Category Archives: Reviews

Beer reviews

Mikkeller Stick in the Ear – American IPA at 6.5% ABV

Mikkeller Stick in the Ear American IPA at 6.5% ABV (C$5.40 at Sherbrooke Liquor, 330 ml, best before 10-Oct-2018, acquired 25-Apr-2018, reviewed 24-May-2018)

Appearance: clear pale amber with one fat finger of fluffy pale ivory head, excellent retention and heavy chunky lacing. (5/5) Aroma: resiny pine, tropical fruit, caramel, citrus. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium slightly oily body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering building bitter finish. (4/5)

Well, that’s better than a poke in the eye (or ear, or for that matter any other orifice) with a sharp stick, that’s for sure. This is where Mikkeller shines: bitter hoppy beers, this time a lightly dank resiny West Coast IPA, done right. It’s not even all that big, actually, but it certainly plays that way. I’d love to see this done as a double, but it’s pretty damned good as it stands. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Gigantic Brewing Company PiñaCOOLada Hazy IPA (#63) – American IPA at 6% ABV

Gigantic Brewing Company PiñaCOOLada Hazy IPA (#63) American IPA at 6% ABV (C$8.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 500 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 24-May-2018, reviewed 24-May-2018)

Appearance: cloudy pale gold with two fat fingers of fluffy pale ivory head, excellent retention and heavy chunky lacing. (4/5) Aroma: tropical fruit, caramel, lime, coconut. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body tending slightly watery, moderate-soft carbonation, off-dry mildly bitter finish. (3/5)

I had high hopes for this. Bit of a bandwagon, sure, but it’s Gigantic, and I do love the hazy/NE style (and Piña Coladas). And yet… I guess my major beef is, it’s too mild. Yes, there’s all of the flavours you’d expect from a Piña Colada, but they’re all pretty muted. And not in the “mild so as not to overwhelm the base beer” sense, either – because that’s pretty muted too. The body’s a bit disappointing too, tending slightly flat and watery. All in all, itt’s not bad, but it’s not great. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Annex Ale Project Paradise Found – Berliner Weisse at 6% ABV

Annex Ale Project Paradise Found Berliner Weisse at 6% ABV (C$7.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, packaged on 23-May-2018, acquired 24-May-2018, reviewed 24-May-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale straw with one finger of fluffy white head, good retention moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: ginger, grainy pale malt, light botanicals. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: light body, moderate-lively carbonation, off-dry slightly spicy tart finish. (4/5)

Nice. Lots of authentic ginger on the front end, but restrained sweetness – sort of like a real ginger bee, but not quite as spicy as those typically are. There’s a hint of maltiness, as well as some herbal botanicals that work well with the ginger. It’s not your typical Berliner Weisse, but it’s an interesting (and, in my opinion, philosophically consistent, if not typical) interpretation of the style. Right up there among the best offerings I’ve seen from this brewery. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mikkeller Help – American Pale Ale at 4.6% ABV

Mikkeller Help American Pale Ale at 4.6% ABV (C$5.30 at Sherbrooke Liquor, 330 ml, best before 21-Sep-2018, acquired 25-Apr-2018, reviewed 24-May-2018)

Appearance: hazy medium gold with one finger of pale ivory head diminishing gradually to a thin persistent cap, stringy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: citrus, pale malt, light resiny pine, floral. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light slightly creamy body, moderate carbonation, off-dry slightly astringent lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Not the most thrilling Mikkeller I’ve ever had… but then again, it’s not the least. Actually, it’s not even the most thrilling Mikkeller APA I’ve had. Nor, again, is it the least. I think “unremarkable” is what I’m going for here. It support charity, though, so there’s that. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mikkeller SpontanDryHop Centennial – Sour / Wild Ale at 5.5% ABV

Mikkeller SpontanDryHop Centennial Sour / Wild Ale at 5.5% ABV (C$7.90 at Sherbrooke Liquor, 330 ml, best before 2-Mar-2021, acquired 25-Apr-2018, reviewed 23-May-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy medium gold with one finger of pale ivory head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: mild funk, pine resin, citrus, grainy pale malt. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, low bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry tart lightly funky finish. (4/5)

I was expecting this to be virtually identical to the Simcoe version, but it actually exhibits differences structurally and flavour-wise: the head retains much better while developing some lacing, and the more robust aroma of pine and citrus works well with the mildly barnyardy funk. All in all, I like this one a lot more. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mikkeller SpontanDryHop Simcoe – Sour / Wild Ale at 5.5% ABV

Mikkeller SpontanDryHop Simcoe Sour / Wild Ale at 5.5% ABV (C$7.90 at Sherbrooke Liquor, 330 ml, best before 2-Mar-2021, acquired 25-Apr-2018, reviewed 23-May-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy medium gold with a short, short-lived fizzy white head, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: mild funk, citrus, light tropical fruit, wheat, grainy pale malt. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, low bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry tart lightly funky finish. (4/5)

Not all that interesting, especially for a Mikkeller: there’s a fair bit of “Spontan”, perhaps, but I can’t claim to be getting a great deal of “DryHop”. On the up side, there’s none of the cattiness that sometimes comes with Simcoe hops. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Collective Arts Brewing Lunch Money – Blond Ale at 4.8% ABV | 18 IBU

Collective Arts Brewing Lunch Money Blond Ale at 4.8% ABV | 18 IBU (C$3.39 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, packaged on 21-Apr-2018, acquired 18-May-2018, reviewed 18-May-2018)

Appearance: hazy straw with one finger of loose white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: grainy cereal, lemon, herbal, grass. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, lively carbonation, dry lightly spicy finish. (4/5)

Pleasant and easy-drinking Blond. Nothing too exciting or interesting, but solid and well-implemented. A light blend of American and Noble hops balances well against clean toasted cereal grain. Refreshing and slightly spicy, but not overly memorable. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Sawdust City Brewing Company There’s No Way of Knowing – Saison at 6.2% ABV | 15 IBU

Sawdust City Brewing Company There’s No Way of Knowing Saison at 6.2% ABV | 15 IBU (C$4.70 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, packaged on 17-Jan-2018, acquired 18-May-2018, reviewed 18-May-2018)

Appearance: hazy straw with one fat finger of rocky white head, excellent retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus zest, floral, white pepper, grainy cereal, light earthy funk. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild tart, mild bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, lively carbonation, dry spicy and lightly funky finish. (4/5)

The can calls this a “spring saison”, and that’s as good a label as any. Bright, almost juicy citrus and pleasant floral aromas dominate, with a little white pepper (grains of paradise?) spice for emphasis, on a grainy cereal base. I continue to believe that this style is more accurately done with a lower ABV, so this one is slightly high, but not to the point of adversely affecting its drinkability. A very pleasant quaffer for spring. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij Timmermans Oude Kriek Limited Edition (2014) – Lambic – Fruit at 5.5% ABV

Brouwerij Timmermans Oude Kriek Limited Edition (2014) Lambic – Fruit at 5.5% ABV (C$9.99 at Oak & Vine, 375 ml, best before 2024, acquired 3-Jul-2017, reviewed 18-May-2018)

Appearance: murky deep ruby with a short, short-lived fizzy head, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: tart cherries, field berries, light oak & earthy funk. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high tart, low bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium-light body, lively carbonation, dry moderately tart finish. (4/5)

Some might argue this is excessively tart to the point of being unbalanced, and I can see where that argument would come from. However, in its defence, the tartness comes across as being authentically fruity in character, massively dominated by cherry, with a hint of field berries as well. Light oak and earthy funk round things out and add a little welcome complexity. Definitely a sipper, and maybe not the most approachable beer out there, but definitely good stuff.(16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bellwoods Brewery Motley Cru (2013) – Sour Belgian Ale (Tripel / Quad Blend) at 11% ABV

Bellwoods Brewery Motley Cru (2013) Sour Belgian Ale (Tripel / Quad Blend) at 11% ABV (Trade – thanks, Beelzebeer!, 750 ml, packaged on 15-Mar-2013, acquired 6-Sep-2014, reviewed 17-May-2018)

Appearance: clear deep ruby with a short, short-lived fizzy head, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: overripe cherry, caramel malt, port wine, oak, leather. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, low bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-lively carbonation, malty mild tart slightly astringent finish. (3/5)

Very interesting to compare this to its newer vintage. Admittedly it might not be a fair comparison, since this has had two years more in the cellar to (potentially) fade (not to mention being their first anniversary!), but how else can you compare vintages except with a vertical? The character of this vintage, though, is completely different than later years’, with far less complexity and far more malt character. It’s pretty apparent that the barrel program has developed by leaps and bounds in the intervening two years. That being said, there’s one aspect in which this is extremely impressive: the complete absence of any heat despite the double digit plus ABV. When your sophomore outing is this good, it’s clear that great things are in store. There’s a reason these guys have been my favourite Canadian brewer for a long time now! (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com