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Beer reviews

Muskoka Brewery Detour – American IPA at 4.3% ABV

Muskoka Brewery Detour American IPA at 4.3% ABV (C$2.67 at Dominion Stavanger, 355 ml, best before 1-Aug-2015)

Pours slightly hazy pale gold with one finger of white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, moderate patchy lacing. (4/5) Nose is light citrus, pine resin, pale malt. (8/10) Taste is mild sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, dry crisp finish. (4/5)

They call this a “sessionable IPA” but I’m not sure you couldn’t just as easily call it an APA. Regardless, it’s bright, easy drinking, crisp, and clean, no matter what you call it. Nothing challenging, but certainly more-ish. Yes, I’m aware I’m ranking this equally with Mad Tom and Twice as Mad Tom, but for different reasons – think equally well-done variations on slightly different themes. If anything, this might be just marginally preferable to its beefier brethren, simply because it’s so bright, crisp, and light. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Muskoka Brewery Twice as Mad Tom – American Double / Imperial IPA at 8.4% ABV

Muskoka Brewery Twice as Mad Tom American Double / Imperial IPA at 8.4% ABV (C$2.67 at Dominion Stavanger, 355 ml, best before 1-Aug-2015)

Pours clear deep gold with one finger of medium dense ivory head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, little to no lacing. (3/5) Nose is pithy grapefruit, tropical fruit, pine resin, light malt. (8/10) Taste is moderate sweet, immediate strong bitter. (8/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, dry bitter finish. (4/5)

Much as with its smaller brother single IPA, I can’t say I notice a lot of difference between this version and the prior, filtered one. Even though it’s unfiltered, it poured crystal clear, and though I’m tempted there might be a bit more rich earthiness to the flavour, I couldn’t swear to it. Impressive integration of the quite high ABV makes this clean drinking and a little dangerous. Still one of the best beers routinely stocked by NLC. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bellwoods Brewery Wizard Wolf – American Pale Ale at 4.8% ABV

Bellwoods Brewery Wizard Wolf American Pale Ale at 4.8% ABV (C$4.50 at Bellwoods Brewery, 500 ml, bottle date 2-Apr-2015)

Pours hazy pale gold with a short off-white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, good lacing. (3/5) Nose is doughy bread, grassy and floral hops, light citrus, very mild pale malt. (6/10) Taste is mild sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate to low carbonation, off-dry bitter and slightly spicy finish. (4/5)

Not my favourite Bellwoods, which isn’t to say there’s anything overtly wrong with it – because there isn’t – but they so excel at “real” brews that this “session” ale seems like a pale imposter (no pun intended). I’ll session Roman Candle, Boogie Monster, or Witchshark instead, thanks. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Great Lakes Brewery Apocalypse Later Imperial Black IPA – Black IPA at 10% ABV

Great Lakes Brewery Apocalypse Later Imperial Black IPA Black IPA at 10% ABV (Via trade, 473 ml, canning date 2-Apr-2015)

Pours clear brown with two fat fingers of pillowy light tan head, good retention and excellent lacing. (4/5) Nose is light citrus, pine resin, grassy, moderate dark malt and mild coffee. (7/10) Taste is moderate sweet, immediate strong bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, dry bitter and warming finish. (4/5)

Whattya mean, “Imperial Black IPA” isn’t a BJCP style? (Nor, I guess, is Black IPA, at least not formally, yet.) Bit of a beast – huge bitterness and big (but not overwhelming) booziness battle it out on the tongue, along with a little onion aftertaste. Interesting, if not perfectly balanced – a bit of an odd duck. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

YellowBelly Brewery Unite Red Ale – American Amber / Red Ale at 4.5% ABV

YellowBelly Brewery Unite Red Ale American Amber / Red Ale at 4.5% ABV (1 l,best before May 11, 2015)

Pours clear amber-brown with two fat fingers of pillowy ivory head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Nose is pithy citrus, tropical fruit, pine resin, crystal malt. (7/10) Taste is mild sweet giving way to moderately strong bitter. (7/10) Medium body, prickly to moderate carbonation, building and lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Surprisingly highly hopped for a local Newfoundland brew, and surprisingly flavourful for only 4.5%. The Mosaic dry hopping really comes through, and I hear it’s supposed to be in the current batch of their Pale, making me think I need to sample that as well. This is one heckuva beer, really – here’s hoping it’s the thin edge of the wedge for more highly hopped local brews. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Great Lakes Brewery Johnny Simcoe Pale Ale – American Pale Ale at 5.0% ABV

Great Lakes Brewery Johnny Simcoe Pale Ale American Pale Ale at 5.0% ABV (Via trade, 473 ml, no canning date or best before)

Pours hazy straw with two fingers of pillowy white head, good retention and excellent lacing. (4/5) Nose is juicy citrus, catty, pine resin, very little malt. (7/10) Taste is mild sweet giving way to moderately strong bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, building bitter finish. (4/5)

No bottle date, but I got it via trade the day it was sourced from GLB (a few days ago). Typical catty Simcoe notes, but not overwhelming. Maybe a little too sharp and bitter to be a simple thirst quencher, but pretty pleasant. Another good treatment of the Simcoe hop, and actually very similar to the Bellwoods Cat Lady I had yesterday. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bellwoods Brewery Cat Lady – American IPA at 7.2% ABV

Bellwoods Brewery Cat Lady American IPA at 7.2% ABV ($5.50 at Bellwoods Brewery, 500 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours hazy pale amber with two fingers of pillowy white head, good retention and excellent lacing. (4/5) Nose is juicy citrus, pine resin, pale malt, light pepper. (7/10) Taste is mild sweet giving way to moderately strong bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter and slightly spicy finish. (4/5)

No bottle date, but I got it from the Bellwoods bottle shop a couple of days ago, so it’s definitely fresh – and it is bright when fresh. This certainly has some of the catty element expected for Simcoe, but in a fairly restrained and polite way. I was a little fearful that the cat would be overwhelming, especially given the name, but it’s better than I was expecting. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Great Lakes Brewery Octopus Wants to Fight IPA – American IPA at 6.2% ABV

Great Lakes Brewery Octopus Wants to Fight IPA American IPA at 6.2% ABV (Via trade – thanks, Groulxsome! – 473 ml, canning date 2-Apr-2015)

Pours hazy pale gold with two fingers of pillowy white head, good retention and excellent lacing. (4/5) Nose is juicy citrus, mild pine resin, pale malt, very light pepper. (9/10) Taste is initially mild sweet, giving way to strong bitter. (9/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter and slightly spicy finish. (5/5)

Lovely. Every bit as bright and fresh as I was hoping for a two-day-old A/IPA hop bomb. So glad I didn’t wait to crack this. Just slightly better than Thrust!, Canuck Pale Ale, or My Bitter Wife – but could be because I had it oh so very fresh, or because of the greater bitterness that I enjoy so much. In any case, probably the best of the Tank Ten offerings I’ve tried to date. (18/20)

9/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij Van Steenberge Vampire Pale Ale – Belgian Pale Ale at 7.0% ABV

Brouwerij Van Steenberge Vampire Pale Ale Belgian Pale Ale at 7.0% ABV (C$13.90 at Liquor Crossing Red Deer, 750 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours slightly hazy page gold with a three fingers of loose ivory head, good retention and lacing. (3/5) Nose is Belgian yeast, lemon, apples and pears, pale malt, light pepper. (7/10) Taste is moderate sweet, mild bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, lingering dry finish. (4/5)

A fairly middle-of-the-pack BPA. Decent fruitiness, but not entirely clean – there’s a little brown apple in there, but not bad overall. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij der Trappisten van Westmalle Westmalle Dubbel – Abbey Dubbel at 7% ABV

Brouwerij der Trappisten van Westmalle Westmalle Dubbel Abbey Dubbel at 7% ABV (C$5.29 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 330 ml, best before 30-Apr-2016)

Pours opaque ruby brown with a short light tan head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, no lacing. (4/5) Nose is complex: toffee and caramel, brown sugar, dark slightly boozy stone fruit, mild cloves, banana and bubblegum. (9/10) Taste is moderate sweet, mild bitter, very slight tart. (9/10) Full slightly creamy body, soft carbonation, lingering dry finish. (5/5)

Really good. The sweetness is never cloying, and as it fades, there’s a very mild lingering bitter that you keep expecting to come forwards – but it doesn’t. The bitter stays in the background and never upsets the smooth fruity flavour or the lingering dry finish. There’s a very slight restrained acidity that keeps the mouth feel clean and almost crisp, and brings out the stone fruit flavour. I love hoppy and bitter beers, and this is pretty much the complete antithesis of that: it’s all about the dark malt fruitiness – and I like it a lot. There’s a reason this is considered a reference dubbel. (18/20)

9/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com