Category 12 Brewing Elemental Series Red Sour (#23) – Sour / Wild Ale at 5.4% ABV

Category 12 Brewing Elemental Series Red Sour (#23) Sour / Wild Ale at 5.4% ABV (C$10.14 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, packaged on 28-Feb-2018, acquired 17-Apr-2018, reviewed 20-Apr-2018)

Appearance: clear red-tinged medium amber with one finger of loose ivory head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim and ring, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: caramel malt, field berries, herbal, vanilla, earth. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry bitter and mildly tart finish. (4/5)

Unlike a lot of sours, this actually smells primarily like beer. Unfortunately, the beer it smells like is an Irish Red, or maybe an ESB. I think I get what they’re going for here, but it suffers by comparison to other more hoppy sours I’ve had. Ultimately it seems to me that sour works better with citrus and tropical fruit hops, than it does with caramel malt. Good, and an interesting change of pace, but ultimately not one I’d go back to. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Collective Arts Brewing Mash Up the Jam – Sour / Wild Ale at 5.2% ABV

Collective Arts Brewing Mash Up the Jam Sour / Wild Ale at 5.2% ABV (C$3.09 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 473 ml, packaged on 2-Mar-2018, acquired 11-Apr-2018, reviewed 20-Apr-2018)

Appearance: cloudy pale straw with one finger of rocky white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus flesh and zest, pine, lactic tart, crackery malt, white wine, 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 was told this was the same as their Collective Project/ Dry Hop Sour but figured, what the heck, try it and see. Glad I didn’t listen, because it’s not the same: it’s hopped with Vic Secret, Citra and Mosaic, instead of Nelson Sauvin and Citra. The Mosaic seems to be slightly dominant here, causing slightly more pronounced Mosaic pine and fruit, and slightly less pronounced white wine character. Similar? Yes. Good? Oh my, yes. Another kettle sour done right: a whole bunch of hops providing much needed flavour and complexity over top of a clean lactic tart. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie St-Feuillien / Friart Grand Cru Dry Hopping – Belgian Strong Pale Ale at 9.5% ABV

Brasserie St-Feuillien / Friart Grand Cru Dry Hopping Belgian Strong Pale Ale at 9.5% ABV (C$5.02 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 330 ml, best before 8-May-2019, acquired 11-Apr-2018, reviewed 19-Apr-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy straw with three fingers of fluffy white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: honey, oak, grainy malt, oranges, Belgian yeast, apples. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter, light tart. (9/10) Medium-light body, moderate-lively carbonation, dry medium lightly tart mildly warming finish. (4/5)

Lovely. Almost like a slightly sweet Tripel, with honey and cereal malt more prevalent on the nose than the tongue, balanced against oak, fruit, and Belgian esters. Well-balanced and easy-drinking for a very high ABV. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Old Yale Brewing Co. / 2 Crows Brewing Oak Aged Braggot Collab – Braggot at 8% ABV

Old Yale Brewing Co. / 2 Crows Brewing Oak Aged Braggot Collab Braggot at 8% ABV (C$8.13 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 11-Apr-2018, reviewed 18-Apr-2018)

Appearance: clear pale gold with two fingers of fluffy white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: oak, vinous grape must, black pepper, honey, apple. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter, light funky tart. (8/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, dry medium duration lightly tart and funky finish. (4/5)

My major concern was that this was going to be too sweet, being derived from honey mead as it is. The only thing that pushed me over the edge to try it, in fact, was the presence of 2 Crows as a collaborator. I haven’t had a lot by them (four prior to this) but they’ve all been quite good, so I figured, what the heck. Not to mention, I think this is only the second Braggot I’ve ever had, so broadening horizons is good, right? And this is quite interesting, with a combination of oak and fruit that strongly suggests a white wine, but with pepper and dry funk like a Saison. Not to mention, there’s no hint at all of the 8% ABV. I like this. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Township 24 Brewery Meridian Black Lager – Schwarzbier at 5% ABV | 40 IBU

Township 24 Brewery Meridian Black Lager Schwarzbier at 5% ABV | 40 IBU (C$4.54 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, packaged on 29-Mar-2018, acquired 11-Apr-2018, reviewed 17-Apr-2018)

Appearance: deep brown with light relief around the margins, two fingers of dense beige head, excellent retention and chunky lacing. (5/5) Aroma: roasty malt, coffee, light smoke. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, dry slightly acrid lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

I have, I think, made abundantly clear my normal attitude towards lagers: bored stiff. A notable exception to that is the Black Lager: I do tend to like me a good Schwarzbier – and this is a good Schwarzbier. Actually, this is a really good Schwarzbier, with a nice emphasis on the roast malts and a slightly acrid smokey, almost ashy finish. I love a good dry finish, and this really invites the next sip. No “for a lager” or “for a new brewery” qualifications required here: just a really good beer. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Township 24 Brewery Range 28 Vienna Blonde Ale – Blond Ale at 5% ABV | 20 IBU

Township 24 Brewery Range 28 Vienna Blonde Ale Blond Ale at 5% ABV | 20 IBU (C$5.59 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, packaged on 29-Mar-2018, acquired 11-Apr-2018, reviewed 16-Apr-2018)

Appearance: clear pale amber with one fat finger of dense off-white head, excellent retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: caramel, grass, light floral, hint of buttery diacetyl. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, sweetish mild bitter finish. (3/5)

Bit of a boring style, but decently well-done, except for just the slightest hint of buttery diacetyl. Of course, I’d expect nothing less from Chestermere’s oldest and largest brewery… who also happen to be Chestermere’s newest and smallest brewery… (Yes, they’re Chestermere’s only brewery, and another new local Alberta brewery.) I’m not much of an expert with this style (because I find it a bit boring) but I’d like this better if it finished a bit cleaner. It tends just slightly sweet, making it slightly less than more-ish. Not unhappy I tried the one, but probably wouldn’t bother again. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij de Molen Storm & Regen – American Double / Imperial IPA at 8.1% ABV | 60 IBU

Brouwerij de Molen Storm & Regen American Double / Imperial IPA at 8.1% ABV | 60 IBU (C$4.50 at The Brewer’s Apprentice, 330 ml, packaged on 24-Dec-2014, best before 24-Dec-2016, acquired 14-Mar-2018, reviewed 15-Apr-2018)

Appearance: clear medium amber with one fat finger of dense ivory head, excellent retention and heavy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: pine, toffee, citrus zest, pepper, tropical fruit. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, high bitter. (7/10) Medium oily body, moderate carbonation, lingering and building bitter finish. (4/5)

I went into this worrying I might’ve had slightly unrealistic hopes for the combined magical properties of high ABV and the De Molen name, but figured what the hell, treat it as an experiment. But actually, this is all right. It’s probably not as hoppy as it used to be – at least, there’s not a lot of citrus left there – but there’s no shortage of oily bitterness. It’s now become sort of Barleywine-ish in nature, which is by no means a bad thing. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Blindman Brewing Pierre Turn 1 Foeder-Aged Golden Saison – Saison at 5.8% ABV | 25 IBU

Blindman Brewing Pierre Turn 1 Foeder-Aged Golden Saison Saison at 5.8% ABV | 25 IBU (C$8.39 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 11-Apr-2018, reviewed 14-Apr-2018)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with one finger of fine white head, good retention and soapy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: complex, barnyardy funk, lemon zest, wood, earth. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, low bitter. (8/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry tart crisp lightly funky finish. (4/5)

This pleases me, on several levels. Actually, the fact of its existence probably pleases me more than the beer itself, if you see the distinction. I mean, come on! Blindman has a foeder program? Nice! Now, the beer isn’t exactly a home run, at least not yet. Based on the label notes, they threw a whole mess of various creepy-crawlies in here in a sort of battle royale, which doesn’t seem to have yet been resolved. It’s still pretty young, though not without some pleasing complexity, and I’d like to see how this mellows out. (No packaging date on the bottle, but I know it’s relatively new.) I’m definitely going to have to pick up a couplethree more and see what happens long-term. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Omnipollo Fatamorgana – American Double / Imperial IPA at 8% ABV | 100 IBU

Omnipollo Fatamorgana American Double / Imperial IPA at 8% ABV | 100 IBU (C$7.63 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 330 ml, best before 5-Sep-2018, acquired 11-Apr-2018, reviewed 13-Apr-2018)

Appearance: opaque pale gold with one finger of loose white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim and ring, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: resiny pine, tropical fruit, citrus, earth. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter. (9/10) Medium slightly oily and creamy body, moderate-low carbonation, drying building bitter mildly warming finish. (4/5)

A Fata Morgana is, of course, a type of mirage, named after Morgan Le Fey. Needless to say, it wouldn’t take many of these to make one see mirages and/or any number of Arthurian sorceresses. The cloudy appearance and milkshake-like body might tempt one to call this an NEIPA, but it really isn’t: there’s far too much dank pine resin on the nose, and far too much hop burn on the tongue. It is juicy, though, and very, very enjoyable, with almost no hint as to the fairly beefy ABV. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Gigantic Brewing Company Scrilla (#45) – American Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV | 55 IBU

Gigantic Brewing Company Scrilla (#45) American Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV | 55 IBU (C$7.52 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, packaged on 15-Aug-2018, acquired 11-Apr-2018, reviewed 13-Apr-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy deep gold with two fingers of fluffy off-white head, excellent retention and chunky lacing. (4/5) Aroma: zesty citrus, caramel, floral, pine, grass. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry slightly sticky medium bitter finish. (4/5)

What the hell’s scrilla, anyway? Is it the plural of Skrillex? Because, to be honest, I don’t know but one Skrillex isn’t already one too many. (OK, fine, yes, I know it’s money.) Seriously, nicely balanced Pale Ale. Not a hop bomb – which, don’t get me wrong, I’d be fine with, but sometimes a change is nice. And this is well done, with pleasant contributions from Citra and Simcoe balanced against a smooth oat body. I do find it slightly too sweet, especially in the finish, where it gets just a touch sticky. Not one where I’d want to have more than the one. Well, OK, two. Three, if you insist. Is that four? Where does the time go? (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com