All posts by dpatrickryan

Big Rock Brewery Abandoned Abbey – Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 9.2% ABV

Big Rock Brewery Abandoned Abbey Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 9.2% ABV ($6.45 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits)

Pours a clear amber-brown with a short, short-lived off-white head, no lacing. Nose is dark fruits, toffee, and Belgian yeast (faint cloves). Taste is sweetly malty, moderate bitter. Medium to heavy body, low sustained carbonation, with an off-dry, slightly boozy finish.

Hey! Big Rock nailed one! I know I’ve been a bit hard on some of their recent offerings, but to be fair, they really weren’t all that great. You’ve got to expect some growing pains when you step outside your comfort zone and start producing the same styles as world-class established brands, and their Belgian styles really haven’t been anything too exciting. But this? This is all right. Not my favourite style, but as the weather cools, I become more amenable to fruitcake in a glass, and that’s what you get here. I think it’s actually better than e.g. Floreffe Prima, and that’s actually from Belgium, so well done there! I’d call it just a little bit short of e.g. Delrium Nocturnum or a Chimay Blue – definitely a respectable BSDA.

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Oskar Blues Brewery Ten Fidy – Imperial Stout at 10.5% ABV

Oskar Blues Brewery Ten Fidy Imperial Stout at 10.5% ABV ($4.87 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits)

Pours black (merest hints of ruby brown around the periphery) with a short, short-lived tan head, no lacing. Nose is dark chocolate, molasses, roasty malts and coffee. Taste is medium sweet followed by strong bitter Full body, almost creamy, low sustained carbonation, with a lingering bitter boozy finish.

Well, damn – ain’t that some shit. I’d put this just a tad behind 8Wired iStout, and a little more again behind Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel – but at about one-half to one-third the price, respectively. Advantage: Oskar Blues, I think. The bitterness on the finish is neither unexpected nor unwelcome, but having fairly recently experienced the amazing creamy smoothness of the Brunch Weasel, I have to mark this down by comparison. An excellent and extremely cost-effective RIS.

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Elysian Brewing Company Night Owl – Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer at 5.9% ABV

Elysian Brewing Company Night Owl Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer at 5.9% ABV ($8.49 at South Trail Co-Op)

Pours a clear pale to medium amber with a short, short-lived off-white head, minimal lacing. Nose is moderate to strong pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, caramel. Taste is initially moderate sweet pumpkin pie followed by mild to moderate bitter, building spice. Medium body, moderate sustained carbonation, with a dry, strongly bitter finish.

Wow! Another good pumpkin beer! That’s two this year! I think this one might be just slightly better than the Sam Adams – a little more pumpkin pie-ish – even though the sweetness might be a bit much if one were to have more than one. Nice balance of real pumpkin flavour and traditional pumpkin pie spices, with a decent underlying ale. I might not say yes to a second one, but I would say yes to another one, should the opportunity arise. Get it now while it’s fresh, because I can see this dimming significantly with age.

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij Huyghe La Guillotine – Belgian Strong Ale at 8.5% ABV

Brouwerij Huyghe La Guillotine Belgian Strong Ale at 8.5% ABV ($4.08 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits)

Pours a clear pale gold with two fat fingers of white head, great retention, moderate lacing. Nose is doughy, bread yeast and malt with overripe apples and dark fruit. Taste is initially moderate sweet followed by moderate to strong bitter, sour fruit, building spice. Medium body, moderate to high sustained carbonation, with a dry, strongly bitter finish.

I’m not entirely sure what to make of this. The nose is, frankly, bizarre. I’ve never smelled a beer like this and I’m not sure I like it very much. It’s almost like an apple turnover that’s spent too long in the sun. Maybe it’s the Brewer’s Gold hops? The flavour is pretty much more of the same. I don’t think I like this very much. Wonder if I got a bad bottle…

5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brauerei Gbr. Maisel KG Maisel’s Weisse Dunkel – Dunkelweizen at 5.2% ABV

Brauerei Gbr. Maisel KG Maisel’s Weisse Dunkel Dunkelweizen at 5.2% ABV ($4.09 at Crowfoot Liquor Okotoks)

Pours a clear deep amber with two fat fingers of light tan head, great retention, heavy chunky lacing. Nose is wheat, cloves, bubblegum, some citrus and fruit. Taste is light caramel malt and spicy cloves. Medium body, soft carbonation, with an off-dry mildly bitter finish.

Wheat beers aren’t really my favourites, but considering I just wrote a bunch of yell-y responses to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency questionnaire about their decision to remove wheat as a permissible primary source of carbohydrates for beer, I suppose I’d better give this one a decent chance. The aroma’s not bad, though there’s a bit of the kitchen sink going on there – what, you couldn’t find any smoked malt to whack into the mix? – but the flavour’s a bigger problem. Or, I should say, the sudden death of the flavour. It kind of goes all watery in the middle, and drops dead with just a faint bitter finish. It’s not bad, but it’s a long way from great.

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mort Subite Framboise – Lambic Style (Fruit) at 4.5% ABV

Mort Subite Framboise Lambic Style – Fruit at 4.5% ABV ($5.69 at Quarry Park Co-Op)

Pours a slightly hazy purple-tinged brown with one finger of off-white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, minimal lacing. Nose is tart raspberry and pretty much nothing else. Taste is low to medium sweet and moderate tart with lingering sour, faint oak. Light to medium body, prickly sustained carbonation, with a dry mildly sour finish.

Better than their kriek. The raspberries are intense on the nose and powerfully fruity on the tongue, without being overwhelming, and don’t taste the least bit artificial. The sweetness is restrained and just sufficient to balance the tartness of the berries. It’s no Cantillon Vigneronne, but it’s quite pleasant. Public opinion be damned, I like it.

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mort Subite Kriek – Lambic Style (Fruit) at 4.5% ABV

Mort Subite Kriek Lambic Style – Fruit at 4.5% ABV ($8.30 on tap at Craft Beer Market)

Pours a deep red with one finger of light pink head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, moderate lacing. Nose is tart cherry and light spice. Taste is medium sugary sweet and moderate tart with lingering sour. Light to medium body, prickly sustained carbonation, with an off-dry mildly sour finish.

This is called a lambic on the menu. OK, yes, all krieks are lambics, so that’s technically not untrue, but come on – if you see “lambic”, are you not justified in assuming it’s a straight lambic? Oh well, live and learn – next time I’ll ask first. All that said, it’s not a bad kriek – the cherry is strong but not artificial, and the sweetness doesn’t overwhelm. Definitely a decent introduction to sours for a neophyte.

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie Lefebvre Barbãr – Belgian Golden Strong Ale at 8% ABV

Brasserie Lefebvre Barbãr Belgian Golden Strong Ale at 8% ABV ($5.24 from Crowfoot Liquor Okotoks)

Pours a hazy gold with one finger of loose white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, spotty lacing. Nose is sweet honey and malt, orange peel, coriander, herbal and floral hops. Taste is medium sweet and moderate bitter with building spice. Medium body, prickly sustained carbonation, with an off-dry spicy, bitter finish.

I opened this last Lefebvre with a mixture of relief and dread – “Last one, how bad can it be?” But the answer is, not bad at all. I’m not a huge fan of honey in beer, but the sweetness isn’t overwhelming – the bitter orange and coriander work well with the hops to keep the sweetness balanced. The hint of peppery spice (and was there just a little bubblegum in the nose at first?) builds through the glass and also keeps the honey from becoming sickly. Not worth buying the 8-pack for, but worth picking up if you see it on its own.

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie Lefebvre Belgian Kriek – Fruit Beer at 3.5% ABV

Brasserie Lefebvre Belgian Kriek Fruit Beer at 3.5% ABV ($5.24 from Crowfoot Liquor Okotoks)

Pours a hazy pinkish red with one finger of pink head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, spotty lacing. Nose is candy cherry, pale malt, faint yeast. Taste is sugary/saccharine cherry, moderate tartness. Light body, moderate sustained carbonation, with an off-dry finish.

Needless to say, given my experience with Lefebvre beers so far, I opened this with something less than enthusiasm. Yeah… Fake cough drop cherries and another thrilling ingredients list including the now-familiar “flavours”, as well as acesulfame potassium. Mmm… because if there’s anything better in a beer than unspecified “flavours”, it’s artificial sweeteners. Bleah. Save your money.

5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie Lefebvre Newton Apple Beer – Fruit Beer at 3.5% ABV

Brasserie Lefebvre Newton Apple Beer Fruit Beer at 3.5% ABV ($5.24 from Crowfoot Liquor Okotoks)

Pours a slightly cloudy pale straw (paler, actually – SRM 1? 0.5?) with one finger of white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, spotty lacing. Nose is apple juice and sweet cider, faint pale malt and wheat. Taste is strongly sweet apple cider and moderate tart with a little doughy yeast. Very light body, moderate sustained carbonation, with an off-dry finish.

Wow… that’s really… something. What, I’m not sure, but I’m sure it’s something. Let’s face it, I knew this wasn’t going to be anything great before I even opened the bottle. And the first whiff of apple juice and sugar didn’t do much to allay those fears. I was further dismayed to see the ingredients list included “apple juice, sugar, flavours”. “Flavours,” huh? Good to know… I guess, to be fair, it’s not actually bad. It’s just very sweet and very fake. You know those crappy hard ciders you find in every liquor store? Buy those instead. They’re no worse, but at least they’ll be cheaper.

5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com