All posts by dpatrickryan

Cascade Brewing Noyaux (2014) – American Wild Ale at 9.29% ABV

Cascade Brewing Noyaux (2014) American Wild Ale at 9.29% ABV (C$34.18 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 16-Mar-2016, reviewed 22-Aug-2019)

Appearance: hazy medium amber with a short loose white head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: tart raspberry, stone fruit, oaky white wine, balsamic vinegar, light barnyard funk, hint of almond. (9/10) Taste: moderate-high tart, moderate sweet, low bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, lively carbonation, dry tart finish. (4/5)

Similar to another of the 2014 projects, Manhattan NW, which was also aged on apricot noyaux (except this one includes raspberries, instead of cherries). Despite the raspberry, this can almost be thought of as having white wine character instead of the red wine character of the Manhattan. The carbonation is much higher, though, remaining lively and effervescent throughout. Not quite as complex, with a bright tart acidity that almost drowns out everything else. By that same token, the high ABV is very effectively hidden, making it one to be cautious of. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Central City Brewers + Distillers Sour III Framboise Sour – Sour Red/Brown at 9.5% ABV | 15 IBU

Central City Brewers + Distillers Sour III Framboise Sour Sour Red/Brown at 9.5% ABV | 15 IBU (C$15.75 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 1-Apr-2017, reviewed 17-Aug-2019)

Appearance: clear amber-brown with a short loose ivory head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, minimal lacing. (4/5) Aroma: tart raspberries, light oak, hint of funky balsamic vinegar. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high tart, moderate sweet, low bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, lively carbonation, dry tart finish. (4/5)

Quite pleasant overall, but just slightly too dominated by raspberries. I’m not complaining about the raspberries, as such, but the fact that they’re perilously close to all there is going on: I’m getting very small amounts of the oak foeders or Brettanomyces described in the brewer’s notes. On the flip side of the coin, I’m quite impressed at how very light and easy-drinking this remains throughout, despite the emphatic ABV – there’s no warning here at all, making it very easy to get pleasantly squiffy without realizing it’s happening. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Cascade Brewing Manhattan NW (2014) – American Wild Ale at 9.6% ABV

Cascade Brewing Manhattan NW (2014) American Wild Ale at 9.6% ABV (C$36.44 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 18-Aug-2016, reviewed 15-Aug-2019)

Appearance: ruby-tinted medium amber with a short loose white head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: tart cherries, oak, bourbon, almond, malt vinegar. (9/10) Taste: moderate-high tart, moderate sweet, low bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-low carbonation, dry tart mildly warming finish. (4/5)

Looks, smells, and tastes a lot like a tart red wine. (Priced that way too!) A tribute to the cocktail, it has flavours of tart cherries and oaky bourbon, with a hint of almonds in the finish that makes me wonder if She Who Must Be Obeyed has finally had enough of me and put cyanide in my glass. (If I do a review tomorrow, she probably didn’t. Put cyanide in my glass, I mean – I don’t doubt she’s had enough of me.) Mouth puckering from the start all the way to the bone-dry finish, but balanced and flavourful, with more than a little Flemish Red character (especially in the hint of malt vinegar). Good stuff. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Central City Brewers + Distillers Thor’s Hammer (2014) – American Barleywine at 11.5% ABV | 85 IBU

Central City Brewers + Distillers Thor’s Hammer (2014) American Barleywine at 11.5% ABV | 85 IBU (C$9.64 at NLC Stavanger, 650 ml, packaged on 2-May-2014, acquired 8-Oct-2015, reviewed 14-Aug-2019)

Appearance: clear ruby brown with a short loose ivory head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: toffee, dark dried fruits, toasted bread, bourbon, mild nuts, vanilla. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-full sticky body, low carbonation, bitter slightly astringent warming finish. (3/5)

Just about four years since I bought it, and more than five in the bottle – and it’s still hot, with an astringent edge in the finish. It’s definitely not oxidized (it’s got a great wax seal that took a couple of determined minutes to get through) and it’s been properly cellared its entire life, so I was hoping for an optimal experience here. And to be clear, I’m not exactly gonna complain about getting a bomber of big boozy bastard for under ten bucks. The aroma in particular is decently complex, and layers reveal during extended warming and sipping, but overall it falls short of what I’d call great. Maybe, just maybe, I’m becoming sufficiently sophisticated to no longer automatically rave about high-gravity beers? (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Cascade Brewing Cranberry (2015) – American Wild Ale at 6.9% ABV

Cascade Brewing Cranberry (2015) American Wild Ale at 6.9% ABV (C$28.88 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 16-Mar-2016, reviewed 13-Aug-2019)

Appearance: pink/peach pale amber with one finger of loose white head diminishing gradually to a thin persistent cap and ring, spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: tart citrus, funky green apple, field berries, oak tannins, cranberry. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, low bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, lively carbonation, tart mildly warming finish. (4/5)

For me, the dominant note here is more green apple and field berry than cranberry, which I get mostly in the finish. However, it’s still a well-balanced wild with pleasant complexity. Despite the fact that I’m a big fan of funk, I can appreciate the way in which it’s restrained to good effect in this case – the cranberry is mild enough as it is, without being completely overwhelmed by wet horse blanket. (More and more, though, I find myself questioning whether these types of beer really justify the premium price they command – not that I care at all about cost, but because there are so many other great examples of other styles out there for so very much less money.) But, ignoring price, this is certainly an enjoyable sipper. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bannerman Brewing Co. Tan Lines – American Pale Wheat Ale at 6% ABV

Bannerman Brewing Co. Tan Lines American Pale Wheat Ale at 6% ABV (C$10.99 at Bannerman Brewing Co., 945 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 9-Aug-2019, reviewed 10-Aug-2019)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with one fat finger of fluffy white head diminishing gradually to a thick persistent cap, moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, tropical fruit, resiny pine, wheat. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter,. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, medium duration slightly resiny finish. (4/5)

Another somewhat atypical beer from these guys – but to be fair, they never claimed it was supposed to be a Witbier. As an American Wheat Ale, this is excellent, dominated by a bright and slightly resiny hop character with lesser, but not quite background, wheat supporting. Which is pretty much what you’d expect and hope for, given that it’s an El Dorado DDH. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bannerman Brewing Co. Casual Acquaintance – Pilsener at 5% ABV

Bannerman Brewing Co. Casual Acquaintance Pilsener at 5% ABV (C$9.99 at Bannerman Brewing Co., 945 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 9-Aug-2019, reviewed 9-Aug-2019)

Appearance: clear straw with one finger of white fluffy head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, moderate droopy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: tropical fruit, citrus, crackery malt, grass. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter, mild peppery spice. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry crisp mildly spicy finish. (4/5)

I’m working on my appreciation of Pilseners, but this one isn’t helping. Not because it isn’t good – it is – but because it isn’t all that traditional. In particular, it’s got much more bright hop character than I typically associate with the style, and much more flavour overall. I think most of that is attributable to the Ella hops, to which I’m attributing the tropical fruit notes in particular. Very pleasant. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Firestone Walker Brewing Company Helldorado (2016) – Barley Wine at 11.8% ABV | 24 IBU

Firestone Walker Brewing Company Helldorado (2016) Barley Wine at 11.8% ABV | 24 IBU (C$31.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 18-Sep-2016, reviewed 8-Aug-2019)

Appearance: clear medium amber with a short off-white head diminishing rapidly to nothing, no lacing. (4/5) Aroma: bourbon, coconut, honey, oranges, tropical fruit, vanilla, floral. (9/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium slightly slick body, medium-lively carbonation, sweet sticky warming finish. (4/5)

I figured, what the hell, it’s still summer but let’s stick with Barleywines for a bit, since I’m now sort of calibrated for them with my last couple of reviews. (And hey, it’s only a bomber at nearly 12%, what could possibly go wrong, right?) This is definitely a much different beast from the more traditional examples of the style I’ve had: the lighter colour provides an advance indication of that, and the relatively hoppy nose quickly confirms it. Sure, there’s probably been quite a bit of fading (“mellowing”?) in that regard since it’s now three years in the bottle, but what’s interesting is how much actually remains, particularly citrus and tropical fruit, with some floral notes in the finish. Very nicely balanced between barrel, malt, and hops, and almost reminiscent of a whiskey cocktail (maybe a Gold Rush?). I waffled a bit on final score here, since it would seem that I’m ultimately ranking it more or less equal to Sam Adams Utopias, which isn’t precisely true – but since it’s less than one-half the ABV and one-seventh the price of that particular bellwether, it’s a close enough comparison considering those factors. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie McAuslan St-Ambroise Vintage Ale Millésimée (2015) – Barley Wine at 10% ABV | 58 IBU

Brasserie McAuslan St-Ambroise Vintage Ale Millésimée (2015) Barley Wine at 10% ABV | 58 IBU (C$5.22 at Andrew Hilton Wine & Spirits, 341 ml, packaged on 9-Dec-2015, acquired 15-Jan-2016, reviewed 7-Aug-2019)

Appearance: clear deep amber with a short ivory head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: toffee, candi sugar, boozy dark fruit, spices. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium slightly slick body, medium-lively carbonation, sweet sticky mildly warming finish. (4/5)

This is the oldest vintage I’ve done of this to date, at almost four years old. (I did a 2013 in September of 2014, a 2014 in April of 2015, and earlier today a 2017.) This is different, but only marginally: the bitter edge I’ve previously observed does seem to have faded slightly, and the alcohol presence, though still quite noticeable, is smoother and better integrated. Bottom line, if you have one of these on hand, give it a few years’ cellaring to optimize the experience. At this point, the only example of the style I’ve had that I consider better is Sam Adams Utopias – which, to be fair, is about twenty times as expensive, so you’d kind of hope so… And with that, I think I’m bringing this five year mission to a close, and probably won’t ever have another vintage of these. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie McAuslan St-Ambroise Vintage Ale Millésimée (2017) – Barley Wine at 10% ABV | 58 IBU

Brasserie McAuslan St-Ambroise Vintage Ale Millésimée (2017) Barley Wine at 10% ABV | 58 IBU (C$5.57 at NLC Howley Estates, 341 ml, packaged on 8-Sep-2017, acquired 8-Nov-2017, reviewed 7-Aug-2019)

Appearance: murky deep amber with a short ivory head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: toffee, candi sugar, boozy dark fruit, spices. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium slightly slick body, medium-lively carbonation, sweet sticky mildly warming finish. (4/5)

I’ve done a couple of vintages of this now, generally at a year old or less (I did a 2013 in September of 2014, and a 2014 in April of 2015) so I thought I’d go older: this one’s now just coming up on two years old. I can’t say it strikes me as all that different from the other vintages I tried younger. There’s still a tiny bit of a bitter edge that seems slightly out of place to me, and the carbonation is uncharacteristically lively. Overall, though, it’s still an enjoyable sipper that doesn’t feel quite as boozy as the ABV would suggest. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com