Big Spruce Brewing Tag! You’re It! – American IPA at 6.5% ABV

Big Spruce Brewing Tag! You’re It! American IPA at 6.5% ABV (C$5.40 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 7-Sep-2018, acquired 19-Oct-2018, reviewed 3-Nov-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy medium gold with one fat finger of rocky white head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, caramel & bready malt, resiny pine, tropical fruit. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium duration slightly astringent finish. (3/5)

Nice aroma on the front end, courtesy of Mosaic and Citra, with concomitant middling-aggressive bitterness on the tongue. It ends up a little overextracted, though, with an astringency in the finish that mars the flavour profile. Not bad, but hardly “shockingly good”, its benefit to the “mysterious electric torpedo ray” notwithstanding. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Analog Brewing In Another Castle – American IPA at 5.5% ABV | 45 IBU

Analog Brewing In Another Castle American IPA at 5.5% ABV | 45 IBU (C$4.41 at Collective, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 19-Oct-2018, reviewed 3-Nov-2018)

Appearance: muddy translucent brown with two fingers of loose white head, good retention and moderate clingy lacing. (2/5) Aroma: peach & stone fruit, tropical fruit, grainy malt, citrus, grass. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light tart. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, medium duration lightly tart finish. (3/5)

So… it’s Analog Brewing, but the title of the beer makes reference to a digital video game? Yeah, OK, sure, why not? I debated picking this up, because, to be honest, I’ve been finding Milkshake IPAs to be hit and miss at best. The fact that they were another local(-ish) brewery I hadn’t yet tried pushed me over the edge. Immediately upon pouring, my first thought was that I should have left well enough alone, since the appearance was a frankly unappetizing muddy ditchwater. As to why it’s so ugly, your guess is as good as mine: I ultimately detected no (other?) indications of oxidation, and based upon a little research I don’t think it can possibly be more than a couple of months old at most. Anyway, I screwed up my courage and tasted it – and was slightly surprised to find it’s actually not bad. It’s not great, either, but it’s not bad. On the up side, the lactose is mild, as are both the sweetness and tartness. But man, is it ever fugly. Suffice it to say that it’s not advancing the cause of Milkshake IPAs with me. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Dandy Brewing Company Cosmic Dancer – Session IPA at 4.5% ABV

Dandy Brewing Company Cosmic Dancer Session IPA at 4.5% ABV (C$4.05 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 10-Sep-2018, acquired 19-Oct-2018, reviewed 3-Nov-2018)

Appearance: hazy pale straw with a massive fluffy white head, good retention and spotty loose lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus zest, stone fruit, clean malt, light pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body tending slightly watery, moderate carbonation, dry slightly astringent finish. (3/5)

Quite nice on the front end, with a good selection of hops (Mosaic, Azacca, and Enigma) making themselves known in the aroma. Almost like a Brut in a lot of ways, except for the lower carbonation, and the fact that the finish, instead of being dry, is instead sightly thin and astringent. Which is to say, this is a light beer that tastes and feels like a watered-down real beer. It’s not a bad effort by any means, but it needs work, especially in the finish. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Blindman Brewing / Troubled Monk Brewery Burbank Series No. 2 Brut IPA – American IPA at 7% ABV

Blindman Brewing / Troubled Monk Brewery Burbank Series No. 2 Brut IPA American IPA at 7% ABV (C$2.92 at Collective, 355 ml, packaged on 9-Oct-2018, acquired 19-Oct-2018, reviewed 2-Nov-2018)

Appearance: brightly clear pale straw with one finger of rocky white head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (5/5) Aroma: citrus juice and zest, leafy green weeds, crackery pale malt, light pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, high carbonation, dry almost astringent finish. (4/5)

Yay! Another Brut IPA! And this one is very true to style: pale, highly-carbonated, and dry – in short, highly attenuated. A damn sight better than their first collab, I might add (which at the time puzzled me immensely given the love I have for both breweries). No hint of the relatively high ABV in the champagne-like finish. A quick note about the dryness of the finish: it’s not overly so, and actually tends almost tart or astringent. Not puckeringly so, but definitely mouth-cleaning and more-ish. I might be a touch miserly on my scoring here, but if I am, it’s because I think they can actually improve this. As in, unverified sources suggest this has Mosaic, Motueka, and Mandarina Bavaria, but I’d love to see a DDH version without the Mandarina Bavaria (which always seems to come up short in the citrus department) or the Motueka (yeah, fine, it’s an ANZ hop, but it’s very Saaz-like)… just spitballing here, but how about Mosaic and Nelson Sauvin? (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Blindman Brewing Long Shadows – American IPA at 7.1% ABV | 68 IBU

Blindman Brewing Long Shadows American IPA at 7.1% ABV | 68 IBU (C$4.12 at Okotoks Co-Op, 473 ml, best before 24-Dec-2018, acquired 30-Oct-2018, reviewed 2-Nov-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy medium gold with two fat fingers of rocky white head, excellent retention and chunky lacing. (5/5) Aroma: tropical fruit and citrus, clean pale malt, pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry building bitter finish. (4/5)

I had this on tap at Craft a couple of years ago, and thought it was OK at best – I commented that although it might well be inspired by Vermont, Heady had nothing to worry about. And, truth be told, they still don’t, quite. But the fact is, this can is far better than what I recall (and a lot closer to their new Get Thy Bearings, which might actually be a good enough NEIPA to cause a little consternation in Stowe). Comes pretty close to the magic 10:1 IBU:ABV ratio, making it emphatically not an NEIPA in terms of bitterness, but definitely a very well done IPA. Another one that I think they’ve dialled in since its inception, to very good effect. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Blindman Brewing Blindman River Session Ale – Session IPA at 4.4% ABV | 26 IBU

Blindman Brewing Blindman River Session Ale Session IPA at 4.4% ABV | 26 IBU (C$3.62 at Okotoks Co-Op, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 30-Oct-2018, reviewed 2-Nov-2018)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with two fat fingers of rocky white head, excellent retention and chunky lacing. (4/5) Aroma: juicy and pithy citrus, tropical fruit, pale crackery malt, floral, hint of pine. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body tending slightly light, moderate carbonation, off-dry short mild bitter finish. (4/5)

No BO/BB dates but they usually do them with a sticker on the four-pack carrier, and mine must’ve fallen off. (Other than that, the cans are nearly perfect, with OG, FG, ABV, SRM, and IBU. Just add a date and I’ll be happy!) Seems fresh, in any case, and has loads of flavour for a very low ABV beer. I first reviewed this at the Alberta Craft Beer Charity Festival a couple of years ago, and I think they must have dialled it in somewhat since then, because I definitely like it more now. It’s light without being watery, and flavourful without sacrificing refreshment, making it an extremely drinkable beer and a definite go-to to keep in the fridge. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Founders Brewing Company Barrel Runner – American Double / Imperial IPA at 11.1% ABV | 55 IBU

Founders Brewing Company Barrel Runner American Double / Imperial IPA at 11.1% ABV | 55 IBU (C$5.99 at Oak & Vine, 355 ml, best before 29-May-2019, acquired 29-Sep-2018, reviewed 1-Nov-2018)

Appearance: clear pale amber with two fat fingers of rocky white head diminishing rapidly to a medium persistent cap, moderate soapy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: rum, vanilla, coconut, tropical fruit. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium slightly slick body, moderate carbonation, sweetish building and lingering bitter warming finish. (4/5)

Well, it’s different, I’ll give it that. Rum dominates the front end, quickly followed by vanilla and coconut (which I often find associated with barrel notes) and followed up with tropical fruit. In addition, it’s sweet and boozy. The overall effect, in fact, approaches something like a Piña Colada, or maybe a Painkiller. It’s not the most subtle thing I’ve ever had, but I wouldn’t say no to another. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Stone Brewing Company Enjoy By 10.31.18 – American Double / Imperial IPA at 9.4% ABV | 90 IBU

Stone Brewing Company Enjoy By 10.31.18 American Double / Imperial IPA at 9.4% ABV | 90 IBU (US$2.99 at Brix Bottleshop, 355 ml, packaged on 24-Sep-2018, acquired 22-Oct-2018, reviewed 31-Oct-2018)

Appearance: clear deep gold with one finger of loose white head diminishing rapidly to a medium cap, moderate soapy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: stone & tropical fruits, citrus, dank pine. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, high bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry building bitter warming finish. (5/5)

Under the wire, if barely. And yes, the shine has been seriously off the apple for me with Stone for quite some time – but I’m always going to take an in-season EB off the shelf, no matter what. Yes, too, I railed against the use of the word “fresh” in labelling barely an hour ago – but Stone earns an exception to that objection because they build such a brutally short (37 days!) drop-dead freshness cutoff into the very name of the beer. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re gonna claim fresh, then own it – and Stone does. One has to give the devil (or the gargoyle) his due, after all. Aroma- and taste-wise, this is pretty much on-par with the brighter, less malty versions I’ve had in the past. Structurally, I was a bit surprised at the poor head development and retention, so I’ve marked it down a bit there. Overall. though, it remains pretty much the gold standard against which the A/DIPA is measured. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Lagunitas Brewing Company Super Cluster – American IPA at 8% ABV | 60 IBU

Lagunitas Brewing Company Super Cluster American IPA at 8% ABV | 60 IBU (US$1.99 at Brix Bottleshop, 355 ml, packaged on 1-Sep-2018, acquired 22-Oct-2018, reviewed 31-Oct-2018)

Appearance: clear deep gold with one finger of loose white head diminishing rapidly to a medium cap, moderate soapy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: citrus, dank pine, tropical fruit, pale malt, herbal, hint of cattiness. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering and building bitter finish. (4/5)

Yes, OK, I know, they’re Heineken, and they’re on my shit list. And to be honest, I’ve stuck to that boycott for so long that I’d pretty much forgotten how good they were – and still are, if we’re honest. And this is really good: lots of bright citrus leads the way over some dank pine and tropical, almost floral herbal notes. There’s a hint of cattiness (or maybe green onion) towards the end, as it warms, but it’s neither unexpected for Citra hops, nor off-putting. I can see why they’re not calling this a DIPA despite the emphatic ABV, because it drinks like something from a much lower weight class. Worth maybe briefly bending your boycott. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Red Truck Beer Company Field Trip Northwest IPA – American IPA at 6.3% ABV

Red Truck Beer Company _Field Trip Northwest IPA_ American IPA at 6.3% ABV _(C$2.00 at Okotoks Co-Op, 355 ml, packaged on 12-Aug-2018, acquired 28-Oct-2018, reviewed 31-Oct-2018)_

Appearance: clear deep gold with one fat finger of rocky white head, excellent retention and moderate clingy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grainy malt, earthy pine, citrus. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium duration finish. (4/5)

A fairly unremarkable, and certainly not very “NW”, IPA. On the other hand, it’s fairly easy-drinking, and decently refreshing. Don’t get me wrong: I drank the six pack – but I can’t see making any special effort to get any more. I also think I now have a corollary to my observation about beers that have “premium” on the label: if a beer mentions “fresh” on the label, it’s because they have nothing else to say. (Don’t get me started on “cold”.) How can a beer claim to be fresher than any other, unless they’re exclusively serving it straight from the bright tank? Seriously, it’s an idiotic thing to put on the label. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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