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Beer reviews

Stone Brewing Co. Stochasticity Project Quadrotriticale – Quadrupel at 9.3% ABV

Stone Brewing Co. Stochasticity Project Quadrotriticale Quadrupel at 9.3% ABV

Pours a deep amber ruby with a short-lived tan head dimimishing rapidly to nothing, no head. Nose is muted, candy sugar and caramel with faint dark fruit and raisin. Taste is similar, with sweetness dominating over dark fruits, grassy hops, and a rye-like spice. Body is relatively light for the style, with sustained moderate carbonation and a sticky finish with only a very little warming.

Well, this may be tantamount to heresy, but this is another Stone beer that I’m not all that thrilled with – at least, not as a representative of the style it claims to be. At the very least, this is an atypical quad, and one might argue it’s not a quad at all (perhaps better described as a barley wine or similar). The sugars are light and overwhelm the dark fruit aspect, and the body is similarly light for the style. I think of quads as the beer equivalent of a dark fruitcake, and this misses that mark by a wide margin. That being said, it’s not unpleasant, and has its own interesting character courtesy of the rye-like spice of the triticale grain.

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Hop City Brewing Co. Big Mouth Pale Ale – American Pale Ale at 5.0% ABV

Hop City Brewing Co. Big Mouth Pale Ale American Pale Ale at 5.0% ABV

Pours a clear dark gold with one finger of short-lived loose white head diminishing rapidly to nothing, no lacing. Nose starts off nicely with citrusy and floral hops, but quickly fades to bland caramel malt with a little earth. Taste follows suit, with citrusy hops giving way quickly to caramel malt and a mild bitter finish. Medium to light body and moderate sustained carbonation, but somewhat watery, with a slightly metallic aftertaste.

Well, it’s not as good as their IPA, but it’s probably no worse than their lager. It’ll do as a session ale or an afternoon thirst-quencher, but that’s about it. It’s nice to see NLLC bringing in more options, and I don’t regret trying it, but I don’t feel any need to ever buy another.

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij De Ranke De Ranke XX Bitter – Belgian IPA at 6.2% ABV

Brouwerij De Ranke De Ranke XX Bitter Belgian IPA at 6.2% ABV

Pours a hazy, intensely bright sunny yellow with a massive pillowy white head that after a full ten minutes’ pouring had finally settled down to three fingers, gradually falling back to a thin skim and minimal lacing. Nose is big and complex, dominated by brett hay and dusty funk, with apples and pears, citrus, and floral hops contributing. Taste is mildly sweet and spicy, with the promised emphatic bitter finish. Mouth feel is light and dry, with sustained prickly carbonation (perhaps assisted by my etched Spiegelau IPA glass).

I’m pretty sure that’s nothing like what it’s “supposed” to taste like when young, but wow, does the brett ever make this beer a handful! Hay and barnyard funk, dry and bitter, with elements of cider and champagne coming through. I’d like to try it fresh on draught as well, but as it stands it’s an excellent beer, albeit one with barely any IPA characteristics at all. Similar to Orval, but with far less dark fruit and malt, or perhaps like a lighter Nómada Gato Negro.

My 83rd from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers, 77th by the 2013 Edition, and 85th overall.

8/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brewery Ommegang Fire And Blood Red Ale – American Red Ale at 6.8% ABV

Brewery Ommegang Fire And Blood Red Ale American Red Ale at 6.8% ABV

Pours a deep ruby with a fat finger of fluffy off-white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim and no lacing. Nose is faint, dark fruit and Belgian yeast. Taste leads slightly sweet, dark fruit, with mild spice and a slightly metallic astringency on the finish. Mouth feel is medium-bodied, with mild sustained carbonation and a sticky finish.

Not all that interesting, actually. The spice is very muted, only becoming apparent fairly late in the bottle. Not one of Ommegang’s finest efforts, perhaps, but red ales don’t tend to be all that thrilling regardless.

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Damm S. A. Estrella Damm Inedit – Witbier at 4.8% ABV

Damm S. A. Estrella Damm Inedit Witbier at 4.8% ABV

Pours a hazy straw gold with one fat finger of fluffy white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, moderate lacing. Nose is coriander, clove, orange peel, sweet malt, faint flowery hops. Taste starts lightly sweet, finishing citrus and bitter. Medium to light body, low sustained carbonation, and a slightly spicy aftertaste.

Decent enough witbier, but nothing really stands out about it. I can’t say I really get much of the liquorice aroma the label claims, but orange peel and coriander definitely make an appearance, and there’s a lingering mild spiciness. Nicely drinkable, and definitely a serviceable patio beer, but not really the rare gem the packaging would have you believe.

My 80th from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers (retired from the 2013 Edition) and 82nd overall.

6.5/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Les Trois Mousquetaires Grande Cuvée Porter Baltique – Baltic Porter at 10.0% ABV

Les Trois Mousquetaires Grande Cuvée Porter Baltique Baltic Porter at 10.0% ABV
(Re-reviewed after a year’s cellaring)

Pours a deep cola brown with a short-lived tan head and no lacing. Nose is dark fruits, cherry, roast malt, chocolate, very slight smoke. Taste is sweet and only slightly bitter, with caramel, coffee, roasted malt, and maybe just a hint of liquorice. Body is sticky and heavy, but not overly so, and is buoyed somewhat by the persistent carbonation that remains despite the low head.

A year in the cellar has not hurt this at all – just the opposite, in fact. The flavours that I felt were muddled before have now blended beautifully. This is deep, dark and rich, sweet without being too much so, with just the right edge and warming on the finish. I think I’ll keep my last one in the cellar for another couple years, maybe pick up another couple to do a vertical. I was far too harsh on it with my last rating – or, alternatively, it’s improved loads – but either way, I’m re-rating it significantly higher.

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Double Trouble Brewing Co. Hops & Robbers – IPA at 5.7% ABV

Double Trouble Brewing Co. Hops & Robbers IPA at 5.7% ABV

Pours a clear golden amber with a fat finger of fluffy white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim and spotty lacing. Nose is bready malt, slight citrus, mango, and pine. Taste starts moderately sweet, giving way to a slightly dry pineapple finish. Medium to light body, slightly slick, with low sustained carbonation and a decently bitter finish.

I wanted to like this more, I really did. I was starting to get excited about the possibility of a decent craft brewery with an interesting range of products being locally available. This, however, feels like a little bit of a letdown. The finish is not bad at all, but the aroma and flavour just don’t quite have the punch one would expect from an IPA – at least, not from an A/IPA, but to be honest this doesn’t even feel like an English IPA. That being said, it does get a bit better as the pint progresses, so maybe my palate is still a bit blown out by the rye beer I had before this one. Might have to try this one again to give it a fair review.

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Double Trouble Brewing Co. Fire In The Rye – Rye Beer at 6.1% ABV

Double Trouble Brewing Co. Fire In The Rye Rye Beer at 6.1% ABV

Pours a clear deep copper with a fat finger of fluffy white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap and moderate lacing. Nose is dominated by rye and caramel malt, with little hop profile to speak of. Taste follows the nose, with spicy rye dominating the flavour, though there does seem to be a faint hop bitter in the finish. Moderate body and decent sustained carbonation, with no significant warming.

Probably one of the better offerings currently available from NLLC. Well, except for Duvel, obviously. And Leffe. And Mad Tom. And La Fin du Monde. OK, maybe it’s being generous to say it’s in the top ten, but it’s not bad. I like rye beers, generally, and there’s no overwhelming reason not to like this one. There’s not a lot of hop character, but the rye almost stands in for the hops, doing double duty as both the grain and the bittering agent.

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

The Bruery Trade Winds Tripel Abbey – Tripel at 8.1% ABV

The Bruery Trade Winds Tripel Abbey Tripel at 8.1% ABV

Pours a clear hold with a fat two fingers of frothy white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim and no head. Nose is spice, pepper, candy sugar. Taste is sweet and slightly spicy, coriander and grass. Full bodied and sticky, with a spicy finish.

Not really what I was expecting and not really what I would characterise as a tripel – not dry and light the way I’d expect, but instead sweet and tending to heavy. A nice beer, no doubt, but a bit more of a Belgian strong ale, than a tripel.

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com