The Establishment Brewing Company 9 to 5 Brut IPA with Hibiscus – American IPA at 6.4% ABV

The Establishment Brewing Company 9 to 5 Brut IPA with Hibiscus – American IPA at 6.4% ABV (C$4.75 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 24-Mar-2020, acquired 25-Mar-2020, reviewed 29-Mar-2020)

Appearance: crystal clear pink gold with one finger of loose pale pink head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, no lacing. (4/5) Aroma: mild, tropical fruit, floral, herbal, pale crackery malt. (7/10) Taste: moderate-low sweet, moderate-low bitter, light tart. (6/10) Palate: light body, lively carbonation, dry slightly flat finish. (3/5)

It’s hard to point to exactly what’s not working here. I guess it’s partially the very mild aroma, and partially the way the finish seem to fall flat despite the dryness and lively carbonation. On the up side, the hibiscus presence isn’t overwhelming, and there was at least some hop presence before it all kind of faded into the background. There’s nothing really wrong, but, boy, is it boring. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij Huyghe Delirium Tremens – Belgian Strong Ale at 8.7% ABV | 24.5 IBU

Brouwerij Huyghe Delirium Tremens – Belgian Strong Ale at 8.7% ABV | 24.5 IBU (C$6.00 at South Trail Calgary Co-Op, 330 ml, best before 30-Aug-2017, acquired 5-Nov-2014, reviewed 25-Mar-2020)

Appearance: clear particulate-laden straw with one finger of dense white head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: green apple, Belgian yeast, candi sugar, banana, cloves, white pepper. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter, light tart. (9/10) Palate: medium-light body, lively carbonation, off-dry warming finish. (4/5)

You know what annoys the piss out of me? I can’t just drink any more. Well, I can, sort of – I mean, I can kill a bottle of whiskey like nobody’s business, and I can go pick up a four or six of something to have while I’m watching the game (except thanks to COVID19 there’s no more games any more!) – but out of my collection? I can’t pull out something interesting and just drink it, oh no, I feel obligated to review it. Even something like this, that I know inside out and upside down – I mean, shit, I’ve been to the Café Delirium in Brussels, multiple times. (But I didn’t get one of those skewed glasses? D’oh! Note to self, if international travel ever becomes possible again.) Not only that, I have a couple of “proper” Delirium glasses, but they’re at home, while I’m serving out my quarantine in my office. Feckin’ hell. And yeah, fine, the name of the beer is a debilitating side effect of alcoholism, but fuckit, right? I’m not an alcoholic, because alcoholics go to meetings.

Anyway, I obviously don’t have a drinking problem, I have a collecting problem. When I crack open one of my many cellar classics like this, I feel such a sense of loss: I mean, this is almost three years past its alleged BB date, but other than a bit of particulate, it’s not been harmed at all, and if anything is a little better than it used to be. It’s still bright and lively, but has smoothed out a little over its extended cellaring. Helluva beer – warm, but not overly aggressive, and lively, yet easy-drinking. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Rogue Ales New Crustacean – American Double / Imperial IPA at 11.6% ABV | 88 IBU

Rogue Ales New Crustacean Barleywineish Imperial IPA Sorta – American Double / Imperial IPA at 11.6% ABV | 88 IBU (C$17.01 at Collective, 750 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 25-Mar-2020, reviewed 25-Mar-2020)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale gold with one finger of fluffy pale ivory head gradually diminishing to a thick persistent cap, moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: caramel & toffee, resiny pine, citrus, biscuity malt. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium-full oily slick body, moderate carbonation, sticky building and lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

I was quite surprised when I tasted this. My initial take on reading the label was “Oh, come on, how can you have something that merges Barleywines and DIPAs? That makes no sense!” And when I opened it, I was convinced I was right: that it was predominantly a Barleywine, due to the aroma. Then I tasted it. Huh. Yeah, this is a combination of Barleywine and DIPA character – and it works. As a slow sipper, to be sure, but it does work. It smells like a Barleywine, albeit a highly-hopped one, but it tastes like a DIPA – albeit an extremely boozy one. I must have seen (and passed on) Old Crustacean a  hundred times, but now I think I might pick it up next time I see it, just to compare the full-on Barleywine with this hybridized version. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Cabin Brewing Company Poster Girl – American IPA at 6% ABV

Cabin Brewing Company Poster Girl – American IPA at 6% ABV (C$4.72 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 23-Mar-2020, acquired 25-Mar-2020, reviewed 25-Mar-2020)

Appearance: crystal clear pink-tinged pale gold with two fat fingers of fluffy white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: dank pine, oranges, pale malt, floral. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium duration finish. (4/5)

Smells and tastes nothing like you might expect given the way it looks. I was expecting a lot of hibiscis/floral notes, but in fact that’s pretty restrained, and even the blood orange is slightly beaten out by the dank pink resin. I love the fact that the hops still manage to take centre stage despite the presence of enough adjunct to turn the beer pink. Really nice, and not sweet at all. (16/20)

The labels says this is named in honour of Ronnie the Bren Gun Girl, the Canadian precursor to Rosie the Riveter. (I suspect she’s the true inspiration for that poster, though most [American] sources list others.)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Ribstone Creek Brewery Abbey Lane – Mild Ale at 3.6% ABV

Ribstone Creek Brewery Abbey Lane – Mild Ale at 3.6% ABV (Gift from Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 27-Sep-2019, acquired 25-Mar-2020, reviewed 25-Mar-2020)

Appearance: slightly hazy ruby brown with two fat fingers of fluffy light beige head, excellent retention and moderate soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: mild, roasty malts, cocoa, ashy, nuts, grassy & herbal. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium duration slightly astringent finish. (3/5)

Pleasantly flavourful for such a very low ABV. The body is a little thin, making the roast malt notes feel a little like they’re verging on burnt or ashy, and resulting in a slight astringency in the finish, but not bad overall. It might also be suffering slightly from age, since it doesn’t seem quite as good as the first time I had it. It might not be one I’d necessarily go looking for again, but hey, free beer is free beer! (Thanks, Andrew!) (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bières de Chimay S.A. Chimay Tripel (White) – Abbey Tripel at 8% ABV

Bières de Chimay S.A. Chimay Tripel (White) – Abbey Tripel at 8% ABV (C$6.99 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 330 ml, best before 31-Dec-2020, acquired 12-Oct-2017, reviewed 23-Mar-2020)

Appearance: clear pale amber with two fingers of pillowy pale ivory head, excellent retention and heavy chunky lacing. (5/5) Aroma: doughy yeast, banana, apple, earth, spices. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium slightly slick body, lively carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter warming finish. (4/5)

For my money, this remains one of the reference standards for the style – and it’s not that much money! I especially enjoy the way the malt and orchard fruit retain an emphatic character without the result being excessively sweet. More than two years’ cellaring hasn’t affected this at all, as far as I can tell, so I think the BB date is really more a suggestion than anything. Of course, the flip side of that coin is, why bother to cellar it, if it doesn’t develop further? I think I might finish off the last one I have of this vintage tonight and call it done. (18/20)

9/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bellwoods Brewery Barn Owl (No. 19) – Sour / Wild Ale at 5.8% ABV

Bellwoods Brewery Barn Owl (No. 19) – Sour / Wild Ale at 5.8% ABV (C$24.80 at Collective, 500 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 13-Mar-2020, reviewed 23-Mar-2020)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale straw with two fat fingers of fluffy pale ivory head, excellent retention and moderate chunky lacing. (5/5) Aroma: stone fruit, brett funk, grape must, oak, citrus, floral, hint of dank pine. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, moderate-low bitter. (9/10) Palate: medium-light body, lively carbonation, crisply tart and mildly funky finish. (4/5)

This is dramatically different than the last one of this series I had, #10. That one was completely dominated by the apricot adjunct, while this one is a lovely combination of barrel notes, brett funk, and dry hopping. This is pretty much exactly what I was asking for when I criticized #10, and I can’t say there’s a lot I’d change here. If I have one complaint, it’s that it’s pretty expensive, but as always that’s not a factor in my rating. I’m just happy that I can (occasionally) get this locally, especially since I stopped my trans-Canada commuting last year and can’t just pop in to the Ossington shop every now and then. Great beer. (18/20)

9/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Trappistenbrouwerij De Kievit B.V. Zundert 10 – Abt / Quadrupel at 10% ABV

Trappistenbrouwerij De Kievit B.V. Zundert 10 – Abt / Quadrupel at 10% ABV (C$7.39 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 330 ml, best before 22-Oct-2021, acquired 27-May-2019, reviewed 22-Mar-2020)

Appearance: clear cola brown with one finger of pillowy light tan head, excellent retention and moderate chunky lacing. (4/5) Aroma: dark fruit, brown sugar, banana, nuts, leather. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter, mild spiciness. (8/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate carbonation, building bitter and boozy finish. (4/5)

My first offering from the only Trappist brewer in the Netherlands. I’m not sure if this is the first (2018) vintage, or an early 2019 one, but either way it’s a relatively  new product by them. The brewery itself is actually pretty new, opening in 2013, and prior to 2018 producing only one type of beer, renamed as the 8 after the introduction of this one. This is a nice Quad, fairly Belgian in character, though I find the aroma to be slightly mild for the style, even after warming. There’s also a very slight astringency in the finish that hasn’t disappeared even after a year’s cellaring. I mean, sure, it’s no Westy XII, but what else is? All in all, a nice sipper. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Unibroue La Résolution (2015) – Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 10% ABV | 21.5 IBU

Unibroue La Résolution (2015) – Spice / Herb / Vegetable at 10% ABV | 21.5 IBU (C$12.99 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 750 ml, packaged on 25-Aug-2015, acquired 5-Nov-2015, reviewed 22-Mar-2020)

Appearance: clear deep brown with a short loose light tan head diminishing gradually to a thin persistent cap, spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: winter spices, caramel/toffee malt, boozy dark fruit. (9/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, mild bitter, moderate spiciness. (8/10) Palate: medium-full, moderate-lively carbonation, lingering boozy finish. (5/5)

I’m amazed at how little this has changed since I first reviewed this vintage when I first acquired it new, over four years ago. In fact, the only discernible difference is that the head development and retention isn’t as good now. Other than that, it remains as I described it then: comparable to “the big Belgian quads, with an ABV that is definitely present, but not overwhelming, while the enthusiastic spices and carbonation balance it out nicely.” The other change is that I forgot to do the three year vertical I speculated I might do then, and I’m drinking this now just for the hell of it, because, hey, why keep good beer in storage if the collapse of civilization is imminent? #jokingnotjoking (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Troubled Monk Brewery Get In Loser, We’re Going Brewing – Witbier at 5.3% ABV

Troubled Monk Brewery Get In Loser, We’re Going Brewing – Witbier at 5.3% ABV (C$2.95 at Collective, 355 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 13-Mar-2020, reviewed 22-Mar-2020)

Appearance: slightly hazy pink-tinted amber with a short loose white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap and ring, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: floral, zesty lime. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low tart, low bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate-lively carbonation, off-dry oily lime zest finish. (4/5)

The floral (hibiscus) and lime are roughly the same intensity on the nose, which is good, but combined they completely overwhelm any base Witbier character that might’ve been present. On the tongue and through the finish, the lime completely dominates with an oily zest that is neither excessively sweet nor (surprisingly) overwhelmingly tart. Pleasant, I suppose, particularly due to the restrained sweetness, but not one I’d want to drink much more of. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Beer Reviews