Four Winds Brewing Co. Vélo – American Pale Ale at 4.5% ABV | 45 IBU

Four Winds Brewing Co. Vélo American Pale Ale at 4.5% ABV | 45 IBU (C$4.00 at The Brewer’s Apprentice, 355 ml, packaged on 9-Dec-2018, acquired 7-Jan-2018, reviewed 7-Jan-2018)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with two fingers of rocky white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: lemon, green leaves, light brine, pale crackery malt. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (7/10) Palate: light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry short lightly tart finish. (4/5)

Quite nice! Kind of a blend of Radler and Gose characters, with lemon figuring prominently and light brine bringing up the rear. Malt is almost non-existent, making this light and crisp. Definitely more-ish and refreshing. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Fernie Brewing Company The Eldorado Single Hop IPA – American IPA at 6.4% ABV | 75 IBU

Fernie Brewing Company The Eldorado Single Hop IPA American IPA at 6.4% ABV | 75 IBU (C$2.72 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 355 ml, best before 24-Apr-2018, acquired 5-Jan-2018, reviewed 7-Jan-2018)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with one fat finger of rocky white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grapefruit and lemongrass, doughy caramel, stone fruit, floral, earth. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-soft carbonation, off-dry bitter finish. (4/5)

That’s kind of cheating a little, innit? “Single Hop buuuut…. we added lemongrass. Which shares some flavours with hops.” It’s not bad, actually, even if it is cheating. The lemongrass pumps up the citrus I’d normally associate with El Dorado, but also adds (or maybe emphasizes?) an earthy floral note. My only real complaint is that the malt and yeast are coming across more as doughy caramel, than crackery and pale, which I think would work better, both on the tongue and in the finish. And, OK, fine, putting a BB date on the can is better than nothing, but I’d still prefer a packaging date. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company The Bottle Imp – Russian Imperial Stout at 9% ABV | 81 IBU

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company The Bottle Imp Russian Imperial Stout at 9% ABV | 81 IBU (C$7.17 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 600 ml, packaged on 20-Oct-2017, acquired 13-Dec-2017, reviewed 6-Jan-2018)

Appearance: opaque black with two fingers of rocky beige head, good retention and moderate lacing. (5/5) Aroma: espresso, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, liquorice. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, high bitter. (8/10) Palate: full slightly slick body, soft carbonation, off-dry bitter warming finish. (4/5)

I gotta say, I never saw any matryoshka dolls like that when I was in St. Petersburg! Nice RIS, with a dark espresso note that’s dominant without being overwhelming. Big but appropriate sweetness balances against the one-two combo of the roasted malt and the coffee. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Harviestoun Raspy Engine – Porter at 5.3% ABV | 40 IBU

Harviestoun Raspy Engine Porter at 5.3% ABV | 40 IBU (C$4.07 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 330 ml, best before 30-Apr-2018, acquired 13-Dec-2017, reviewed 6-Jan-2018)

Appearance: clear ruby brown with one finger of fluffy beige head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: raspberry, chocolate, caramel, coffee. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium slightly slick body, moderate-soft carbonation, off-dry building bitter finish. (3/5)

Fairly pleasant raspberry leads the way upon decapping, followed by typical porter aromas of chocolate, caramel, and mild coffee. On the tongue, though, the raspberry is much less pronounced, behind a caramel sweetness. Ends up being a little too sweet, actually, although that’s largely balanced by the bitter. Good, but not great. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Six Corners Brew Works Burmis Tree – American Pale Ale at 5.2% ABV | 30 IBU

Six Corners Brew Works Burmis Tree American Pale Ale at 5.2% ABV | 30 IBU (C$2.50 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 355 ml, packaged on 24-Oct-2017, acquired 5-Jan-2018, reviewed 6-Jan-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy deep gold with one finger of fluffy ivory head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, pale malt & caramel, pine. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium bitter finish. (3/5)

Solid enough, I guess, but hardly “sure to leave a lasting impression” the way the can promises. (Well, except for the “Don’t be an ass. Use a glass.” comment on the side of the can. I like that!) Well-behaved and refreshing with lunch, so there’s that. Wouldn’t say no to another, actually, which I almost never do with lunch, so let’s adjust those scores a smidge… (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Granville Island Brewing Belgian Tripel – Tripel at 9% ABV | 34 IBU

Granville Island Brewing Belgian Tripel Tripel at 9% ABV | 34 IBU (C$7.89 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 12-Dec-2017, reviewed 5-Jan-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale gold with one finger of fluffy white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: coriander, pale malt, Belgian esters and phenols, apple. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry sweetish bitter warming finish. (3/5)

Everything about this beer is painfully middle of the road. It’s not as sweet as some interpretations of the style I’ve had, but it’s not bone dry, either. I dunno – better than “meh” and worse than “yay”? Which, I guess, is pretty darned near the high water mark for this brewery. I’ve had literally twenty beers by them, and neither’s been better than 7.5/10, or worse than 5/10. No, I don’t know why I bought this either, OK? It’s OK. Buy it if it’s your thing. Or don’t, because you’ll be disappointed. I don’t know! (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Garrison Brewing Company / Boxing Rock Brewing Co. Courage for Gord Downie – American Amber / Red Ale at 6% ABV | 27 IBU

Garrison Brewing Company / Boxing Rock Brewing Co. Courage for Gord Downie American Amber / Red Ale at 6% ABV | 27 IBU (C$7.59 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 12-Dec-2017, reviewed 5-Jan-2018)

Appearance: clear pale amber with two fingers of rocky amber head, excellent retention, and soapy chunky lacing. (4/5) Aroma: leafy hops, bready malt, caramel, citrus, hint of coffee. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium bitter finish. (4/5)

The label calls this a “Canadian Amber Wheat”, so it’s a bit of a coin toss whether you classify it as an Amber/Red, or a Wheat. I’ve flip-flopped a couple times while drinking it, actually, but ultimately I think the Amber designation is the right one – certainly it’s not a Wit, nor does the wheat make much of an appearance. That being said, it’s hardly your typical Amber, either, since the caramel is far behind green leafy hops. I guess, given its namesake, it’s fitting that this defies easy classification. What I can say, is that it’s a decent beer: the hopping transforms what could all too easily be a boring malty Amber, into something a little more interesting. (Feel free to make your own Tragically Hip analogies here.) This is super rare, so I’m glad I was able to snag one, but I also enjoyed it on its own merits – not an easy thing to do, given its emotional baggage. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Collective Arts Brewing Collective Project/ Dry Hop Sour – Sour / Wild Ale at 5% ABV | 35 IBU

Collective Arts Brewing Collective Project/ Dry Hop Sour Sour / Wild Ale at 5% ABV | 35 IBU (C$3.69 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 473 ml, packaged on 24-Sep-2017, acquired 18-Nov-2017, reviewed 5-Jan-2018)

Appearance: clear pale straw with one finger of rocky white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus flesh and zest, white wine, lactic tart, crackery malt, pine, light funk. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (8/10) Palate: light body, moderate carbonation, dry crisp tart finish. (4/5)

I had pretty much given up on kettle sours, but when I saw this, the combination of dry-hopping and Collective Arts was too much to resist. And, I’m glad I didn’t. This is kettle sour done right: with a whole bunch of hops (Nelson Sauvin and Citra – great combination!) providing much needed flavour and complexity over top of a clean lactic tart. This would be a great patio beer on a hot summer’s day. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

The Bruery Ten Lords A-Leaping – Wheat Ale at 10.5% ABV

The Bruery Ten Lords A-Leaping Wheat Ale at 10.5% ABV (C$14.85 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 13-Dec-2017, reviewed 4-Jan-2018)

Appearance: clear deep brown with one fat finger of pillowy beige head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: orange peel, coriander, nutmeg, liquorice, ginger, toasted wheat, banana, dark fruit. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (7/10) Palate: medium body tending slightly thin, moderate-soft carbonation, off-dry warming finish. (3/5)

Well, I guess that officially marks the end of Xmas for me. I usually like to keep things going (i.e. stay off work!) until Old Christmas Day (January 6 – and that story dates from 1752, if you’re interested) but for a bunch of reasons had to return to work early this year. Oh well, at least it’s a damn sight better than last year’s “12 Days” release, which was by far the worst Bruery beer I’ve ever had (and one of the worst 20 I’ve ever had, actually). It’s better than the previous year’s too, while we’re on the subject. The label claims 10 different spices, and yeah, there’s a lot of complexity in there, but it more or less boils down to “standard xmas spices”, and there’s dark fruit and banana behind that. Reminds me of a Dunkel, but it tastes and ends just a little thin. (This, mind you, despite the double digit plus ABV – which, I guess, is one for the plus column.) Ultimately I could’ve gone a bit higher or lower based on personal preferences, and it’s definitely a little busy, but a solid enough brew overall. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales La Roja (Blend 6) – Sour Red/Brown at 7.2% ABV | 25 IBU

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales La Roja (Blend 6) Sour Red/Brown at 7.2% ABV | 25 IBU (C$20.24 at Specs Main Houston, 750 ml, packaged on 6-Apr-2016, acquired 8-Mar-2017, reviewed 3-Jan-2018)

Appearance: hazy reddish deep amber with, one finger of fizzy off-white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: vinegar, cherries, red berries, earth, light funk. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, moderate sour tart. (8/10) Palate: medium body tending slightly thin, moderate carbonation, off-dry mildly tart finish. (3/5)

I’m a little on the fence on this one. I’m hesitant to call it “unremarkable”, but at the very least it’s less than thrilling. I debated whether I had harmed it by cellaring, but given the style I didn’t think I would have, and upon tasting I’m not getting any oxidation, nor is the earthiness or funk out of control. I do, however, note a slightly more emphatic sour tartness than I would normally expect from the style, as well as a bit of thinness in the body. Ultimately, it’s a bit overwhelmed by the vinegary notes, leaving everything else much less pronounced by comparison. The label says it’s brewed “in the Flanders style”, but as a true Flanders Red (/Brown) it’s a little bit of a disappointment. (14/20)

My 253rd from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die, 243rd from the 2013 edition, and 267th combining both editions.

7/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com