Sierra Nevada Experimental Hop Session IPA – Session IPA at 4.6% ABV | 41 IBU

Sierra Nevada Experimental Hop Session IPA Session IPA at 4.6% ABV | 41 IBU (US$1.40 at Specs Main Houston, 355 ml, packaged on 10-Jan-2018, acquired 3-Mar-2018, reviewed 27-Mar-2018)

Appearance: hazy pale straw with one fat finger of rocky white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: zesty lemon, coconut, crackery malt, pine resin, floral, hint of green onion. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, medium duration finish. (3/5)

“This beer features two new hops, 09326 and HBC 520, which add notes of bright lemon, coconut and fresh-cut herbs”. Fair enough – I’m definitely getting all three of those. I can’t find any details at all on HBC 520, but 09326 seems to be another tropical/floral/pine/citrus type, so I’m guessing the coconut comes from the HBC 520. Overall, it’s pretty much what it says on the can: a light and sessionable IPA, with a flavour profile slightly outside the norm. Nothing earth-shattering, to be sure, but pleasant enough, and refreshing. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Anderson Valley Brewing Company Hobneelch’n Hoppy Saison – Saison at 5.4% ABV | 30 IBU

Anderson Valley Brewing Company Hobneelch’n Hoppy Saison Saison at 5.4% ABV | 30 IBU (US$4.20 at Specs Main Houston, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 3-Mar-2018, reviewed 26-Mar-2018)

Appearance: clear pale gold with one fat finger of fluffy white head, good retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: floral, wheat, leather. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, medium duration finish. (3/5)

I’m utterly unclear how this is in any way a Saison. Smells like a fairly typical mass market golden ale, overall. As far as I can tell, both “hoppy” and “Saison” are at the very least exaggeration, if not flat-out wrong. It’s not bad, but as far as I can tell it isn’t anything like what the label promises. Colour me less than impressed. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Port Rexton Brewing Company / Split Rock Brewing Co. Next Generation 2018 DDH Saison – Saison at 5.4% ABV

Port Rexton Brewing Company / Split Rock Brewing Co. Next Generation 2018 DDH Saison Saison at 5.4% ABV (C$6.19 at Port Rexton Brewing Company, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 23-Mar-2018, reviewed 26-Mar-2018)

Appearance: cloudy medium gold with one finger of loose white head diminishing gradually to a thin persistent cap, moderate lacing. (3/5) Aroma: citrus, floral, white pepper, earth, light phenol. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate-lively carbonation, off-dry mildly spicy finish. (4/5)

Undated, but has to be super fresh, since I bought it the day it was released. I’m not sure what this is double dry-hopped with, because there’s not a lot of hop character on the nose. Not to overstate it, but there’s also a slightly phenolic note there as well, although not to the point of being off-putting. The carbonation and attenuation also strike me as being just slightly low for the style, resulting in a beer that is just a bit less effervescent and champagne-like than I prefer to see. I know that reads like a list of complaints, but overall it’s decently refreshing, and I like where they’re going with the idea of collaborating with all the new breweries in the province. Ultimately, though, this one’s a bit short of exciting. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

AleSmith Brewing Company AleSmith IPA – American IPA at 7.25% ABV | 73 IBU

AleSmith Brewing Company AleSmith IPA American IPA at 7.25% ABV | 73 IBU (US$2.73 at Specs Main Houston, 355 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 3-Mar-2018, reviewed 26-Mar-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy deep gold with one fat finger of rocky pale ivory head diminishing gradually to a medium creamy cap, moderate lacing. (3/5) Aroma: pithy citrus, resiny pine, caramel. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry building bitter and mildly warming finish. (4/5)

West Coast style, but definitely in an old-fashioned way: malty and bready caramel doesn’t quite beat out the pithy citrus and resiny pine, but it sure tries to. Mind you, I have no idea how fresh this is, and maybe it does better when it’s young, but what I’m drinking right now is definitely solid but less than impressive. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Crooked Stave Progenitor – Sour / Wild Ale at 6.2% ABV

Crooked Stave Progenitor Sour / Wild Ale at 6.2% ABV (US$7.99 at Knightly Spirits Orange Blossom Trail, 375 ml, packaged on 1-Feb-2016, acquired 15-May-2017, reviewed 16-Mar-2018)

Appearance: clear pale gold with two fingers of rocky pale ivory head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: lactic tart, vinous white grape, doughy yeast, green apple, white pepper, mild earthy funk. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, low bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry light funky tart finish. (4/5)

Solidly done, and pretty fault-free, so I can’t help but give it the appropriate score. But, and I can’t quite put my finger on it, there’s a certain something missing. Somehow, it’s just not exciting. Dunno how it can simultaneously be world-class, yet something I wouldn’t bother with again, but there you go. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Crooked Stave Colorado Wild Sage – Saison at 7.2% ABV

Crooked Stave Colorado Wild Sage Saison at 7.2% ABV (US$7.99 at Knightly Spirits Orange Blossom Trail, 375 ml, packaged on 1-Jul-2015, acquired 15-May-2017, reviewed 16-Mar-2018)

Appearance: crystal clear pale straw with two fat fingers of rocky white head, excellent retention and heavy soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: sage, floral, earthy funk, light zesty lemon. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, mild peppery spice and funky tart. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry light tart finish. (4/5)

Not the first time I’ve had savoury elements in beer, and to some extent I remain somewhat unconvinced as to how well that approach works. That said, it probably works somewhat better here because of the inclusion of Brett – there’s still a lot of sweetness and fruit present, but the dry funky Brett character works well with the herbal sage. At least, as far as the aroma goes, it does. There’s an interesting disconnect between aroma and taste here, with a bright tart citrus coming through on the tongue but nearly completely absent on the nose (or maybe it’s just completely overwhelmed by the sage sledgehammer). Really pretty beer, though I’m fairly sure that’s a happy accident and not filtering: I poured the tulip full, and the last half inch or so remaining in the bottle had all the lees that had settled fairly hard during the 10 months or so this thing has been sitting undisturbed and waiting for tonight. An interesting beer, if not overly approachable. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie Dunham Tropicale IPA – American IPA at 6.2% ABV

Brasserie Dunham Tropicale IPA American IPA at 6.2% ABV (C$16.20 at The Brewer’s Apprentice, 750 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 14-Mar-2018, reviewed 16-Mar-2018)

Appearance: cloudy straw with a massive loose white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: juicy citrus, tropical fruit, mild leather and horseblankety funk. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light funky tart. (9/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, slightly sweetish mildly funky finish. (4/5)

I really like this – it totally reminds me of the Mathilda beermosas I made a couple of Xmases ago. I mean, even the big foamy head is the same. The only real difference is that there’s a tropical fruit note present in addition to the juicy citrus. If you’re a fiend for Brett the way I am, you’ll enjoy this. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Collective Arts Brewing Collective Project/ IPA #3 – American IPA at 7.1% ABV | 80 IBU

Collective Arts Brewing Collective Project/ IPA #3 American IPA at 7.1% ABV | 80 IBU (C$13.50 at The Brewer’s Apprentice, 946 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 14-Mar-2018, reviewed 15-Mar-2018)

Appearance: hazy straw with two fingers of loose white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: tropical fruit, caramel, citrus, earth. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium slightly sticky body, moderate carbonation, sweetish lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

(sigh) Collective, I love you, but you’re breaking my balls here. You’ve gone and set the bar pretty high for me, so now you reap what you’ve sown: what can I say? Competence is its own punishment. This is nowhere near as good as 4 (Hallertau Blanc, Citra, Mosaic), and actually slightly inferior to 1 (Nelson Sauvin, Simcoe, Citra). Which, I guess, shouldn’t be surprising, given the hop selection: Crystal and Citra are fine as supporting elements, but all by themselves, with nothing interesting to provide direction? Risky choice. I end up getting a somewhat muddled tropical fruit aspect that barely outpaces the sweet caramel, and a sticky finish that really doesn’t invite another sip. Yeah, fine, it’s drinkable, but it’s not at the level I’ve come to expect from you, and literally doesn’t make it into your top ten. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Collective Arts Brewing Life in the Clouds Hazy IPA – American IPA at 6.1% ABV

Collective Arts Brewing Life in the Clouds Hazy IPA American IPA at 6.1% ABV (C$4.50 at The Brewer’s Apprentice, 473 ml, packaged on 7-Feb-2018, acquired 14-Mar-2018, reviewed 15-Mar-2018)

Appearance: cloudy pale gold with two fingers of rocky white head diminishing gradually to a thick creamy cap, spotty soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, tropical fruit, crackery pale malt, light pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium duration finish. (4/5)

I had seriously high hopes here – like, Heady Topper level hopes. It didn’t quite live up to them, but I suppose that’s the risk associated with high hopes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but I’m not sure it’s next-level good. When all is said and done, it’s a solid example of the NEIPA style, with a pleasingly balanced hop character in the aroma, but restrained bitterness, and that’s what it’s all about. My love affair with the style continues unabated… (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Outcast Brewing Wannabe IPA – American Pale Ale at 5.9% ABV | 40 IBU

Outcast Brewing Wannabe IPA American Pale Ale at 5.9% ABV | 40 IBU (C$5.00 at The Brewer’s Apprentice, 473 ml, packaged on 7-Feb-2018, acquired 14-Mar-2018, reviewed 15-Mar-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy deep gold with two fingers of rocky pale ivory head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: tropical fruit, caramel, citrus, resiny pine. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium duration finish. (4/5)

OK, I see what the point is here: an APA that wants to be an IPA. But, fact is, I’m not entirely clear why this couldn’t just as easily be called an IPA. (Tending slightly to light side for the style, perhaps, but only slightly. I’ve never been too clear on the distinction between the two, if I’m honest…) Anyhoo, yeah, decent APA, though the balance is slightly further to the sweet malt than I’d prefer, making it less crisp, refreshing and more-ish than I look for in the style. An interesting enough one to try, but not one I’d go back to in a hurry – unlike his Forgetful Brewer. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com