Greene King Festive Pudding Ale – Winter Warmer at 6% ABV | 32 IBU

Greene King Festive Pudding Ale Winter Warmer at 6% ABV | 32 IBU (C$3.63 at NLC Howley Estates, 500 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 8-Nov-2017, reviewed 26-Dec-2017)

Appearance: clear deep amber with one fat finger of fluffy beige head diminishing gradually to a persistent cap, moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: bready caramel, spices, stone & dark fruits. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, medium duration slightly sticky finish. (3/5)

Not unpleasant, but pretty simple. Smells a lot like standard Greene King fare (e.g. Speckled Hen) with the addition of some “winter warmer” spices. OK, but not much better than that. (I’m just glad it’s not skunked, actually, given the clear glass!) (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Boxing Rock Brewing Co. Stayin’ Alive – Bock at 6.8% ABV

Boxing Rock Brewing Co. Stayin’ Alive Bock at 6.8% ABV (C$5.68 at NLC Stavanger, 650 ml, packaged on 3-Nov-2017, acquired 25-Nov-2017, reviewed 25-Dec-2017)

Appearance: clear amber-brown, one finger of rocky tan head diminishing gradually to a persistent cap, decent lacing. (4/5) Aroma: caramel, toasted malt, chocolate, grass & herbs. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body tending slightly slick, moderate carbonation, medium duration slightly sticky finish. (4/5)

Bock is one of the styles that I continue to at least subconsciously assume I’m not going to like, because they’re all about the malt. But the fact is, I’ve had plenty of decent Bocks – and this is another one. Completely malt-driven, but fairly easy drinking for the beefy ABV, and with an appropriately middle-tending-heavier weight in the body. An enjoyable sipper on a leisurely Xmas afternoon. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Anchor Brewing Company Our Special Ale (2017) – Christmas / Winter Specialty Spiced Beer at 6.7% ABV

Anchor Brewing Company Our Special Ale (2017) Christmas / Winter Specialty Spiced Beer at 6.7% ABV | 40 IBU (C$29.99 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 1.5 l, best before 31-Oct-2019, acquired 17-Nov-2017, reviewed 24-Dec-2017)

Appearance: clear brown with ruby highlights, one finger of rocky tan head, good retention and spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: toffee, molasses, coffee, dark chocolate and fruits, spices, woody spruce. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate carbonation, lingering slightly sticky finish. (4/5)

After last year’s Xmas Eve debacle (don’t ask) the brother-in-law and I were on notice to behave. So, when we showed up at his place I said we could only have two beers… and then produced this one, and another 1.5 litre magnum, of Grolsch. The wives were suitably unimpressed. Mission accomplished! As far as the beer itself goes, very similar to last year: traditional midwinter spices and dark, molasses-y malt, with a hint of spruce. I’ve called it “fruitcake in a glass” before, and that remains my assessment. (And yes, we were good… ish…) (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Õllekunsti OÜ (Põhjala Brewery) Jõuluöö – Imperial Porter at 8% ABV | 40 IBU

Õllekunsti OÜ (Põhjala Brewery) Jõuluöö Imperial Porter at 8% ABV | 40 IBU (2017 Craft Beer Advent Calendar #24, 330 ml, best before 1-Jul-2018, acquired 20-Nov-2017, reviewed 24-Dec-2017)

Appearance: unrelieved black with no hint of relief, one finger of loose light beige head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, minimal patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: chocolate, coffee, vanilla, oak, roasty malts, molasses, liquorice. (9/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate carbonation, off-dry warming finish. (4/5)

OK, at the very least I no longer think the decision not to have Sweet Baby Java! as the Christmas Eve beer was sheer lunacy. I was tickled to see a new Põhjala, with even more gratuitous tildes and umlauts in the name. Typographic glee aside, this is a damn fine porter. The only complaint I can really make is that, for all its dark appearance and full-tending body, the carbonation strikes me as being too enthusiastic for the style. This would be absolutely stellar with a soft carbonation and a slick, heavy body, but as it is, is merely very good. (17/20)

8.5/10 #craftbeeradvent2017 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Port Rexton Brewing Company T-Rex Porter – American Porter at 5.8% ABV | 19 IBU

Port Rexton Brewing Company T-Rex Porter American Porter at 5.8% ABV | 19 IBU (C$5.74 at Port Rexton Brewing Company, 473 ml, packaged on 20-Dec-2017, acquired 22-Dec-2017, reviewed 23-Dec-2017)

Appearance: near complete black, with only the merest hint of brown relief at the margins, one fat finger of rocky beige head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: toasted bread, chocolate, coffee, hint of red berries. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-lively carbonation, dry medium duration slightly tart finish. (3/5)

A solid enough porter, if tending just slightly light for the style. This slight thinness is exacerbated by the higher-than-typical carbonation, which I think is also contributing to a very slight sharpness or tartness in the finish. Not unpleasant, by any means, but I prefer a porter to be more mellow, smooth, and chocolatey, while this is slightly edgy and tart. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

DuClaw Brewing Company Sweet Baby Java! – American Porter at 6.2% ABV | 53 IBU

DuClaw Brewing Company Sweet Baby Java! American Porter at 6.2% ABV | 53 IBU (2017 Craft Beer Advent Calendar #23, 355 ml, packaged on 21-Jun-2017, acquired 20-Nov-2017, reviewed 23-Dec-2017)

Appearance: opaque near-black with only hints of clear brown around the margins, one finger of loose light beige head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: peanut, espresso, chocolate, roasty malts. (10/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate carbonation, off-dry mildly astringent finish. (4/5)

Take Sweet Baby Jesus! and add espresso – what’s not to like? In fact, it smells awesome, but the taste is a bit of a letdown, even if only slightly and then only by comparison. The coffee is definitely present on the palate, but doesn’t feel over-extracted as is so often the case with coffee brews. I like this a fair bit better than the base SBJ! even if it could stand to be heavier, with better head retention and lacing. And now I’m wondering, if #JitteringJesus isn’t the Christmas Eve beer, what is? (17/20)

8.5/10 #craftbeeradvent2017 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bridge Brewing Company Santa’s Sac – Belgian Golden Strong Ale at 10% ABV | 30 IBU

Bridge Brewing Company Santa’s Sac Belgian Golden Strong Ale at 10% ABV | 30 IBU (2017 Craft Beer Advent Calendar #22, 355 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 20-Nov-2017, reviewed 22-Dec-2017)

Appearance: opaque deep gold with one finger of loose off-white head that retains poorly, no lacing. (2/5) Aroma: doughy yeast, stone fruit, floral. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-full slightly slick body, moderate carbonation, sweetish medium duration warming finish. (4/5)

Butt ugly and really badly named. Certainly smells Belgian, but it’s certainly one of the less subtle versions of the style. (13/20)

6.5/10 #craftbeeradvent2017 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Citizen Brewing Company Hijacked IPA – American IPA at 7% ABV | 65 IBU

Citizen Brewing Company Hijacked IPA American IPA at 7% ABV | 65 IBU (C$3.29 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 473 ml, packaged on 22-Nov-2017, acquired 13-Dec-2017, reviewed 22-Dec-2017)

Appearance: clear pale amber with one fat finger of rocky white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, tropical fruit, caramel. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, dry lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

I’m trying to think of a way to say this is unremarkable without making that sound derogatory, because that’s not my intent. What this is, is a dead-on interpretation of the A/IPA style that is well done, with no negatives (except for a slightly mild aroma). I’d have no hesitation in having another. But, I wouldn’t make any special effort to find it again, because there are literally hundreds of A/IPAs out there who occupy this exact space. (On the up side, it’s better than their NW/APA and *far* better than their S/IPA.) (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Gahan House Brewery Shortest Day Spiced Milk Stout – Milk / Sweet Stout at 5.3% ABV

Gahan House Brewery Shortest Day Spiced Milk Stout Milk / Sweet Stout at 5.3% ABV (C$3.83 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, packaged on 10-Nov-2017, acquired 25-Nov-2017, reviewed 21-Dec-2017)

Appearance: near complete black, with only the merest hint of brown relief at the margins, one fat finger of rocky beige head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: roasty malt, chocolate, coffee, nutmeg. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-full creamy body, soft carbonation, off-dry moderate bitter finish. (4/5)

Zero expectations, just had to drink it today for the name. But actually, pretty decent: not too sweet, and the spice is mild and even-handed, enhancing the nutty flavour without dominating. The body is medium full with a pleasant lactose creaminess, and though I’d like to see better head retention and lacing, the overall product is solid. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie La Débauche Saison – Saison at 7% ABV

Brasserie La Débauche Saison Saison at 7% ABV (2017 Craft Beer Advent Calendar #21, 330 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 20-Nov-2017, reviewed 21-Dec-2017)

Appearance: opaque pale amber with one finger of fluffy off-white head diminishing gradually to a thin creamy cap, moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: orange peel, pale malt, apple, floral. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light spice & funky tart. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, lively carbonation, dry short slightly tart & spicy finish. (4/5)

(Insert standard rant about high-gravity Saisons here.) Now that that’s out of the way, I quite like this. I got almost a curaçao aroma immediately upon decapping, but that faded somewhat, leaving behind a pleasant, slightly funky combination of malt, pome, and floral. The flavours pretty much followed suit, with a pleasant mild spiciness in the finish that didn’t overwhelm everything else. Nicely balanced and quite easy drinking for a relatively high ABV – and, more to the point for this particular style, immensely refreshing. (Fairly sedate stuff as debauchery goes, truth be told.) Not all that seasonal, if you ask me, but it’s good enough that I don’t really much care. (16/20)

8/10 #craftbeeradvent2017 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com