E9 Brewery Operation Haze Bro – American IPA at 6.7% ABV

E9 Brewery Operation Haze Bro – American IPA at 6.7% ABV (C$5.22 at Collective, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 27-Feb-2020, reviewed 28-Feb-2020)

Appearance: hazy medium gold with a huge and growing rocky pale ivory head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: bready caramel, pithy citrus, tropical fruit. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium slightly creamy body, moderate carbonation, sweetish medium duration finish. (3/5)

This is the first brew I’ve had by E9 that wasn’t a Saison or Wild, and while I don’t exactly regret it, it strongly implies that new-style IPA isn’t one of their strengths. My expectations were mixed at best: I was pleased to see it was hopped with Citra and Mosaic, not quite so pleased by the choice of British Ale yeast. I actually think some of the less impressive character can be traced to that yeast choice, making for a yeastier, breadier note than I like to see in any A/IPA, let alone an NEIPA. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Stillwater Artisanal Extra Dry – Saison at 4.2% ABV

Stillwater Artisanal Extra Dry – Saison at 4.2% ABV (C$4.95 at Collective, 473 ml, best before 3-Jun-2021, acquired 27-Feb-2020, reviewed 28-Feb-2020)

Appearance: slightly hazy straw with two fingers of loose white head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: lemongrass, cereal grains, light farmhouse funk, hint of cucumber. (8/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, moderate-low bitter, light funk. (8/10) Palate: light body, moderate carbonation, dry crisp finish. (4/5)

This pretty much exactly conforms to all the characteristics I look for in a Saison: low ABV, dry finish, refreshing, with just a light funky farmhouse note. Ticks all the boxes, as they say, and I could definitely drink a couple litres of this during a day’s work. As an aside, I can’t say I got much “sake” character here – yes, there are the same kind of grassy and cereal notes here that I’d associated with e.g. Asahi, but it’s far too mild for me to think of rice wine. Though, that said, the green cucumber makes me think of a gin & tonic with cucumber, which is also quite refreshing (and a completely different beast than a standard G&T with lime, highly recommended for a change of pace if your interests tend in that direction). (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery Tiny Little Wizards – American IPA at 7% ABV

Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery Tiny Little Wizards – American IPA at 7% ABV (C$4.18 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 23-Jan-2020, acquired 13-Feb-2020, reviewed 27-Feb-2020)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with two fingers of rocky pale ivory head, excellent retention and moderate chunky lacing. (4/5) Aroma: mild, tropical fruit, citrus, berries, melon, white wine, pepper, slight cattiness. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter, light tart. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, mildly warming finish. (3/5)

The hop character here is fairly different from anything I’ve had before, probably because there are three South African varietals (Southern Star, African Queen, Southern Passion) that are new to me, in addition to two perennial favourites of mine (Galaxy and Enigma). My biggest complaint here is that I would have preferred more hop aroma on the front end. The hops do become a bit more prevalent as the pint warms, but at the cost of a slight, but not entirely welcome, catty/pissy note. Decent, but it falls slightly short. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Russell Brewing Company Y2Haze Hazy Pale Ale – American Pale Ale at 5.4% ABV

Russell Brewing Company Y2Haze Hazy Pale Ale – American Pale Ale at 5.4% ABV (C$3.82 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 9-Jan-2020, acquired 13-Feb-2020, reviewed 27-Feb-2020)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with two fingers of rocky white head, excellent retention and moderate chunky lacing. (4/5) Aroma: mild, cereal grains, tropical fruit, light perfumy floral and citrus. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body tending slightly thin, moderate carbonation, short duration slightly astringent finish. (3/5)

The aroma is slightly disappointing in its mildness: I had high hopes given the label indicated it was hopped with Bravo, Mosaic, Idaho 7, and Amarillo, but it would be nice if they had more presence instead of being challenged by the cereal grain malts. (Not only that, the floral note gives this just the slightest hint of dish detergent character.) There’s a little more hop on the tongue, but it’s a bit short-lived and the body falls slightly thin and watery, leaving it just a touch astringent in the finish. There’ a lot of “almost, but not quite” happening here, and ultimately it’s one of those Pale Ales that feels like a watered-down IPA. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Three Ranges Brewing Co. Tail Slap IPA – American IPA at 6.5% ABV

Three Ranges Brewing Co. Tail Slap IPA – American IPA at 6.5% ABV (C$2.92 at Collective, 355 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 13-Feb-2020, reviewed 27-Feb-2020)

Appearance: muddy medium gold with one finger of rocky pale ivory head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, moderate soapy lacing. (2/5) Aroma: citrus, caramel, resiny pine, floral. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

That is one pissed-off looking beaver on the label, leading me to conclude the tail slap is about to be upside your head. I suppose that since Lent just began, and the Catholic church once declared beavers to be “fish”, this would presumably be acceptable under the associated dietary restrictions, and you could have as many of these as you like without annoying His Popiness? (… assuming the opinion of someone who endorses child sodomy means anything to you, of course. Hey, that escalated quickly, huh?) As far as the beer goes, it’s a bit five years ago: lots of malt on the nose, and big hop bitterness on the tongue. I guess you could call it a traditional West Coast IPA, but it still feels a bit dated to me. Not bad but a bit basic (and ugly!) – though I do like the big bitterness. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Annex Ale Project Null Test Kveik Pale Ale – American Pale Ale at 4.9% ABV

Annex Ale Project Null Test Kveik Pale Ale – American Pale Ale at 4.9% ABV (C$4.14 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 11-Feb-2020, acquired 13-Feb-2020, reviewed 25-Feb-2020)

Appearance: opaque pale gold with two fingers of rocky white head, excellent retention and moderate chunky lacing. (4/5) Aroma: juicy citrus, pale malt, mild tropical fruit, light funk. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter, light tart. (8/10) Palate: medium slightly creamy body, moderate-low carbonation, medium duration very lightly astringent finish. (4/5)

Generally speaking, Annex gets it right more often than they get it wrong, so it’s not really a surprise to me that this one is pretty right. Mind you, I’ve known them to get it fairly spectacularly wrong, and with the NEIPA style, at that. For them to hop (so to speak) so enthusiastically on board to this particular trendy sub-style (and don’t get me wrong, I like a good Kveik) suggests pretty much a 180º change in attitude (and brewing technique) since the pretentious bitchfest that was Echo Chamber. To which I can only say, good for you! I could definitely do with another one of these. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

The Establishment Brewing Company Ghost Machine – American Double / Imperial IPA at 8.5% ABV

The Establishment Brewing Company Ghost Machine – American Double / Imperial IPA at 8.5% ABV (C$5.35 at Collective, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 13-Feb-2020, reviewed 20-Feb-2020)

Appearance: opaque medium gold with two fingers of rocky pale ivory head, excellent retention and moderate chunky lacing. (4/5) Aroma: juicy tropical fruit, citrus, resiny pine, pale malt, hint of coconut. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter warming finish. (4/5)

I don’t know if it’s because I recently had their Sky Rocket V, which had a faint but definite coconut characteristic from the Sabro hops, but I want to say I’m getting something similar (though lighter) in this, despite the absence of Sabro. (Brewer notes say it’s hopped with Galaxy, Idaho 7, Mosaic, Cashmere, and Simcoe, none of which are known for coconut.)  Regardless, the blend of juicy fruit flavours is excellent. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

The Establishment Brewing Company Sky Rocket V – American IPA at 6.7% ABV

The Establishment Brewing Company Sky Rocket V – American IPA at 6.7% ABV (C$4.50 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 6-Feb-2020, acquired 13-Feb-2020, reviewed 20-Feb-2020)

Appearance: opaque pale gold with one fat finger of rocky pale ivory head, good retention and moderate stringy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: juicy tropical fruit, citrus, resiny pine, stone fruit, pale malt, hint of coconut. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, moderate bitter lingering finish. (4/5)

This is pretty near identical to Sky Rocket II. Not that I’m complaining, much, because that (and, by extension, this) are damn good. The only thing I’m detecting differently here is a hint of coconut, presumably from the Sabro hops. I can’t say I’m detecting any difference in the malt, which here is locally-grown Origin Pilsner, while II is malted with Maris Otter. Whatever – it’s excellent. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brewsters Brewing Company Mosaic Haze IPA – American IPA at 6% ABV | 65 IBU

Brewsters Brewing Company Mosaic Haze IPA – American IPA at 6% ABV | 65 IBU (C$2.56 at Collective, 355 ml, packaged on 24-Jan-2020, acquired 13-Feb-2020, reviewed 20-Feb-2020)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with a short, short-lived off-white head, minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: juicy tropical fruit & citrus, mild caramel, light pine. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium duration mildly warming finish. (4/5)

This one smells absolutely amazing: loads of juicy tropical fruit and citrus on a clean malt background, with just a hint of pine. Unfortunately, it doesn’t taste anywhere near as good as it smells. That isn’t to say there’s any off character as such, but the flavour falls well short of the aroma. The appearance is also pretty forgettable, with a dirty, muddy colour and unenthusiastic head and lacing. The net result is definitely among the better offerings I’ve had from Brewster’s, but falls a little short of top marks. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bellwoods Brewery Donkey Venom (2019) – Sour / Wild Ale at 8.5% ABV

Bellwoods Brewery Donkey Venom (2019) – Sour / Wild Ale at 8.5% ABV (C$22.32 at Collective, 500 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 13-Feb-2020, reviewed 17-Feb-2020)

Appearance: opaque deep brown with one finger of thin beige head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: tart red wine, dried cherries, chocolate, oak, leather. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, moderate-low bitter. (8/10) Medium-full body, moderate carbonation, medium duration moderately tart finish. (4/5)

Comparing to my notes, this is pretty much exactly the same as the 2016 vintage I had nearly four years ago, which should hardly come as a surprise, I guess: while there are an infinite number of ways to be wrong, there are a lot fewer ways to be consistently good, and Bellwoods is consistently great. I had this one maybe six months younger than the previous one, but I can’t detect any difference. I’ll say the same thing now as I did then: if it has a flaw, it lies in its simplicity. It’s a big tart with some woody barrel notes, and not much else. (And what’s wrong with a big tart? Nothing! Cue Whole Lotta Rosie…) The price tag, though, is nothing short of highway robbery – more than twice the price I paid at the brewery. On the other hand, it’s not like I’m routinely commuting through YYZ any more, so I don’t have a lot of alternatives, do I? (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com