Brouwerij Corsendonk Corsendonk Christmas Ale (2013) – Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 8.1% ABV

Brouwerij Corsendonk Corsendonk Christmas Ale (2013) Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 8.1% ABV (C$1.79 at Grand Liquor Store Nelson, 250 ml, best before 26-Jun-2016, acquired 27-Jan-2018, reviewed 28-Jan-2018)

Appearance: hazy brown with two fingers of fluffy beige head, excellent retention and heavy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: brown sugar, dried dark fruit, liquorice, spices. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium, soft carbonation, building bitter and warming finish. (4/5)

Interesting… I bought this thinking I had scored an unbelievable deal (under $11 for six, with a glass) and I’m still happy with that deal – but it’s perhaps not quite so unbelievable. The box says this is 8.5% ABV, but the bottle says 8.1%. And, the BB date on the bottle is 2016. So, a little research suggests this is in fact a 2013 vintage, since that seems to be the only recent vintage that had an 8.1% ABV. (Unless it’s a 2004-2010 vintage, that is. But, it seems likely that there’d be a 3 year BB date, so I’m going with 2013 for my vintage here.) And, as far as I can tell, five years (or more) in the bottle has harmed this not at all. It’s an excellent example of the BSDA style, with flavours dominated by dark sugar and dried fruits, in addition to mild “seasonal” spices. Yeah, christmas may be long over, but given the amount of snow I’ve had to deal with in the past couple of days, I can use a little christmas – and this provides that. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Four Winds Brewing Co. Vexillum – American Double / Imperial IPA at 9% ABV | 100 IBU

Four Winds Brewing Co. Vexillum American Double / Imperial IPA at 9% ABV | 100 IBU (C$9.25 at Grand Liquor Store Nelson, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 27-Jan-2018, reviewed 28-Jan-2018)

Appearance: hazy straw with two fingers of loose white head, good retention and spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grapefruit, melon peel, tropical fruit, caramel, pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium slightly slick body, moderate carbonation, building bitter and warming finish. (4/5)

I waffled a little in scoring this one: I could’ve gone perhaps a point lower in both aroma and taste. The bitterness is perhaps just a tad excessive, and the ABV is unmistakeable, making this a bit of a beast. The thing is, though, I kind of like beasts. My uncertainty with the scoring isn’t that I didn’t like it, but that it might be considered a little unbalanced, but regardless it’s a decent enough beer. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Four Winds Brewing Co. Phaedra – Belgian IPA at 7.2% ABV | 65 IBU

Four Winds Brewing Co. Phaedra Belgian IPA at 7.2% ABV | 65 IBU (C$7.75 at Grand Liquor Store Nelson, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 27-Jan-2018, reviewed 27-Jan-2018)

Appearance: clear pale gold with one fat finger of fluffy white head, excellent retention and moderate soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: citrus, spicy rye, tropical fruit, mild funk. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, building bitter and spicy finish. (4/5)

Another excellent IPA from Four Winds, this one adding a spicy rye note to a mildly funky Belgian character, to good effect. I still wish they’d date their bottles, but certainly no complaints about this one. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Yellow Dog Brewing High 5 Hazy IPA – American IPA at 6.8% ABV | 50 IBU

Yellow Dog Brewing _High 5 Hazy IPA_ American IPA at 6.8% ABV | 50 IBU (C$7.00 draft at Craft Bierhaus Revelstoke, reviewed 27-Jan-2018)

Appearance: opaque pale amber with a short, short-lived white head, moderate stringy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: citrus, pale malt, hint of leafy green weeds. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-low carbonation, short duration moderate bitter finish. (4/5)

Juicy citrus aromas and flavours combined with low carbonation make this very juice-like, but the bitter’s too high to really call it an NEIPA. (That’s not a criticism, just an observation regarding style classification.) Pretty simple, nearly one-dimensional citrus aromas and flavours, and I think I’d like it better right the carbonation were higher, but it’s good stuff as-is. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Unibroue 25e Anniversaire – Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 10.5% ABV | 20 IBU

Unibroue 25e Anniversaire Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 10.5% ABV | 20 IBU (C$9.59 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 750 ml, packaged on 19-Oct-2017, acquired 12-Dec-2017, reviewed 26-Jan-2018)

Appearance: clear brown with one fat finger of fluffy beige head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (5/5) Aroma: chocolate, cherries, grainy malt, dark berries, candi sugar. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry warming & lightly spicy finish. (4/5)

Well, the label says this is inspired by Black Forest cake, and damn, if it ain’t pretty much Black Forest cake in a glass. Intense flavours of chocolate and cherry, without the sweetness being overwhelming at all. The alcohol content is also very well integrated, manifesting only as a mild warming finish. All in all, a very well-balanced and easy drinking beast, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens when I let the second one cellar for a year or two. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brewery Ommegang Game of Thrones Winter is Here – Witbier at 8.3% ABV

Brewery Ommegang Game of Thrones Winter is Here Witbier at 8.3% ABV (C$13.32 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 13-Dec-2017, reviewed 26-Jan-2018)

Appearance: hazy straw with one fat finger of fluffy white head, good retention and heavy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: wheat, banana, clove, coriander, white pepper, floral. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, mild peppery spice. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lightly spicy finish. (4/5)

I’m pretty sure this is the first Double White Ale (i.e. Imperial Witbier) I’ve ever had, and it’s pretty well done: in particular, the aromas and flavours are pretty much spot-on for a Witbier, but the high ABV doesn’t intrude at all. Among the best of the GoT tie-ins so far, and for that matter among the best Ommegang beer in general. Plus, I’m a sucker for glassware… (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij Lindemans Oude Kriek Cuvée René (2016) – Kriek at 7% ABV

Brouwerij Lindemans Oude Kriek Cuvée René (2016) Kriek at 7% ABV (C$6.79 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 375 ml, packaged on 23-Mar-2017, best before 23-Mar-2023, acquired 18-Nov-2017, reviewed 26-Jan-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy ruby red with one fat finger of fizzy pink head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: cherries, oak, leather, light funk. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, mild bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium-light body, lively carbonation, dry tart finish. (4/5)

It’s awfully hard to beat a true Belgian Kriek, but to do so at this price point is pretty much impossible. It’s tart without being sour, fruity without being sweet, drinks easily and finishes dry, inviting the next sip. It’s also easily better than everything else I’ve had by this brewery. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie Dunham Oro Zuur – Sour / Wild Ale at 5% ABV

Brasserie Dunham Oro Zuur Sour / Wild Ale at 5% ABV (C$20.00 at The Brewer’s Apprentice, 750 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 7-Jan-2018, reviewed 25-Jan-2018)

Appearance: opaque pale gold with one finger of loose white head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: grapefruit flesh & rind, pineapple, pine. (8/10) Taste: high tart, moderate sweet, mild bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry tart finish. (4/5)

Given the label (“Pamplemousse rose + Vic Secret”) I was expecting something like a Vic Secret hopped Radler, but that’s not even close to what this turned out to be. I mean, yeah, it’s got the grapefruit and the expected Vic Secret flavours going on, but it’s much more tart than even straight grapefruit juice. It’s a lot of fun, but a pretty emphatic sour. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Wild Rose Brewery Rare Sour Nelson – Sour / Wild Ale at 4.8% ABV | 11 IBU

Wild Rose Brewery Rare Sour Nelson Sour / Wild Ale at 4.8% ABV | 11 IBU (C$14.49 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 18-Sep-2016, reviewed 22-Jan-2018)

Appearance: hazy to cloudy pale gold with one finger of loose white head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: white wine, oak, light wheat. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, mild bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry tart finish. (4/5)

I may have mistreated this slightly by allowing it to cellar as long as I did, but I… well… kind of forgot about it. And the fact is, it’s still pretty decent. There’s white wine and oak in the foreground, presumably courtesy of the Nelson Sauvin hops and the barrel ageing, though any Hefeweizen character has faded to near-insignificance (assuming it was ever more pronounced to start with, of course). Pleasant, light, and tart. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bruery Terreux Humulus Terreux with Mosaic Hops – Sour / Wild Ale at 6.3% ABV

Bruery Terreux Humulus Terreux with Mosaic Hops Sour / Wild Ale at 6.3% ABV (C$13.79 at NLC Howley Estates, 750 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 20-Jan-2018, reviewed 22-Jan-2018)

Appearance: cloudy pale gold with a fat rocky white head (hi, Brett) that retains well, patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: complex, funky Brett, lemon zest, coriander, tropical fruit, white pepper, earth. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, moderate funky tart. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate-high carbonation, dry mildly funky finish. (4/5)

I’ll repeat the comment I made regarding the Motueka version: they call this a Wild Ale, but it’s pretty Saison-ish, if you ask me. Like that one, this is dominated by Brett in the head, aroma, taste and finish. I’m not completely convinced the citrus and tropical fruit are significantly different than in the Motueka version, and the hops again certainly take a back seat to the yeast. Despite the secondary character of the hops (common to both versions) this is a very enjoyable brew. (Interestingly, I paid $10.99 US for the Motueka version in Houston, which at the time came out to just under $15.00 CDN. So this is cheaper at home, on a sparsely-populated island in the Atlantic, after travelling seven thousand kilometres by road, crossing an international border, and taking at least one ferry, than a couple of states over in the US. Wow.) (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com