Bellwoods Brewery Motley Cru (2015) – Sour Belgian Ale (Tripel / Quad Blend) at 8.7% ABV

Bellwoods Brewery Motley Cru (2015) Sour Belgian Ale (Tripel / Quad Blend) at 8.7% ABV (Trade – thanks, Chucksahoy!, 500 ml, packaged on 4-Apr-2015, acquired 17-Jul-2015, reviewed 17-May-2018)

Appearance: clear deep ruby with a short, short-lived fizzy head, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: oak, red wine, field berries, leather, balsamic. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, low bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-lively carbonation, clean tart finish. (4/5)

Super mild easy-to-drink Belgian sour blend. It’s clearly mellowed significantly during its three year cellaring, and I suspect has probably lost some complexity in the process – but it’s now ever so smooth! Somewhat surprisingly, Brett hasn’t run amok here, either structurally in the head and carbonation, or in the flavours, which are at most mildly funky. There’s also no hint of oxidation, which is good given the time spent in the cellar. I’m a little worried about its older brother which I’m trying next, though – we’ll see if I’m as lucky there! (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Nickel Brook Brewing Co. Kentucky Bastard – Imperial Stout at 14.5% ABV | 70 IBU

Nickel Brook Brewing Co. Kentucky Bastard Imperial Stout at 14.5% ABV | 70 IBU (C$25.99 at Oak & Vine, 750 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 11-Mar-2017, reviewed 15-May-2018)

Appearance: mercilessly black with no hint of relief, one finger of beige head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: bourbon, oak, coconut, dark chocolate, mild coffee, hint of nail polish. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, high bitter. (8/10) Palate: full slightly oily body, soft carbonation, lingering and building bitter finish. (4/5)

Kentucky (bourbon)? Check. Bastard (almost fifteen percent?!?!)? Check. Sooo… yeah. Does what it says on the label, I guess? Oh, wait! Coconut! Bonus check! (Yes, OK, it’s so friggin’ boozy it kinda sorta almost smells like nail polish. Whattya want? You can’t make an omelette without cracking a few eggs.) Really surprisingly drinkable for, yes, a huge bastard beer. Kentucky-fried version of their Bolshevik Bastard, and a huge winner. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Elbeck Brews KGB – Russian Imperial Stout at 9% ABV | 75 IBU

Elbeck Brews KGB Russian Imperial Stout at 9% ABV | 75 IBU (C$11.66 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 25-Apr-2017, reviewed 15-May-2018)

Appearance: clear deep brown with one finger of medium beige head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: milk chocolate, dark roasted coffee, light ash, hint of liquorice. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, lingering and building bitter spicy finish. (3/5)

I waffled pretty badly evaluating this one, starting low then bouncing up a full point and a half on the total before settling back. My biggest complaints here are the lacklustre appearance, and the inappropriately light body and high carbonation. If this had better head retention and a smoother, softer body, it would be a solid eight, but the higher carbonation in particular is giving it a slightly harsh edge despite its year-plus cellaring. That’s not to say it’s bad, by any means, but it ultimately falls short of great, and the body is a big chunk of the reason why. That said, I’ve spent a lot of time detailing this thing’s flaws, and that’s not even a little bit fair to a beer that’s actually pretty solid overall – it’s just that with a few relatively small fixes, it could be a lot better. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company Cali Common – California Common at 5% ABV | 36 IBU

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company Cali Common California Common at 5% ABV | 36 IBU (C$6.24 at NLC Stavanger, 600 ml, packaged on 9-Mar-2018, acquired 11-May-2018, reviewed 14-May-2018)

Appearance: clear medium amber with one fat finger of creamy ivory head diminishing gradually to a sturdy persistent cap, moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grassy hops, grainy malt, orchard fruits, light citrus. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium duration finish. (3/5)

I can’t claim to be a huge fan of this style – it is a lager, after all – but this is very competently done. It’s basically a slightly deeper and fruitier take on lagers, and certainly much more flavourful than the “fizzy yellow water” standard that macro lagers so frequently embody. You could do a lot worse, that’s for sure. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company Blood Simple – Witbier at 5.3% ABV | 30 IBU

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company Blood Simple Witbier at 5.3% ABV | 30 IBU (C$6.24 at NLC Stavanger, 600 ml, packaged on 28-Mar-2018, acquired 11-May-2018, reviewed 13-May-2018)

Appearance: opaque medium gold with one fat finger of creamy white head diminishing gradually to a thin persistent cap, moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: orange flesh and zest, chocolate, wheat. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, moderate-low bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium duration oily astringent finish. (3/5)

Tempting to call it Terry’s Chocolate Orange in a glass, and leave it at that. It’s not quite that simple, though, because there’s a bit of a disconnect between the aroma and the taste. The chocolate is far more prevalent on the nose than on the tongue, and the oranges that smell so sweet end up providing a somewhat unbalanced oily astringency in the finish. I sort of see what they’re going for here, but I don’t think they were entirely successful. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Unibroue Éphémère Fraise & Rhubarbe – Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 5.5% ABV | 11 IBU

Unibroue Éphémère Fraise & Rhubarbe Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 5.5% ABV | 11 IBU (C$6.85 at NLC Stavanger, 750 ml, packaged on 11-Apr-2018, acquired 11-May-2018, reviewed 13-May-2018)

Appearance: murky pale amber with one fat finger of rocky white head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: mild, malty wheat, strawberry, rhubarb. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter, mild tart. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium duration finish. (4/5)

Smells wheaty and tastes jammy, so it’s got that going for it… but that’s about all. As usual, I find this series to be at the low end of the scale for this brewery – they do an awful lot of beers much, much better than this. And yes, that sort of begs the question as to why I keep buying them (this is the fifth or maybe sixth variation I’ve tried) to which I can only reply that either hope springs eternal, or I’m just not very smart. (Though, technically, “both” is also an option, isn’t it?) (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Collective Arts Brewing Collective Project/ IPA No. 5 – American Double / Imperial IPA at 8.2% ABV

Collective Arts Brewing Collective Project/ IPA No. 5 American Double / Imperial IPA at 8.2% ABV (C$5.13 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, packaged on 26-Jan-2018, acquired 11-May-2018, reviewed 12-May-2018)

Appearance: opaque particulate-laden medium gold with one fat finger of rocky white head, good retention and moderate stringy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: juicy citrus, tropical fruit, cereal grains, mild pine. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium duration finish. (4/5)

Now that’s how you do an NEIPA, particularly a DNEIPA. Juicy aroma and juice-like appearance, smooth body, and ridiculously mild finish for a beefy big ABV. Just as good as their No. 4, but minimal pine makes it a bit more emphatically NEIPA in nature. Citra and Simcoe are big favourites with me, and here they’re implemented with no green onion or cattiness. My only complaint is the (late) January packaging date: I’d love to have this fresher. Yes, we’re under that magic 90 day window, but this isn’t a style that ages well, and I’m sure it’s lost a lot of aromatics – and since this is a style that’s all about aromatics, that’s (probably) significant. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie McAuslan St-Ambroise Pamplemousse IPA – American IPA at 6.2% ABV | 46 IBU

Brasserie McAuslan St-Ambroise Pamplemousse IPA American IPA at 6.2% ABV | 46 IBU (C$3.39 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, packaged on 11-Apr-2018, acquired 11-May-2018, reviewed 12-May-2018)

Appearance: clear pale amber with one finger of rocky white head, good retention and moderate stringy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grapefruit, tropical fruit, grainy malt, herbal. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, dry lingering bitter oily astringent finish. (3/5)

Not bad, but the grapefruit comes across a bit too sugary on the front end, and a bit too astringent on the finish. In addition to the grapefruit being slightly unbalanced in that respect, it overpowers the hop character, which comes through only as a fairly diffuse bitter finish without much definition. All in all, a bit ham-fisted, but not actually unpleasant. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Muskoka Brewery Is There Life on Märzen? – Oktoberfest / Märzen at 6% ABV | 20 IBU

Muskoka Brewery Is There Life on Märzen? Oktoberfest / Märzen at 6% ABV  | 20 IBU (C$3.75 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, best before 6-Aug-2018, acquired 11-May-2018, reviewed 12-May-2018)

Appearance: clear medium amber with a short pearlescent head that retains poorly, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: bready caramel malt, earth, faint grass, hints of chocolate & coffee. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium bitter finish. (4/5)

If I’m honest, I bought this mainly for the delightful pun in the name – as a fan of not only the original Bowie track, but also the British TV series and the American remake, how could I not? As it turns out, as an example of the style, this is solid: big malt and minimal hop character, with restrained sweetness following, on a smooth body with a decently dry finish. I’m generally all about the hops, but if you must make it about the malt, this is a good way to do it. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

2 Crows Brewing Pecadillo Oat Pilsner – Pilsener at 4.8% ABV | 28 IBU

2 Crows Brewing Pecadillo Oat Pilsner Pilsener at 4.8% ABV | 28 IBU (C$3.93 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, packaged on 2-Feb-2018, acquired 11-May-2018, reviewed 12-May-2018)

Appearance: clear medium gold with one finger of fluffy white head, good retention and spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: cereal grains, caramel, grass. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium slightly creamy body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium bitter slightly spicy finish. (3/5)

The label says “clean grainy spice malty”, and that’s not a bad summary. I was initially a little disappointed by this, but warmed up to it as the pint progressed. I tend to find myself underwhelmed by Pilseners at the best of times, and this one isn’t sufficiently earth-shattering to overcome the basic boredom of the style. It’s by no means the best I’ve had from this brewery – in fact, it’s probably near the bottom – but at the end of the day, it’s clean (and grainy, and malty, and spicy) and I guess you can’t really ask for more than that, can you? (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com