Annex Ale Project Escapable Truth – American IPA at 7.3% ABV

Annex Ale Project Escapable Truth American IPA at 7.3% ABV (C$8.49 at Oak & Vine, 650 ml, packaged on 4-Jun-2018, acquired 21-Jun-2018, reviewed 23-Jun-2018)

Appearance: clear pale amber with one fat finger of fluffy ivory head, excellent retention and soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: resiny pine, caramel, citrus, grass, earth. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering and building bitter finish. (4/5)

“West Coast”? Not much, though maybe, just maybe it would have fit that bill 10-15 years ago. Very old school, malt-heavy (verging on dominant), with big blunt bitter in the finish. Which, hey, is all to the good for me, but I’d appreciate a little subtlety on the front end before smashing my mouth with a hop brick. It’s called foreplay, look it up – you could at least try to make a girl feel special. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie McAuslan St-Ambroise Black IPA – Black IPA at 6.5% ABV | 58 IBU

Brasserie McAuslan St-Ambroise Black IPA Black IPA at 6.5% ABV | 58 IBU (C$3.99 at Oak & Vine, 473 ml, packaged on 7-Feb-2018, acquired 21-Jun-2018, reviewed 23-Jun-2018)

Appearance: clear brown with two fingers of dense creamy beige head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: coffee, grapefruit, molasses, ash. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium slightly watery body, moderate carbonation, off-dry bitter slightly smoky finish. (3/5)

Fairly disappointing, even if that’s not actually surprising. These guys do some things very well indeed, and others not well at all. Unfortunately, their IPAs, of whatever stripe, seem to tend more towards the “not well at all” end of the scale. I was sort of hoping this would be more like their RIS, but unfortunately it’s more like their EIPA. Muddled and indistinct, this is not a good example of a style that’s very hard to get right. Don’t bother, unless you’re a hardcore fan of the style, who’s bound and determined to try as many examples as possible. I will say this for McAuslan, though: when they strike out, they do it swinging hard for the fences. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

North American Craft Trailer Park Boys Green Bastard IPA – American IPA at 6.5% ABV

North American Craft Trailer Park Boys Green Bastard IPA American IPA at 6.5% ABV (C$4.49 at Oak & Vine, 473 ml, best before 26-Sep-2018, acquired 21-Jun-2018, reviewed 23-Jun-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy medium gold with two fingers of fluffy ivory head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, pine, grainy pale malt. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry building bitter finish. (3/5)

I fully expected this to be complete shit (yes, I bought it for the name, and yes, it’s a terrible show, but yes, I laugh like a loon at it regardless), but it’s actually decent. Well… not terrible, anyway. It edges closer to terrible the warmer it gets, mind you, so if you feel like giving this a try, I suggest you don’t dawdle over it. It’s sorta kinda West Coast-ish, with some usual suspects starts-with-C hopping giving a citrus and pine blend, and a fairly unremarkable malt providing adequate support. I wouldn’t necessarily go looking for this again, but if I were, for example, desperately cruising the aisles at a gas station while camping, I wouldn’t refuse to pick up a few to throw in a cooler around a fire. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Hoyne Brewing Co. Alpha Acid – American IPA at 6.3% ABV

Hoyne Brewing Co. Alpha Acid American IPA at 6.3% ABV (C$4.49 at Oak & Vine, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 21-Jun-2018, reviewed 22-Jun-2018)

Appearance: hazy deep gold with two fingers of fluffy ivory head, good retention and spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: crackery malt, green onion, citrus, light pine, earth. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry building bitter finish. (4/5)

I’m a little surprised nobody’s used this name before. (Well – sort of. There’s a brewery of that name, and one other beer named “Alpha Acid Theory”.) In any case, I like the “cut to the chase” philosophy behind the name, clearly intended to appeal to those of us with the MOAR HOPS mindset. (I was a little surprised I couldn’t find a published IBU value, given that intention, but there you go. Life doesn’t alway make sense.) So, the obvious question is: does it deliver? Well… no, actually. The label doesn’t claim this is supposed to be an NEIPA, so let’s forgive the non-juice-like appearance. On the nose, though, this is almost Pilsener-like, with crackery malt playing a surprisingly large role, and green onion vying for dominance with citrus – and, much to my chagrin, sort of winning. There’s nothing actually bad about any of this, but it utterly fails to be the big bombastic bastard IPA the name promises. Ah, well: life is a series of bitter – or, in this case, insufficiently bitter – disappointments. (Yes, it still scores fairly high. What can I say? I enjoy complaining for its own sake. Plus, I like the juvenile delinquent tagger “I am Groot” hand.) Researching my own back catalogue, I find that the Devil’s Dream this replaces received exactly the same score, and I complained about its malt dominance, so I guess plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, huh? (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Town Square Brewing Megawatt NEIPA – American IPA at 6% ABV | 30 IBU

Town Square Brewing Megawatt NEIPA American IPA at 6% ABV | 30 IBU (C$4.49 at Oak & Vine, 473 ml, packaged on 1-May-2018, acquired 21-Jun-2018, reviewed 22-Jun-2018)

Appearance: opaque pale gold with one fat finger of loose white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim and spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, tropical fruit, pale malt, melon. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry moderate bitter finish. (4/5)

I guess this qualifies as a “juice-like” NEIPA, but the colour is slightly (really slightly – maybe 1 SRM) more “grapefruit juice” than “orange juice”. (Which is A-OK by me, I like grapefruit juice just fine.) I like how they did this one: I can’t find any brewer’s notes or a detailed ingredients list, but I’m guessing there are no adjuncts here, and the juice character is entirely hop-derived. The hops are perennial favourites of mine, Citra and El Dorado, and they’re coming through cleanly, with no off flavours. This is a new local (-ish) brewery to me, and I can’t find any details how long they’ve been around, but they clearly know what they’re doing. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Collective Arts Brewing Liquid Art Fest IPA – American IPA at 5.9% ABV

Collective Arts Brewing Liquid Art Fest IPA American IPA at 5.9% ABV (C$5.99 at Oak & Vine, 473 ml, packaged on 7-May-2018, acquired 21-Jun-2018, reviewed 22-Jun-2018)

Appearance: opaque pale gold with one fat finger of loose ivory head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim and spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: oranges, lactose, tropical fruit, vanilla, wheat, hint of pine, light funk. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, mild tart. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry building bitter lightly tart finish. (4/5)

Gotta say, I was a little leery when I saw “Milkshake IPA” – the few other examples of that description I’ve tried have ranged from “mehtastic” to “ok at best”. I should have known that if anybody could pull it off, Collective could. And yes, it actually is like a milkshake – a creamsicle one, maybe, with a bit of passionfruit and mango added. Even though there’s sweetness there, it’s a soft lactose that doesn’t linger or become sickly or cloying. The vanilla is present but gentle, and passionfruit acidity cuts through any lingering residue to prevent it from becoming mouth coating, so that it ends surprisingly clean and more-ish. To the extent that I have any complaints at all, it’s that the mango starts to turn a little funky upon warming, giving just the very slightest note of cheese or stinky feet. The solution is obvious: don’t let it warm. Bottoms up! (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Ninkasi Brewing Company Pacific Rain Northwest Pale – American Pale Ale at 5.4% ABV | 50 IBU

Ninkasi Brewing Company Pacific Rain Northwest Pale American Pale Ale at 5.4% ABV | 50 IBU (C$3.00 at Oak & Vine, 355 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 21-Jun-2018, reviewed 22-Jun-2018)

Appearance: clear straw with one fat finger of fluffy white head, excellent retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: pine resin, floral, pale malt, tropical fruit, citrus. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry building bitter slightly astringent finish. (3/5)

I’m a bit surprised by how the aroma plays out with this: given it’s hopped with Simcoe, Mosaic, Citra, and Nugget, I’d expect the citrus to be stronger, and the floral and tropical notes to be less so. It’s also just slightly thin and watery in the body. Not a bad APA, but slightly less impressive than I’d’ve hoped. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Kona Brewing Company Wailua Wheat – American Pale Wheat Ale at 5.4% ABV | 15 IBU

Kona Brewing Company Wailua Wheat American Pale Wheat Ale at 5.4% ABV | 15 IBU (C$3.00 at Oak & Vine, 355 ml, packaged on 8-Sep-2017, acquired 21-Jun-2018, reviewed 21-Jun-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale gold with one finger of fluffy white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: tropical fruit, wheat, light grass. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, sweetish medium duration mild bitter finish. (3/5)

The tropical fruit (passionfruit, I guess) makes this act a little oddly with regards to  sweetness: it doesn’t taste excessively sweet, exactly, but it lingers and gets a little sticky even so. That is, it tastes and acts sweeter than it actually is, which isn’t a positive for me. Not bad, but not a winner, either. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Ninkasi Brewing Company Yours Truly – Blond Ale at 4.3% ABV | 20 IBU

Ninkasi Brewing Company Yours Truly Blond Ale at 4.3% ABV | 20 IBU (C$3.00 at Oak & Vine, 355 ml, best before 26-Jun-2018, acquired 21-Jun-2018, reviewed 21-Jun-2018)

Appearance: clear straw with one fat finger of creamy white head, excellent retention and well-defined soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: citrus, floral, bready malt, hint of pine. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium duration mild bitter finish. (4/5)

That’s surprisingly good, actually. I generally find the Blond Ale style to be fairly boring, but in addition to being the best example of the style I’ve ever had, this is a solidly enjoyable beer in its own regard. It’s a bit excessively floral on the nose, but it’s easy-drinking regardless, just like the label says. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Central City Brewers + Distillers Red Racer Low Rider Series Raspberry – Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 3.5% ABV

Central City Brewers + Distillers Red Racer Low Rider Series Raspberry Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 3.5% ABV (C$3.00 at Oak & Vine, 355 ml, packaged on 13-Sep-2017, acquired 21-Jun-2018, reviewed 21-Jun-2018)

Appearance: clear ruby red with one finger of loose pale pink head diminishing gradually to a thin skim and ring, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: raspberry, pale malt, light grass, hint of citrus. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, low bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate-high carbonation, off-dry lightly tart finish. (4/5)

Not a lot going on here other than raspberry, but to be fair, it’s decent raspberry: not sweet or artificial, finishing pleasantly tart and refreshing. Mind you, after my twelve hour workday, I’d probably be refreshed by just about anything. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com