Breakside Brewery Thirst Trap – American IPA at 6.4% ABV | 69 IBU

Breakside Brewery Thirst Trap American IPA at 6.4% ABV | 69 IBU (C$9.99 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 7-Sep-2018, reviewed 10-Sep-2018)

Appearance: hazy pale amber with two fingers of rocky off-white head, excellent retention and heavy soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: dank pine, citrus, bready caramel. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering building bitter finish. (4/5)

I guess this doesn’t actually claim to be an NEIPA, so I can’t criticize it for not adhering to the spec for that style. And it does pour slightly hazy, it’s definitely an IPA, and the hops are at least slightly savage, so it does in fact deliver precisely what it promises on the label. Anyway, enough of what it’s not: what it is, is a fairly modern West Coast IPA with dank pine and bright citrus on a clean malt background, and really good stuff. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Parallel 49 / Bench Creek Brewing THEM – Black IPA at 6.8% ABV

Parallel 49 / Bench Creek Brewing THEM Black IPA at 6.8% ABV (C$3.50 at Sobeys Liquor Okotoks, 473 ml, packaged on 17-Jul-2018, acquired 3-Sep-2018, reviewed 9-Sep-2018)

Appearance: clear deep brown with one fat finger of rocky ivory head, excellent retention and heavy soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: roasty malts, stone fruit, citrus, chocolate, coffee, smoke. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium duration slightly spicy finish. (4/5)

I had a brief but intense fling with this style, now somewhat embarrassing to recall – as is so often the case in such situations, the flame that burns brightest burns shortest. Every now and then, though, I find a well-executed example of the style that reminds me of why I fell in love in the first place. It’s fairly unsurprising that Bench Creek is involved in such a discovery, since I’ve found them to be generally on point, with flashes of brilliance. This doesn’t quite qualify as a flash of brilliance, but it’s certainly a respectable effort, with no significant flaws. Last one of the “Craft Cousins” 4-pack of Parallel 49 collaborations with Alberta breweries, and a solid finish. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

O.T. Brewing Company Flagstick Galaxy Hazy Pale Ale – American Pale Ale at 5.2% ABV | 45 [?] IBU

O.T. Brewing Company Flagstick Galaxy Hazy Pale Ale American Pale Ale at 5.2% ABV | 45 [?] IBU (C$3.00 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 355 ml, packaged on 18-Aug-2018, acquired 7-Sep-2018, reviewed 7-Sep-2018)

Appearance: hazy pale straw with one fat finger of rocky white head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: tropical fruit, juicy orange, pale malt, light pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry mild bitter finish. (4/5)

Very similar to their base Flagstick, but with Galaxy hop character – and given my attitude towards Galaxy hops, this is most definitely not a complaint. Like the base beer, I still find that the aroma and flavour are both on the light side, making this behave somewhat like a watered-down IPA, instead of a highly flavourful low(er) ABV beer. That’s somewhat ameliorated by the more flavourful aroma of Galaxy hops, but I still wish it were a bit more emphatic. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Parallel 49 / Blindman Brewing Zombies Ate My Brewery! – American IPA at 6.8% ABV

Parallel 49 / Blindman Brewing Zombies Ate My Brewery! American IPA at 6.8% ABV (C$3.50 at Sobeys Liquor Okotoks, 473 ml, packaged on 9-Jul-2018, acquired 3-Sep-2018, reviewed 6-Sep-2018)

Appearance: cloudy deep gold with one fat finger of rocky pale ivory head, good retention and heavy soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: juicy citrus, grainy malt, oats, grassy weeds, herbal, faint pine. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation tending slightly low, off-dry short duration finish. (4/5)

I had high hopes here, but it didn’t quite live up to them. It’s not bad, or anything, but it’s just not quite where I was hoping it’d be. It actually seems like it might be at first, but there’s a slight change as it warms, and the juicy citrus fades slightly as a vegetal herbal note becomes more pronounced. I initially rated both aroma and flavour more highly, but I think the current score is more accurate. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Parallel 49 / Tool Shed Brewing Company The Dangerous Wolfman – Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 6.5% ABV

Parallel 49 / Tool Shed Brewing Company The Dangerous Wolfman Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 6.5% ABV (C$3.50 at Sobeys Liquor Okotoks, 473 ml, packaged on 10-Jul-2018, acquired 3-Sep-2018, reviewed 6-Sep-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy medium amber with a short ivory head diminishing gradually to a thin skim and ring, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: grainy and bready caramel, orchard fruit, floral, earth. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-low bitter, light tart. (6/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, sweetish slightly sticky finish. (3/5)

Deeply disappointing. They call this a “Lemon Square Ale”, but any lemon is strictly incidental, coming through as a hint of tartness on the tongue but with very little presence on the nose. (Not to mention, what the serious fudge do lemon squares have to do with the Wolfman?) Muddled and unremarkable, and entirely forgettable. Part of the “Craft Cousins” 4-pack of Parallel 49 collaborations with Alberta breweries. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Parallel 49 / Last Best Brewing and Distilling It Came From the Mash Tun! – Saison at 5.1% ABV

Parallel 49 / Last Best Brewing and Distilling It Came From the Mash Tun! Saison at 5.1% ABV (C$3.50 at Sobeys Liquor Okotoks, 473 ml, packaged on 18-Jul-2018, acquired 3-Sep-2018, reviewed 5-Sep-2018)

Appearance: hazy pale straw with one finger of creamy white head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: pale crackery malt, floral, lemon zest, coriander, white pepper. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter, light peppery spice. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, prickly carbonation, dry mildly spicy finish. (4/5)

Not very “wild”, but pretty drinkable and reasonably refreshing. A fairly authentic interpretation of the style, in my opinion. Part of the “Craft Cousins” 4-pack of Parallel 49 collaborations with Alberta breweries. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Ribstone Creek Brewery Keeper’s Point – American Pale Ale at 5.1% ABV

Ribstone Creek Brewery Keeper’s Point American Pale Ale at 5.1% ABV (C$3.25 at Sobeys Liquor Okotoks, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 3-Sep-2018, reviewed 4-Sep-2018)

Appearance: cloudy straw with one finger of loose white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim and ring, moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, pale malt, floral, tropical fruit, hint of pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter, light peppery spice. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off dry mildly spicy finish. (4/5)

Another solid performer from Ribstone Creek. I wasn’t all that thrilled with their basic American IPA and APA that I tried a couple of years ago, but then more recently they blew me away with their White IPA and DIPA, and this continues that track record. Pretty much ticks all the boxes for the style, fruity and mild and easy to drink – and with a fairly restrained ABV, you can drink several if you’re so inclined! (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Alley Kat Brewing Co. Onyx Dragon – American Double / Imperial IPA at 7.5% ABV | 75+ IBU

Alley Kat Brewing Co. Onyx Dragon American Double / Imperial IPA at 7.5% ABV | 75+ IBU (C$8.39 at Okotoks Co-Op, 650 ml, packaged on 1-Aug-2018, acquired 1-Sep-2018, reviewed 3-Sep-2018)

Appearance: clear pale amber with one fat finger of fluffy pale ivory head, excellent retention and heavy soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: bready caramel, pepper, herbal, Perth & grass, faint pine & citrus. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet & spice, high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium slightly oily body, moderate carbonation, off dry mildly spicy warming and lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

Given the name, someone unfamiliar with the series might be forgiven for expecting a Black IPA. Of course, this being the fourteenth in the series I’ve tried, I had no such erroneous expectation. I was rather hoping this would continue the upward trend established by the past few examples, but that would become exponentially more difficult to do, so I’m not overly surprised it doesn’t. I really am starting to think they really are hitting the bottom of the barrel with regards to hop selection, given they’re up to more than 20 of these things now, maybe 30. In any case, Bravo hops, at 14-17% alpha acid, are really more of a bittering hop than an aroma one, and it shows here: although it’s cleanly implemented, it tends more earthy than citrus, pine, or floral. This would be a great DIPA if it were, say, ten years ago, or even five, but the state of the art has moved on. That said, it’s solid, well-done, and fairly accessible for such an aggressive beast, so I have no real complaints here – but it’s not really all that interesting. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij Liefmans Yell’Oh on the Rocks – Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 3.8% ABV

Brouwerij Liefmans Yell’Oh on the Rocks Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 3.8% ABV (C$2.89 at Okotoks Co-Op, 250 ml, best before 1-Feb-2019, acquired 1-Sep-2018, reviewed 2-Sep-2018)

Appearance: hazy straw with one fat finger of creamy white head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: pineapple, lemon, stone fruit. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate tart, low bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, sweetish mild tart finish. (3/5)

Pretty unremarkable in general, which I guess makes it pretty terrible by Liefmans’ standards. (Mind you, their Fruitesse was actually worse, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.) The excessive sweetness prevents it from being refreshing, and the pineapple threatens to overwhelm everything. It’s not actually bad, but I think it would get pretty cloying if I tried to drink more than the tiny 250ml bottle. Clearly there’s a reason they tell you to pour it over lots of ice. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company Sou’Wester IPA – American IPA at 6.2% ABV | 25 IBU

The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company Sou’Wester IPA American IPA at 6.2% ABV | 25 IBU (C$3.89 at Okotoks Co-Op, 473 ml, packaged on 2-May-2018, acquired 1-Sep-2018, reviewed 1-Sep-2018)

Appearance: hazy medium gold with one fat finger of rocky white head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: orange zest and other citrus, grainy pale malt, dank pine, caramel, floral. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry mild bitter finish. (4/5)

I’m not entirely convinced this is a “true” New England-style IPA, since there’s a definite slightly dank pine note in the aroma, and the bitterness is just slightly high on the tongue (for the style, certainly not in absolute terms). It’s also not all that juicy, nor is it opaquely cloudy as is so typical with the style. However, what it is, is a very good beer. Overall, it’s flavourful, mild, and approachable. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Beer Reviews