Stone Brewing Company 20th Anniversary Encore Series: 08.08.08 Vertical Epic – Belgian Golden Strong Ale at 8.9% ABV | 45 IBU

Stone Brewing Company 08.08.08 Vertical Epic Belgian Golden Strong Ale at 8.9% ABV | 45 IBU (C$13.49 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 5-Nov-2015, reviewed 17-Feb-2018)

Appearance: clear medium gold with one finger of creamy white head diminishing gradually to a thick persistent cap, moderate clingy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: banana, doughy yeast,  apples and stone fruit, black pepper. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet tending slightly high, moderate-high bitter, mild peppery spice. (8/10) Palate: medium slightly syrupy body, moderate-low carbonation, medium duration warming finish. (4/5)

Seems to have aged well compared to the much younger one of the same vintage I did a couple of years ago (of which I have literally zero recollection, but my notes say otherwise, so….) Still very sweet for my preference, especially since the label wants to compare this to a Tripel, but it’s not bad overall. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij der Abdij van St.Sixtus Westvleteren Abt 12° (2012/2013/2014) – Abt / Quadrupel at 10.2% ABV | 38 IBU

Brouwerij der Abdij van St.Sixtus Westvleteren Abt 12° (2012/2013/2014) Abt / Quadrupel at 10.2% ABV | 38 IBU (C$26.67 at belgiuminabox.com, 330 ml, best before 28-Aug-2015/31-Jul-2016/20-Nov-2017, acquired 17-Dec-2014, reviewed 17-Feb-2018)

2012: Appearance: muddy opaque brown with one finger of creamy mocha head diminishing gradually to a thick persistent ring, minimal spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: dark stone fruit, figs, brown sugar, nuts. (9/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium-full slightly slick body, moderate-low carbonation, lingering bitter and warming finish. (4/5) Overall: 16/20

2013: Appearance: clear ruby with one finger of creamy mocha head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (5/5) Aroma: dark stone fruit, figs, brown sugar, nuts. (9/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium-full slightly slick body, moderate-low carbonation, lingering bitter and warming finish. (4/5) Overall: 18/20

2014: Appearance: hazy brown with one finger of creamy mocha head diminishing gradually to a thick persistent cap and ring, spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: dark stone fruit, figs, brown sugar, nuts. (9/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium-full slightly slick body, moderate-low carbonation, lingering bitter and warming finish. (4/5) Overall: 17/20

The first thing that struck me about comparing these three side-by-side was the sheer variation in appearance. It wasn’t all that surprising that the most elderly was somewhat muddy and particulate-laden, but the youngest was almost as opaque a brown, while the 2013 was nearly crystal clear ruby. Retention and lacing followed suit, with the eldest having the poorest, and the 2013 having the best, while the 2014 split the difference between the two. Aromas were unsurprisingly strongly similar, but there was some variation in the overall richness or darkness, with the 2013 being the lightest in character and the 2012 the darkest. Although this side-by-side variation was noticeable, it wasn’t enough to justify a change in score, unlike appearance. Interestingly, given the variation in appearance and aroma, the taste and mouth feel for all three was virtually identical. (After making these observations, I asked my lovely assistant to hand me random ones while I kept my eyes closed, and verified my observations. I was able to distinguish on the basis of aroma, but not taste or mouth feel.)

8/10 (2012) – 9/10 (2013) – 8.5/10 (2014) #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Stone Brewing Company Odd Imperial Russian Stout Chai Spiced (2015) – Russian Imperial Stout at 10.6% ABV | 65 IBU

Stone Brewing Company Odd Imperial Russian Stout – Chai Spiced (2015) Russian Imperial Stout at 10.6% ABV | 65 IBU (C$9.25 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, packaged on 25-Feb-2015, acquired 21-Apr-2015, reviewed 16-Feb-2018)

Appearance: utterly black with no relief, one finger of creamy mocha head diminishing gradually to a thick persistent cap, moderate clingy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger, black tea, roasty malts, dark chocolate, espresso, liquorice. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter, mild smoke, mild peppery spice. (7/10) Palate: full slick body, moderate-low carbonation, lingering bitter, spicy, and warming finish. (4/5)

Way too much chai. I mean, to the point where it’s actually slightly off-putting (although it does grow on you… a bit…). I’m gonna say there’s about two or three times as much chai spice as would be necessary to make this “chai-flavoured”, and we’re well into “smack you in the mouth with a brick of chai” territory. Nowhere near as good as the base beer. “Odd”? Yes, and not entirely in a good way. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Stone Brewing Company Imperial Russian Stout (2015) – Russian Imperial Stout at 10.6% ABV | 65 IBU

Stone Brewing Company Imperial Russian Stout (2015) Russian Imperial Stout at 10.6% ABV | 65 IBU (C$9.25 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, packaged on 5-Mar-2015, acquired 21-Apr-2015, reviewed 16-Feb-2018)

Appearance: pitilessly black with no hint of relief, one finger of creamy mocha head diminishing gradually to a thick persistent cap, moderate clingy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: roasty malts, dark chocolate, espresso, dark stone fruit, anise, light smoke. (9/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter, mild smoke. (9/10) Palate: full slick body, moderate-low carbonation, lingering bitter and warming finish. (5/5)

Yeah, yeah, I know six months ago I said I’d age this one longer, but change of plan: I’m trying to drink down some of my far too extensive cellar) comprised almost entirely of dark heavy beers) so I figured I’d do a comparo of the Classic and its Odd compatriot of the same vintage. (And in my defence, despite the spring-like conditions we had yesterday, today brought another dump of snow, so I’m huddled in front of the fireplace and cursing winter, god, and life in general.) This has cellared well, with only the slightest hints of its beefy ABV apparent on the nose or the tongue. Not dramatically different from the younger 2016 vintage I had last year, except that what I called “herbal” then seems more “anise and smoke” to me here now. (18/20)

9/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Dogfish Head Brewery Immort Ale – English Strong Ale at 11% ABV | 50 IBU

Dogfish Head Brewery Immort Ale English Strong Ale at 11% ABV | 50 IBU (US$5.69 at Specs Main Houston, 355 ml, packaged on 22-Jan-2016, acquired 8-Mar-2017, reviewed 15-Feb-2018)

Appearance: hazy deep amber with a short light beige head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: complex, dark dried fruit, maple syrup, vanilla, peat, cheese rind. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium-full slightly slick body, moderate-low carbonation, warming finish. (4/5)

Complex aromas on this one, very much like a Barleywine in character, but a lightly smoky/peaty note that I don’t often see in that style. There’s also a not-entirely-welcome cheesy note, but upon warming that seems to fade. (I might’ve drunk this too cold, straight out of the cellar.) Really smooth and deceptively easy-drinking for a double-digit ABV. I wouldn’t say I feel immortal, but I’m feeling pretty happy right about now. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bruery Terreux Frucht Boysenberry (2017) – Berliner Weisse at 4.5% ABV

Bruery Terreux Frucht Boysenberry (2017) Berliner Weisse at 4.5% ABV (C$18.99 at Oak & Vine, 750 ml, packaged on 28-Dec-2016, acquired 27-Mar-2017, reviewed 15-Feb-2018)

Appearance: clear ruby with one fat finger of fizzy purplish head diminishing gradually to nothing, no lacing. (4/5) Aroma:  field berries, lactic, wheat, light funk. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high tart, low bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-high carbonation, off-dry tart finish. (4/5)

No surprises that this one is quite similar to others in the Frucht lineup, and the underlying beer is definitely reminiscent of their Frederick H. Berliner Weisse (but without the slight band-aid I noted in that one). However, this one in particular has a decent field berry aroma that works well with the wheat. Still pretty danged tart, though, to the point of being just slightly unbalanced. Decent, but not one you’d want to get too Frucht up on. (Hah! I kill me!) (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bruery Terreux Frederick H. – Berliner Weisse at 4.4% ABV

Bruery Terreux Frederick H. Berliner Weisse at 4.4% ABV (C$13.99 at Oak & Vine, 750 ml, packaged on 26-Oct-2016, acquired 27-Mar-2017, reviewed 14-Feb-2018)

Appearance: clear to lightly hazy medium gold with one fat finger of fizzy white head diminishing rapidly to nothing, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: sour, wheat, oak, funk, stone fruit, white grape must, hint of band-aid. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, low bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry tart finish. (4/5)

I’ve called the tart here moderate, but after a couple of glasses it feels a bit more than that, becoming almost crab apple. Not quite heartburn territory for me, but not far off. I was expecting more carbonation, too, but I’m not sure that wouldn’t have put the acidity over the top. There’s also a mild hint of band-aid that isn’t entirely welcome for me. Not bad overall, but not particularly memorable. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Stone Brewing Company Enjoy After 07.04.16 – Belgian IPA at 7% ABV | 70 IBU

Stone Brewing Company Enjoy After 07.04.16 Belgian IPA at 7% ABV | 70 IBU (C$17.09 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, packaged on 30-May-2015, acquired 28-Jul-2015, reviewed 13-Feb-2018)

Appearance: clear pale gold with three fingers of rocky white head, excellent retention and well-defined soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: dry hay funk, pale malt, lemon zest, herbal. (8/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, moderate-high bitter, moderate funk. (9/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, dry mildly funky finish. (4/5)

I think I prefer this slightly over the other one of this vintage I had, just over a year ago. The extra time in the bottle doesn’t seem to have changed its aroma dramatically, although the Brett funk might be slightly higher than the last time I had it. However, on the tongue, I think it now seems even more highly attenuated, with an even dryer finish, suiting this style immensely well. I’m going to continue to age the 12.26.15 I have on hand for a while longer, because to be honest I’m seeing no degradation over time at all in this series, and in fact just the opposite. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij de Molen Cuvée #3 – Imperial Stout at 11.4% ABV

Brouwerij de Molen Cuvée #3 Imperial Stout at 11.4% ABV _(C$8.78 at Andrew Hilton Wine & Spirits, 330 ml, packaged on 27-Mar-2015, best before 27-Mar-2040, acquired 15-Jan-2016, reviewed 7-Feb-2018)_

Appearance: near solid black with one finger of loose beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: red wine, burnt sugar, oak, dark fruit, cocoa, liquorice. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-full slightly sticky body, moderate carbonation, boozy hot sweet building bitter and warming finish. (3/5)

Not really working for me. The aroma is a bit muddled, with an odd mix of red wine, chocolate, and liquorice intermingled with burnt sugar and possibly burnt wood. A bit all over the map, with no clear direction. Maybe I jumped the gun and it would settle down and intermingle a bit better if I had cellared it for another couple-three-twenty years and drank it just before the BB date? (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Crew AleWerkstatt Crew Republic Roundhouse Kick – Imperial Stout at 9.2% ABV | 71 IBU

Crew AleWerkstatt Crew Republic Roundhouse Kick Imperial Stout at 9.2% ABV | 71 IBU (C$3.79 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 330 ml, best before 15-Oct-2019, acquired 6-Jul-2016, reviewed 7-Feb-2018)

Appearance: clear ruby brown with one finger of loose beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: coffee, cacao, liquorice, boozy dark fruit, leather. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, high bitter. (7/10) Palate: full slick body, moderate carbonation, sweet building bitter and warming finish. (4/5)

Slightly burnt and fairly boozy. All right, but a bit edgy. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com