Friday, 23 June 2017

3-Point Saison

3-Point Saison is a farmhouse ale from Collingwood, Ontario's Collingwood Brewery. It's sold in 473mL cans and contains a pretty substantial 7% alcohol, as well as a modest 20 IBUs.

The beer is hazy and dull gold, with a fluffy white foam on top. It has a fragrance that is, at times, yeasty, tart, and briny, with sour apple notes. The flavour proved significantly less tart than the nose, instead featuring a somewhat unforeseen sweetness at the front end, with some banana esters a bit more suited to a witbier. The back end was, as expected, yeasty and dry.

While 3-Point wasn't quite as effervescent as many saisons, it was rife with wild yeast, giving homage to its Belgian-style roots. At 7%, there was more booze than the average Ontarian take on the saison. I enjoyed this brew while I was watching the Toronto Raptors kick the crap out of the Milwaukee Bucks in game 5 of their playoff series, so I was predisposed to like it, but I genuinely thought it was a good, not great, beer. Would definitely buy again.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Monty's Aged Ryed Ale

Monty's Aged Ryed Ale is named in honour of Jon Montgomery, the Canadian skeleton racer who won a gold medal and celebrated by chugging beer in a scene of patriotic glory. The beer, constructed by the Old Tomorrow Ltd., comes from Toronto, Ontario. According to the 473mL can, this 6.2% Ale is aged with oak that has been infused with rye whisky (100% Canadian of course--though it doesn't divulge which one).

Monty's is a swampy dull orange grog. It pours with a surprisingly bright white head and has a extremely sweet aroma--woody, with some vanilla notes. The flavour is also quite sweet, with clover elements and a fairly woody body. There is little bitterness to this ale, which makes it a good after dinner candidate, but also leaves it a bit unbalanced. There is a touch of whisky at the tail end that was warm and wily.

I thought that Monty's was a pretty innovative little brew. The oaked rye aging process made for an interesting taste profile, though I maintain that the beer was too sweet and could have benefited from a few more handfuls of hops. Still, I liked it and I'll buy it again.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Geronimo IPA

According to the 473mL can, Walkerville Brewery's Geronimo IPA is named in honour of the boat belonging to bootlegger Henry Low. Apparently the good ship Geronimo was seized by the authorities, but returned to Canadian shores due to a storm. Appropriately, Walkerville Brewery does its brewing in the border town of Windsor, Ontario.

The IPA Geronimo is a 6.3% alcohol brew. It's golden orange in colour and pours with a lustrous off-white head. It has a vibrant aroma that's resinous, bitter, and a bit juicy. It tastes bold, with grapefruit and swampy hops elements. However, the big flavour was a bit overpowering for the relatively thin mouthfeel.

Geronimo is a tasty and flavourful Ontario India Pale. It lacked something in terms of body, and I'd have liked another half a percentage point of booze or so, but I thought it was a nice lil brew.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Nottabottle Belgian Pale Ale

Nottabottle Belgian Pale Ale comes, as one might imagine, in a 473mL can. It's a lightweight 4.5% alcohol pale ale from Peterborough, Ontario's Smithavens Brewing Company.

The beer is faintly hazy, brightly carbonated, and has a ruddy orange hue. It pours with a thick white head that faded fast. It has a tart, fruity fragrance that has a potent yeasty bent. The flavour is sweeter than expected, particularly initially, with banana notes. Behind that, the ale is yeasty and only a little bitter.

According to the info on the can, Nottabottle contains just 20 IBUs and is made using an abbey ale yeast. I'd have liked a bit more oomph from this brew, and a tarter flavour. However, I enjoyed it and I'll certainly buy it again.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Thursday, 15 June 2017


Billed as a tripel with wildflower honey, RGBee comes from the Halo Brewery. A Torontonian ale with some heft, this re-imagining of the Belgian-style contains a stern 8.7% alcohol and comes in 500mL bottles.

Initially, the beer poured extremely clear, which was an unusual characteristic for a tripel-style ale. However, my second pour seemed to dislodge some sediment and resulted in a considerably more cloudy second half. Additionally, it proved to be substantially carbonated and occupied space beneath a fuzzy white head.

I found RGBee's nose to be a complicated affair, encompassing malt, honey sweetness, and a whiff of copper. The beer tasted extremely sweet--a product both of its boozy nature and of the use of honey in the brewing process. While there was definitely some Belgian-inspired yeastiness, I found it to be rather understated, taking a backseat to the sugary qualities that were the real drivers of this ale.

RGBee was a very interesting ale. I found it to be well-conceived, but not quite as well-executed. A bit too cloying and not nearly as representative of the tripel style as I wanted. Still, the use of wildflower honey created a pleasant clover feel that made for a memorable flavour.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Kingpost ESB

Kingpost ESB calls Collingwood, Ontario home. It's a 5.8% alcohol, 40 IBU extra special bitter from the Collingwood Brewery. The beer leaves its 473mL can looking copper-hued and clear, pouring under a decent layer of off-white head.

Kingpost has a sweet and malty nose, with an agreeable caramel bent. The flavour has a metallic quality alongside malt and caramel notes. The initial taste is sweet; I was caught off-guard by the depth of bitterness at the back end. There was some real hops astringency that resulted in a quick, dry, and bready finish.

I thought Kingpost was a nicely constructed English-style ale. The front end could have been stronger, but the finish was most satisfactory. Would buy again.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.


Sunday, 11 June 2017

ZiegenBock Texas Amber

ZiegenBock Texas Amber is a rusty copper amber Lager from Houston's Ziegenbock Brewing Co., an affiliate of Anheuser-Busch. It contains 4.9% alcohol and is sold in 12 oz bottles. It pours clear, with a decent layer of off-white head.

Its nose is mild 'n' malty, with sweet notes of bread and toffee. The flavour isn't particularly potent, but contains a malt-forward base and sweet caramel notes. The lager has only slight bitter qualities--a whisper of grainy hops noticeable only at the finish.

ZiegenBock is an agreeable enough macro-brewed take on the amber lager. It's less a bock than a Vienna lager, but it tastes fine and is easy-drinking. According to Wikipedia, this stuff was brewed to compete with Shiner Bock. If that's so, it's not quite in the same ballpark, but it still manages to refresh and satisfy.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Presumed Innocent IPA

Staying with two lawyers in Richardson, Texas meant that I had to buy a 12 oz can of Legal Draft Beer Company's Presumed Innocent IPA when I spotted it at the grocery store. From Arlington, TX, this India Pale contains a robust 7.2% alcohol.

Presumed Innocent poured a ruddy orange colour and had an unfortunate amount of chunky yeasty sediment. It's nose was grapefruit rich and bitter. The flavour, too, was bitter and citrus-driven, with a finish that turned toward slightly resinous.

This beer might have been on the shelf a little too long. It really did have some gnarly yeast chunks and they built up awkwardly on the bottom of my glass, but I'm not convinced it is typical of the beer. The flavour was pretty nice and it was just the right level of strong, though, which ensured a passing grade.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Full Moon Rye IPA

Full Moon Rye IPA comes from the Real Ale Brewing Co. out of Blanco, TX. It's sold in 12 oz bottles and packs an unlisted alcoholic kick (according to the Real Ale website it's 6.2% alcohol and contains 50 IBUs).

The beer poured a clear and bright copper colour under a lush off-white head. It had an assertively bitter aroma, backed with a nice spicy rye note. The taste proved comfortably hoppy, with some citrus vibes, metallic notes, and some whisky-stained rye warmth.

I thought that Full Moon was a really well-crafted Rye IPA. It wasn't memorable, exactly, but it left a lingering sensation of quality. This good beer made me curious about Real Ale's other offerings and feeling sorry that I wasn't in Texas long enough to investigate.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Goatman Imperial India Black Lager

Goatman Imperial India Black Lager is produced in Garland, Texas by Lakewood Brewing Co. At 9.3% and 82 IBUs, this brew has major chops. According to the label, the brew is in honour of the Goatman of White Rock Lake, though there are scant details on his story. The beer is brown-black and topped with tan head.

The aroma is toasty and rich, though fairly mild. The flavour was definitely not, though, with notes of licorice, spice, and heady hops ballast.

Goatman was a damned strong and robust. It was my first go at an Imperial India Black Lager, and I liked it a lot. I didn't have a frame of reference, but I'm confident this stuff stacks up well.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Blood & Honey American Ale

According to the label on 12 oz bottles of Blood & Honey American Ale, the stuff is brewed with "blood orange peel, honey & spices". A pale wheat ale, B&H comes from Granbury, TX, where it's brewed by Revolver Brewing. The beer came highly recommended by my pal JG, so I rushed out and bought a bottle at the first opportunity during a stay in Dallas.

The beer was cloudy and sunny gold, with a thin disc of white head. It' aroma was both slightly yeasty and slightly citrusy, with a whiff of something sweet. At 7% alcohol, it had some gravitas without putting me to sleep. As for flavour, the ale had an agreeable spice presence, some charming citrus elements, and a bit of honey sweetness attributable to Texas honey used in brewing.

On top of its excellent name, Blood & Honey proved to be a delightful little grog--strong and sweet, but backed with a decent hops finish, and buoyed by a zest of orange. If you're in Texas, you should really take this ale out for a spin or two.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

471 IPA

During an hour-long pit stop in the City Tavern in Dallas, TX, my second India Pale Ale was 471 IPA, out of Littleton, Colorado's Breckenridge Brewery. It packed a mighty 9.2% alcohol--a double IPA for sure. My pint showed up filled with clear copper suds under an ample off-white head. 471 had a nose that was both bitter and juicy, with some pleasant berry notes. The flavour proved to be a touch too sweet for my ideal, but it had a really interesting profile that ran from sweet and fruity to bitter and boozy.

471 was a pretty enjoyable little ale. Too saccharine and strong to be suitable for session drinking, but a single pint really hit the spot.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Hop Trapp IPA

The Bitter Wife and I spent a weekend in Dallas, Texas to check out the excellent Old 97's Country Fair. While there, we ducked into a little pub on Main Street called the City Tavern and I ordered myself a pint of Hop Trapp IPA. Hop Trapp comes from Lakewood Brewing Company in Garland, Texas. It contains 6.4% alcohol.

My pint arrived looking nice--slightly hazy, deep amber-hued with a thin layer of off-white head that could have had a bit more depth. It had an oddly yeasty aroma that had me questioning whether it was actually an IPA (after the fact, I googled it and learned that it is a Belgian-style IPA), but there was some hops pop in there too. The flavour continued to demonstrate a fair level of yeastiness.  Along that were faint peach notes and a hefty resinous hop display.

This wasn't the best IPA I've ever tried. Don't get me wrong, on a hot Saturday afternoon in downtown Dallas, it was seriously satisfying, but I found it lacked the desired hop crackle and astringency. I'm not likely to buy it again, mostly due to its yeastiness.

Rating: 6.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Brown Van Kölsch

Brown Van Brewing's Kölsch, or more appropriately their Kölsch-Style Ale is a 4.8%, 23 IBU number from Ottawa, Ontario. It's a crystal clear straw gold ale hat pours with a slim cover of white head.

This kölsch-style brew has the slightly sweet aroma of toasty grain. The flavour profile meanders from sweet and grainy opening notes toward the finish line: a short, dry, and unexpectedly bitter back end.

Because of the sweet to bitter progression and the curtness of the finish, this beer manages to have exemplary crispness without sacrificing much flavour. While perhaps not as style-typical as some of the classics from Cologne, I find Brown Van's version of the tricky little brew to be a novel and noteworthy take. A bit more booze would be nice, but with its current strength, clarity, and brightness, this is the kind of craft beer that might turn heads among the macro lager crowd.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Thursday, 25 May 2017


Runes is another in a long list of subtle India Pale concoctions from Toronto's Bellwoods Brewery. This particular mixture, according to the sticker on the 500mL bottle, owes its unique character to Mosaic and Citra hops, as well as Mosaic lupulin powder. The 6.7% IPA poured a very hazy dull orange-gold colour, with a disc of off-white head.

To my experienced but unskilled schnoz, this brew packed a heady tropical aroma into a cute little package. The flavour, too, proved fruitful and pleasing, with satsuma and passion fruit notes commanding the early stages, and a strident grapefruit bitterness in the finish.

While Runes wasn't as assertive or eye-popping as some of Bellwoods' other IPA offerings, and though it tasted a bit reminiscent of some of their Monogamy offerings, I definitely think it deserves a place in the BB pantheon because it tasted like a well-made brew with some quality cards up its sleeve. Very satisfying, not terribly strong, and quite fine.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Anderson IPA

A new to me Ontario IPA, Anderson IPA comes from London, ON, where it's brewed by Anderson Craft Ales. According to the almost impossibly basic 355mL cans, the ale contains 6.5% alcohol and 60 IBUs--although it tasted a lot more bitter to me.

The hazy, bright gold beer poured with a thick miasma of eggshell head. Through that fog, the aroma proved to be quite rich in fruit, as well as pretty sizably hoppy. The flavour was bitter first, but contained nuanced fruit elements--orange and grapefruit, chiefly. The finish came through as sweet in stages, but mostly curt and bitter.

Anderson IPA was an odd duck of an IPA. Its flavour didn't possess a lot of depth--rather, it was assertive and blunt, with a shortage of flair. However, for all of that, there was an undercurrent of complexity that made me really glad to have purchased a 4-pack of cans. By the end of my fourth can--spread over two nights--I was pretty much convinced that there was an intangible element that made this beer stand out in a crowded scene. I'd have enjoyed a bit more bombast and a bit more developed denouement, but it did have a certain quality that all but assures I'll revisit this little number.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Dawn of the Red

From Eugene, Oregon, Dawn of the Red is a Red IPA with a really cool aesthetic. The 12 oz bottles of the 7% brew feature a zombie motif on the label. The beer is made by Ninkasi Brewing Company. It has a slight reddish hue that runs through an otherwise golden body and it pours with a creamy off-white head.
DotR has a considerably bitter aroma that features a very pleasing tangerine note. Citrus elements permeate the flavour as well, with quality West Coast bitterness well represented.

A very nice ale from a reliable brewery in one of the craft beering-est states in the Union, DotR seemed like a can't miss brew when I put it in the cart, and that prediction proved accurate.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Barn Raiser Country Ale

My good pal W.F.M. recently remarked to me that The Barn Raiser Country Ale by Oast House Brewers was currently his fave Ontario brew. He was chagrined that I hadn't reviewed it yet, so I rushed out and bought a 473mL can of the 5% alcohol ale from Niagara-on-the-Lake. According to the Oast House website, what I had in my hands was an American Pale Ale.

A clear, brassy brew, The Barn Raiser poured with a lovely but brief off-white head. My nose was greeted by a faint but enticing aroma that balanced fresh grains against a slight fruit flush. I found the beer to be crisp and refreshing, with a dry, hoppy character. Its flavour was grainy and bitter, with a clever yeastiness.

While I might not rank The Barn Raiser as my favourite Ontario beer, it was certainly one that I enjoyed quite a bit. It tasted fresh and was pleasantly refreshing, while managing a decent hops crackle.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Farmed & Dangerous

Farmed & Dangerous is a funky little Belgian-style farmhouse ale from Toronto's Bandit Brewery. This 6% alcohol saison-style brew comes in 500mL bottles with really spiffy labels featuring a dapper, fanged hop-dude. Inside, the beer proved to be dull orange and very hazy. It poured with a lovely cap of white head.

F&D's nose was yeasty, dry, tart, and fruity. It had a yeast-driven flavour profile, supplemented with some spice notes, green apple, and some earthy elements.

F&D tasted like an authentic farmhouse ale from Belgium or France. It was funky and complicated, with a bit of a wild side. At just 6%, it was a bit underproof for the style, but it had the flavour to almost make up for it.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Express India Session Lager

St. Thomas, Ontario is the home of Railway City Brewing Co. and the birthplace of Express India Session Lager. At 4.8% alcohol, the strength is right for a session beer, though at a mere 18 IBUs, a 473mL can of this brew is pretty light in the hop department for a beer brandishing the "India" moniker. The lager poured with a golden hue. It was clear and had a vibrant white cloud of foam.

To my nose, Express packed a nice aroma rich in citrus fruit and a suggestion of modest bitterness. The flavour proved crisp and easy-drinking, but lacked the bitter heft that I wanted it to possess. Far from brittle, the beer had a fairly engaging taste--fresh and fun, but with no more hoppiness than a modest pilsner. What bitterness it did have, however, did lean closer to that of a craft ale than to a typical lager--crunchy citrus notes lended a bit of value. The finish was short and dry.

Express India Session Lager was, at the same time, engaging and disappointing. It had a micro-brewed ale suggestion that spoke to me, but it lacked the grit packed into India Pale Lagers that I've tried. Some vigorous dry-hopping might have upped the ante a bit. It must be said, though, that the compact and arid finish was a boon--and the "session" in the name was well earned. A beer-sop like me could sink a dangerous number of these little guys and not struggle until too late.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Rodeo Monk

Rodeo Monk's label declares that it's "Brussels meets Boise, Idaho". A white IPA, the stuff is a hybrid of American IPA and Belgian witbier, brewed in Toronto, by Mill St. Brewery. RM clocks in at a respectable 7% alcohol and it's sold in stylish 750mL swingtop bottles that are sealed with wax. The wax seal calls for a quick word: generally, it's a needless luxury that causes lots of grief because wax seals are a pain in the ass to open; the use of wax on this one is still a needless luxury, but because of the swingtop design of the bottle, it opens like a dream. I was genuinely pleased by the ease with which the bottle popped open. Kudos.

As for the beer within, it is a cloudy gold ale; not nearly as "white" as most witbiers, but definitely possessed of some yeastiness. It pours with a manageably thick white head through which comes a very interesting aroma: wild yeast tinged with raspberry and cranberry tartness and the suggestion of hops. Unlike its nose, Rodeo Monk's flavour didn't quite manage to achieve uniqueness, but it was certainly tasty enough, with sourdough notes providing the base, some fruit esters the frame, and a decently hoppy end note the finishing touches.

On reflection, this beer proved to be quite memorable for me. I've done the white IPA thing enough times that it's no real mystery to me, and I've quaffed a fair few Belgian-style-American-style hybrids. What made this beer stand out was its bountiful berry-tinged nose and, to a lesser extent, its berry-kissed flavour. I love raspberries, and a beer that can allude to that beautiful fruit without going overboard is a winner in my books.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Oskar Blues' IPA

Whenever my girl KC comes to visit, I'm thrilled. She's a brilliant human and a lot of fun ... plus she always brings me a couple of cans of beer from the US of A (though I'd always be glad to see her, even if she arrived empty-handed). This past visit was no exception, and one of the brews I came away with was Oskar Blues' IPA. From Brevard, NC's Oskar Blues Brewery come the 355mL cans of this 6.43% alcohol IPA. The beer inside is a hazy straw gold, and it pours with a loose off-white head.

OB's IPA has a big, resinous nose with lots of bitter, swampy notes. However, it's flavour proved a bit more restrained. There were some resin elements, certainly, but these were outshone by tangerine notes and a vague metallic flavour.

Having tried and enjoyed several of Oskar Blues' brews in the past, I'd put this one right in the middle of the pack: not as sessionable and playful as Dale's Pale Ale or as dominant as Ten Fidy, but with a bit more approachability that G'Night or Death by Coconut. All told, a fine edition to the family, and a beer that, if I lived in America, would frequently come home with me.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Jelly King

A dry hopped sour ale, Jelly King comes from Toronto, Ontario, where it's brewed by Bellwoods Brewery. At 5.6%, the milky yellow brew has a bit of heft, but not too much. It's sold in 500mL bottles with a spiffy kaleidoscope label. It pours with a decent layer of white head.

Jelly King has a playful and tart aroma with a nice lemon burst and the suggestion of some hoppy dryness. The flavour blends lemon and grapefruit into a tangy melange, built atop a faintly hoppy finish. 

The weak spot of this beer is its mouthfeel--a bit on the brittle side. However, with a genuinely sour flavour and quality fruit elements, there is a lot to appreciate. I'd definitely buy it again.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Green Island New England IPA

Another juicy and fruity IPA from Fredericton's TrailWay Brewing Co. is Green Island New England IPA (which I took to be a Vermont-style IPA), a 6% alcohol brew billed as having "pungent tropical fruit". Sold in 473mL cans, I found Green Island to be, in many respects, very similar to Hu Jon Hops and Rype, two other TrailWay beers that I reviewed while in Fredericton for a funeral. All three had a similar look--hazy and milky orange-gold with a white head--and all three packed nice and assertive fruit-forward noses. While I enjoyed all three, if I were a creative at TrailWay, I'd be trying to diversify the portfolio a bit more.

I found Green Island to have a somewhat resinous strand to its flavour, as well as citrus and pineapple notes. The finish has some pretty nice hoppy elements, but I also found it to have a faintly chemical air that left me a bit nonplussed.

While Green Planet proved quite similar to two of its other TrailWay Brewing siblings, I found that compared to Rype and Hu Jon, it was the least compelling and well-crafted. Not a bad beer, but not the one TrailWay should be crowing loudest about.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Steamworks Jasmine IPA

Steamworks Jasmine IPA comes from Vancouver, British Columbia--born of the Steamworks Brewing Co. I bought a 650mL bottle of the 6.5% alcohol nectar at my local shop--the weirdo steampunk/Japanese label made it an easy purchase. According to the specs, it's brewed with jasmine flowers and clocks in at a vigourous 60 IBUs.

Jasmine IPA proved to be a slightly hazy golden ale under a sudsy off-white head. It has a slightly floral aroma that isn't all that potent. The flavour has considerably more ups, with a bitter trend that splits between citrus and floral elements. As well, the taste seems boozier than one might expect from the 6.5% figure. The finish is dry and enjoyably brittle.

This was an enjoyable IPA. I'd have called for a slightly richer nose and a slightly higher percentage, but the beer I got was compelling enough, and entirely pleasant. It's cleverly sold in large format bottles, since I'd thirstily down 650mL of the stuff, but a sixer might be a bit too much.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Stone Imperial Russian Stout

Stone Imperial Russian Stout is a bruiser of an ale from Escondido, California, Stone Brewing Co. At 10.8%, a one pint six ounce bottle of this stuff can make your head spin. The beer is an opaque black liquid. It pours with a thin cover of off-white head.

It has a punchy aroma that blends smokiness and big malt body, with some licorice elements and a mellow mocha tail. The flavour is heavy--lots of sweetness and booze--as well as java, roasted malt, and molasses notes. Over all of that, there is a faint plume of woodsmoke. The finish remains sweet and malty, but adds a touch of leather to the equation. The mouthfeel is calamitously thick and syrupy.

Stone's take on the Imperial Russian Stout is a fine interpretation of the hearty and potent style. It's a very filling and complicated ale that I'd gladly revisit. It was a touch too sweet for me, but it was rich and raucous.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Fursty Ferret

All the way from Blandford, Dorset, UK comes the cutely named Fursty Ferret. An amber ale, this little brew is put together by Badger Ales, and brewed by Hall & Woodhouse. At a meek 4.4% alcohol, there isn't a lot of heft to this brew. It's sold in 500mL bottles adorned with the cutesy rodents swilling beer from a cask, and a very brief anecdote about curious ferrets wetting their whistle at a Dorset pub.

The beer is a barely hazy light brown ale. It pours under a decent coating of off-white head and has a malty, baked goods aroma. The flavour starts sweetly, with a malt backbone, and underlies by a faint raisin quality. The label told me to anticipate Seville oranges, but citrus wasn't immediately evident to my much abused palate. The finish has a pretty fair hops profile, though, which made this a little more memorable than the average English ale, nor was it overly metallic.

Fursty Ferret had a saccharine name, but the actual beer was pretty solid. Flavour was quite full for 4.4%, it was sweet, but not too sweet, and had an engaging finish. Obviously, I'd have liked a bit more boozy weight, but it still tasted nice. Because of the silly packaging and name, I assumed I wasn't going to like this beer, but t proved me wrong.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Hu Jon Hops

My understanding is that Hu Jon Hops is the signature IPA from Fredericton, New Brunswick's TrailWay Brewing Co. I picked up a single 473mL can of the 6.5% alcohol ale from the brewery. According to the brief copy on the can, this beer is "juicy, dank, and fruity". It's a very hazy dull gold ale that pours with a luxe layer of off-white head.

To my nose, the beer had tropical fruit aromatics enveloping a nicely bitter skeleton. Its taste is similarly constructed, with a fruity front end and a slightly resinous bitter fin. Much like TrailWay's Rype pale ale, although to a lesser extent, this one is juicy and flavourful, but suffers from a notable lack of volume in the mouthfeel. While this makes for an easy-drinking ale, it doesn't have all of the sharp edges that I love in the best IPAs. Still, it tastes great and is well-worth picking up should you find yourself in New Brunswick's capital city.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Ghost Orchid

Ghost Orchid is a beautifully-named IPA from the always-reliable Bellwoods Brewery. Coming from all the way across the park from my apartment in Toronto, this little gem is a 6.3% alcohol brew sold in pretty 500mL bottles.

According to the Bellwoods website, this cheery IPA, brewed with oats, used to be a pale ale, but has been bumped up a category for this release. It's a hazy orange-gold number that pours with a hefty off-white foam. It has a fresh and fruity aroma that exudes clementines and tart pear. The flavour is quite well-rounded, with a decent malt background, under a mostly bitter body. There are powerful fruit notes, manifested in orange, pear, and grapefuit.

A beer with quality hop elements, but not an abundance of IBUs, Ghost Orchid is highly downable and refined, without the gritty potency of a typical IPA. Bellwoods has brewed a number of memorable IPAs--while this one isn't there most remarkable, it really is a well-executed beer. I'd have liked a bit more pop, alcohol-wise, to push it to the next level.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Laker IPA

During a recent weekend foray to Ontario's beautiful Georgian Bay region, I found myself running dangerously low on craft beer. To replenish my stores, my friends and I headed into the nearest town to visit their beer vendor. While the shores of the Georgian Bay are something to behold, the selection at this particular beer seller was not. Faced with desperate choices, I picked up a quartet of 473mL cans of Laker IPA. The Laker mark, brewed in Kitchener, ON by the Brick Brewing Co., has the dubious distinction of being the value ale on which many Ontario youths cut their teeth. However, never having seen their IPA before, I resolved to give it a whirl. The fact that contained just 4.8% alcohol--way low for the style--was a red flag, but one I was willing to overlook.

The beer, once poured, looked quite agreeable. It was a hazy brown-auburn colour, with a thin cap of off-white head. Its aroma proved to be a blend of dank bitterness and a sweet, metallic twang. Rarely do understrength beers taste stronger than they are, but the sweetness displayed in the front end of Laker IPA gave it the illusion of considerable booze, despite its relatively anemic percentage. While the beer smelled fairly bitter, the taste didn't kick up its heels with IBUs in any significant manner. Rather, the bitterness was largely drowned by saccharine elements.

At the cottage, where I downed my first three cans of Laker IPA, I was extremely critical of the stuff. I took the fourth home for sober reflection. While that can still left much to be desired, it wasn't the total swill that I had derided on first impression, but I still wasn't wild about it. Too sweet by far, wildly under-strength, and insufficiently bitter: three characteristics that all but ensure I will not be revisiting this ale again.

Rating: 4.5 out of 10.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

St-Feuillien Tripel

St-Feuillien Tripel is a Belgian abbey beer from Le Roeulx, where it is crafted by Brasserie St-Feuillien. Sold in stubby 330mL bottles, this cloudy Ale is dull gold in colour, and pours with a thin covering of off-white head. At 8.5% alcohol, it has some ballast, but isn't nearly as potent as some other tripels out there.

S-F has a tart aroma that is both yeasty and fruity. The flavour, too, is fairly tart, with sour apple and white grape elements. As well, there are some yeasty notes, though less than in some other Belgian and Belgian-style brews. The finish is dry and has a faintly perfumed quality.

What I liked most about S-F was the fact that it was more tart than sweet. For such a strong beer, I found the flavour profile to be somewhat mild, but not unpleasant. The only real concern that I had was a slightly chemical taste that marred the finish for me. All told, a good but not great tripel. Buy again? Sure. I liked it, and the front end was unique.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Friday, 21 April 2017

SuperCollider 2.0 Double IPA

There aren't many Ontario beers that hit triple digits on the IBU scale, but SuperCollider 2.0 Double IPA is one of the few that reaches that height of bitterness, checking in at 102 IBUs and a liver-pummeling 10.4% alcohol. Brewed in Barrie, ON, by the delightful eccentrics at Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery, SC2 is sold in loud 473mL cans that are reminiscent of the lurid holographic labels that adorned the bottles of version 1.0.

The beer inside the can poured with a surprising clarity--an amber liquid topped with roiling cream suds. As one would expect, the nose is "bigly" bitter, with swirling notes of citrus and sweet. The flavour begins with a pushy gust of tangy grapefruit, but this is set off against a heavy dose of boozy sweetness. By the time the beer stumbles across the finish line, the citrus notes are more tangerine-y, and the warm sweetness of the alcohol actually picks up steam. The large hops bill lasts from dawn to dusk.

SuperCollider 2.0 has a lot of commendable attributes--it's strong as hell, packs loads of hops, and it has a relatively complicated flavour profile. On the other side of the ledger, its too damned sweet! I know that sweetness tends to increase with alcoholic strength, but this stuff could really use something to thin out its saccharine side. The sweetness makes drinking the warmer half of a 473mL portion a bit more daunting than need be. All in all, SC2 is a delightful brew--immodest and almost unreasonable ... in a good way! Would buy again.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Night Mist Imperial Stout

At 8.5% alcohol, Night Mist Imperial Stout is certainly strong, but it isn't as bonkers as some of the other big stouts out there--as a result, I found that a 500mL bottle of the stuff was manageable on a weeknight. From Toronto's Bandit Brewery, Night Mist was onyx, opaque, and covered with a slim disc of tan head--in fact, considerably less head that I was expecting.

Night Mist had a comforting malt aroma blessed with mocha notes and the suggestion of some dank hops. The flavour veers from well roasted malts to a modestly bitter finish in the space of a few beats. Along the way, there are some dark chocolate notes and a thin wisp of pipe smoke. However, the chief note to me seemed to be dark, dried fruit.

According to Bandit's website, this little number has 60 IBUs, which seems about right--really a respectable bitterness packed into this dark beer. However, I'd have liked it to be featured a bit more assertively. Overall, the flavour was agreeable and had few faults to pick at. Like everything I've tasted from the Bandit repertoire, Night Mist Imperial Stout was nicely made and genuinely good, if not elite.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Crimzen Premium Red Ale

Crimzen Premium Red Ale finds its home in Toronto, Ontario. An English-style ale, it's brewed by the folks at Lost Craft Beer and contains 4.7% alcohol. The 473mL can is austere, but not inelegant, with a white and red colour scheme.

The beer inside is a shiny copper hue. It's clear and pours with a decent cap of off-white head. For aromatics, the ale has metallic and malty leanings, with a drizzle of caramel. It tastes as it smells, with lots of malty, bready notes, a coppery clang, and some burnt caramel. The finish picks up IBU steam, delivering a surprisingly hoppy, quick finale.

I didn't know what to expect from Crimzen. After all, the name annoyed the piss out of me, but I'm always keen to try a local red ale. In the result, I was quite glad to have picked a can up, and can easily see myself doing so again and again in the months ahead. It's really a nice little pint o'beer. If they got the percentage up over five, this might well have gotten an even higher grade.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Saturday, 15 April 2017


Hoppelgänger is a hazy golden dry hopped pilsner. It comes from Toronto, Ontario's Bandit Brewery, where it is sold in 500mL bottle. Weighing in at the standard 5%, there is a decent enough heft for a pale lager, but nothing too exciting. The aroma has the (for me at least) beguiling aroma of brewery-fresh noble hops--a mixture of bitterness and recently mowed grass. It has a grassy flavour that is grain-rich, but which picks up dry, hoppy momentum at a considerable pace toward the finish of each sip.

As always when dealing with a Bandit beer, Hoppelgänger has a very cool label. I found it to be a very satisfying take on the pilsner--dry and bitter where it counts, but also crisp, grainy, and just slightly sweet. I have no problem with brewers using hop pellets--it's a totally necessary element of modern brewing. My only beef with this beer was that the hops tasted a bit like pellets. Still, I'd buy this stuff again in a heartbeat. It was excellent.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

"Never Say Die" reads the tag line on 651mL bottles of Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, the extra strong beer from Ft. Bragg, California's North Coast Brewing Co. And at a solid 9% alcohol, I'd say the "extra" in "extra strong" is probably well earned. The black as tar ale poured with a thick and loose tan head that was built to last.

To my nose, the scent of Ol' Raspy was dominated by bitterness, set off slightly by molasses sweetness. Rich and malty were the initial flavour notes, before swerving into the bitter lane toward the finish. The mouthfeel was creamy and lush, but not such as would disguise the big booze count.

Drinking a bottle of Ol' Raspy was a substantial Sunday afternoon undertaking. It was hearty, with the hoppy grit that I love in a strong dark ale. Plus the glowering image of the man himself on the label gave the beer a spectral or haunted vibe. My only note of critique on this very good beer is that it could use a better developed front end.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017


It was a family effort to get me a bottle of Nectarous, a dry-hopped sour ale from Delta, British Columbia. Spearheaded by my ol' pal KF, who enlisted her step brother to complete the delivery, it took a few weeks for me to get my bottle, but the beer was well worth the wait.

Nectarous is a member of the Zephyrus Series of brews done up by Delta's Four Winds Brewing Co. I was provided with a 650mL bottle of the stuff, listed at 5.5% alcohol and just 6 IBUs, which I thought must have been a misprint but confirmed on the FWBC website. It poured with a hazy dull golden aspect and a layer of lusty white head. The aroma was positively mouthwatering, with juicy tropical fruits and the suggestion of some serious tartness. Not quite mouth puckeringly sour, Nectarous' flavour managed to be more than simply tart, while retaining a devious blast of almost ripe fruit. Nor was it particularly yeasty. Funky, sure, but not all that yeasty.

This sour beer wasn't what I was expecting when I read "dry-hopped sour". Not at all hoppy is usually a bad thing for me when I'm reviewing an ale, but this beer somehow utterly failed to disappoint. It was big, bold, well-made, and delicious. Too tart to drink a second in a sitting, perhaps, but each sip demanded attention. This was a unique and special sour.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Juicy Ass IPA

During a winter getaway to Midland and Tiny, Ontario, I ducked into a little café called Ciboulette et Cie. I was looking for a baked good to nosh on, but I also found a pretty good tap list and couldn't resist the luster of a beer called Juicy Ass IPA. From Barrie, Ontario's Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery, Juicy Ass is a a 6.5% alcohol India pale. It was a gently hazy golden ale that poured with just the right amount of fluffy white head. It had an assertively fruity nose with lots of tropical vibes. The flavour is also quite juicy, with some passion fruit notes. However, it veers pretty sharply toward dry bitterness at the back end.

The interplay between bright tropical elements and vibrant bitterness made this a really enjoyable accoutrement to a sunny winter afternoon.

Rating: 8.5 out 10.