Evil Twin Brewing Key Lime Pie – American IPA at 7% ABV

Evil Twin Brewing Key Lime Pie American IPA at 7% ABV (C$6.89 at Collective, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 17-Nov-2018, reviewed 30-Nov-2018)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with two fingers of rocky white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: juicy citrus, pine, pale malt, key lime, graham crackers. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high tart, moderate sweet, low bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, slightly sticky medium bitter and tart finish. (4/5)

I was quite surprised upon opening this: the graham crumb and key lime adjuncts were relatively muted, and the aroma was hop dominant, albeit with the adjuncts present in the background. I was doubly surprised when I took the first sip, and the key lime tartness attacked my taste buds at full strength. It certainly tastes like a key lime pie, even if it doesn’t smell like one overly much. For all that, it’s not mouth-puckeringly tart, though the tartness does wash out any hop bitterness that might otherwise be apparent. The other thing the tartness accomplishes, though, is palate cleansing, preparing you for the next sip and making the beer quite more-ish overall. I’m confident in my score for the aroma, and while the flavour isn’t quite what one might expect in an IPA, it’s certainly what it says on the can, so I guess I’ve got to stick with a solid score there as well. Overall, it’s a high score for an oddball beer, but it’s an interesting one. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Eighty-Eight Brewing Wave Pool Tropical IPA – American IPA at 6.2% ABV | 68 IBU

Eighty-Eight Brewing Wave Pool Tropical IPA American IPA at 6.2% ABV | 68 IBU (C$4.68 at Collective, 500 ml, packaged on 18-Aug-2018, acquired 17-Nov-2018, reviewed 28-Nov-2018)

Appearance: slightly murky deep gold with two fingers of rocky pale ivory head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: tropical & stone fruit, citrus, bready caramel malt, dank pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, slightly sticky lingering building bitter finish. (4/5)

I initially thought this wasn’t quite as good as their NEIPA, but I warmed up to it considerably. Certainly it’s not quite as juicy as their NEIPA, but the tropical fruit does manifest as the pint progresses, and the bold piney bitterness is completely appropriate for a non-NE IPA. Comes perilously close to being a DIPA, if you ask me – which is exactly the way I like my IPAs! Like their NEIPA, this also finishes just slightly sticky, with slightly high bitterness, but still pleasant. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Eighty-Eight Brewing Night Gallery NEPA – American IPA at 5.5% ABV | 44 IBU

Eighty-Eight Brewing Night Gallery NEPA American IPA at 5.5% ABV | 44 IBU (C$2.75 at Collective, 330 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 17-Nov-2018, reviewed 27-Nov-2018)

Appearance: hazy medium gold with one finger of rocky pale ivory head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: tropical fruit, citrus, biscuity malt. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body tending slightly thin, moderate carbonation, slightly sticky moderate bitter finish. (4/5)

Extremely nice first effort (for me, anyway) for a brand-new(-ish) Calgary brewery. Finishes just slightly sticky, but still pleasantly off-dry and mildly bitter. I notice that is slightly breaks the 10:1 IBU:ABV rule, but given the relative thinness of the body, that’s probably for the best, because it keeps the bitterness from becoming astringent. The bitterness is probably slightly high for the NE style, but it’s clean and even-handed, with no cattiness from the Citra and Simcoe, so I’m perfectly OK with that. “Cloud juice” indeed – works for me! (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mikkeller Weird Weather Hazy IIPA – American Double / Imperial IPA at 8.3% ABV

Mikkeller Weird Weather Hazy IIPA American Double / Imperial IPA at 8.3% ABV (C$8.96 at Collective, 500 ml, best before 18-Jun-2019, acquired 17-Nov-2018, reviewed 26-Nov-2018)

Appearance: hazy pale straw with two fingers of rocky white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grapefruit zest, stone fruit, apples, grainy malt, hint of pine & cattiness. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-low bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, sweetish slightly sticky finish. (4/5)

“Weird”, check, but I dunno what weather’s got to do with anything. Ditto “hazy”, but I’m not entirely sold on the “New England Style”. Sort of, I guess, but it’s not really the opaque juice bomb example of the style I prefer. On the other hand, the “IIPA” part is actually fairly impressive, since it drinks like something much lighter than its 8+ ABV. On the other other hand (yes, that’s three hands) the sweetness and apples, especially in the finish, are reminiscent of sweet Belgian Tripels, which are my least favourite interpretation of that style. I can’t find any details of the hops used here, but there’s a hint of cattiness that makes me think Citra or Simcoe. While that cattiness isn’t necessarily a negative in all cases, I’m not used to encountering it in an alleged NEIPA, in which the dry hopping process seems to avoid that characteristic (which I hypothetically associate with overextraction of the hops in the boil). Ultimately, yeah, it’s juicy and hazy, with mild bitterness, but the sweetness in particular prevents it from really wowing me. Which seems to be the case with far too many Mikkeller beers these days – hey Mikkel, buddy, here’s an idea: instead of 40 or 50 beers a year, how about you produce only 20 or 30, and make them not suck? (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mikkeller Running Club Beer Mile – American Pale Ale at 5% ABV

Mikkeller Running Club Beer Mile American Pale Ale at 5% ABV (C$5.72 at Collective, 330 ml, best before 20-Jun-2019, acquired 17-Nov-2018, reviewed 23-Nov-2018)

Appearance: hazy pale straw with one finger of tight white head, good retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grainy malt, grapefruit zest, light stone fruit. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry mild bitter finish. (3/5)

So, this beer is specifically designed for the Beer Mile (pound a beer, run a quarter mile, repeat three more times, run a penalty lap if you puke). So, after smelling and a few preliminary sips, I pounded it. And yeah, I can see the point here: it’s easy drinking, with a somewhat light (but not actually watery) body, moderate carbonation that doesn’t get you too bloated, and restrained sweetness. And now, I didn’t run a quarter mile. Might run to the fridge for another beer, though… (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Deschutes Brewery Black Butte XXVII – Imperial Porter at 11.6% ABV | 60 IBU

Deschutes Brewery Black Butte XXVII Imperial Porter at 11.6% ABV | 60 IBU (C$23.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, packaged on 20-Jul-2015, acquired 16-Oct-2015, reviewed 20-Nov-2018)

Appearance: clear deep brown with one finger of loose beige head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: complex, red berries, stone fruit, molasses, bourbon, cocoa nibs, floral. (9/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate-low carbonation, off-dry moderate bitter warming slightly tart finish. (4/5)

I did my first of these birthday beers a few months ago, during the Dog Days of summer. It’s definitely not summer any more, so I figured I’d split off another of my multiples – this time the next year older vintage – and give it a go. (You can tell it’s older because of the dust on the bottle. How legit is that?) Unlike the previous one, this is all about fruit notes, with rose water, apricot, and pomegranate taking the stage, despite this having been cellared for more than three years. Definitely not even close to the same beer, especially with the tart red berries in the finish. I’ve had many Porters, Imperial or otherwise, that integrated tart and/or berry notes, and I certainly don’t dislike that approach – but straight-up chocolate and vanilla do work better, in my opinion. That said, good on them for making significant changes year over year: how are you supposed to find anything better, if you don’t try new things? This suffers only very marginally by comparison to its younger brother, and is definitely an enjoyable sipper to round out my evening. (16/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Les Brasseurs RJ Death Valley Ale Triple Houblon – Belgian IPA at 8% ABV | 50 IBU

Les Brasseurs RJ Death Valley Ale Triple Houblon Belgian IPA at 8% ABV | 50 IBU (C$6.86 at NLC Stavanger, 750 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 20-Nov-2018, reviewed 20-Nov-2018)

Appearance: clear deep gold with two fat fingers of loose white head diminishing rapidly to a thick cap, spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus zest, biscuity malt, floral, coriander. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry moderate bitter mildly warming finish. (3/5)

I said it was clear, and the first pour from the 750ml bottle actually was. The second, not so much: more like super chunky style, with loads of heavy particulate. Not that I’m complaining; I do understand what “beer on lees” means. I know some folks throw out the lees, but personally I like to compare the more intense flavours and aromas that come from the lees. Not to mention, it’s against my religion to throw out beer. I take a bit of exception to the naming here: just because you use a three hop blend, doesn’t mean it’s a “triple hop” beer. At least in my opinion – and the prevalence of the biscuity malt supports that contention. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure the term isn’t actually officially defined, so I suppose you can mangle it however you like. At 8% ABV and 50 IBU, I definitely won’t argue with calling this a “Double”, but the floral yeastiness is definitely along the lines of “Belgian”. Whoever you call it, it’s pleasant enough, with a nice balance of spiciness and alcohol warming in the finish. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company Wild Oats Series 49º 54º Fogo Island Myrrh-Smoked Gose – Gose at 6.7% ABV | 35 IBU

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company Wild Oats Series 49º 54º Fogo Island Myrrh-Smoked Gose Gose at 6.7% ABV | 35 IBU (C$6.28 at NLC Stavanger, 600 ml, packaged on 11-Oct-2018, acquired 20-Nov-2018, reviewed 20-Nov-2018)

Appearance: muddy medium gold with one finger of fluffy white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap and ring, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: berries, spice, bready yeast, herbal, cedar, light smoke. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light salt. (6/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, sweetish slightly salty finish. (3/5)

I was really hesitant about this one, and only ended up buying it because I once lived on Fogo – which is, let’s face it, a pretty crap reason to buy a beer. (And, by the way, Fogo covers a range of about 49.6º to 49.8ºN, so it really should be “50º 54º”.) A very weird beer, and not entirely in a good way – leave it to a damn mainlander to mis-use Newfoundland ingredients. Myrrh? Really? I remember my grandfather telling us how as kids they used to chew myrrh (also known as “frankum”, which I presume is a contraction of “frankincense gum” and biblically derived), so of course we all went out and tried it. (shudder) Did I mention getting kids to do stupid shit is a fine old Newfoundland tradition? All in all, it’s not terrible – but it also makes me wonder if somebody else is taking up that fine old tradition… (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Creemore Springs Mad & Noisy Coconut Porter – American Porter at 5.6% ABV

Creemore Springs Mad & Noisy Coconut Porter American Porter at 5.6% ABV (C$3.83 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, packaged on 1-Oct-2018, acquired 20-Nov-2018, reviewed 20-Nov-2018)

Appearance: clear deep brown with slight relief around the margins, one finger of fluffy beige head diminishing gradually to a thin cap and ring, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: roasty malts, chocolate, light nuts. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light metallic. (6/10) Palate: medium body tending slightly thin, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium bitter slightly metallic finish. (3/5)

Definitely far too light in the body for the style: flavours like this work best with a thick, chewy beer. In addition, there’s a slightly metallic edge in the finish, that I suspect is exacerbated by the thinness of the body. Worst of all, though, is the pretty much complete absence of coconut! I understand that some people don’t like coconut (those people are wrong, by the way) but presumably they wouldn’t be the target audience here in any case, so why not actually have some coconut flavour? I’d probably have scored both aroma and taste higher had there actually been any perceptible coconut – but there wasn’t. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Good Mood Brewery Harvest Pale Ale – American Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV

Good Mood Brewery Harvest Pale Ale American Pale Ale at 5.5% ABV (C$2.21 at Collective, 355 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 17-Nov-2018, reviewed 19-Nov-2018)

Appearance: clear medium amber with two fingers of rocky ivory head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: floral, caramel, stone fruit. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter, mild spice. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter mildly spicy finish. (3/5)

Decent enough if you think of it as an EPA, even though it’s a style I don’t generally prefer. (Though, I guess technically the bitterness is out of spec as an English.) Definite bonus points for the peel-and-stick moustaches in honour of M/November and the associated donation to Prostate Cancer research! (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com