Port Rexton Brewing Company Tibb’s The Saison – Saison at 6.6% ABV

Port Rexton Brewing Company Tibb’s The Saison – Saison at 6.6% ABV (C$7.83 at Port Rexton Brewing Company, 946 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 28-Dec-2019, reviewed 30-Dec-2019)

Appearance: clear pale amber with a short fluffy off-white head diminishing gradually to nothing, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: christmas spices, banana, dark fruit, earth. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate spice, mild bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body, prickly carbonation, warming spicy finish. (3/5)

Not doing it for me: I found it over-spiced, even accounting for the seasonal intent. Not to mention, the ABV is higher than I’d like to see for the style, and the sweetness tends high as well. All in all it’s not the refreshing “could drink a dory load of this” character I look for in this style. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Port Rexton Brewing Company Happy HoliHaze (Continuum) – American IPA at 5.4% ABV

Port Rexton Brewing Company Happy HoliHaze (Continuum) – American IPA at 5.4% ABV (C$7.83 at Port Rexton Brewing Company, 946 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 28-Dec-2019, reviewed 29-Dec-2019)

Appearance: opaque medium gold with a short fluffy off-white head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: pine, citrus, tropical fruit, pale malt. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-soft carbonation, building bitter finish. (4/5)

I think this is my first (and only) in the Continuum series – which rather raises a nomenclature issue, doesn’t it? More resiny pine and lingering bitterness than is typical for the hazy/NEIPA style, but a solid A/IPA. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

YellowBelly Brewery Mummer’s Brew (2019) – American Porter at 7.3% ABV | 25 IBU

YellowBelly Brewery Mummer’s Brew (2019) – American Porter at 7.3% ABV | 25 IBU (C$7.88 at NLC Stavanger, 750 ml, best before 28-Feb-2020, acquired 21-Dec-2019, reviewed 26-Dec-2019)

Appearance: solid black with a short fluffy beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: café au lait, chocolate, nuts. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate-soft carbonation, sticky mildly bitter finish. (3/5)

The label claims an SRM of 50 for this, which I think should be roughly Vantablack levels of light absorption, shouldn’t it? But OK, sure, let’s go with that. I’m a bit more perplexed by the fact that their most recent Stout (a style which of course takes its name from “Stout Porter”) that I had yesterday was weaker than this. Stylistic confusion aside, I find this to lean a bit too much towards tasting “flavoured”, as opposed to feeling more natural, particularly the sugar levels. Mind you, that being said, the coffee is actually pretty good, and doesn’t taste overextracted or astringent. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie De Cazeau Tournay de Noël – Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 8.2% ABV | 40 EBU

Brasserie De Cazeau Tournay de Noël – Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 8.2% ABV | 40 EBU (2019 Craft Beer Advent Calendar #24, 330 ml, best before 31-Jul-2021, acquired 22-Nov-2019, reviewed 24-Dec-2019)

Appearance: clear deep ruby brown with two fingers of pillowy beige head, good retention and well-defined droopy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: roasty malt, dark fruit, toasted bread, molasses, mild spice. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate carbonation, sticky lingering bitter mildly warming finish. (4/5)

The brewer’s notes indicate this is hopped with Styrian Golding, Warrior, and Cascade, but the balance, especially on the nose, is very much about the malt. Despite that, it’s not overly sweet on the tongue, with a good bitterness balance. The body is maybe just a tad light for the style, but the finish is otherwise smooth and pleasant. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Sound Brewery Coffee Ursus Spelæus – Imperial Stout at 10% ABV | 68 IBU

Sound Brewery Coffee Ursus Spelæus – Imperial Stout at 10% ABV | 68 IBU (2019 Craft Beer Advent Calendar #23, 355 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 22-Nov-2019, reviewed 23-Dec-2019)

Appearance: opaque black with one finger of creamy beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, minimal spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: roasty malt, coffee, chocolate, nuts, dark fruit. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, sticky lingering bitter mildly warming finish. (3/5)

Well, I guess that’ll do for Tibb’s Eve. Stylistically, it’s a little indistinct: is it a Belgian Imperial Stout, the way the label says (never mind that no such “official” style exists)? Or is the fact that it’s named after an extinct Russian cave bear supposed to be a nod to the RIS style (which it really isn’t)? Or – and this is probably my preferred approach tonight – do we simply say “Mmmm… coffee… strong… good.”? I’d like a heavier body and lower carbonation to stand up to the big sweetness and bitter, but on the other hand the double digit ABV is impressively well-integrated, so pretty decent overall. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij de Molen Tekst & Uitleg – American Pale Ale at 4.6% ABV | 60 EBU

Brouwerij de Molen Tekst & Uitleg – American Pale Ale at 4.6% ABV | 60 EBU (Craft Beer Advent Calendar #22, 330 ml, packaged on 9-Nov-2018, best before 9-May-2020, acquired 22-Nov-2019, reviewed 22-Dec-2019)

Appearance: muddy medium amber with one finger of creamy off-white head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, minimal spotty lacing. (2/5) Aroma: caramel & toffee, citrus, black tea, floral, hay. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium duration finish. (4/5)

I’m not getting a lot of “Saison-ish” character despite what the label says – mostly it’s a somewhat old-fashioned, emphatically bitter American(-ish) Pale Ale with a heavy malt character, though I guess it’s dry and there’s a bit of floral and hay on the back end that might fit the bill. Ugly as sin, but otherwise pretty decent. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Port Rexton Brewing Company Azacca NEIPA – American IPA at 5.5% ABV

Port Rexton Brewing Company Azacca NEIPA – American IPA at 5.5% ABV (C$4.26 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, packaged on 19-Dec-2019, acquired 21-Dec-2019, reviewed 21-Dec-2019)

Appearance: opaque medium gold with one finger of loose white head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: tropical fruit, citrus, pale malt. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry short duration finish. (4/5)

Ya gotta like getting a two-day-old locally brewed beer, doncha? And this is a decent beer, with a nice blast of pineapple / tropical fruit courtesy of the Azacca hops, backed up by some Simcoe citrus. It’s smooth, well-balanced, and pretty pleasurable to drink. To the extent I have any real complaints here, they’re structural: it’s a bit thin in the body, and head development and retention is poor. I think you’d get a better product with similar hopping but a beefier malt bill, providing a bit more body to support these flavours. Yes, to a certain extent I have a tendency to want everything to be a monster DIPA, but I really do think that they’ve shaved this one too thin. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Birra dell’Eremo Saggia – Witbier at 5% ABV

Birra dell’Eremo Saggia – Witbier at 5% ABV (2019 Craft Beer Advent Calendar #21, 330 ml, packaged on 22-Mar-2019, best before 31-Dec-2020, acquired 22-Nov-2019, reviewed 21-Dec-2019)

Appearance: hazy straw with one fat finger of fluffy white head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: coriander, wheat, candi sugar, Belgian yeast phenols, floral & herbal, citrus, white pepper. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate spice, moderate-low bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium-light body, lively carbonation, off-dry short mildly spicy finish. (4/5)

So, “saggia” means “wise” in Italian, but it still sounds terrible to an English speaker – like something a New Yorker would say about gramma’s boobs. To me, this feels over-spiced, with too much emphasis on the coriander/clove notes for it to be really refreshing. It might be better paired with a savoury meal, since then the spice would stand out less, but alone, it’s a bit less than impressive. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie Artisanale Millevertus De Toernich Mère Vertus – Tripel at 9% ABV | 23 EBC / 30 IBU

Brasserie Artisanale Millevertus De Toernich Mère Vertus – Tripel at 9% ABV | 23 EBC / 30 IBU (2019 Craft Beer Advent Calendar #20, 330 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 22-Nov-2019, reviewed 19-Dec-2019)

AAppearance: near-opaque pale amber with two fingers of rocky pale ivory head, good retention and moderate chunky lacing. (3/5) Aroma: candi sugar, Belgian yeast phenols, floral & herbal, citrus, white pepper. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter, mild spice. (7/10) Palate: sticky medium body, moderate carbonation, warming finish. (4/5)

A sweeter interpretation of the style then I prefer. Not as sweet as some (even actual Belgians) but not as bone-dry as I like them to be. Decent, but not mind-blowing. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Uiltje Brewing Co. Wingman Watermelon Wit Beer – Witbier at 6% ABV | 7 EBC

Uiltje Brewing Co. Wingman Watermelon Wit Beer – Witbier at 6% ABV | 7 EBC (2019 Craft Beer Advent Calendar #19, 330 ml, packaged on 19-Jun-2019, acquired 22-Nov-2019, reviewed 19-Dec-2019)

Appearance: opaque pale gold with one fat finger of creamy white head, good retention and minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: Jolly Ranchers, wheat, cloves. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, low bitter, mild spice. (6/10) Palate: light body, moderate-high carbonation, short mildly spicy finish. (4/5)

Aside from its being vaguely Belgian, I don’t think you could get less seasonal than this one. That’s not to say it’s terrible, just that I don’t have the first clue what its relevance is: personally I’d’ve called this a perfect one for a hot summer patio. It’s sort of watermelon-y, but if I hadn’t been told watermelon, I’m not entirely sure I would have distinguished that amongst the sweet candy aroma. In its defence, it doesn’t taste all that sweet – which is frankly a relief – but I can’t help but think watermelon just isn’t a great choice as an adjunct. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com