Maine Beer Company Mean Old Tom American Stout at 6.5% ABV
Pours nearly jet black with only the merest hint of cola brown around the periphery, three finger pillowy tan head, and moderate to heavy chunky lacing. (Yes, exactly like the King Titus. They look essentially identical, OK?) Nose is dark chocolate, vanilla, coffee, candi sugar, slight smokiness. Taste is mild vanilla, chocolate, and coffee. Medium body, low carbonation, and a mild off-dry bitter finish.
I think I prefer this just slightly over the King Titus Porter. The nose is more cohesive, with no sharp aspects that feel like they need mellowing. If anything, the flavour is perhaps a touch too mild, though the vanilla works well. An excellent stout, regardless.
8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
Maine Beer Company King Titus American Porter at 7.5% ABV
Pours nearly jet black with only the merest hint of cola brown around the periphery, three finger pillowy tan head, and moderate to heavy chunky lacing. Nose is cocoa, coffee, candi sugar, faint vanilla, and a sharp top note, orange peel or burnt almond. Taste is milder than expected, mellow dark espresso, brown sugar, molasses, milk chocolate. Medium chewy body, low carbonation, and a lingering bitter finish that’s both dry and sticky.
Well, I always say Porters aren’t my favourite style, but this one mounts a pretty decent challenge to that position. Nice complexity on the nose and tongue, restrained but sufficient hop bittering, just enough sweetness to temper the dark roasted coffee/chocolate tones, and enough body to carry it off. The moderately high ABV is also integrated very nicely, and is barely noticeable as a mild warming. That being said, I’m not entirely sold on the sharpness in the nose, and wonder if this could use some cellar time to mellow – notwithstanding the bottle recommendation to drink within 90 days of bottling. (Seriously? A near-imperial porter that you’re supposed to drink fresh? What’s that about?)
8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
Elysian Brewing Company Loser Pale Ale American Pale Ale at 7.0% ABV
Pours a clear orange amber with a thick cream head, great retention and chunky lacing. Nose is pine resin and grapefruit slightly edging out a caramel malt background, maybe a little citrus and tropical fruit. Taste is similar but a little muddled – the hops seem to have dulled and the malt is a little too present. Mouth feel is medium to full body, with low carbonation and a long, lingering bitter finish.
Gotta say, time and time again, I find that I’m not a big fan of Sorachi Ace hops. There’s something about them that I can’t put my finger on, but doesn’t completely work for me. They’re supposed to be light and lemony, but I get – for lack of a better comparison – cat piss, but only on the nose. Flavour-wise, this seems to be the right balance of light hops and mellow malt. Decent, but not a clear-cut winner, by any means.
And for the love of all that’s holy, why the hell can’t brewers put dates on their bottles? Is the muddled behaviour of the hops because it’s an old bottle, or because that’s the way it was brewed? Who knows? I sure as hell don’t, because there’s no human-readable date on the damn bottle! If your brew’s got a hop character, date the damn bottle!
7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
Evil Twin Brewing Evil Twin Wet Dream American Brown Ale at 6.0% ABV
Pours a deep cola red with two fingers of loose tan head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, moderate lacing. Nose is roasted nutty malt, coffee, light pine resin and citrus, hints of chocolate. Taste follows suit, with a bitter finish. Medium body with low carbonation and a creamy mouth feel.
Not a bad brown ale at all. Nearly a coffee porter or stout with the darkness of the malt, but with a somewhat lighter body. I’m not sure how old this bottle was (come on folks, is it that hard to put a damn bottling date on the label?) but I have a suspicion that the hops were a little muted with age – I’d like to try this fresh or on tap and see if there’s a bit more hop presence.
7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
UAB Švyturys Švyturys Ekstra Dortmunder/Helles Lager at 5.2% ABV
Pours a clear straw yellow with one finger of white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, moderate lacing. Nose is pale malt, corn, and faint grassy hops. Taste follows suit with malt and corn dominant over grassy hops. Light to medium body and moderate sustained carbonation with a slightly sticky finish.
The bottle says “Acknowledged by beer lovers and experts”. Fair enough: I acknowledge it as well. Furthermore, I acknowledge I didn’t actually go blind as a result of drinking it. However, I also suggest you don’t actually drink it, unless soviet-era vodka with a chaser of gasoline is to your taste. Perhaps acknowledge it with a little wave as you pass it on the shelf, or maybe the sign against the Evil Eye? This isn’t really so much a beer for drinking, as it is a beer for avoiding, or perhaps running away from, very quickly.
(OK, maybe it’s not quite that bad. It’s fun putting things down, though, isn’t it? I’ve clearly been doing this “beer tasting thing” all wrong, trying the best ones I can find. Obviously I need to find more bad beer to slag. I could have a bright future as a restaurant or film critic!)
My 103rd from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers, 97th by the 2013 Edition, and 106th overall.
3.5/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
Rogue Ales Rogues Farms Chipotle Ale Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer at 5.0% ABV
Pours a clear amber with two fingers of off-white head diminishing gradually to a thick ca and heavy lacing. Nose is… bizarre: smoky green jalapeños, caramel malt, and something I can’t identify. Taste follows, with a moderate spiciness that grows as the pint progresses. Medium body, low carbonation, and an off-dry finish.
I’m sorry, this is nasty. As in, sink pour territory – and I don’t generally do that, plus I love spicy food. This just doesn’t work. Save your time and money and don’t bother. I’m coming to the conclusion that this is a brewery that you can’t blindly support. Some of their brews just don’t work, and this is the poster child for that.
3/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
McAuslan Brewing St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout Stout at 5.0% ABV
Pours nearly jet black with only the slightest hints of deep cola brown around the edges, a fat finger of tan head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, and moderate lacing. Nose is coffee, chocolate, caramel, slightly smokey. Taste follows suit with a mild molasses sweetness tempering roasted malt and bitter coffee. Full body and low carbonation, with a creamy mouth feel and dry finish.
Now that’s a stout – this is what Guinness wishes it was. (Yes, I once gave Guinness the same rating I’m giving this one. That was then, this is now. Deal with it. I’ll re-review a Guinness sometime and put it where it belongs.) I’d love to have this on a nitro tap to really amp up the creaminess, but it’s pretty decent just as it is. The oatmeal definitely tempers the flavour, giving it a fuller, rounder aspect. This can rightly take its place as one of the best Canadian beers around.
My 102nd from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers, 96th by the 2013 Edition, and 105th overall.
9/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
Fuller Smith & Turner PLC Fuller’s ESB Extra Special Bitter at 5.9% ABV
Pours a clear copper amber with one finger of light tan head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, moderate chunky lacing. Nose is toffee/caramel malt, slight nuttiness, faint yeast and fruity hops. Taste follows suit with sweet caramel and biscuity malts leading the way for mild pepper and an almost delicate bitter finish. Medium to full body and moderate sustained carbonation, with a creamy mouth feel and dry finish.
I generally find English Bitters to be a touch boring, and this is no exception. That being said, it’s pleasant, well-behaved, and highly sessionable. This is very much a beer for a few pints in a dim and smoky pub.
My 101st from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers, 95th by the 2013 Edition, and 104th overall.
7/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
BrewDog Hardcore IPA american Double / Imperial IPA at 9.2% ABV
Pours a cloudy orange with a short tan head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, spotty lacing. Nose is pine resin and citrusy hops, caramel malt, some dark fruit. Taste leads out malty and sweet, giving way to a lingering piney bitterness. Medium oily/creamy body, low carbonation, and a lingering finish.
I’ve had worse… I’ve had better… It’s certainly not bad, but it’s got that malt-forward character that I don’t prefer in an IPA, let alone a DIPA. It’s not overly sweet, but I’d like it better if it were less so, and led out with hops instead of malt. Bottom line: not my preference, but I can see the attraction.
7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com
Big Rock Brewery Big Rock Cherazz Fruit beer at 4.1% ABV
Pours a deep brownish ruby with a fat frothy pinkish-purple head diminishing rapidly to nothing, no lacing. Nose is dominated by cherry and raspberry, with a little wheat, pale malt, and vinegar. Taste is cough drops, artificial cherry and lots of sugar. Light to moderate body, low carbonation, and an off-dry finish.
Yeah, that’s about what I expected. I’ll keep buying Big Rock varietals till the cows come home – have to support home-grown breweries, after all – but I no longer expect to be impressed by them. This is a bit of a muddled mess, and is a far cry from the Belgian style it aspires to.
6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com