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

Marston’s Plc 61 Deep Pale Ale – English Pale Ale at 4.1% ABV

Marston’s Plc 61 Deep Pale Ale English Pale Ale at 4.1% ABV (C$3.58 at NLC Stavanger, 500 ml, best before 30-Apr-2019, acquired 13-Jul-2018, reviewed 30-Jul-2018)

Appearance: brilliantly clear straw with two fingers of rocky white head, good retention and moderate stringy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grass, citrus, earth, mild diacetyl, biscuity pale malt. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium bitter finish. (3/5)

Tricky to do a by-the-numbers analysis when this style doesn’t really exist any more, at least according to the current BJCP classifications. As a British Golden Ale it’s actually fairly solid, despite being a pretty typical Marston’s, with all that implies. Both the aroma and flavour are slightly underwhelming, and though the guidelines allow for little diacetyl, I still find it slightly off-putting. The bitterness doesn’t end all that clean, either, tending slightly to the astringent. An OK thirst quencher, but that’s about it. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Central City Brewers + Distillers / Kichesippi Beer Co. Across the Nation Collaboration: 191 Märzen – Oktoberfest / Märzen at 5.4% ABV | 25[?] IBU

Central City Brewers + Distillers / Kichesippi Beer Co. Across the Nation Collaboration: 191 Märzen Oktoberfest / Märzen at 5.4% ABV | 25[?] IBU (C$2.47 at NLC Stavanger, 355 ml, packaged on 5-Apr-2018, acquired 13-Jul-2018, reviewed 25-Jul-2018)

Appearance: clear deep gold with one finger of loose white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: toasted bready malt. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium bitter finish. (3/5)

Not my favourite style, but a by-the-numbers analysis says this is a middle of the road interpretation. Aroma and flavour aren’t too badly out-of-spec, but the appearance is somewhat too light, and the body is lacking the slight creaminess that the benchmark calls for. Pretty pedestrian stuff. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Central City Brewers + Distillers / 2 Crows Brewing Co. Across the Nation Collaboration: Coast 2 Coast – Saison at 6.6% ABV | 15[?] IBU

Central City Brewers + Distillers / 2 Crows Brewing Co. Across the Nation Collaboration: Coast 2 Coast Saison at 6.6% ABV | 15[?] IBU (C$2.47 at NLC Stavanger, 355 ml, packaged on 3-Apr-2018, acquired 13-Jul-2018, reviewed 25-Jul-2018)

Appearance: hazy, particulate-laden pale gold with a thin white head diminishing rapidly to nothing, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: burnt rubber, cereal grains, floral, earth. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light funk. (6/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium bitter finish. (3/5)

I’m getting a bit tired of high hopes being cruelly dashed. Here’s another case of a brewery I know fairly well, and highly respect, but my hopes sank as fast as the head, on top of a dirty dishwater pale gold body. I was really hoping for a “,but!” here, but, no. First sniff was dominated by burnt rubber / band-aid phenols, and though that diminished somewhat as it progressed, it never got anywhere near what I expected of 2 Crows. Starting to lose hope with this collaboration pack, actually, since the remaining few I have left are all pretty lackadaisical styles… (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Central City Brewers + Distillers / Blindman Brewing Across the Nation Collaboration: Red Rivers of Rye – Saison at 6.5% ABV | 15[?] IBU

Central City Brewers + Distillers / Blindman Brewing Across the Nation Collaboration: Red Rivers of Rye Saison at 6.5% ABV | 15[?] IBU (C$2.47 at NLC Stavanger, 355 ml, packaged on 6-Apr-2018, acquired 13-Jul-2018, reviewed 25-Jul-2018)

Appearance: clear ruby-tinged amber-brown with a thin pearlescent head diminishing rapidly to a thin ring, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: sour rye, grainy malt, apple, floral, earth. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light tart. (7/10) Palate: medium body, lively carbonation, slightly sticky medium bitter lightly tart finish. (3/5)

Big hopes here: Blindman, doing a rye saison? Hells to the yeah! Does’t quite deliver, though. The first warning is the thin head, dropping almost immediately to nothing. Then there’s the hint of distressingly brown apple on the nose, and the slightly sticky finish. That’s not to say this isn’t without merit, because it’s just fine – but it’s nowhere near Blindman at the top of their game. (14/20)

7/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Central City Brewers + Distillers / Brasseurs Du Temps Across the Nation Collaboration: La Grande Rivière – Belgian IPA at 6.5% ABV | 80[?] IBU

Central City Brewers + Distillers / Brasseurs Du Temps Across the Nation Collaboration: La Grande Rivière Belgian IPA at 6.5% ABV | 80[?] IBU (C$2.47 at NLC Stavanger, 355 ml, packaged on 26-Mar-2018, acquired 13-Jul-2018, reviewed 25-Jul-2018)

Appearance: hazy pale amber with one finger of loose white head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, spotty lacing. (3/5) Aroma: pale malt, funky Belgian esters, citrus, hint of berry. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, lively carbonation, sweetish medium bitter mildly warming slightly astringent finish. (4/5)

Cranberry? Are you sure? I dunno, man, there’s a hint of berry there, but blindfolded I think I’d’ve guessed raspberry. Regardless, it’s a nice little interpretation of the Belgian style. … well… I say “little”, but as 6.5%, there’s actually a hint of warming going on. The bitterness doesn’t seem anywhere near as high as the 80 IBU claimed on Untappd, and I can’t find any independent confirmation of that, so I’ve got serious doubts. There is some astringency in the finish, but not bad at all, overall. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Gigantic Brewing Company Kölschtastic (#54) – Kölsch at 5.2% ABV | 20 IBU

Gigantic Brewing Company Kölschtastic (#54) Kölsch at 5.2% ABV | 20 IBU (C$9.99 at Oak & Vine, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 19-Jul-2018, reviewed 23-Jul-2018)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale gold with one finger of rocky white head, excellent retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: pale grainy malt, light orchard fruit, hint of floral. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium bitter finish. (4/5)

It’s tough evaluating a style on its merits when you don’t particularly like the style all that much. It’s not that I actively dislike many styles, y’know, just that there are some that don’t generally excite me. Which is why I like the highly-hopped/barrel-aged/generally-fucked-with versions of those styles. Take Kölsch, for instance: it’s supposed to be delicate and balanced. Now, those of you who have met me in person will likely generally agree that I am among the most indelicate and unbalanced individuals out there, so how could I possibly enjoy that? OK, fine, like Red Green’s Men’s Prayer says: “I’m a man… but I can change… if I have to… I guess.” Let’s do this one on its merits, by the numbers, quoting the 2015 BJCP Style Guide:

Appearance: Very pale gold to light gold. Very clear (authentic commercial versions are filtered to a brilliant clarity). Has a delicate white head that may not persist. Docking it for the slight haze. Otherwise, in-spec. 4/5

Aroma: Low to very low malt aroma, with a grainy-sweet character. A pleasant, subtle fruit aroma from fermentation (apple, cherry or pear) is acceptable, but not always present. A low floral, spicy or herbal hop aroma is optional but not out of style. Some yeast strains may give a slight winy or sulfury character (this characteristic is also optional, but not a fault). Overall, the intensity of aromatics is fairly subtle but generally balanced, clean, and fresh. Checks out. No sulphur, which I personally find to be a big negative. This is actually slightly too heavy for the subtle and delicate nature dictated by the specification. Could stand to be brighter and lighter. 8/10

Flavor: Soft, rounded palate comprised of a delicate flavor balance between soft yet attenuated malt, an almost imperceptible fruity sweetness from fermentation, and a medium-low to medium bitterness with a delicate dryness and slight crispness in the finish (but no harsh aftertaste). The malt tends to be grainy-sweet, possibly with a very light bready or honey quality. The hop flavor is variable, and can range from low to moderately-high; most are medium-low to medium intensity and have a floral, spicy, or herbal character. May have a malty-sweet impression at the start, but this is not required. No noticeable residual sweetness. May have a slightly winy, minerally, or sulfury accent that accentuates the dryness and flavor balance. A slight wheat taste is rare but not a fault. Otherwise, very clean. Blah blah blah. Yes to bready and honey. Slight residual sticky sweetness, not as dry as it could be. Clean, but not “very clean”. 8/10

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body (most are medium-light). Medium to medium-high carbonation. Smooth and generally crisp and well-attenuated. Body tending slightly heavy, carbonation tending slightly low, crispness and attenuation just slightly low. 4/5

Jesus, if I had to do that every time, I think I’d shoot myself. Or, worse, stop drinking. It’s good, OK? Well executed version of the style. Lord, I need a drink… (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bomber Brewing Company / Trolley No. 5 Brewpub Over the Mountain – Kölsch at 5.2% ABV | 18 IBU

Bomber Brewing Company / Trolley No. 5 Brewpub Over the Mountain Kölsch at 5.2% ABV | 18 IBU (C$3.00 at Oak & Vine, 473 ml, packaged on 23-Feb-2018, acquired 19-Jul-2018, reviewed 23-Jul-2018)

Appearance: clear medium gold with one fat finger of fluffy white head, good retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: grass, crackery malt, floral, light citrus. (5/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (6/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium bitter finish. (3/5)

Hold on… just yesterday, I had a Banded Peak/Persephone hopped Pilsener collab that billed itself as “two likeminded breweries on opposite sides of the great divide”, and now I’ve got a Bomber/Trolley 5 “boundary-crossing collaboration” dry-hopped Kölsch? Are AB/BC collabs a “thing” now?  Who’s stealing from whose playbook? (And, let’s be honest, there’s not a great deal of difference between Kölsch and Pilsener, is there?) Though, I’ll tell you one big difference: this isn’t nearly as good as yesterday’s. Yeah, it’s hoppy, but it’s all Hallertau, and for some reason Huell Melon has never excited me. This is big on grass, but not much else – so you end up with a Kölsch that tastes like a Pils. And truth be told, smells sorta like a mass-market Lager. OK, maybe it’s a bit elderly to be expecting the hops to sustain fully, but I really don’t think there was ever much more than grass here to start with. (12/20)

6/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Beer Reviews