The Bruery Share This O.C. (2017) – Imperial Stout at 11% ABV

The Bruery Share This O.C. (2017) Imperial Stout at 11% ABV (C$16.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, packaged on 7-Mar-2017, acquired 4-Aug-2017, reviewed 31-Dec-2017)

Appearance: near opaque black with a hint of brown relief at the margins, two fingers of creamy tan head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: vanilla, cocoa, citrus zest. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: full creamy body, moderate-soft carbonation, sweetish warming finish. (4/5)

Nothing subtle about this whatsoever, but it works well. Upon decapping, there’s an initial whiff of orange zest that seems to then subside, but makes itself known later in the finish as a slightly oily bitterness. In between there’s rich cocoa nibs and velvety vanilla, which though sweet, are well balanced by the big bitterness for an even-handed overall effect. The huge ABV doesn’t play a role until the glass starts to look a little empty, at which point typing starts to become a little more challenging than it normally is. Good fun, even if I do have to share it! (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Logsdon Farmhouse Ales Szech ‘n Brett – Saison at 6.5% ABV

Logsdon Farmhouse Ales Szech ‘n Brett Saison at 6.5% ABV (C$18.25 at Andrew Hilton Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, best before 31-Mar-2021, acquired 22-Nov-2017, reviewed 30-Dec-2017)

Appearance: clear straw with one finger of loose white head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: green chillies, lemon, pale malt, floral, light barnyardy funk. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, mild tart, light funk. (8/10) Palate: light body, moderate-lively carbonation, dry tart lightly funky and spicy finish. (4/5)

Given the name, I was expecting a boatload of spice – and, it’s there, but in a very even-handed and pleasant amount. In fact, it’s more apparent on the nose than on the tongue. The same is true for the Brett, which contributes a light barnyardy funk and a dry finish. All in all, very well-behaved. It’s a bit high-gravity for sessioning, but the dry finish and mild spice certainly invite just that. This is good stuff, and corroborates the good opinion I formed of this brewery based on two others, a Saison and a Witbier. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

The Bruery Rueuze (2014) – Gueuze at 6% ABV

The Bruery Rueuze (2014) Gueuze at 6% ABV (US$21.99 at Total Wines & More, Henderson NV, 750 ml, packaged on 15-Jul-2014, acquired 1-Jun-2015, reviewed 30-Dec-2017)

Appearance: clear medium gold with one finger of white head diminishing rapidly to nothing, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: lemon zest, stone fruit, vinous white grape, light woody funk. (8/10) Taste: high tart, moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: light body, lively carbonation, off-dry tart lightly funky finish. (3/5)

This is my second crack at this one – I had a 2015 vintage fairly fresh, and decided to cellar this 2014 to see if it would improve. (It didn’t.) I’m getting a little peeved with The Bruery: they’ve gone more than a little nuts releasing a torrent of new, generally high-gravity (and generally higher-priced!) beers that are a challenge to keep up with. I don’t dispute that this is among the best, if not the absolute best, American-made Gueuze I’ve ever had, but I do find it hard to accept that it needs to be three times the price of a true Belgian Gueuze in Belgium, and right about the same price as a Belgian Gueuze in North America. That, I think, is the core of my current objection to The Bruery: they seem to feel that they can continue to charge a premium for a product line that includes an awful lot of pedestrian brews. Of course, I’ve got another fifteen or so of theirs on hand, so it’s gonna take a while for me to work through my issues… (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

North Coast Brewing Company Old Stock (2013) – Old Ale at 14.1% ABV | 34 IBU

North Coast Brewing Company Old Stock (2013) Old Ale at 14.1% ABV | 34 IBU (US$24.59 at Specs Main Houston, 500 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 8-Mar-2017, reviewed 29-Dec-2017)

Appearance: muddy ruby brown with lots of sediment, one finger of fizzy beige head diminishing rapidly to nothing, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: port, stewed prunes, vinous wood, spices. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium-full slick body, moderate-high carbonation, building warming finish. (4/5)

I was more than a little surprised by the fizziness of the head, and the concomitant prickly sustained carbonation. Although the body is medium-full and slightly slick, this higher carbonation makes it feel and drink like a much lighter beer. In keeping with that, there’s surprisingly little heat on the front end, especially given the high ABV, but it does develop a pleasant warming in the finish. Definitely has potential to be quite dangerous – or it would if anybody were likely to lay down the kind of premium this commands without knowing precisely what they’re getting themselves into! (16/20)

My 252nd from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die, 242nd from the 2013 edition, and 266th combining both editions.

8/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Great Divide Brewing Company Oak Aged Yeti – Russian Imperial Stout at 9.5% ABV | 75 IBU

Great Divide Brewing Company Oak Aged Yeti Russian Imperial Stout at 9.5% ABV | 75 IBU (US$10.89 at Specs Main Houston, 650 ml, packaged on 13-Sep-2016, acquired 8-Mar-2017, reviewed 28-Dec-2017)

Appearance: solid black with one fat finger of rocky brown head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: chocolate, coffee, vanilla, whiskey. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, high bitter. (8/10) Palate: full oily body, moderate carbonation, building bitter and warming finish. (4/5)

Big, bombastic, and boozy – just the way an RIS should be. This is my only experience with this one, so I can’t comment as to how hot this thing is when it’s first bottled, but I can say that after more than a year in the bottle, it’s still got an edge. There’s a lot of whiskey barrel showing here, which isn’t a complaint by any means, but it makes me wonder how good this would be alternating sips with a nice hopped whiskey as described in the recent article in Beer Connoisseur… Dang, I’m all out of Caskmates. But I can report firing up my palate with a little straight Jameson’s definitely woke up the whiskey flavours in this. I may need to revisit this technique during future tastings, once I’m part way through the beer and have a baseline, of course. (17/20)

My 251st from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die, 241st from the 2013 edition, and 265th combining both editions.

8.5/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Firestone Walker Brewing Company Bretta Rosé – Berliner Weisse at 5.3% ABV

Firestone Walker Brewing Company Bretta Rosé Berliner Weisse at 5.3% ABV (US$15.25 at Beer Thirty Bottle Shop & Pour House, 375 ml, packaged on 13-Feb-2017, acquired 21-Jun-2017, reviewed 28-Dec-2017)

Appearance: clear pinkish amber with one finger of fizzy light pink head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: raspberry, vinous wood, dry funk, citrus, light wheat. (9/10) Taste: high tart, moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (9/10) Palate: light body, lively carbonation, off-dry tart lightly funky finish. (4/5)

Pretty much what it says on the label: a slightly funky Brett Weiss with loads of tart raspberry. Quite tart, but not unpleasantly so, and the raspberry is intensely flavourful without being excessively sweet. I could stand more funk, but as it stands it’s an interesting little flourish on a very pleasant beer. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

New Belgium Brewing Company / Anne-Francoise Lips of Faith Spiced Imperial Dark Ale – Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 9.5% ABV | 25 IBU

New Belgium Brewing Company / Anne-Francoise Lips of Faith Spiced Imperial Dark Ale Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 9.5% ABV | 25 IBU (C$6.49 at Oak & Vine, 355 ml, best before 28-May-2017, acquired 27-Mar-2017, reviewed 28-Dec-2017)

Appearance: clear amber-brown with one finger of loose beige head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: toasty malt, spruce, citrus, black pepper, cedar, dark stone fruit, herbs, leather. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-soft carbonation, off-dry mildly warming finish. (4/5)

I assumed it was a pretty safe bet to ignore the BB date for this thing, and I certainly detect nothing to suggest that was an error on my part. (I got it late last winter, and was desperate for summer – and IPA season! – to start, so into the cellar it went.) Today, on our third day of 100km/h+ winds sounding like a freight train outside my window, I felt in need of some warmth. I was slightly hesitant about this, since New Belgium’s track record with some of these LoF collabs has been less than impressive (e.g. the Hof Ten Dormaal Golden Ale, or any number of the Fat Tire collabs). This, however, is quite nice, especially once it warms. Its aroma is fairly atypical, and took some getting used to, but eventually grew on me. There’s a fair degree of complexity, with a variety of spice and fruit notes against a toasted bready malt background. Definitely a seasonally appropriate slow sipper to take one’s time in appreciating. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Les Brasseurs RJ Cheval Blanc – Witbier at 5% ABV

Les Brasseurs RJ Cheval Blanc Witbier at 5% ABV (C$6.44 at NLC Howley Estates, 750 ml, best before 2-Oct-2019, acquired 8-Nov-2017, reviewed 27-Dec-2017)

Appearance: hazy medium gold with one finger of loose white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, minimal spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: wheat, citrus, coriander, very slight hint of rubber/band-aid. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light tart. (7/10) Palate: medium body, lively to moderate carbonation, off-dry slightly tart finish. (4/5)

Not bad – decently refreshing, with a spice profile that’s balanced well against the wheat base. I’m actually not entirely sure that I’m getting a hint of rubber, or whether it’s just the coriander, but in any case it’s mild enough that it’s not really a factor. Easy drinking and refreshing. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij De Brabandere Petrus Rood Bruin – Sour Red/Brown at 5.5% ABV | 17 IBU

Brouwerij De Brabandere Petrus Rood Bruin Sour Red/Brown at 5.5% ABV | 17 IBU (C$3.39 at NLC Howley Estates, 330 ml, best before 30-May-2019, acquired 8-Nov-2017, reviewed 27-Dec-2017)

Appearance: clear deep amber with one fat finger of fluffy tan head diminishing gradually to a thin creamy cap, moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: sour cherries, candi sugar, red berries, woody, vinegar. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, moderate tart. (7/10) Palate: medium body, lively to moderate carbonation, dry tart finish. (4/5)

I last reviewed this three or four vintages ago, when it was still called Oud Bruin, and the only real change I’ve noted is the head appears much creamier, retaining better and generating more lacing. I’m wondering if it’s because the last one had been longer in the bottle, but the flavours don’t appear significantly different in any case: it remains a mellow sour, balanced and even-handed. Berries, wood and vinegar present in the aroma, and follow through on the tongue. A mild sour for those who aren’t sure they like sours, perhaps. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Iconic Brewing Dusty Boots Hard Chocolate Orange – Malt Liquor at 5.9% ABV

Iconic Brewing Dusty Boots Hard Chocolate Orange Malt Liquor at 5.9% ABV (C$4.26 at NLC Howley Estates, 473 ml, packaged on 23-Aug-2017, acquired 8-Nov-2017, reviewed 26-Dec-2017)

Appearance: muddy deep amber with a short, short-lived fizzy head, no lacing. (2/5) Aroma: sickly sweet chocolate orange. (3/10) Taste: high sweet, minimal bitter. (3/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-high carbonation, short sticky finish. (2/5)

Just plain nasty: far too sweet and artificial. I drain poured it after one sip. “Limited Holiday Edition”? Should’ve been far more limited, if you ask me. (6/20)

3/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com