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Unibroue 25e Anniversaire – Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 10.5% ABV | 20 IBU

Unibroue 25e Anniversaire – Belgian Strong Dark Ale at 10.5% ABV | 20 IBU (C$9.59 at Quarry Park Calgary Co-Op, 750 ml, packaged on 19-Oct-2017, acquired 12-Dec-2017, reviewed 7-Jan-2022)

Appearance: slightly hazy brown with two fat fingers of fluffy beige head, excellent retention and moderate lacing. (4/5) Aroma: cherries, dark berries, candi sugar, chocolate, faint earthy funk. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry warming & lightly spicy finish. (4/5)

I called this “Black Forest cake in a glass” when first trying it four years ago. In particular, I noted intense flavours of chocolate and cherry, which are still present, but in different proportion: I’m now noting the cherry to be dominant, with the chocolate having faded somewhat. I’m also detecting just the faintest note of earthy cellar funk that makes me think this is, if not “corked”, precisely, to some extent showing its age. It was a well-balanced and easy drinking beast, and I don’t think that’s changed, but it certainly hasn’t actually been improved by its extended cellaring. In fact, I’m going to say it’s now just very slightly past its best-by, although still quite respectable. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Valley Brewing, Inc. Rustler Imperial Hazy IPA – American Double / Imperial IPA at 8.8% ABV | 50 IBU

Valley Brewing, Inc. Rustler Imperial Hazy IPA – American Double / Imperial IPA at 8.8% ABV | 50 IBU (C$5.35 at Collective, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 23-Dec-2021, reviewed 7-Jan-2022)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with two fingers of rocky pale ivory head, good retention and heavy soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: sweet tropical & stone fruit, citrus, vanilla, coconut, cereal grains, hint of dank. (8/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate bitter. (7/10) Palate: soft medium body, moderate carbonation, sweetish short duration finish. (3/5)

Pleasantly juicy notes of tropical & stone fruits and citrus combine with a sweet, almost creamy vanilla and a hint of coconut to make for a somewhat Creamsicle-ish overall character. It’s slightly too sweet for my preference, but other than that it’s pretty good. Fact is, because of that excess sweetness I’d probably prefer their lower-ABV Namesake IPA or Virtue APA – and going for the lower ABV is a definitely bit uncommon for me, so… (15/20)

This will be my 5,177th unique Untappd check-in.

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Unibroue Grande Réserve 17 (2013) – Belgian Strong Ale at 10% ABV

Unibroue Grande Réserve 17 (2013) – Belgian Strong Ale at 10% ABV (C$10.69 at NLC Stavanger, 750 ml, packaged on 13-May-2013, best before 13-May-2021, acquired 18-Sep-2014, reviewed 5-Jan-2022)

Appearance: clear deep amber with two fat fingers of frothy light beige head, excellent retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: Belgian banana and cloves, caramel & toffee, musty cellar funk, oak & leather, dark fruits,  tobacco. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, mild bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, lively carbonation, lingering spicy warming finish. (4/5)

When I last did this at two years old, it was complex, and had clearly benefited from a year in my cellar, mellowing the ABV and tempering the woody and vinous notes, while remaining relatively light in body. Well, at more than eight years old, and more than half a year past the BB date, that’s no longer quite the case. In addition to things fading overall, there’s an added note of musty cellar funk that is both decidedly unwelcome and almost certainly a death knell: this thing has well and truly jumped the shark. Still good, and still worthy of respect, but no longer what it once was. Ah, well, memento mori. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Tofino Brewing Co. Cosmic Wave Double IPA – American Double / Imperial IPA at 9.0% ABV

Tofino Brewing Co. Cosmic Wave Double IPA – American Double / Imperial IPA at 9.0% ABV (C$4.95 at Collective, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 23-Dec-2021, reviewed 5-Jan-2022)

Appearance: clear medium gold with two fingers of rocky pale ivory head, excellent retention and moderate soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: resiny dank pine, citrus, caramel, tropical fruit, earthy leafy greens. (7/10) Taste: moderate-high sweet, moderate-high bitter. (7/10) Palate: medium slightly slick body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering building bitter finish. (4/5)

A strong WC-tending DIPA of the old school. A lot of my descriptions and scores here are on the cusp, and could easily have gone a bit either way. Indeed, when I last tried this one, about three years ago, I scored it a little higher. Ultimately, though, it’s a solid contender that is regardless not particularly memorable. (16/20)

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Cabin Brewing Company Evening Chorus – American IPA at 7% ABV

Cabin Brewing Company Evening Chorus – American IPA at 7% ABV (C$5.08 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 1-Dec-2021, acquired 23-Dec-2021, reviewed 5-Jan-2022)

Appearance: opaque hazy pale gold with a short fine pale ivory head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: juicy citrus, tropical fruit, cereal grains. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-low bitter. (8/10) Palate: soft medium body, moderate carbonation, short duration finish. (4/5)

The label says this is “NZ-hopped”, and brewer notes specify Motueka, Rakau, and Nelson Sauvin hops – oh my, yes. And, yep, it delivers exactly what I’d expect for those hops: lots of brightly juicy citrus and tropical fruit notes, on a clean malt background. Also, the ABV is right about the sweet spot: above “training wheels”, but below “on your ass”. I really like this one. (16/20)

This will be my 5,176th unique Untappd check-in.

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Annex Ale Project Armchair Anarchist – American Double / Imperial IPA at 9.1% ABV

Annex Ale Project Armchair Anarchist – American Double / Imperial IPA at 9.1% ABV (C$5.17 at Collective, 473 ml, best before 30-Nov-2022, acquired 23-Dec-2021, reviewed 4-Jan-2022)

Appearance: slightly hazy pale gold with two fingers of rocky pale ivory head, excellent retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: citrus, tropical fruit, cereal grains. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-lively carbonation, sweetish medium duration warming finish. (4/5)

I never waved a black flag, but I’ve listened to Black Flag, does that count? The label says they used eight hops here, and brewer notes indicate “hops in the kettle, whirlpool, and three separate dry-hops using three different techniques: high krausen, standard dry hop, and a cold dry hop” – but nowhere can I find which hops. Clearly there’s a few of the starts-with-C usual suspects, but beyond that I’m not sure… which, I suppose, means it’s done fairly well, since nothing really stands out or dominates? I could have gone a little lower on scoring, maybe, but ultimately there’s nothing wrong with this, and although it drinks a little boozy, it’s certainly appropriate to the ABV. (16/20)

This will be my 5,175th unique Untappd check-in.

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Ale Architect Brewing Ltd. Joy Wave DDH NE DIPA – American Double / Imperial IPA at 7.8% ABV

Ale Architect Brewing Ltd. Joy Wave DDH NE DIPA – American Double / Imperial IPA at 7.8% ABV (C$4.93 at Collective, 473 ml, best before 6-May-2022, acquired 23-Dec-2021, reviewed 2-Jan-2022)

Appearance: hazy pale gold with two fingers of rocky pale ivory head, excellent retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: tropical fruit, citrus, cereal grains. (8/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate bitter. (8/10) Palate: medium soft body, moderate carbonation, off-dry medium duration finish. (4/5)

The label says this is hopped with Citra, Simcoe, and El Dorado. The pleasant aroma and restrained sweetness on a clean malt background, with a medium body tending slightly soft and pillowy, make this very easy drinking despite the not-inconsiderable ABV. The only thing that’s stopping me from raving about this is the absence of any kind of resiny pine note, despite the fact that the Simcoe should have been capable of providing that, and as a result I find the character a bit less nuanced than I’d like to see. All in all, however, it’s a very respectable representation of that long string of initialisms that is the style. (16/20)

This will be my 5,174th unique Untappd check-in.

8/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Field & Forge Brewing Co. Cranberry IPA – American IPA at 6.2% ABV | 50 IBU

Field & Forge Brewing Co. Cranberry IPA – American IPA at 6.2% ABV | 50 IBU (C$3.73 at Collective, 473 ml, no packaging date or best before, acquired 23-Dec-2021, reviewed 1-Jan-2022)

Appearance: clear medium gold with two fingers of rocky ivory head, excellent retention and moderate soapy lacing. (4/5) Aroma: cranberry, citrus, pine, pale crackery malt. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter, mild tart. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate-lively carbonation, off-dry crisp lightly tart finish. (4/5)

I previously had their Cold IPA, which was a collaboration with Blindman, and maybe my first example of the “Cold IPA” style, nominally associated with using pilsner malt and lager yeast (and no, I don’t how how that then isn’t just an India Pale Lager). This is pretty similar, with the added cranberry adjunct. The label says they use Enigma hops, but doesn’t say it’s exclusively single-hop. I was actually expecting this to be pink, especially given the amount of cranberry presence, and in fact the fruit juice presence ultimately makes this something similar to a Radler. It ends up being crisp, tart, and refreshing – I like it. (15/20)

This will be my 5,173rd unique Untappd check-in.

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com

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Born Brewing Co. (Born Colorado Brewing) IPA Series 008 Rye IPA – American IPA at 6.2% ABV | 58 IBU

Born Brewing Co. (Born Colorado Brewing) IPA Series 008 Rye IPA – American IPA at 6.2% ABV | 58 IBU (C$4.18 at Collective, 473 ml, packaged on 13-Dec-2022, acquired 23-Dec-2021, reviewed 1-Jan-2022)

Appearance: clear pale amber with two fingers of fine ivory head, excellent retention and well-defined soapy lacing. (5/5) Aroma: spicy rye, resiny pine, caramel, citrus, black tea. (7/10) Taste: moderate sweet, moderate-high bitter, light peppery spice. (7/10) Palate: medium body, moderate carbonation, off-dry lingering bitter lightly spicy finish. (4/5)

Hopped with Centennial and Citra, but the hopping doesn’t really dominate – but then again, neither does the spicy rye. It’s actually fairly well balanced in that regard, with a mild pleasant rye spice just barely edging out both the pine and citrus from hops, and a clean caramel malt. Pretty and pleasant. (15/20)

This will be my 5,172nd unique Untappd check-in.

7.5/10 #ryansbooze ryansbooze.com