Omnipollo Leon – Belgian Pale Ale at 6.5% ABV

Omnipollo Leon Belgian Pale Ale at 6.5% ABV (C$6.08 at Collective, 330 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 11-Sep-2018, reviewed 15-Sep-2018)

Appearance: clear pale gold with an out-of-control rocky ivory head, excellent retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: pithy grapefruit, stone and orchard fruit, earthy funk, pale crackery malt. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart and peppery spice. (8/10) Medium-light body, moderate-high carbonation, dry mildly bitter slightly spicy finish. (4/5)

Hah! On the Omnipollo web site, the artwork for this bottle has a torso with a bare butt in the upper left corner, while on my bottle, that butt is artfully disguised by means of a pair of cherries. I guess the North American market is too prudish for the original? Anyway, labelling aside, I like this beer. I had to mark it down for the ballooning head that made it impossible to pour the full 330ml bottle (I mean, come on, it’s only 330ml!) but in its defence it does retain well, with a “marshmallow” remaining all the way to the end. Surprisingly, despite the monster head the carbonation in the body tends only slightly above moderate. Character-wise, it’s a very Belgian Pale Ale, which I mean as a compliment: fragrant, slightly funky, dry and pleasant. Actually, it’s very like Duvel, or maybe De Ranke XX. It also doesn’t hurt that the name reminds my of Léon: The Professional, which was a super cool movie and the only movie Natalie Portman ever starred in and any suggestion there were ever any Star Wars movies involving her is clearly nonsense designed to ruin my appreciation of the franchise (ahem). Bottom line, I could drink a whole lot of these. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Outcast Brewing Chateau d’Outcast – American IPA at 6.5% ABV | 15 IBU

Outcast Brewing Chateau d’Outcast American IPA at 6.5% ABV | 15 IBU (C$4.23 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 2-Aug-2018, acquired 11-Sep-2018, reviewed 14-Sep-2018)

Appearance: hazy pale straw with two fingers (and growing!) of rocky white head, excellent retention and moderate soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: white grape must, citrus zest, crackery pale malt, earth, hint of pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter, light tart. (8/10) Medium-light body, lively carbonation, dry mildly bitter warming finish. (4/5)

I’ve been wondering for a while why someone didn’t do this: it’s a “Brut IPA” created by using amylase enzyme to process more of the malt to fermentable sugar. (Though, I guess the fact that there are other examples out there means someone did, just without my knowledge. Oh, well, live and learn!) The result is very like the style of Tripel I prefer: highly attenuated, with an extremely dry finish in addition to a moderate alcohol warming. The date stamp on the base of the can also says “FANCY AF”, and I agree. If this is the new hotness, sign me up! (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bench Creek Brewing Dead Woodsman – American Pale Ale at 5.2% ABV | 40 IBU

Bench Creek Brewing Dead Woodsman American Pale Ale at 5.2% ABV | 40 IBU (C$3.42 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 19-Jul-2018, acquired 11-Sep-2018, reviewed 14-Sep-2018)

Appearance: clear pale amber with two fingers of rocky ivory head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: caramel and bready malt, grass, citrus, floral. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry mildly bitter finish. (3/5)

I was wondering why the bear was wearing a suit, but then I did a little noodling about and realized this is just a re-branded Naked Woodsman. Apparently there was some legal kerfuffle? And I suppose the bear is a lawyer? In any case, yeah – why they’d resurrect this one is actually slightly beyond me, because I think it’s one of the worst beers they do. Their IPA, DIPA, and Black IPA are all very well done, and modern in their interpretation of the styles. This is a sad, malty, old-fashioned APA that doesn’t thrill me at all. Well done? Sure. If you like malty APAs. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Belching Beaver Brewery Deftones Digital Bath – American IPA at 6.5% ABV

Belching Beaver Brewery Deftones Digital Bath American IPA at 6.5% ABV (C$5.13 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 11-Jul-2018, acquired 11-Sep-2018, reviewed 13-Sep-2018)

Appearance: opaque straw with one fat finger of rocky pale ivory head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: juicy citrus, grape must, stone fruit, pale biscuity malt, floral, hint of pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, lively carbonation, off-dry short duration moderate bitter lightly tart finish. (4/5)

Not quite what I was expecting: the Nelson and Galaxy are certainly making their presence known, giving a more tart and vinous character than is typical for the NEIPA style. It’s actually reminiscent of a Wild, or perhaps a Saison. As well, the carbonation tends higher than normal for the style, almost prickly. In short, almost nothing here conforms to the standard examples, of the style, but it’s a very good beer. (And yes, of course I listened to the track while drinking the beer.) (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

New Level Brewing Haze Lord – American IPA at 5% ABV

New Level Brewing Haze Lord American IPA at 5% ABV (C$3.74 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 27-Aug-2018, acquired 11-Sep-2018, reviewed 13-Sep-2018)

Appearance: slightly dirty opaque pale gold with one fat finger of rocky ivory head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: juicy citrus, tropical fruit, caramel, light pine. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body tending slightly thin, moderate carbonation, off-dry short duration moderate bitter finish. (3/5)

Another new Calgary brewery, but I’m not complaining, especially if it mean I can get two week old hazy IPAs. I should go find their “Secret Taproom”, considering it’s all of a 12 minute drive from work! It’s got a few little issues that prevent me from scoring it higher, including the somewhat muddy appearance, the slightly muted aroma and flavour, and the way it drops off just a little watery, but it’s certainly drinkable. I think the aroma and body could be solved with a slightly beefier brew – at 5% ABV, it’s tending towards the Session IPA or APA end of the range, and it shows. All in all, a pretty passable example of the style, but one that could be much better with a few tweaks. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Alley Kat Brewing Co. Alley Jane Hemp Ale – American Pale Ale at 5.0% ABV | 41 IBU

Alley Kat Brewing Co. Alley Jane Hemp Ale American Pale Ale at 5.0% ABV | 41 IBU (C$7.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, best before 16-Jan-2019, acquired 7-Sep-2018, reviewed 12-Sep-2018)

Appearance: bright clear pale gold with one fat finger of loose white head, excellent retention and well-defined soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: toasted malt, biscuity and grainy caramel, dank resiny pine, grass. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body tending slightly thin, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering building bitter finish. (3/5)

“Alley Jane”, huh? Could be worse, I suppose, it could be “Smaragdine Dragon”. (Yes, it is so a word – look it up. Although, now that I think about it, that’s a good one, considering it means “emerald”, and could be considered reminiscent of that most famous of dragons, Smaug. Alley Kat, if you actually use *this* colour name, I want a case of the first ones off the line couriered to my house. I didn’t get paid for “Periwinkle”!) And no, despite the name, no THC in this. (I rather suspect that’ll be a long time coming, actually, if ever… unless I brew my own…) Definitely toasty and “lager-y” as described on their web site, although with a little less dank you-know-what-ishness than the name might suggest. It’s there, but takes a bit of a back seat to the toasty notes. Decent enough, I suppose. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Breakside Brewery Tall Guy – American IPA at 6.4% ABV | 57 IBU

Breakside Brewery Tall Guy American IPA at 6.4% ABV | 57 IBU (C$10.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 7-Sep-2018, reviewed 12-Sep-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale amber with two fingers of rocky white head, excellent retention and heavy soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: dank pine, caramel, citrus, tropical fruit, floral. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering building bitter slightly astringent finish. (4/5)

A little pricier than their Thirst Trap, yet not quite as good, in my opinion. (And I say that in response to this “ode to the tropical Citra hop” as someone who really likes Citra hops.) The funny thing is, even though it’s got lower IBUs (at the same ABV) as Thirst Trap, it comes across as slightly more bitter in the finish, and even just a little astringent. I’m wondering if it’s a slightly thinner body doing that? Adding to my nit-picking, it seems like I’m getting dank resiny pine dominating over the citrus I’d normally expect from Citra – which wouldn’t necessarily be a complaint, were I not expecting citrus to be more present than it is. In any case, still a solid A/IPA, if suffering slightly from sibling rivalry. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Troubled Monk Brewery Resting Beach Face – Session IPA at 5% ABV

Troubled Monk Brewery Resting Beach Face Session IPA at 5% ABV (C$2.48 at Collective, 355 ml, packaged on 25-Jul-2018, acquired 11-Sep-2018, reviewed 11-Sep-2018)

Appearance: clear straw with a short, short-lived loose white head and spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: pale malt, pithy grapefruit, grass and weeds. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry moderate bitter slightly oily astringent finish. (3/5)

Somewhat disappointing, and certainly exhibiting the “thin and watery” characteristic to which this style can sometimes be prone. The thinness of the body seems to contribute to the moderate bitterness finishing somewhat astringent. That slightly oily astringency is also the single biggest grapefruit characteristic of the beer, which otherwise I could believe derived its citrus character from hops. Yeah, I guess you could crush these at the beach, but why? (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Breakside Brewery Thirst Trap – American IPA at 6.4% ABV | 69 IBU

Breakside Brewery Thirst Trap American IPA at 6.4% ABV | 69 IBU (C$9.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 7-Sep-2018, reviewed 10-Sep-2018)

Appearance: hazy pale amber with two fingers of rocky off-white head, excellent retention and heavy soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: dank pine, citrus, bready caramel. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering building bitter finish. (4/5)

I guess this doesn’t actually claim to be an NEIPA, so I can’t criticize it for not adhering to the spec for that style. And it does pour slightly hazy, it’s definitely an IPA, and the hops are at least slightly savage, so it does in fact deliver precisely what it promises on the label. Anyway, enough of what it’s not: what it is, is a fairly modern West Coast IPA with dank pine and bright citrus on a clean malt background, and really good stuff. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Parallel 49 / Bench Creek Brewing THEM – Black IPA at 6.8% ABV

Parallel 49 / Bench Creek Brewing THEM Black IPA at 6.8% ABV (C$3.50 at Sobeys Liquor Okotoks, 473 ml, packaged on 17-Jul-2018, acquired 3-Sep-2018, reviewed 9-Sep-2018)

Appearance: clear deep brown with one fat finger of rocky ivory head, excellent retention and heavy soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: roasty malts, stone fruit, citrus, chocolate, coffee, smoke. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium duration slightly spicy finish. (4/5)

I had a brief but intense fling with this style, now somewhat embarrassing to recall – as is so often the case in such situations, the flame that burns brightest burns shortest. Every now and then, though, I find a well-executed example of the style that reminds me of why I fell in love in the first place. It’s fairly unsurprising that Bench Creek is involved in such a discovery, since I’ve found them to be generally on point, with flashes of brilliance. This doesn’t quite qualify as a flash of brilliance, but it’s certainly a respectable effort, with no significant flaws. Last one of the “Craft Cousins” 4-pack of Parallel 49 collaborations with Alberta breweries, and a solid finish. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com