Category Archives: Reviews

Beer reviews

Brasserie McAuslan St-Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale – Fruit Beer at 5% ABV

Brasserie McAuslan St-Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale Fruit Beer at 5% ABV ($3.49 from Quarry Park Co-Op)

Pours clear medium gold with a short finger of loose off-white head diminishing rapidly to nothing, no lacing. Nose is overwhelmingly apricot, with faint hints of wheat, yeast, and pale malt. Taste starts low to moderately sweet, giving way to mild bitter and a lingering apricot flavour. Light body, initially prickly champagne-like carbonation settles to moderate sustained levels, and an off-dry finish.

Not bad but I’m less than convinced. On the up side, it doesn’t actually taste fake. The sweetness is actually pretty restrained, preventing it from becoming syrupy or sickly. All things considered, I wouldn’t turn one down on a hot day – but it’s not their best, not by a long margin.

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Alameda Brewing Co. Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA – Imperial/Double IPA at 8.2% ABV

Alameda Brewing Co. Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA Imperial/Double IPA at 8.2% ABV

Pours hazy pale gold with a fat finger of loose off-white head diminishing rapidly to a thick cap, moderate lacing. Nose is moderately intense citrus, piney, and herbal hops balanced with pale malt. Taste starts moderately sweet, giving way to moderately intense bitter. Medium body with low sustained carbonation and a long dry bitter finish.

I’m not sure if I entirely like Columbus hops in a DIPA. For me, the herbal aspect reduces the overall impact of the hops and makes this feel like it’s not quite the 103 IBU hop bomb it might otherwise be. It sort of leaves the door open for the malt to have a greater presence on the nose and the tongue, edging into the malty DIPA territory I don’t prefer. I don’t dislike this beer, and it’s quite drinkable, but a better hop blend might make it more memorable.

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Half Pints Brewing Co. Humulus Ludicrous – Imperial/Double IPA at 8.0% ABV

Half Pints Brewing Co. Humulus Ludicrous Imperial/Double IPA at 8.0% ABV

Pours clear pale amber with two fingers dense beige head (that doubles in size after the pour becoming a marshmallow) and great retention, heavy lacing. Nose is moderately intense citrus and piney hops with light pale malt in the background. Taste starts moderately sweet, giving way rapidly to intense bitter. Medium body with moderate sustained carbonation and a lingering spicy bitter finish.

“Ludicrous” is a good name for this beer. The head, the nose, and the finish might all be described as such. This is not a beer that believes in hiding its light under a bushel. I like it! The flavour of the Centennial and Cascade hops comes through loud and clear, and despite the colour and the initial nose, the pale malt plays very much a supporting role, rather than coming to the forefront. I like precisely this balance in a DIPA. An excellent choice to hold its own against spicy foods.

My 112th from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers, 106th by the 2013 Edition, and 115th overall.

8.5/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

8 Wired Brewing Company iStout – Imperial Stout at 10% ABV

8 Wired Brewing Company iStout Imperial Stout at 10% ABV

Pours nearly solid black with only a hint of ruby around the margins, a short finger of dense chocolate brown head with great retention, moderate lacing. Nose is somewhat muted, coffee and dark chocolate, dark roasted malt, faint vanilla. Taste is dark roasted malt, coffee, light vanilla, ending mildly bitter. Full bodied and viscous, with mild sustained carbonation and a mild bitter finish.

A very nice example of the Imperial Stout / RIS style. Suffers only very slightly by comparison to the Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel I had immediately before it – a little less smooth and rich, but only barely, and possessing a little more typical coffee astringency. All that said, still a helluva fine beer, and a helluva lot cheaper than the Mikkeller! (Yes, I’m marking it down for the stupid name.)

9/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel – Imperial Stout at 10.9% ABV

Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel Imperial Stout at 10.9% ABV

Pours a solid inky black (without even a hint of colour round the margins) with two fingers of dense chocolate brown head diminishing gradually to a half finger cap, moderate lacing. Nose is dark roasted coffee and dark chocolate, with a hint of café latte milkiness and maybe some dark fruit. Taste is dark roasted malt, rich coffee, perhaps a hint of liquorice and only a very mild, very late bitterness. Full bodied and viscous, with mild sustained carbonation and a smooth finish.

Wow. I didn’t realize before tasting this, that the titular “weasel” was the civet cat, and that this is basically made with kopi leuwak. And it shows – there’s no bitterness or astringency from the coffee at all. In fact, there’s very little bitterness at all, despite the rich coffee flavour. I keep waiting for the bitterness to hit, and it just doesn’t. The bitterness is not the only thing that’s conspicuously absent here, either: the ABV is utterly and completely missing. This thing is nearly 11%, and it drinks like a cup of coffee. One could get in a great deal of trouble with this exceedingly dangerous beer… were it not roughly as expensive as unicorn blood – or, given the colour, printer cartridge ink…

9.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie McAuslan St. Ambroise Vintage Ale Millésimée (2013) – Barleywine at 10% ABV

Brasserie McAuslan St. Ambroise Vintage Ale Millésimée (2013) Barleywine at 10% ABV

Pours a slightly hazy deep amber with a fat finger of fluffy beige head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, moderate lacing. Nose is toffee and caramel, candi sugar, dark fruit and spice, with a boozy edge. Taste starts burned sugar sweet and gives way to building bitter as the sweet fades. Heavy body, slick buttery texture, low carbonation, and a sticky bitter boozy finish.

Lots going on here – burned sugar, dark fruit, big booze… This isn’t a beer that does subtle. That’s not entirely a good thing, mind you, since that does apply to the bitter finish, which comes on strong and lingers, with some harshness. Could perhaps use some cellaring time to smooth the rough edges.

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij Affligem / De Smedt (Heineken) Affligem Blond – Belgian Pale ale at 6.8% ABV

Brouwerij Affligem / De Smedt (Heineken) Affligem Blond Belgian Pale ale at 6.8% ABV

Pours a clear pale gold with an aggressively foamy three fingers of fluffy white head diminishing gradually to a one finger cap, moderately heavy lacing. Nose is grassy and herbal hops, bubblegum, spicy coriander. Taste is mild sweet, moderate bitter, moderate spice. Light body, medium to high sustained carbonation, and a dry finish.

Decent Belgian style abbey blond – good without being great. Not quite as good an example of the style as e.g. Leffe. It could definitely do with more aromatics, and there’s a little harshness in the finish.

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Paulaner Brauerei (Schörghuber) Festbier (Superior) – Oktoberfest/Märzen at 6% ABV

Paulaner Brauerei (Schörghuber) Festbier (Superior) Oktoberfest/Märzen at 6% ABV

Pours a clear straw with two fingers of fluffy white head diminishing gradually to a half finger cap, heavy lacing. Nose is sweet, bready and caramel malts, light fruit, and a little Hallertau hop. Taste is medium sweet and mild bitter. Light body, medium to high sustained carbonation, and a dry finish.

It’s a pleasant-looking and light tasting beer, very German – though very much on the light side for a Märzen. As lagers go, fairly decent and drinkable.

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Grand River Brewing Highballer Pumpkin Ale – Spice/Herb/Vegetable at 5.2% ABV

Grand River Brewing Highballer Pumpkin Ale Spice/Herb/Vegetable at 5.2% ABV

Pours a clear (first glass) to slightly hazy (second glass) deep gold with a short white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, no lacing. Nose is somewhat earthy pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove. Taste follows suit, with pale malt sweetness and a little more spice on the finish (allspice? vanilla?). Light to medium body, somewhat watery, initial prickly carbonation drops back quickly, and a mildly bitter finish.

Well, I’ve had worse pumpkin ale. At least this one actually smells and tastes like pumpkin – especially the second glass, when the lees came into play. Almost pumpkin pie flavoured. It’ll do.

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Orkney Brewery Skull Splitter – Scotch Ale at 8.5% ABV

Orkney Brewery Skull Splitter Scotch Ale at 8.5% ABV

Pours a clear medium to deep amber with a short beige head diminishing to a thin cap, spotty lacing. Nose is toffee malt, dark dried fruit, and molasses – almost rum-like, with a slight hint of alcohol. Taste is medium sweet and mild bitter. Medium to full bodied, medium to low carbonation, and a sweet finish with mild alcohol warming.

Not a big fan of wee heavy/scotch ales, so it’s hard for me to be even-handed rating this one. There’s a near-complete absence of hop character, and I can easily see something similar to this having been bittered with gruit in the past – but at least it’s not peaty. Realistically, it integrates the high ABV pretty well, and the fruit/vinoous notes work fairly well. Pretty drinkable for a high ABV scotch ale.

My 111th from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers, 105th by the 2013 Edition, and 114th overall.

7/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com