Deschutes Brewery The Abyss (2015) – American Double / Imperial Stout at 12.2% ABV | 70 IBU

Deschutes Brewery The Abyss (2015) American Double / Imperial Stout at 12.2% ABV | 70 IBU (C$22.16 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650 ml, best after 8-Dec-2016, acquired 17-Feb-2016, reviewed 4-Aug-2018)

Appearance: opaque deep brown with one finger of creamy beige head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: chocolate, bourbon, roasty malt, vanilla, molasses, leather. (9/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, high bitter. (8/10) Palate: full slick body, soft carbonation, off-dry lingering and building bitter warming finish. (4/5)

Lots of the bourbon barrel coming through in this, but not so much the wine barrel – the closest I’m getting to vinous character is a leather-like note. Not a complaint, mind you, simply an observation. Definitely no regrets on the cellaring period for this one, as even at three years old, it’s still emphatically warm, if not actually hot. All in all, an excellent high-gravity barrel-aged beer. (18/20)

My 264th from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die, 254th from the 2013 edition, and 278th combining both editions.

9/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Central City Brewers + Distillers / NWT Brewing Co. Across the Nation Collaboration: Midnight Ember – Smoked Beer at 6% ABV | 40 IBU

Central City Brewers + Distillers / NWT Brewing Co. Across the Nation Collaboration: Midnight Ember Smoked Beer at 6% ABV | 40 IBU (C$2.47 at NLC Stavanger, 355 ml, packaged on 21-Mar-2018, acquired 13-Jul-2018, reviewed 4-Aug-2018)

Appearance:  clear deep ruby brown with one finger of loose beige head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, no lacing. (4/5) Aroma: smoke, caramel, cocoa, roasty malt. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter, hint of umame. (7/10) Palate: medium slightly oily body, moderate carbonation, dry moderate bitter ashy finish. (4/5)

Smoked beers can be a challenge to get right – too much smoke, and it overwhelms everything, but too little, and you’re left with the vague impression someone stubbed a ciggie in your drink. This one? Well, I’ve had better – but I’ve also had worse. It strikes a decent balance between smoke and roasty malts, and gives an almost bacon-like note on the tongue. I would’ve thought a heavier body and lower carbonation was more appropriate to the style, but it’s not bad as-is. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Central City Brewers + Distillers / Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks Across the Nation Collaboration: Ruby Sunset – Sour / Wild Ale at 6% ABV | 7 IBU

Central City Brewers + Distillers / Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks Across the Nation Collaboration: Ruby Sunset Sour / Wild Ale at 6% ABV | 7 IBU (C$2.47 at NLC Stavanger, 355 ml, packaged on 3-Apr-2018, acquired 13-Jul-2018, reviewed 4-Aug-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale amber with one finger of loose off-white head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: artificial fruit punch, grainy malt, faint grass & earth. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, low bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry mild bitter and tart finish. (3/5)

I was a little taken aback the first time I saw a brewer wearing “kettle sours suck” T-shirt, thinking that seemed a bit of an extreme reaction to a style that, though admittedly lacking in depth and complexity, seemed at least OK – but, y’know what? I’m getting there, and fast. And, yes, it’s due to beers like this, which smell and taste like slightly malty kool-aid. (11/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Central City Brewers + Distillers / YellowBelly Brewery Across the Nation Collaboration: Me Ol’ Trout – Cream Ale at 5.2% ABV | 20 IBU

Central City Brewers + Distillers / YellowBelly Brewery Across the Nation Collaboration: Me Ol’ Trout Cream Ale at 5.2% ABV | 20 IBU (C$2.47 at NLC Stavanger, 355 ml, packaged on 21-Mar-2018, acquired 13-Jul-2018, reviewed 3-Aug-2018)

Appearance: clear straw with one fat finger of loose white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim and ring, minimal spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: citrus, berry, tropical fruit, melon, light grass. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, crisp mildly bitter finish. (3/5)

I had this, or something highly similar, back in May, but as far as I can remember it wasn’t labelled as a collaboration. Plus, it was 4.8% ABV, not 5.2%, so I’m not quite sure what they did here – possibly their own version following or concurrent with the collaboration? Will have to ask Liam next time I see him. In any case, I think my biggest complaint here – other than the dismal retention and lacing – is the fact that it’s not really a Cream Ale at all, but would make quite a serviceable APA or S/IPA. Quite good, but nothing like the style it purports to be. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Central City Brewers + Distillers / Upstreet Craft Brewing Across the Nation Collaboration: Singing Sands – American Amber / Red Lager at 5% ABV | 15 IBU

Central City Brewers + Distillers / Upstreet Craft Brewing Across the Nation Collaboration: Singing Sands American Amber / Red Lager at 5% ABV | 15 IBU (C$2.47 at NLC Stavanger, 355 ml, packaged on 12-Apr-2018, acquired 13-Jul-2018, reviewed 3-Aug-2018)

Appearance: clear medium amber with two fingers of loose white head diminishing rapidly (and loudly!) to a thin skim, minimal spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: bready caramel, toffee, faint floral. (6/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-low bitter. (5/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, sticky cloying finish. (2/5)

Meh. Sweet, slightly salted lager. Whee. (11/20)

5.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

St. James’s Gate (Diageo) Guinness Irish Wheat – Hefeweizen at 5.3% ABV

St. James’s Gate (Diageo) Guinness Irish Wheat Hefeweizen at 5.3% ABV (C$3.65 at NLC Stavanger, 500 ml, best before 20-Mar-2018, acquired 13-Jul-2018, reviewed 3-Aug-2018)

Appearance: hazy straw with two fingers of creamy white head, good retention and heavy soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: banana, clove, wheat, light citrus. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, light peppery spice. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium bitter lightly spicy finish. (3/5)

Somewhat surprisingly, a decent implementation of the style. The appearance isn’t perfect, but it’s darned close, and although the aroma is mild, it’s in-spec with banana, clove, and wheat, with the citrus coming through only faintly and retronasally. The flavour is OK as well, with just a hint of peppery spice. That carries through to the finish, which is a touch too sweet for my preference, but otherwise serviceable. Not the most exciting, but I didn’t have great expectations, so I wasn’t disappointed. Slàinte! (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Creemore Springs Mad & Noisy Orange Pale Ale – American Pale Ale at 4.8% ABV | 32 IBU

Creemore Springs Mad & Noisy Orange Pale Ale American Pale Ale at 4.8% ABV | 32 IBU (C$3.60 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, packaged on 3-May-2018, acquired 29-Jul-2018, reviewed 2-Aug-2018)

Appearance: clear pale amber with two fingers of fluffy pale ivory head, good retention and spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: orange zest & flesh, caramel, resiny pine, earth. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium slightly oily body, moderate-low carbonation, off-dry medium bitter slightly astringent finish. (3/5)

The brewer’s description says they’ve combined “bright and bold citrus hops with real orange peel” for an “appealing bright orange twist.”, which I guess is sort of true, as far as it goes. They go on to say that it has “a traditional caramel malt backbone”, and is “enhanced with hints of pithy orange peel” – and there, I think, lies the real story. Yes, there’s some real orange flavour there, but its brightness is dulled somewhat by the fairly emphatically malty caramel base. Worse, after the beer just kind of flops onto the tongue with minimal carbonation, the oily bitterness of the orange peel causes the finish to be slightly astringent. Good idea in theory, perhaps, but a slightly dubious implementation. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasseur de Montréal Chi – Witbier at 4.5% ABV | 20 IBU

Brasseur de Montréal Chi Witbier at 4.5% ABV | 20 IBU (C$3.83 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, packaged on 13-Jun-2018, acquired 29-Jul-2018, reviewed 2-Aug-2018)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with two fingers of rocky white head diminishing gradually to a thin persistent cap, spotty lacing. (4/5) Aroma: ginger, citrus, grass, faint wheat. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter, light peppery spice. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body, lively carbonation, sweetish mildly spicy finish. (4/5)

I was initially of two minds about this: yes, ginger dominates, nearly to the exclusion of all else, but not unpleasantly so, and I actually like ginger, so… The appearance improves with a proper swirl, becoming appropriately opaque, though the head never attains the correct creamy persistent character. Despite the aroma, the sweetness on the tongue is restrained, the lively carbonation prevents the slightly sweet finish from becoming sticky or cloying, and the ginger provides a mild peppery heat. All in all, it ends up being not bad, and I’m inclined to believe the can’s food pairing suggestions including asian dishes and sushi. As far as I can tell, I haven’t had anything by this brewer before, but I’m certainly inclined to give them another go on the strength of this one – perhaps something a little cleaner and less adjunct-heavy. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Hop City Brewing Co. Big Tiki – Blond Ale at 4.5% ABV | 12 IBU

Hop City Brewing Co. Big Tiki Blond Ale at 4.5% ABV | 12 IBU (C$3.66 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, packaged on 2-Mar-2018, acquired 29-Jul-2018, reviewed 2-Aug-2018)

Appearance: clear pink-tinged straw with two fingers of loose off-white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, minimal soapy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: sweet artificial tropical fruit, bready yeast, grass, hint of band-aid. (4/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, low bitter, light tart. (5/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, sweet slightly sticky  finish. (3/5)

Yes, I know, it’s a Blond but it’s pink – sunburned, maybe, or embarrassed? Actually, having smelled and tasted it, I’ll go with embarrassed. Take crappy fruit punch, add crappy generic beer, enjoy. Or not, as the case may be. Not much to recommend it, and that’s on what’s nigh-on the hottest day of the year so far. Don’t bother. (10/20)

5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Hop City Brewing Co. Commuter – Session IPA at 4.1% ABV | 40 IBU

Hop City Brewing Co. Commuter Session IPA at 4.1% ABV | 40 IBU (C$3.66 at NLC Stavanger, 473 ml, packaged on 25-Apr-2018, acquired 29-Jul-2018, reviewed 30-Jul-2018)

Appearance: clear pale amber with two fingers of loose pale ivory head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: bready caramel, citrus, tropical fruit, grass. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-light body tending slightly thin, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium-high bitter slightly astringent  finish. (3/5)

Interesting that the 10:1 IBU:ABV rule seems to start to break down for low ABV beers: this almost comes across as too bitter or even slightly astringent, despite the bitterness not being excessive in absolute terms. Despite the relatively low ABV, malt is at the forefront here, making this somewhat more English than American in character. Ultimately it’s a little bland and boring, one of those Session IPAs that comes across as a watered-down version of a “real” IPA. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Beer Reviews