Unibroue Raftman – Belgian Pale / Smoked Ale at 5.5% ABV

Unibroue Raftman Belgian Pale / Smoked Ale at 5.5% ABV ($8.29 at Crowfoot Liquor Okotoks, 750ml, bottle date 14-Aug-2013)

Pours clear deep gold with two fingers of dense ivory head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (4/5) Nose is clove and banana, caramel malt, light smoke. (6/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderate bitter, mild peppery spice. (6/10) Medium body, prickly to moderate carbonation, off-dry bitter finish. (4/5)

A robust, Belg-ish pale ale with just a hint of mild smokiness. The body was perhaps a little light for the flavour and slightly higher ABV, but at least the smoked whisky malt doesn’t come across as peaty. Decent, if not particularly interesting. (14/20)

7/10  #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Elysian Brewing Company Dragonstooth Stout – Oatmeal Stout 7.5% ABV

Elysian Brewing Company Dragonstooth Stout Oatmeal Stout 7.5% ABV ($8.39 at South Trail Co-Op, 650ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours nearly pitch black with only the slightest hint of deep red around the margins, two fingers of medium tan dense head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, moderate lacing. (5/5) Nose is roasty malts, coffee, oatmeal, starts-with-C hops, some dark fruit and floral notes. (8/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Full and smooth body, low carbonation, lingering bitter finish. (4/5)

An almost schizophrenic brew: it starts out tasting largely like a typical oatmeal stout, but rapidly develops a surprisingly hoppy bitter character. That side of things is not without foreshadowing, because there’s actually a fair bit of typical starts-with-C hops in the nose, right off the hop. Interesting and atypical for any style of stout, particularly an oatmeal. (17/20)

My 130th from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers, 124th by the 2013 Edition, and 136th combining both editions.

8.5/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

YellowBelly Brewery Cranberry Apple Cider – Cider at 6.5% ABV

YellowBelly Brewery Cranberry Apple Cider Cider at 6.5% ABV ($11.25 at Dominion Stavanger, 500ml, best before 5-Mar-2015)

Pours clear amber-pink with no head or lacing. (3/5) Nose is funky apple, faint hint of cranberry. (8/10) Taste is mild sweet, moderate tart, mild funk. (8/10) Light body, moderate carbonation, tartly dry finish. (4/5)

Well, this is exactly what I asked for when I reviewed their Mellow Yellow: less sweet, more funk. The cranberry is quite light, adding little more than a splash of colour and a very mild aftertaste. Fairly vinous, almost like a Rosé in texture and taste. Probably fairly overpriced, too, but definitely a decent cider. I think I’ll cellar a second one for a while and see what happens to the funk. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Unibroue Trois Pistoles – Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 9% ABV

Unibroue Trois Pistoles Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 9% ABV (Via trade, 330ml, bottle date 10-Dec-2012)

Pours clear amber-brown with two fingers of light tan head, excellent retention, spotty lacing. (4/5) Nose is dark vinous fruit, brown sugar, some Belgian yeast. (9/10) Taste is moderate sweet, mild bitter. (9/10) Full body, moderate carbonation, off dry and mildly boozy finish. (4/5)

Nicely integrated and mellowed by a couple years’ cellaring. (Should pick up a couple more of these and put them down for longer, to see how they’ll change.) A very well-behaved and nicely-balanced strong dark. Nice beer for a cold winter’s afternoon, having just cleared the snow from the driveway! (16/20)

8.5/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Clown Shoes Beer Undead Party Crasher – Imperial Stout at 10% ABV

Clown Shoes Beer Undead Party Crasher Imperial Stout at 10% ABV ($11.39 from Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650ml, bottle date 13-May-2014)

Pours opaque black with three fingers of tan head, excellent retention, heavy chunky lacing. (5/5) Nose is dark chocolate, coffee, boozy cherries. (8/10) Taste is moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Full body, moderate carbonation, off dry and mildly boozy finish. (3/5)

A bit of a beast. Fair enough, it’s an imperial, but the ABV is still a bit… “emphatic”. Wonder if this would have benefited from more time in the cellar, to let the flavours merge and mellow a bit more. Not unpleasant as such, but a bit heavy-handed perhaps. (15/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Brouwerij De Koningshoeven La Trappe Isid’or – Belgian Strong Pale Ale at 7.5% ABV

Brouwerij De Koningshoeven La Trappe Isid’or Belgian Strong Pale Ale at 7.5% ABV ($11.39 from Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 650ml, bottle date 19-Jun-2012)

Pours clear pale to medium amber with two fingers of light tan head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, no lacing. (4/5) Nose is caramel and toffee, raisins and other dark boozy fruits, some cloves and other spices. (7/10) Taste is moderate sweet, mild bitter and spiciness. (7/10) Medium body tending a bit to the thin, moderate sustained carbonation, mildly boozy finish. (3/5)

A decent trappist, with a well-integrated ABV. I found the flavour and body to tend a bit to the thin side, though – felt to me like some more weight would have been appropriate. Certainly worth trying, but I’m not sure it’s worth a special effort.(14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Shmaltz / Terrapin Reunion Ale ’13 A Beer For Hope – American Brown Ale at 8% ABV

Shmaltz Brewing Company / Terrapin Beer Company Reunion Ale ’13 – A Beer For Hope American Brown Ale at 8% ABV ($9.40 from Star Liquor & Wine, 650ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear brown with two fingers of light tan head, excellent retention, good lacing. (5/5) Nose is cocoa nibs, vanilla, coffee, faint cinnamon, slight lactose. (9/10) Taste is moderate sweet, mild bitter, mild spiciness. (8/10) Medium to full body, moderate sustained carbonation, mildly boozy finish. (4/5)

Lots of coffee and chocolate – you can definitely taste the cocoa nibs right from the get-go, and the coffee becomes more pronounced as it warms. Surprisingly boozy for “only” 8% ABV, but not unbalanced or unpleasant. (16/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Unibroue La Résolution – Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 10% ABV

Unibroue La Résolution Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 10% ABV ($8.96 from Dominion Stavanger, 750ml, bottle date 18-Sep-2014)

Pours clear deep amber-brown with two fingers of light tan head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (4/5) Nose is winter spices, caramel/toffee malt, boozy dark fruit. (9/10) Taste is moderate sweet, mild bitter, mild spiciness. (8/10) Medium to full body, prickly to moderate sustained carbonation, boozy, almost whisky-like finish. (5/5)

What’s a New Year without a little Resolution? A very nice winter brew as it stands, but I’m glad I bought two of these, because the second will definitely go for a nice extended cellaring (next New Year’s?) to give those flavours a chance to mature and mellow. (And while we’re on the topic, what the hell is this thing? Ratebeer says it’s a spice/vegetable, beeradvocate says BSDA, and untappd calls it a winter warmer. Personally, I think it feels like a quad.) I waffled a little on my ratings, but after some thought I think this is very nearly up there with some of the big Belgian quads. The high ABV is definitely present, but not overwhelming at all, while the enthusiastic spices and carbonation balance it out nicely. Big, bombastic, and enthusiastic – is it any wonder I like it? (18/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Samuel Smith Old Brewery Organic Cherry – Fruit Beer at 5.1% ABV

Samuel Smith Old Brewery Organic Cherry Fruit Beer at 5.1% ABV ($7.79 from Sobeys Liquor Silverado, 550ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear red-tinted pale amber with two fingers of loose light purple head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, excellent lacing. (4/5) Nose is sweet and sour cherry, maybe faint grassy hops. (7/10) Taste is moderately strong sweet, moderate bitter, moderate sour. (7/10) Light to medium body, moderate to low carbonation, tart and bitter finish. (4/5)

Not bad! Almost a Belgian kriek in character, and the cherries don’t taste artificial at all. That being said, the cherry is a tad overwhelming, and it makes the beer sort of one-dimensional – but it’s not a bad dimension. I could be convinced to have another. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Shmaltz Brewing Company He’Brew / Cathedral Square St. Lenny’s – American Double / Imperial IPA at 10%

Shmaltz Brewing Company He’Brew / Cathedral Square St. Lenny’s American Double / Imperial IPA at 10% ABV ($9.40 from Star Liquor & Wine, 650ml, no bottle date or best before)

Pours clear medium amber with two fingers of light tan head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, excellent lacing. (5/5) Nose is caramel malt, light pine and citrus, some bubblegum and mixed boozy fruit. (7/10) Taste is moderately strong sweet, moderately strong bitter, moderate sour. (8/10) Medium body, prickly to moderate sustained carbonation, off-dry smooth and bitter finish. (4/5)

Quite interesting – lots of malt, but not to the point that it overwhelms. The hop bitterness and the rye sharpness come into play very quickly after the initial caramel sweetness, and though it’s not a hop bomb, there’s lots of it. Malt-forward, perhaps, but not malt-dominated.Tastes a little better than it smells, I’d say, with a nice rye note coming through in the finish. The higher carbonation works well here, too, and the high ABV is very well integrated. Sort of reminiscent of Arrogant Bastard, but a rye version. L’Chaim indeed! (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Beer Reviews