Category Archives: Reviews

Beer reviews

Driftwood Brewery New Growth Pale Ale – American Pale Ale at 5% ABV

Driftwood Brewery New Growth Pale Ale American Pale Ale at 5% ABV (C$6.50 at Sundance Wine Market, 650 ml, bottle date 26-Mar-2015)

Pours clear pale gold with one finger of soapy off-white head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, moderate lacing. (3/5) Nose is bright juicy citrus, pine, light herbal, pale malt. (8/10) Taste is very low sweet, moderately strong bitter. (8/10) Medium body, moderate to low carbonation, crisp texture but with a lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Quite a nice APA, but I’m not sure I’d call it a “session” ale. Even though it’s “only” 5% ABV, it’s got presence: not boozy, as such, but certainly not light. The texture is crisp, but the emphatic bitterness lingers – perhaps not actively discouraging the next sip, but certainly not encouraging it in the way that a beer with a faster fall-off might. The very low initial sweetness might make it less approachable for non-hopheads, too. I know it might seem like I’m listing all negatives here, but they really aren’t. They are, however, reasons why some folks might not appreciate this beer. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Phillips Brewing Company Third Blind Mouse Triple IPA – American Double / Imperial IPA at 10.2% ABV

Phillips Brewing Company Third Blind Mouse Triple IPA American Double / Imperial IPA at 10.2% ABV (C$5.81 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear pale gold (some particulate on the second pour) with three fingers of fluffy white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, moderate lacing. (3/5) Nose is big citrus,, light herbal and pale malt. (7/10) Taste is moderate sweet, strong bitter. (7/10) Medium to full body, moderate to low carbonation, oily texture, lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Now, now Phillips, shame on you – you’re just making shit up now: there’s no such thing as a “Triple IPA”. That said, yes, this is a big, hugely bitter beast of a brew – but that’s already covered off by the “imperial” designation. What’s next? “Quadruple” IPA? “Quintuple”? Are IPA’s the brewing equivalent of Gillette razors these days – “more is better”? Gotta say, though, for a double digit ABV, this thing is pretty drinkable: the 100+ IBU completely masks any booziness one might expect, except for a little alcohol sweetness on the finish. It’s a little one-dimensional, but not bad overall. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Russell Brewing Punch Bowl India Pale Ale – American IPA at 6.5% ABV

Russell Brewing Punch Bowl India Pale Ale American IPA at 6.5% ABV (C$6.95 at Sundance Wine Market, 650 ml, bottle date 25-Mar-2015)

Pours clear pale gold with two fingers of fluffy off-white head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Nose is citrus, tropical fruit, mild pine, light caramel malt, mild green onion, faint catty. (7/10) Taste is mild to moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, slightly oily texture, lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Glory be! A brewer who didn’t used to date their bottles, now does! Good on you, Russell! And good on you for putting together a decently fruity IPA. I’d still like brighter, and I could do without the green onion, but not bad at all. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Gigantic Brewing Company Catch 23 – American Pale Ale at 5.6% ABV

Gigantic Brewing Company Catch 23 America Pale Ale at 5.6% ABV (C$6.76 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear pale gold with two fingers of fluffy light tan head, diminishing gradually to a thick cap, moderate lacing. (4/5) Nose is pineapple, mango, citrus and mild pine, light caramel malt. (7/10) Taste is mild to moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, slightly oily texture, finishes crisp and bitter. (4/5)

So, as far as I can tell, Experimental Hop 527 is a Yakima Valley grown “more subtle cousin” of Azacca. It’s nice – fruit and citrus dominating, with a little pine and maybe just a hint of onion. A bit more complex than the clear bright fruitiness of e.g. Nelson Sauvin, but definitely an interesting hop to watch. Another solid performer from Gigantic. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Lagunitas Brewing Company Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale – American Strong Ale at 9.3% ABV

Lagunitas Brewing Company Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale American Strong Ale at 9.3% ABV (C$2.83 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 355 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear red-tinged pale amber with a fat finger of rocky white head, great retention and heavy lacing. (5/5) Nose is brown sugar, raisins, dank piney resin, citrus, mild boozy fruit. (8/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderately strong bitter. (8/10) Medium body, lively to moderate carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Wow – that’s a whole lotta hops for a non-IPA. But, it’s almost all on the nose and relatively little on the tongue (which is why I’m thinking it’s a lot of dry hopping, as opposed to in the boil). Interesting. (And the name is pretty much what you think. Let’s just say, the residents of Sonoma County are/were somewhat more accepting of certain other intoxicants than the state Alcohol Beverage Control, and that Lagunitas’ tastings reflected that sense of accommodation.) Aesthetically, you’d be hard-pressed to find a prettier beer – seriously, I can’t think of one. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Driftwood Brewery Fat Tug IPA – American IPA at 7% ABV

Driftwood Brewery Fat Tug IPA American IPA at 7% ABV (C$5.10 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, bottled on 25-Mar-2015)

Pours clear deep gold with two fingers of rocky white head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, chunky lacing. (4/5) Nose is dank pine resin, bright citrus, tropical fruit, pale malt. (9/10) Taste is mild sweet, moderately strong bitter. (9/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Went into this with high hopes… and was not disappointed. Lovely and bright – so nice to be able to get an IPA that’s under a month old! – and with the right balance of complexity and clean flavour. A very solid performer, and one I’d love to try on tap or in a fresher bottle. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Anchor Brewing Company Saison Spring Ale – Saison at 7.2% ABV

Anchor Brewing Company Saison Spring Ale Saison at 7.2% ABV (C$2.23 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 355 ml, best before 1-Feb-2017)

Pours clear pale gold with a fat finger of off-white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, patchy lacing. (3/5) Nose is cloves, light banana, wheat, earthy pale malt, mild lemony citrus. (6/10) Taste is mild sweet, moderate bitter, mild white pepper, very mild funk. (6/10) Medium body, moderate carbonation, slightly spicy finish. (3/5)

Limited Belgian character, very limited barnyard funk. Not unpleasant, but not a heckuva saison. Not really all that interesting, but it does grow on you – the flavours, in particular the pepper, build as the pint progresses. Not enough to make it memorable, perhaps, but enough to salvage it from the doldrums of mediocrity. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Wild Rose Brewery Switch Hitter IPL – India Pale Lager at 6% ABV

Wild Rose Brewery Switch Hitter IPL India Pale Lager at 6% ABV (C$5.95 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear straw with a fat finger of white head, good retention and excellent lacing. (4/5) Nose is citrus, pine, tropical fruit and light caramel malt. (8/10) Taste is mild sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Light to medium body, moderate carbonation, dry and crisp with a lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Wow – that’s actually pretty nice. (And yes, I know I’m normally a bit negatively biased towards lagers.) A surprising amount of bright hops makes this something that I can legitimately enjoy on its own merits, rather than making the obligatory “for the style” caveats. I usually say, “Sure, you can overcome the inherent boring character of lagers, but why bother?” – but this doesn’t feel like it’s compensating for anything. Probably the best thing Wild Rose makes, and actually much better than their IPA. Well done, Wild Rose! (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

To Øl Reperationsbajer – American Pale Ale at 5.8% ABV

To Øl Reperationsbajer American Pale Ale at 5.8% ABV (C$4.54 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 330 ml, best before 18-Dec-2015)

Pours hazy pale amber with two fingers of off-white head, good retention and lacing. (4/5) Nose is grapefruit, pine, light caramel malt. (8/10) Taste is mild sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Medium body, lively carbonation, dry and crisp with a lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

“Reparationsbajer” is Danish for “recovery beer” – as in, a hangover recovery beer. Genius. A little heavy on the ABV for an APA – so as to provide maximal medicinal hair-of-the-dog benefit, I suppose – but not to the point that it would upset one’s presumably already delicate constitution. The lively carbonation seems perfect to cut through flannel-mouth, as does the dry crispness. And the blend of Amarillo, Centennial, and Nelson Sauvin (seriously, my new favourite hop) provide a nice fruity and citrusy flavour without being too bitter. I’m almost disappointed I’m not hungover, so as to test it better. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Stone Brewing Company Enjoy By 4.20.15 – American IPA at 9.4% ABV

Stone Brewing Company Enjoy By 4.20.15 American IPA at 9.4% ABV (C$10.26 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, best before 20-Apr-2015)

Pours clear pale gold with two fingers of white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, spotty lacing. (4/5) Nose is pine resin, caramel malt, light boozy stone fruit. (9/10) Taste is mild sweet, strong bitter. (9/10) Medium to full body, moderate carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Don’t tell me how to live my life, bottle! (Again.) You’re not the boss of me! You’re also not the most impressive of the Enjoy By series, so I don’t see where you get off, being all demanding. “Devastatingly dank”? Nope, sorry. Gotta count this as a little bit of a swing and a miss for Stone. (But if we’re being honest, only a little.) I was expecting true West Coast dank from the 4.20 – for obvious, if somewhat sophomoric, reasons – and though it’s nice, it’s not legen-wait-for-it-dary. Not malt-forward, perhaps, but malt-emphatic, for sure. Hey, I drank it the day I got it, that’s as fresh as I could do – what do you want from me? But I don’t think it’s really an age issue. Damn nice, but not quite up to the bar set by the previous iterations. (18/20)

9/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com