Jester King Brewery Demitone (Batch #2) – Saison at 6.5% ABV | 12 IBU

Jester King Brewery Demitone (Batch #2) Saison at 6.5% ABV | 12 IBU (C$29.49 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, packaged on 1-Apr-2018, acquired 7-Sep-2018, reviewed 29-Jan-2019)

Appearance: bright clear red-tinted amber with one finger of fizzy pinkish head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: mild, grassy hay, berries, earth, light funk. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, low bitter, light funk. (9/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate-high carbonation, dry tart lightly funky finish. (4/5)

An interesting beer, particularly in its use of “spent” blueberries from prior brewing. I would have expected that to give rise to intense astringency, but in fact it’s just the opposite: pleasantly tart without being excessively acetic. To the extent I have any complaints beyond the obvious structural ones, it’s that the aroma could stand to be a bit more emphatic and complex. An excellent beer, but not particularly memorable, nor worth the eye-watering price tag. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Jester King Brewery Queen’s Order (Batch #2) – Saison at 4.8% ABV | 34 IBU

Jester King Brewery Queen’s Order (Batch #2) Saison at 4.8% ABV | 34 IBU (C$23.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, packaged on 1-Apr-2018, acquired 7-Sep-2018, reviewed 28-Jan-2019)

Appearance: bright clear straw with one fat finger of rocky white head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: honey & beeswax, lemon flesh & zest, floral, light funk. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter, light funk. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate-high carbonation, dry lightly funky finish. (4/5)

Light, easy-drinking, and refreshing. Somewhat out of character for JK, the Brett is mild and doesn’t overwhelm the nose or the head. Equally surprising is the way the big honey aroma isn’t followed through by similar levels of sweetness, but instead a refreshing dry bitterness. A very true-to-style rendition. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Innis & Gunn Brewing Company Vanishing Point 02 – Imperial Stout at 11% ABV

Innis & Gunn Brewing Company Vanishing Point 02 Imperial Stout at 11% ABV (C$17.29 at Okotoks Co-Op, 500 ml, packaged on 26-Aug-2018, best before 1-Aug-2023, acquired 7-Jan-2019, reviewed 27-Jan-2019)

Appearance: clear brown with deep amber relief at the margins, one finger of rocky beige head, decent retention and minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: bourbon, molasses, dark fruit, coconut, nuts. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-low carbonation, lingering bitter warming finish. (4/5)

It’s funny how, confronted with one special release I&G, I initially balked, but when I saw the second one, I said to hell with it and bought both. Apparently, one chance of being disappointed isn’t sufficient for me, but two chances are? Though, I guess, given my pre-existing attitude towards I&G, “disappointed” isn’t the right word – more like “justified in my opinion”. This one’s predecessor, in particular, was a particularly mediocre offering, causing me to say at the time that I’d probably never bother to buy another I&G. And yet, here we are. The first version of this was “200 days aged in first fill barrels”, while this is “barrel aged for 365 days in first fill bourbon casks” – and damn if it doesn’t make a noticeable difference. The original had sharp bourbon notes on top of weak darkly roasted malts, with a thin-tending body, while this is much smoother, richer, and fuller. (Mind you, it’s not lost upon me that it’s also 28% more expensive…) Don’t get me wrong: I’m not about to start singing their praises or anything – but I might be willing to buy 03 next year, possibly even without the inducement of another special release to double down. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Innis & Gunn Brewing Company 15 DIPA – Imperial / Double IPA at 7.4% ABV

Innis & Gunn Brewing Company 15 DIPA Imperial / Double IPA at 7.4% ABV (C$4.89 at Okotoks Co-Op, 330 ml, packaged on 20-Aug-2018, best before 1-Nov-2019, acquired 7-Jan-2019, reviewed 27-Jan-2019)

Appearance: clear pale gold with two fingers of rocky white head, excellent retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: toffee, vanilla, citrus, wood, honey. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-low carbonation, sweetish building bitter finish. (4/5)

The “juicy maltiness compliments the vibrant orange marmalade hop flavours”, huh? There’s so much factually and grammatically wrong with that statement, I’m not sure where to begin, so I’ll just leave it hanging out there as a kind of warning – Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate, if you will. This is malt-heavy and more reminiscent of a Scotch Ale or Old Ale than an IPA, even an EIPA. Yeah, I’ve had worse I&G offerings, but this just really kind of sums it up: for their flagship 15th anniversary offering to be both ill-conceived and mediocre in execution really is a perfect representation of this brewer in general. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

New Level Brewing Reaper’s Choice – American Double / Imperial IPA at 7.5% ABV

New Level Brewing Reaper’s Choice American Double / Imperial IPA at 7.5% ABV (C$3.87 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 24-Oct-2018, acquired 15-Jan-2019, reviewed 26-Jan-2019)

Appearance: clear pale amber with one fat finger of rocky pale ivory head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: pithy citrus, grainy caramel, lightly dank pine, green weeds. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering and building bitter finish. (4/5)

Almost a hybrid of English and American styles, with a fairly even-handed balance of both Noble and New World hop characters, and pronounced (but not excessively sweet) malt. Pretty drinkable for a Double, with a pleasantly emphatic bitter finish. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

New Level Brewing Wizard’s Revenge – American IPA at 7% ABV | 30 IBU

New Level Brewing Wizard’s Revenge American IPA at 7% ABV | 30 IBU (C$4.27 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 8-Nov-2018, acquired 15-Jan-2019, reviewed 25-Jan-2019)

Appearance: slightly hazy deep gold with two fingers of rocky white head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grainy caramel, grassy weeds, strawberries. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-low bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, sweet mild bitter finish. (3/5)

Much too sweet for my preference, with only afterthoughts of strawberry. What there is of the strawberry flavour doesn’t taste fake, necessarily, but is certainly mild. The biggest problem is the sweetness, which verges on cloying. I think I might have to give up on the whole “milkshake IPA” subgenera, because I’ve yet to find one I actually enjoyed. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Phantom Beer Co. Space Force!! – American Double / Imperial IPA at 10.1% ABV | 25 IBU

Phantom Beer Co. Space Force!! American Double / Imperial IPA at 10.1% ABV | 25 IBU (C$3.78 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 11-Oct-2019, acquired 15-Jan-2019, reviewed 24-Jan-2019)

Appearance: hazy particulate-laden medium gold with one fat finger of rocky pale ivory head, good retention and well-defined soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: boozy tropical fruit, dank pine, grainy caramel, solvent. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-low bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium slightly slick body, moderate carbonation, off-dry mild bitter boozy finish. (4/5)

Woof… a “Triple IPA” (yes, I know that’s not a thing – their designation, not mine) that’ll put hair on your chest, not that I needed more. To be honest, I could do without being reminded of the Orange Hate Cheeto while drinking, but at least this is beefy enough to dull the pain. The brewer claims 25 IBU, which on the face of it one might think is nonsense, but the fact is there’s very little residual bitterness. Residual booziness, sure, but not bitterness. To be honest, the booziness is a little unbalanced overall, with a not-entirely-welcome solvent note on the nose, and an overly-emphatic slick sweetness on the tongue. I guess they’re trying to do an “NE/hazy” take on this, but I think it would benefit from a bit more bitterness and a bit less sweetness. And far less Orange Hate Cheeto. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Zero Issue Brewing Venom (Issue 11) – Black IPA at 6% ABV

Zero Issue Brewing Venom (Issue 11) Black IPA at 6% ABV (C$3.82 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 20-Dec-2018, acquired 15-Jan-2019, reviewed 24-Jan-2019)

Appearance: clear deep cola brown with two fingers of fluffy beige head, excellent retention and well-defined soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: crusty rye bread, citrus, pine. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry moderate bitter mildly spicy finish. (4/5)

On the one hand, I’d like this to have a much more pronounced rye bite. (It certainly doesn’t live up to the venomous name!) On the other hand, it’s pretty easy drinking and refreshing, especially for a Rye IPA, and there’s a bit of lingering spice in the finish. All in all, a decent example of the style. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Zero Issue Brewing Carnage (Issue 12) – India Red Ale at 5.9% ABV

Zero Issue Brewing Carnage (Issue 12) India Red Ale at 5.9% ABV (C$3.91 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 12-Jan-2019, acquired 15-Jan-2019, reviewed 24-Jan-2019)

Appearance: slightly murky reddish-tinged amber-brown with one finger of rocky ivory head, good retention and well-defined soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grainy caramel, resiny pine, citrus. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Predominantly malt on the front end, making it feel like more of a Red or an Amber than an IPA, except in the lingering bitter finish. Perhaps not malt dominant, but certainly malt forward, though one might argue the bitter finish is a form of malt/hop balance. Decent enough, regardless of what you call it. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Hi-Wire Brewing Hazy & Juicy & Hoppy & Fresh. – American IPA at 7.5% ABV

Hi-Wire Brewing Hazy & Juicy & Hoppy & Fresh. American IPA at 7.5% ABV (C$6.34 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 10-Sep-2018, acquired 15-Jan-2019, reviewed 23-Jan-2019)

Appearance: hazy straw with two fingers of rocky white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap and ring, moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: tropical fruit, citrus, caramel, resiny pine, white pepper. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry moderate bitter finish. (4/5)

Well, I guess I can’t exactly blame it for not being fresh, since they did date the can. (Though in a cryptic xx/yy/zz nomenclature that I strongly suspect is that godless heathen US-unique mm/dd/yy way of dating.) In my defence, it arrived in the province only a week ago, so I did buy it as early as reasonably possible. It’s definitely past its best-by, though, so there’s every likelihood it’s better fresh. On the other hand, other than being a bit hazy, it’s not really all that much like an NE-style – much more like the other coast, in fact. Decent enough, despite not really being in-spec. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com