Unibroue Don de Dieu – Belgian Strong Pale Ale at 9% ABV

Unibroue Don de Dieu Belgian Strong Pale Ale at 9% ABV (Via trade, 341ml, bottle date 13-Nov-2011)

Pours hazy deep gold with some particulate, one finger of white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, no lacing. (3/5) Nose is bready yeast, apples and pears, spices. (7/10) Taste is moderate bitter, mild sweet, mild tart. (7/10) Light to medium body, prickly to moderate sustained carbonation, and a dry mildly bitter and tart finish. (3/5)

Some cidery apple notes and a doughy, bread-like yeast initially dominate the flavour. As that fades, there’s a moderate bitter and a mild tartness that linger. Despite the quick recession of the head, there’s significant champagne-like carbonation that persists all the way to the end of the glass. The high ABV is seriously well-hidden, making this a very sneaky sipper. The character is about what I’d expect given its long cellaring, but that’s by no means a negative. That being said, I’ll have to try it again fresh, just for comparison. (15/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie Dupont Biere de Miel (Biologique) – Saison at 8% ABV

Brasserie Dupont Biere de Miel (Biologique) Saison at 8% ABV ($2.85 from Solo Liquor Copperfield, 250ml, best before 03/2015)

Pours cloudy medium gold with lots of suspended particulate, one finger of white head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, no lacing. (3/5) Nose is honey, apples, floral, mild citrus and funk. (7/10) Taste is mild to moderate sweet, mild bitter. (7/10) Light to medium body, low carbonation, and an off-dry mildly bitter finish. (3/5)

Flavour is dominated by honey, fruit, and floral, but there’s a definite Belgian yeast character and dusty funk in the background.  Not unpleasant, but there’s a distinct feeling of age and I can’t help but wonder how this tastes new. A little disappointing by comparison to the Saison Dupont. (12/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) Old Fezziwig Ale – Winter Warmer at 5.9% ABV

Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) Old Fezziwig Ale Winter Warmer at 5.9% ABV ($2.50 from NLC Kelsey Drive, 341ml, best before 1-Mar-2015)

Pours clear deep amber with a short, short-lived light tan head, no lacing. (3/5) Nose is bready malt, holiday spices, some roasty notes. (6/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Medium body, moderate to low sustained carbonation, and an off-dry bitter finish. (3/5)

Starts off a bit on the sweet side, but the malt kind of dies halfway through and leaves… well… not a lot backing it up. Spices are reasonably restrained, though, and it’s fairly drinkable. Serviceable but nothing too special. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Quidi Vidi Brewing Company Winter Ale – Winter Warmer at 6% ABV

Quidi Vidi Brewing Company Winter Ale Winter Warmer at 6% ABV ($2.50 from NLC Kelsey Drive, 341ml, bottle date 14-Dec-2014)

Pours clear deep amber with a short, short-livedlight tan head, no lacing. (3/5) Nose is citrus, coffee, chocolate, and smoky something or other. (5/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderate bitter, mild smoke. (5/10) Medium body, moderate sustained carbonation, and an off-dry bitter finish. (3/5)

I’m not convinced. There’s a not-entirely-identifiable smoky flavour that isn’t doing it for me. The mouth feel tends to the thin side for a winter warmer, and there’s a lack of spiciness or richness. In my experience, QV tends to be hit and miss, and I think this one is more “miss,” than “hit”. (10/20)

5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Garrison Brewing Company India Pale – American IPA at 6.5% ABV

Garrison Brewing Company India Pale American IPA at 6.5% ABV ($2.50 from NLC Howley Estates, 341ml, bottle date 5-Nov-2014)

Pours clear deep gold with a fat finger of rocky white head, good retention, moderate lacing. (4/5) Nose is pithy citrus, pine, tropical fruit, caramel malt, floral hops. (7/10) Taste is moderately strong bitter, moderate sweet, slight pepperiness. (7/10) Medium body, prickly to moderate sustained carbonation, and an off-dry bitter finish. (3/5)

Not bad at all. There’s a decent amount of caramel maltiness supporting the hops, but not so much that I’d call it malt-forward. Very well-balanced and pleasantly bitter on the finish, with a bit of spiciness from the hops. Decently high ABV, too, but very well integrated to the point that it never intrudes. A solid performer from a solid brewery. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Le Trou du Diable La Grivoise de Noël – Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Le Trou du Diable La Grivoise de Noël Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 7.5% ABV ($7.50 from Sherbrooke Liquor, 600ml, bottle date 7-Nov-2014)

Pours clear deep amber with one finger of dense light tan head, good retention, minimal lacing. (4/5) Nose is toffee caramel, dark fruit, cinnamon and other spices, herbal leafy hops in the background. (7/10) Taste is moderately strong sweet, moderate bitter, mild spice. (7/10) Medium body, moderate sustained carbonation, and a slightly sticky, mildly spicy and bitter finish. (3/5)

“The Ribaldry of Christmas,” huh? Guess that explains the nekkid ladies on the label. The spices tend to dominate, making it a fairly standard winter warmer, albeit with a bit of Belgian character and a well-integrated ABV that emerges only as a gentle warming as the bottle progresses. The smoked peppers start to become apparent after a while as well, adding to the “warmer” characteristic. A bit sweet, but I guess that’s to be expected for the style. Decent enough, if a touch pricey. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! Blanche du Paradis – Witbier at 5% ABV

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! Blanche du Paradis Witbier at 5% ABV ($2.89 via Beer Club Offering #14, 341ml, bottle date 12-Nov-2014)

Pours hazy pale gold with a short, dense white head, excellent retention, no lacing. (3/5) Nose is wheat, light bananas and cloves, citrus peel, spices. (8/10) Taste is moderate sweet and moderate bitter. (7/10) Light to medium body, low sustained carbonation, and a dry, mildly bitter finish. (3/5)

I’m tempted to say the shortcomings on this one are true to the traditional style, instead of accidental. Personally, though, I found the flavours and the carbonation to be on the low side, making this thing milder than it needed to be. Pleasant, without being all that memorable. (15/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! Moralité – American IPA at 6.9% ABV

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! Moralité American IPA at 6.9% ABV ($3.28 via Beer Club Offering #14, 341ml, bottle date 19-Nov-2014)

Pours hazy pale amber with two fingers of rocky white head, excellent retention, moderate lacing. (5/5) Nose is bright and pithy citrus, mild caramel malt. (9/10) Taste is moderate sweet and moderate bitter. (9/10) Light to medium body, moderate sustained carbonation, and a dry, lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

This has a strong similarity to DDC’s Disco Soleil, but less sweet and more restrained. More mature: grapefruit for breakfast, instead of sweet mandarins. A very well-behaved IPA with tons of flavour and character. The collaboration with The Alchemist is also apparent, and there are distinct similarities to Heady Topper. (18/20)

9/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Sound Brewery Entendez Nöel – Quadrupel at 11.5% ABV

Sound Brewery Entendez Nöel Quadrupel at 11.5% ABV (2014 Advent Calendar #24, 341ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear pale to medium amber with a very short and short-lived head, minimal lacing. (3/5) Nose is apples and pears, some Belgian yeast, perfume alcohol burn. (7/10) Taste is strongly sweet, moderate bitter. (6/10) Medium body, low carbonation, slick sticky boozy finish. (3/5)

Well, I wouldn’t call that a quadrupel. Lots of booziness, sure, but the colour, body, and aroma are all far too light for a quad – call it a boozy triple, perhaps? While we’re on the topic, I’m the last one to complain about high ABV’s, but this one is coming across as just too hot, with a slight but distinct harshness that suggest a little more cellaring might be helpful. Not unpleasant, but lacking the polish and depth that characterizes real Belgian quads. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! Disco Soleil – American IPA at 6.5% ABV

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel! Disco Soleil American IPA at 6.5% ABV ($2.95 via Beer Club Offering #14, 341ml, bottle date 14-Nov-2014)

Pours cloudy pale gold with one finger of rocky white head, excellent retention, moderate lacing. (4/5) Nose is multiple variations on citrus: pulp, pith, and rind, with tropical fruit sweetness and pale malt. (8/10) Taste is moderate sweet and moderate bitter. (8/10) Light to medium body, prickly to moderate sustained carbonation, and a bittersweet finish. (4/5)

Really solid A/IPA: bright and juicy citrus, lots of fun to drink. The cloudy gold colour makes it almost look like the orange juice it smells like. Not sure I could clearly identify the citrus as kumquat, as opposed to sweet mandarins, for example, but I’ll take their word for it. The initial flavour is all fairly high (yet well-balanced) sweet citrus, giving way to a nice hoppy bitterness towards the finish, and the ABV never makes an appearance. I could drink a lot of these. (16/20)

(Yes, I forgot to take a photo before diving in. Draw your own conclusions.)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Beer Reviews