Big Rock Brewery Big Rock India Pale Ale – English IPA at 5.5% ABV

Big Rock Brewery Big Rock India Pale Ale English IPA at 5.5% ABV

Pours a clear amber with a short-lived off-white head and spotty lacing. Nose is dominated by biscuity malt, with only very faint hop aroma. Taste is sweet malt with only a hint of citrus. Mouth feel is medium bodied with low carbonation and a bitter finish.

Oh dear. This is about as much an IPA as Alexander Keith’s “IPA” – which is to say, not at all. Disappointing aroma, no hop profile to speak of, and a malt dominated flavour, with the bitter finish being the one high note. This is more like an English Bitter or Pale Ale than an IPA. I really can’t recommend this much above a macro adjunct lager.

4.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Evil Twin Brewing All Occasions IPA – American Double/Imperial IPA at 8.0% ABV

Evil Twin Brewing All Occasions IPA American Double/Imperial IPA at 8.0% ABV

Pours a cloudy orange with one finger of fluffy off-white head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. Nose is somewhat muted, citrus and pine, with some sweet malt in the background. Taste starts with sweet caramel, citrus and pine following, with a long bitter finish. Mouth feel is medium to full, with light carbonation and slight warming.

A big beer with an emphatic hop presence attenuated only slightly by the malt. The bitter finish builds as the pint progresses, and lingers long after the glass is empty. Could either do with a little more subtlety in the hop profile, or dispense with the attempt to sugarcoat the hops with malt and go full palate-wrecker.

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Epic Brewing Company Epic Armageddon IPA – American IPA at 6.66% ABV

Epic Brewing Company Epic Armageddon IPA American IPA at 6.66% ABV

Pours a clear gold with two fingers of fluffy white head, excellent retention, and moderate sticky lacing. Nose is pine and citrus hops, slight floral, some crystal malt. Taste is piney and bitter, with only a little balancing sweetness. Mouth feel is smooth and slightly slick, with a dry finish.

Not the massive smack in the gob I was expecting from the description in the bottle, but enthusiastic, regardless. The hops integrate nicely in the aroma and flavour, and the malt is just sufficient to support the hops without being excessively sweet. The “beastly” ABV is a cute touch, but it’s completely absent from both the aroma and flavour, and this beer could easily have carried off a higher ABV.

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Phillips Brewing Company Bottle Rocket ISA – Session IPA at 5.0% ABV

Phillips Brewing Company Bottle Rocket ISA Session IPA at 5.0% ABV

Pours a clear gold with one finger of fluffy white head diminishing to a thin skim and spotty lacing. Nose is sharp citrus and piney hops, light floral and earthy tones. Taste is light caramel malt turning bitter immediately. Mouth feel is light, with moderate carbonation and an off-dry bitter finish.

Yep, I can see classifying this as a session ale. The taste is far less aggressive than suggested by the nose, and the finish is light, clean, and off-dry. That’s not to suggest it’s completely without fault – the flavour is light nearly to the point of boring.

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Shmaltz Brewing Company He’Brew Death Of A Contract Brewer – Black IPA at 7.0% ABV

Shmaltz Brewing Company He’Brew Death Of A Contract Brewer Black IPA at 7.0% ABV

Pours a deep cola brown with two fingers of fluffy light tan head, good retention, and sticky moderate lacing. Nose is light, with resiny hops, faint fruit and bitter chocolate. Taste is light floral and grassy hops, and citrus, with a bitter finish. Mouth feel is medium to light, with low carbonation and a lingering bitter finish.

I… Dunno. To the extent there’s any dark or roasty aspect to this, it feels a little unbalanced. Both the nose and the flavour feel like they’re predominantly IPA, with the “black” tacked on after the fact. It’s a decent enough IPA, but I’m not convinced it’s a “black IPA” in anything but colour. That being said, I feel like I’m damning it with faint praise – it’s certainly a decent enough IPA all on its own. I just can’t shake the feeling that this is a bit of a bandwagon black IPA.

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij Het Anker Gouden Carolus Tripel – Abbey Tripel at 9.0% ABV

Brouwerij Het Anker Gouden Carolus Tripel Abbey Tripel at 9.0% ABV

Pours a slightly hazy gold with two fingers of fluffy white head diminishing to a thin skim and light spotty lacing. Nose is Belgian yeast bubblegum, cloves and banana, with a little hop bitterness. Taste follows suit, starting sweet and moving to a bitter, peppery finish. Mouth feel is medium to light, with decent sustained carbonation and a bitter, warming finish.

Really, really nice Belgian. And for $2.50 a bottle? Unbeatable. Unbelievable! I’d have to say it’s an even better quality-for-price ratio than Leffe! If it weren’t for the fact that the best before was last week, I’d go back to the store and buy out everything they had on the shelf. Mind you, I’m convinced there’s nothing at all wrong with it now. Really, highly recommended.

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Gigantic Brewing Company Too Much Coffee Man – Belgian Strong Ale at 8.2% ABV

Gigantic Brewing Company Too Much Coffee Man Belgian Strong Ale at 8.2% ABV

Pours a nearly complete black, with just hints of ruby brown around the edges, with one finger of dense tan head, excellent retention, and moderate to heavy lacing. Nose is overwhelmingly coffee, with hints of chocolate and dark fruit, some lactose. Taste is bitter coffee with milk, faint caramel. Mouth feel is medium to full, but creamy, with a dry, bitter finish.

Badly named. This is by no means “too much” coffee, but “just the right amount of coffee”. The underlying beer isn’t all that thrilling, though, but not bad by any means. This is like a big boy’s version of a Starbucks iced coffee, and I mean that in the best possible way.

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Phillips Brewing Company Kaleidoscope IPA – American IPA at 6.5% ABV

Phillips Brewing Company Kaleidoscope IPA American IPA at 6.5% ABV

Pours a clear light gold with two fingers of foamy white head diminishing to a thin skim and moderate spotty lacing. Nose is hop forward, lots of Mosaic citrus, pine, and tropical fruit, but with a hint of caramel malt. Taste starts balanced sweet and bitter, but the bitter grows to dominate, becoming almost peppery. Mouth feel is slightly watery and light bodied, with a lingering bitter, sticky finish.

Quite nice! Flavour starts surprisingly mild, given the nose, but the hop bitterness and peppery bite build as the bottle progresses. The crystal clear appearance of this beer suggests this to be a far less enthusiastic IPA than it actually is. Not quite as robust as their Amnesiac, but it makes up for that in the very decent finish.

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com