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Reviews

Brasserie Thiriez L’Ambrée d’Esquelbecq – Bière de Garde at 5.8% ABV

Brasserie Thiriez L’Ambrée d’Esquelbecq Bière de Garde at 5.8% ABV (C$7.17 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Appearance: clear medium amber with one finger of fluffy ivory head, good retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: somewhat muted, caramel/toffee malt, dark fruit, spices, light earthy funk. (6/10) Taste: moderately strong sweet, mild bitter, light tart. (6/10) Medium body tending a little to the watery, lively carbonation, off-dry finish. (4/5)

Not bad, but not as well done as their Étoile du Nord. (Though, to be fair, I enjoy saisons much more than ambers, so personal preference is probably a factor there.) The lighter, somewhat watery body and lively carbonation are a bit at odds with the darker malt sweetness and winter spices. They call this a “Bière de Garde,” but the labels of “Winter Warmer,” Christmas Beer,” or just plain “Amber” would probably all work just as well. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Dageraad Brewing Randonneur – Saison at 6.4% ABV

Dageraad Brewing Randonneur Saison at 6.4% ABV (C$8.29 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Appearance: hazy medium gold with a fat finger of loose white head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Aroma: lemon zest, straw, wheat, white pepper. (7/10) Taste: mild sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (7/10) Medium body, lively carbonation, crisp dry finish. (4/5)

I continue to be fairly impressed by Dageraad. Their focus seems to be authentic Belgian-style ales, and they’re doing a respectable job of them. They’re not perfect, mind you – this one, for example, is quite nice until most of the way through the bottle, when a little brown apple starts to develop in the finish. Not off-putting, by any means, but enough to keep this particular brew out of my 8/10 “world class” cutoff – if only by a tick. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Reviews

Big Rock Brewery Birch Bark Canadian Imperial Stout – Russian Imperial Stout at 8.5% ABV

Big Rock Brewery Birch Bark Canadian Imperial Stout Russian Imperial Stout at 8.5% ABV (C$6.99 at South Trail Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Appearance: hazy deep brown with a little particulate, one finger of medium dense light tan head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: dark roasty malt, slightly milky chocolate, nutty, woody, light floral and citrus. (6/10) Taste: moderately strong sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Full body tending a little to the thin, moderate carbonation, moderately bitter warming finish. (3/5)

I initially waffled on this one – is there a solvent edge or not? First I thought I smelled a little something, but it didn’t come through on the taste. But as it warmed, something odd happened: the edge got more pronounced, both on the nose and the tongue. I usually find RIS’s go in the other direction: any imperfections eventually get hidden by the numbing effects of the high ABV. Perhaps this is because this one is “only” 8.5%, and so barely a “real” RIS at all? Or perhaps it’s the birch. Actually, yeah, I think it’s the birch. I actually had a birch wine, once… (shudder) This isn’t bad, mind you – there’s actually a little not-unwelcome floral and citrus hop character, which is a pleasant departure from the norm. A decent enough first try at the style, I guess, and an interesting flavour variation, but not one for the ages. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Reviews

Pike Brewing Company Saison Houblon – Saison at 6.5% ABV

Pike Brewing Company Saison Houblon Saison at 6.5% ABV (C$7.20 at Sherbrooke Liquor, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Appearance: cloudy pale amber with two fingers of rocky white head, excellent retention and good lacing. (4/5) Aroma: dry yeasty citrus, floral, grainy malt, grassy, white pepper. (7/10) Taste: low sweet, moderately strong bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, moderate duration slightly funky finish. (3/5)

Nice somewhat hoppy farmhouse-style saison – very Franco-Belgian in style, with a dry citrus/floral yeast flavour reminiscent of Dupont or De Ranke. The low sweetness allows the funky hoppy bitter to shine through, making it seem like more than the 55 IBU the bottle claims. Much better than their IPA. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Reviews

Brasserie McAuslan St-Ambroise Pumpkin Ale – Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 5% ABV

Brasserie McAuslan St-Ambroise Pumpkin Ale Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 5% ABV (C$2.58 at NLC Stavanger, 341 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Appearance: clear medium amber with one finger of rocky light tan head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: roasted pumpkin, typical pumpkin spices, caramel. (6/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, mild bitter. (6/10) Medium-light body tending to watery, moderate carbonation, moderate duration finish. (3/5)

Ok, fine, it’s October, so I can officially start on the pumpkin ales. And this isn’t bad: unlike so many “pumpkin” ales that are really just sweet and spices with little or no real pumpkin, this one actually leads out with actual pumpkin flavour. Some spices eventually come to the fore, but it never gets sweet and sickly as is so common with the style. Solid. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Reviews

Alley Kat Brewing Co. Scona Gold – Kölsch at 5% ABV

Alley Kat Brewing Co. Scona Gold Kölsch at 5% ABV (341 ml, bottle date 6-Feb-2015)

Appearance: clear pale straw with one finger of rocky white head, good retention and patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: biscuity pale malt, honey, grass. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (6/10) Light body, moderate carbonation, short crisp finish. (3/5)

A pretty passable Kölsch – light, crisp, and easy-drinking with lunch. Not a stye I’d go looking for, but, hey, it was a free leftover from my company’s party couple of nights ago. I almost threw it out in disgust when I saw it was gluten reduced, but I guess for those who truly are sensitive to it, it’s a decent alternative to some of the pretty horrible GF beers I’ve seen. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Mikkeller Green Gold – American IPA at 7% ABV

Mikkeller Green Gold American IPA at 7% ABV (C$7.60 at Sherbrooke Liquor, 500 ml, best before 20-May-2017)

Appearance: clear deep amber with two fingers of rocky light tan head, excellent retention and patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: big pine, caramel malt, tropical fruit, citrus. (6/10) Taste: moderately strong sweet, moderately strong bitter. (6/10) Medium-full body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

Not one of Mikkeller’s best. Really, a fairly pedestrian A/IPA with D/IPA leanings – but one of those D/IPA’s that’s malt emphatic. Not malt forward, maybe, but the malt definitely vies with the hops for dominance. OK. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Granville Island Brewing Van Dame White ISA – Session IPA at 4.5% ABV

Granville Island Brewing Van Dame White ISA Session IPA at 4.5% ABV (C$3.62 at South Trail Calgary Co-Op, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Appearance: hazy pale straw with two fingers of rocky white head, excellent retention and good lacing. (4/5) Aroma: stone fruit, floral, light funk, pithy grapefruit, spice. (7/10) Taste: mild sweet, moderate bitter, mild tart. (7/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

Not bad, but a bit of a kitchen sink of styles – they call it a “White ISA”, but then in the label notes say it’s a Belgian Witbier, and it’s also got saison characteristics. Ultimately, though, I think the “White ISA” label is the most accurate. I really like how it’s got lots of flavour for such a low ABV brew. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Hofbräuhaus München Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier – Oktoberfest / Märzen at 6.3% ABV

Hofbräuhaus München Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier Oktoberfest / Märzen at 6.3% ABV (C$3.62 at South Trail Calgary Co-Op, 500 ml, no bottle date or best before – price approximate, bought as part of a Discovery Beer Pack)

Appearance: clear straw with one finger of rocky white head, excellent retention and good lacing. (4/5) Aroma: light biscuity pale malt, honey, grassy. (5/10) Taste: mild sweet, very mild bitter. (5/10) Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, crisp finish. (3/5)

Yeah, this tastes like the kind of thing you’d drink litres of at the Hofbräuhaus München. While listening to the oompah band. And eating pretzels as big as your head. Not exciting, but authentic. Now I want to go back to the Hofbräuhaus… (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Hauls

Sherbrooke Liquor (2015-10-02)

Big haul from Sherbrooke Liquor.

8 Wired Brewing Company C4 Double Coffee Brown Ale
8 Wired Brewing Company Flat White
8 Wired Brewing Company Hippy Berliner Sour Hoppy Ale
Boulevard Brewing Co. Imperial Stout Aged in Whiskey Barrels 2014
Boulevard Brewing Co. Imperial Stout Coffee Ale 2015
BrewDog Five AM Red Ale
BrewDog Jack Hammer
Brouwerij de Molen Vuur & Vlam
Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck Kasteel Hoppy
Epic Brewing Brainless on Cherries
Epic Brewing Brainless on Peaches
Epic Brewing Brainless on Raspberries
Epic Brewing Copper Cone Pale Ale
Mikkeller Cali Rare
Mikkeller Crooked Moon
Mikkeller Drink’in the Sun
Mikkeller Green Gold
Mikkeller Stateside IPA
Mikkeller Zest Please!
Pike Brewing Company Saison Houblon
To Øl Releaf Me
To Øl / Brewdog Hard Core Maelk

#ryansbooze  ryansbooze.com