witbier Witbier at 5% ABV | 10 IBU (C$3.49 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 473 ml, best before 11-Mar-2018, acquired 20-Nov-2017, reviewed 20-Nov-2017)

Appearance: cloudy medium gold with two fat fingers of rocky pale ivory head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: wheat, bready yeast, fruity esters, orange peel, coriander. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-lively carbonation, lightly peppery finish. (4/5)

Well, it’s got the Witbier appearance down pretty well, and to a slightly lesser degree the aroma and taste. Wheat and bready yeast lead the way over indistinct fruits, orange peel, and well-balanced coriander. I’ve had better Witbiers, sure, but I’ve had a great many worse, too. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Category 12 Brewing Fresh-Hopped Saison – Saison at 5.1% ABV | 20 IBU

Category 12 Brewing Fresh-Hopped Saison Saison at 5.1% ABV | 20 IBU (C$8.69 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, packaged on 17-Sep-2017, acquired 18-Nov-2017, reviewed 19-Nov-2017)

Appearance: hazy deep gold with two fingers of fluffy white head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: mild, yeast, grass, light funk. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter, mild funky tart. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-lively carbonation, lightly peppery finish. (4/5)

A fairly straightforward Saison, albeit with not a lot of the hop character promised by the label. Mild and pleasant. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Belching Beaver Brewery Me So Honey – American Pale Wheat Ale at 5.5% ABV | 19 IBU

Belching Beaver Brewery Me So Honey American Pale Wheat Ale at 5.5% ABV | 19 IBU (C$11.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 18-Nov-2017, reviewed 19-Nov-2017)

Appearance: hazy deep gold with one finger of creamy off-white head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: honey, wheat, bready yeast. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-low bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, sweetish mild finish. (3/5)

I’m generally fairly unimpressed by Honey Blonds but figured this was a brewery that at least had a chance of making it interesting. And, it’s not badly done – but it’s a long way from interesting. And, although I’ve had much sweeter examples of the style, this is still sweeter than I prefer. All in all, OK, but not much better than that. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Annex Ale Project Echo Chamber – American IPA at 7.9% ABV

Annex Ale Project _Echo Chamber_ American IPA at 7.9% ABV _(C$9.59 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, packaged on 26-Oct-2017, acquired 18-Nov-2017, reviewed 18-Nov-2017)_

Appearance: murky medium amber with two fingers of fluffy off-white head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: pine, citrus, grainy caramel. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (5/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-low carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

Another brewery expressing their discontent at the popularity of the NEIPA style in a not-very-subtle manner. (And, another muddy, dirty-looking brew from Annex. Seriously, guys? I dunno what you’re doing to your wort, but stop.) Hey, here’s a suggestion: if you feel the need to be arrogantly dismissive of a style, how about you, ohhh, I dunno, not make that style? Or, better yet, how about you not fail spectacularly*at making that style? Yeah, I’m getting a bit short tempered and bitchy with these guys, but my good will towards local startups extends only so far. Even more bewildering to me is the general approbation this thing seems to be garnering. No. No, it isn’t a good example of the style. No, no it isn’t a great aroma and taste. No, no they aren’t killing it. Look, I could show you my own photos and reviews of Heady Topper, or Trillium, or Treehouse, and exhaustively list how many ways this utterly fails to be what it says it is, but at the end of the day it boils down to this: just… no. (11/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

 

Breakside Brewery What Rough Beast – American IPA at 6.8% ABV | 55 IBU

Breakside Brewery What Rough Beast American IPA at 6.8% ABV | 55 IBU (C$10.49 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 18-Nov-2017, reviewed 18-Nov-2017)

Appearance: hazy medium gold with one finger of loose off-white head, good retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grapefruit juice, floral, tropical fruit, caramel malt, resiny pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

The fairly literary allusion in the name suggests Breakside’s attitude towards the NEIPA is similar to that of many other breweries – but comparing it to the antichrist might be just slightly extreme… (A cynic might call it sour grapes on the part of those who can’t do the style right.) Though, this is a much closer miss than a lot of attempts I’ve suffered through. The appearance is all wrong, of course (though it gets a bit more juice-like once the lees are poured in), but flavour-wise it’s not too far off the mark: juicy, if slightly more floral than I would consider style-appropriate. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Russell Brewing Company Punch Bowl Mango IPA – American IPA at 6.3% ABV | 63 IBU

Russell Brewing Company Punch Bowl Mango IPA American IPA at 6.3% ABV | 63 IBU (C$6.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, packaged on 11-Aug-2017, acquired 18-Nov-2017, reviewed 18-Nov-2017)

Appearance: hazy medium gold with one finger of loose off-white head, good retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, tropical fruit including mango, mild pine, light caramel malt, mild green onion. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-lively carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Pretty similar to the base beer, with slightly more tropical fruit character courtesy of the added mango juice. I’m not entirely convinced I would’ve detected the mango itself (as opposed to the tropical fruit flavours of the hops) without the label description – though I guess I could work out how much juice they added, knowing the difference in ABV between the original and this version. I sort of regret not buying another one of the base Punch Bowl and trying them side-by-side, actually. In fact, I might go get another one of each and do just that. For science, of course! (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Speakeasy Payback Porter – American Porter at 7.5% ABV | 35 IBU

Speakeasy Payback Porter American Porter at 7.5% ABV | 35 IBU (C$10.50 at The Brewer’s Apprentice, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 22-Oct-2017, reviewed 17-Nov-2017)

Appearance: near opaque black with the merest hint of relief around the margins, one fat finger of rocky beige head, good retention and soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: dark chocolate, roasty malt, coffee, dried fruit, citrus, hint of vanilla. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate carbonation, slightly sticky lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Can someone please tell me what the current status is for Speakeasy? The last articles I can find pertaining to the bankruptcy and sale are from May, at which point the brewery was sold at fire sale prices (hell, I could’ve scraped together that kind of financing), and apparently with no assumption of its accrued debt – which would fly in the face of what I understand buying an insolvent company entails. Their web site provides no further details except to say the tasting room will reopen soon, despite the fact that it’s also actively soliciting bartenders. I don’t mind saying, something smells a little rotten here (and it’s not the beer, which smells excellent). On that note, the beer is good: lots of heavily roasted character that verges on burnt, but never quite gets there. There’s an atypical but not unwelcome hop character, coming through predominantly as a citrus note. Despite its forbidding appearance and aggressive name, this is a very drinkable example of the style – and given the uncertainty which seems to surround the brewery, I recommend you locate one ASAP. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com