Category Archives: Reviews

Beer reviews

Brasserie McAuslan St. Ambroise Vintage Ale Millésimée (2014) – Barleywine at 10% ABV

Brasserie McAuslan St. Ambroise Vintage Ale Millésimée (2014) Barleywine at 10% ABV (C$5.49 from South Trail Co-Op, 341 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours a clear medium to deep amber with one finger of loose beige head diminishing quickly to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (3/5) Nose is toffee and caramel, candi sugar, dark fruit and spice, with a boozy edge. (8/10) Taste starts burned sugar sweet and gives way to building bitter as the sweet fades. (8/10) Medium to heavy body, slightly slick texture, low carbonation, sticky mildly bitter and boozy finish. (3/5)

Very similar to last years’ vintage, with a lot of warm sweet toffee upon pouring, dark fruit and booziness following shortly thereafter. Bitterness comes forward as the sweetness fades, and is more of a burned sugar acridness than a grassy or floral hop bittering, but isn’t unpleasant. The ABV is very well-behaved, and this doesn’t feel like a double-digit beer, even when allowed to warm from cellar temperatures (per the label) before drinking – my infrared thermometer said 15ºC when I opened it, and it warmed beyond that while drinking. I’m not sure whether the warmer temperature helped with the harshness I noticed last year, or whether this year’s vintage is smoother, but either way this one does seem slightly more civilised. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

New Belgium Brewing Company Rampant – American Double / Imperial IPA at 8.5% ABV

New Belgium Brewing Company Rampant American Double / Imperial IPA at 8.5% ABV (C$8.50 from Sundance Wine Market, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear pale amber with two fingers of dense off-white head, good retention and excellent lacing. (4/5) Nose is citrus and pine resin, caramel malt, floral, mild stone fruit. (7/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderately strong bitter, mild pepper spice. (7/10) Medium body and slightly oily texture, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter and slightly peppery finish. (4/5)

Big and beefy, but without the degree of malt forwardness I often associate with some IIPA’s. Initially decently well-balanced between the hops and the malt, with the big hops taking over in a lingering bitter and peppery finish. I’d like brighter citrusy hops, personally, but quite serviceable as it stands. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Alley Kat Dragon Series Red Dragon – Imperial / Double IPA at 7.5% ABV

Alley Kat Dragon Series Red Dragon Imperial / Double IPA at 7.5% ABV (C$6.39 from Quarry Park Co-Op, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear pale amber with two fingers of loose rocky white head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Nose is pithy grapefruit, resin, caramel malt, floral, catty. (6/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderately strong bitter. (6/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (3/5)

Somewhat of a one-trick pony: sharp, though not excessively so, and nowhere near as catty as I was expecting for Simcoe single-hopping. A little less rich and complex as the White Dragon (Chinook) but not bad overall. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bellwoods Brewery Grizzy Beer – Brown Ale at 6.2% ABV

Bellwoods Brewery Grizzy Beer Brown Ale at 6.2% ABV (C$5.50 from Bellwoods Brewery, 500 ml, bottle date 2-Apr-2015)

Pours hazy brown with a fat finger of loose rocky tan head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, patchy lacing. (4/5) Nose is roasty malts, coffee, dark fruit, light citrus, toffee malt, mild smoke. (8/10) Taste is mild sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, long roasty and slightly smoky finish. (4/5)

What an interesting beer – it looks like a porter, tastes like a black IPA, smells like something in between. Hoppy and malty in balance, and much more interesting than your normal brown ale, but still largely within the definitions of the style if you’re a little flexible in your interpretation of the “Northern English Brown” variant. That said, it’s definitely much hoppier than typical examples of the style like Newcastle Brown or Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Upalong Brewing The Landwash – Homebrew at 8.5% ABV

Upalong Brewing The Landwash Homebrew at 8.5% ABV (Gift from the brewer – thanks Chris! – 500 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours slightly hazy to cloudy pale gold with a short-lived short white head, moderate lacing. (4/5) Nose is tart peaches, mild brett, very light pale malt. (9/10) Taste is mild sweet, mild bitter, moderate tart. (9/10) Light to medium body, lively to moderate carbonation, tart and crisp finish. (4/5)

I have no hesitation saying that this is – by far – the best home-brew I’ve ever had. An even-handed and well-balanced combination of fruity tartness and funky brett, with minimal hop character and just enough sweetness to balance. The ABV is nearly completely nonexistent, manifesting only as a mild warming towards the end of the bottle. If I could brew like this, I’d… well… I guess I’d be a professional brewer…? (17/20)

Brewer (Chris Conway of Habits Gastropub) notes:
Imperial Saison with Peaches.
This beer started out as an imperial saison (Pilsner Malt, Vienna, with some wheat – light Magnum bittering and Styrian Golding finishing hops) fermented warm with a Wallonian Farmhouse yeast strain. After primary fermentation was complete, I racked it onto six pounds of fresh Ontario peaches (something like 150g per L), a very tiny amount of French Oak, and a large culture of Brett grown up from a bottle of Crooked Stave. It then fermented the peaches for about a month before it was bottled and bottle conditioned.

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Prairie Artisan Ales Bomb! – American Double / Imperial Stout at 13% ABV

Prairie Artisan Ales Bomb! American Double / Imperial Stout at 13% ABV (C$12.49 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 355 ml, bottle date 11-Nov-2014)

Pours clear ruby brown with one fat finger of dense tan head, good retention and minimal lacing. (4/5) Nose is cocoa nibs, dark coffee, vanilla, dark fruit, mild chili peppers. (9/10) Taste is moderate sweet, mild bitter. (9/10) Full body, moderate to low carbonation, mildly boozy finish. (4/5)

Very well-behaved, mild and rich, with just a mild chili heat blending nicely with the boozy warming. Deep and rich chocolate dominates, with coffee and vanilla supporting. Bitterness is very mild and never comes to the forefront, but nor does the sweetness ever become cloying, and the body, while full, is never heavy. A truly excellent imperial stout. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Rogue Ales XS Imperial India Pale Ale – American Double / Imperial IPA at 9.5% ABV

Rogue Ales XS Imperial India Pale Ale American Double / Imperial IPA at 9.5% ABV (C$22.49 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours slightly hazy to cloudy pale amber with one fingers of rocky white head, good retention and minimal lacing. (3/5) Nose is caramel malt, pithy citrus, pine resin, mild floral. (7/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderately strong bitter. (6/10) Medium body, moderate to low carbonation, slightly boozy finish. (4/5)

Nothing too thrilling – a fairly standard heavy-handed, malt-forward DIPA. Doesn’t excite me, doesn’t turn me off. Damned with faint praise? Maybe – but that’s about what it deserves. Especially given the premium price! (12/20)

My 158th from the 2010 Edition (149th from the 2013 edition), and 168th combining both editions.

6.5/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Prairie Artisan Ales Prairie Ale – Saison at 8.2% ABV

Prairie Artisan Ales Prairie Ale Saison at 8.2% ABV (C$10.99 at Sundance Wine Market, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours slightly hazy to cloudy and particulate-laden pale gold with two fingers of pillowy white head, good retention and spotty lacing. (4/5) Nose is light yet complex, sweet and yeasty Belgian triple-like tones with light brett funk, wheat, citrus. (8/10) Taste is moderate sweet, mild bitter, slightly tart and black pepper spice. (8/10) Light to medium body, lively carbonation, dry bitter and slightly boozy finish. (4/5)

A very nice saison – just the right balance of sweet and yeasty Belgian tripel character, with funky cellar brett notes. Light, dry, and fairly crisp, with just a little alcohol heat in the finish, and the use of Saaz hops gives a little black pepper heat as well. Even-handed and well-balanced. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Stone / Baird / Ishii Japanese Green Tea IPA – American Double / Imperial IPA at 10.1% ABV

Stone Brewing Company / Baird Beer / Ishii Brewing Co Japanese Green Tea IPA American Double / Imperial IPA at 10.1% ABV (C$13.95 at Sundance Wine Market, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours slightly hazy pale amber with two fingers of pillowy white head, excellent retention and spotty lacing. (4/5) Nose is pithy grapefruit, green tea, stone fruit, light resin, caramel malt. (8/10) Taste is mild sweet, moderate bitter, mild tart. (8/10) Medium body, lively carbonation, semi-dry bitter and only slightly boozy finish. (4/5)

A definite green tea presence grows more pronounced throughout the pint, giving it an almost musty, saison-like quality. Similar in some ways to Baird’s Wabi Sabi, except without the sour milk note that made that one less than a success for me. Surprisingly low ABV presence for a double digit imperial beast, coming through as just a little sweetness and booziness on the finish. Definitely different, and that’s always good. Overall, I’d recommend trying it if you can find it. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery The Chocolate Manifesto – Imperial Stout at 10% ABV

Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery The Chocolate Manifesto Imperial Stout at 10% ABV (C$14.09 at Dominion Stavanger, 750 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear (flashlight confirmed) ruby brown with two fingers of dense tan head, excellent retention and lacing. (4/5) Nose is chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. (8/10) Taste is moderately strong sweet, mild bitter. (8/10) Medium to full body, moderate to low carbonation, slightly oily and bittersweet creamy finish. (4/5)

What an extremely silly beer. Except, where it isn’t. Which is just about everywhere. Subtle? No. Bombastic? Yes. Good? Oh my goodness gracious yes. Think a slightly runny Hershey syrup milkshake, that makes the room get a little wobbly after a bit. (The ABV is seriously well-hidden, which for a double-digit product, is no mean feat. It’s not un-boozy – but it’s nowhere near as boozy as it should be.) Yes, it’s over the top and sweet. Yes, it’s one-dimensional. But, that dimension is chocolate. Mmmm… the Chocolate Dimension… And, it’s a milk stout (in addition to “chocolate” and “imperial” – how many adjectives can you add to a given style, anyway?), so there’s a lactose creaminess that plays well with the chocolate. I know some folks don’t like this. Those folks are wrong. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com