Garrison Brewing Company Borg Ale – American Strong Ale at 5.6% ABV | 25 IBU

Garrison Brewing Company Borg Ale American Strong Ale at 5.6% ABV | 25 IBU (C$6.01 at NLC Stavanger, 650 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 6-Nov-2017, reviewed 6-Nov-2017)

Appearance: hazy brown with one finger of creamy beige head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, patchy lacing. (3/5) Aroma: molasses, toasted malt, hint of dark fruit. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium-full body, moderate carbonation, sweetish medium duration finish. (3/5)

I continue to be fairly unimpressed by these Federation of Beers offerings, which (except for Red Shirt) have been at best forgettable, and at worst actively offensive (yes, I still harbour a seething hatred for 50th Anniversary Golden Ale). This one tends to the better end of the FoB spectrum, but that’s not exactly a high bar. Get it if your beer store has nothing else you haven’t tried, I guess, but don’t expect to be impressed. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Stieglbrauerei zu Salzburg GmbH Max Glaner’s Wit – Witbier at 5% ABV | 16 IBU

Stieglbrauerei zu Salzburg GmbH Max Glaner’s Wit Witbier at 5% ABV | 16 IBU (C$3.71 at NLC Stavanger, 330 ml, best before 2-Feb-2018, acquired 6-Nov-2017, reviewed 6-Nov-2017)

Appearance: opaque and slightly muddy pale gold with one finger of fizzy white head that retains poorly, no lacing. (3/5) Aroma: mild, bready wheat, coriander, orange peel, light floral. (6/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter, light tart. (6/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate carbonation, off-dry short duration finish. (4/5)

A decent little Witbier, but nothing too exciting or memorable. About what I’d expect from Stiegl, actually. (13/20)

6.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales Oro de Calabaza – Belgian Strong Ale at 8% ABV | 30 IBU

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales Oro de Calabaza Belgian Strong Ale at 8% ABV | 30 IBU (US$9.99 at Specs Main Houston, 750 ml, packaged on 22-Jun-2016, acquired 8-Mar-2017, reviewed 5-Nov-2017)

Appearance: clear straw with one fat finger of rocky white head diminishing gradually to a persistent cap, moderate soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: vinous white wine & oak, apples & pears, yeasty funk, bready malt, white pepper, hints of stone fruit & floral. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate tart, mild bitter, mild peppery spice. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, prickly carbonation, dry crisp tart mildly spicy lightly astringent warming finish. (4/5)

Regardless of whether you call this a Belgian Strong or a Bière de Garde, it’s very nice. The flavours deliver on precisely what the nose promises: a whole bunch of vinous and fruity notes without a lot of concomitant sweetness, while the finish is crisp, dry, and welcoming of the next sip. I’ve called it a warming finish, but truth be told one might as well attribute that to the mild spiciness as to the very well-masked ABV. My only complaint (if it is one) is the fact that the tartness does seem to turn just very slightly astringent in the finish. (16/20)

My 250th from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die, 240th from the 2013 edition, and 264th combining both editions.

8/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bruery Terreux Humulus Terreux – Sour / Wild Ale at 6.3% ABV

Bruery Terreux Humulus Terreux Sour / Wild Ale at 6.3% ABV (US$10.99 at Specs Main Houston, 750 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 8-Mar-2017, reviewed 4-Nov-2017)

Appearance: clear pale gold with a fat rocky white head (hi, Brett) that retains well, patchy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: complex, funky Brett, lemon zest, coriander, tropical fruit, white pepper, earth. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter, moderate funky tart. (8/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate-high carbonation, dry mildly funky finish. (4/5)

They call this a Wild Ale, but it’s pretty Saison-ish, if you ask me. (Which is absolutely not a criticism, since Saison is one of my favourite styles.) Very Brett dominated, whether appearance (typical Brett head), aroma (big funky Brett), taste (funky tart) or finish (bone dry and mildly funky). There’s also citrus and tropical fruit, which I’m attributing to the Motueka hops. All in all, a very enjoyable brew. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout – Russian Imperial Stout at 9% ABV | 75 IBU

Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout Russian Imperial Stout at 9% ABV | 75 IBU (C$10.99 at Oak & Vine, 500 ml, packaged on 12-Jan-2016, best before 12-Jan-2020, acquired 31-Jul-2017, reviewed 3-Nov-2017)

Appearance: opaque black with no relief, a fat fluffy medium beige head diminishing gradually to a thin ring, no lacing. (4/5) Aroma: mild, roasted malt, chocolate, dark dried fruit, molasses, coffee, liquorice. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, high bitter. (8/10) Palate: full slick body, moderate-high carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter warming finish. (4/5)

I was quite surprised by how very mild the aroma was, despite my starting with a cellar cool bottle and allowing it to warm before opening. I was further surprised by the first sip, which revealed a relatively high carbonation for the style. That’s  not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, since it prevents this quite heavy brew from becoming cloying.  Overall, quite good, but just not as good as I was expecting/hoping. (15/20)

My 249th from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die, 239th from the 2013 edition, and 263rd combining both editions.

7.5/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Avery Brewing Co. / Russian River Brewing Company Collaboration Not Litigation (Batch #9) – Belgian Strong Ale at 8.9% ABV | 55 IBU

Avery Brewing Co. / Russian River Brewing Company Collaboration Not Litigation (Batch #9) Belgian Strong Ale at 8.9% ABV | 55 IBU (US$9.99 at Specs Main Houston, 650 ml, packaged on 1-Jan-2016, acquired 8-Mar-2017, reviewed 2-Nov-2017)

Appearance: clear medium amber with one fat finger of fluffy ivory head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: honey, orchard fruit, citrus, bready yeast, coffee/cocoa, cloves. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter, light tart. (8/10) Palate: medium-full slightly slick body, moderate-high carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter warming finish. (4/5)

This is of course very nearly the poster child for feel-good craft beer stories, where two breweries with beers of the same name decide to collaborate instead of litigate. Except, if you ask me, this is kind of averaging elephants and avocados: Avery’s offering is a BSPA, while Russian River’s is a BSDA. “What’s the difference?” you may ask? Well, the difference between Pale and Dark, of course. And obviously, when you blend light and dark, you get something in-between – and that’s precariously close to “middle-of-the-road” for my taste. I’ve had RR’s version by itself, though not Avery’s, but based on a review of my notes and t’internet, it looks to me like Avery is dominating this: RR’s is a full-on Belgian Dark, and though there are elements of that here, they’re definitely far in the background. What I get in the foreground is honey, apples, and pears, none of which are present in the RR contribution.  (Kind of reminds me of Arrogant Bastard, actually, in that there’s a whole bunch going on, that isn’t necessarily all that thematically unified.) Still good fun, but I’m not sure a shared name is a good enough reason to try and make this work. (15/20)

My 248th from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die, 238th from the 2013 edition, and 262nd combining both editions.

7.5/10 #1001beers #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Dogfish Head Brewery Oak Aged Noble Rot – Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 9% ABV | 18 IBU

Dogfish Head Brewery Oak Aged Noble Rot Fruit / Vegetable Beer at 9% ABV | 18 IBU (US$15.99 at Specs Main Houston, 750 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 8-Mar-2017, reviewed 2-Nov-2017)

Appearance: clear pale gold with a short, short-lived white head, minimal lacing. (3/5) Aroma: complex, grape must, oak, stone fruit, gooseberry, field berries. (9/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter, moderate tart. (9/10) Palate: medium-light body, moderate-high carbonation, off-dry mildly warming and funky finish. (4/5)

I called the original version of this the first hybrid I’ve had that’s worth a damn. Like that one, this is a well-balanced integration of beer character with botrytis-infected Viognier grape must, but with more emphasis on the oak. Really good stuff. (17/20)

8.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

The Bruery So Happens It’s Tuesday (2016) – American Double / Imperial Stout at 14.7% ABV | 22 IBU

The Bruery So Happens It’s Tuesday (2016) American Double / Imperial Stout at 14.7% ABV | 22 IBU (C$25.50 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, packaged on 30-Sep-2016, acquired 13-Dec-2016, reviewed 31-Oct-2017)

Appearance: near opaque black with moderate relief at the margins, a fizzy short-lived loose beige head, no lacing. (4/5) Aroma: bourbon, cocoa, raisins, molasses, coffee, vanilla, liquorice. (9/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: full slick body, moderate-high carbonation, off-dry lingering and building bitter warming (verging on harsh) finish. (3/5)

Another slightly special one from the cellar – and on a Tuesday, no less. Very big, very hot. The label makes the fairly risible claim that this is “affable” – yeah, about as affable as a kick in the teeth. It would probably be excessively mouth coating and sticky were it not for the surprisingly high carbonation, which is a bit outside spec for the style, but actually not unwelcome. The alcohol is emphatically present, both as the bourbon barrel notes dominating the front end, but also in a finish that would charitably called “warming” (or, less charitably, “harsh”). (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Bellwoods Brewery Bring Out Your Dead (2014) – Imperial Stout at 12.2% ABV

Bellwoods Brewery Bring Out Your Dead (2014) Imperial Stout at 12.2% ABV (C$13.00 via trade – thanks, Chucksahoy!, 500 ml, packaged on 5-Nov-2014, acquired 17-Jul-2015, reviewed 30-Oct-2017)

Appearance: mercilessly black with no hint of relief at the margins, a short, short-lived loose beige head, no lacing. (4/5) Aroma: brandy, dark chocolate, coffee, dates and figs, nuts. (9/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, high bitter. (9/10) Palate: full slick body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering and building bitter and warming finish. (4/5)

Something a little special from the cellar tonight (numbered bottle 1885 of 2100, ooo, fancy!), because fuck it, why not? Like my sticker says, life is short, so you might as well drink the good stuff first, right? And three years is long enough to leave it in the cellar, even if it does leave double digit ABVs well in the rear view mirror. (And, by the way, if the name doesn’t evoke Monty Python for you, you might as well just uncircle me now, because you’re not my kind of people.) This is, by any metric you care to use, a monster: a big, boozy bastard that doesn’t give two shits what you think. That being said, I’ll list my (very short list of) perceived defects, because it’s easier than listing its merits: I’d like to see better head retention/lacing; the carbonation tends slightly high, making the body (in my opinion) feel slightly lighter than it really is; and even three years in, it’s still hot. That’s it. I won’t elucidate any deficiencies in the aroma or flavour, because I think it’s totally personal preference, and someone else might well go higher or lower. I’ve gone on record as saying McAuslan’s St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout is one of the best Canadian beers around – and this is better. This might actually be the very best Canadian Stout that can be had for love or money, despite its extremely reasonable price point. (Well, originally, anyway – I have no idea what it’s doing in the secondary market.) Do what you have to do to get one. (19/20)

9.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery Aurora Heart Chocolate Raspberry Stout – Milk / Sweet Stout at 7.1% ABV

Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery Aurora Heart Chocolate Raspberry Stout Milk / Sweet Stout at 7.1% ABV (C$12.36 at Willow Park Wine & Spirits, 750 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 25-Apr-2017, reviewed 30-Oct-2017)

Appearance: near opaque brown with moderate relief at the margins, three fingers of rocky beige head, good retention and moderately heavy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: raspberry, dark chocolate, cherries, light floral. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter, mild tart. (7/10) Palate: medium-full body tending slightly thin, moderate-high carbonation, sweetish mildly tart and lightly warming finish. (3/5)

I’m a little on the fence on this one: yes, it’s raspberry, and yes, the raspberry tastes authentic. Full marks there. And it’s backed up by dark chocolate and more than a hint of dark cherries (maybe Bing, instead of maraschino or Rainier) so no complaints there. But, overall, it just comes across as a little thin, and a little less rich than e.g. The Chocolate Manifesto. Or maybe that’s the nearly 3% lower ABV? In any case, decent but not my favourite by them. (15/20)

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com