Thursday, 24 May 2018

Life in the Clouds Hazy IPA

Life in the Clouds Hazy IPA is a New England-style IPA born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario by the prolific beer wizards at Collective Arts Brewing. It’s a 6.1% jobby sold in stylish 473mL cans. A cloudy orange potion with a thick layer of off-white foam, this brew has a luscious tropical aroma.

LitC has a rich, fruity taste, with berry and candied mango notes. It’s extremely sweet, but with a bit of a bitter streak at the back end.

My take on this brew is that it was enjoyable and flavourful, but it could have used some heavier emphasis on bitterness. It’s a touch too sweet, though the fruitiness is definitely agreeable. A juicy ale, indeed, and one I’ll likely buy again soon.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Juicy! Double IPA

From Garrison Brewing Co. in beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia comes Juicy! Double IPA. This mostly clear golden grog is sold in 473mL cans that are kinda ugly, but which have some entertaining copy, including “right some juicy!” which I love.

Through a cloudy eggshell head, a highly citrusy aroma wafts out strong, with tangerine leading the charge. As one might expect, the flavour is decidedly juicy. It’s rich in fruit elements, primarily tangerine and orange, but with a pineapple subtext along for the ride. Compared with other DIPAs, Juicy! is not wildly bitter, though it definitely does have some IBUs to spare.

Garrison seems to deliver consistently good quality beers, and Juicy! is no exception. It’s not my favourite Double, but the strength is there, the beer delivers on its stated objective, and I’d buy it again.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Live Transmission

Live Transmission is Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery’s entrée into the hot and trendy world of milkshake IPAs. On top of lactose, this 6.3% ale from Barrie, Ontario is brewed with coconut white tea, orange peel, and grapefruit.

Golden-hued and slightly hazy, Live Transmission pours with a sudsy crown of white head. It has a wildly juicy aroma—primarily driven by big citrus notes, but also a not so subtle coconut element that gives it a very tropical scent. LT has a fairly smooth and creamy mouthfeel for an IPA, owing to the lactose. The flavour is substantial, with fruity notes to spare, but it is also, to my mind, way too sweet. The finish has some bitterness, but it was a bit too little too late.

Personally, I like a milkshake IPA alright, but I think their execution requires something really tart or really bitter to set off the creaminess. This one has beautiful flavours, but I didn’t find the sweetness as complementary as it could have been. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good beer made by a great brewery, but compared to Smashbomb or Juicy Ass, Live Transmission was just fair.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Vanilla Coffee Blonde Ale

I’m still getting used to the idea that blonde roast coffee is a thing, but now my pal MM brings me a 16oz can of Vanilla Coffee Blonde Ale? What a world!

Brewed in Concord, NC by Cabarrus Brewing Co., the 4.7% alcohol, 15 IBU ale is brewed using S&D French Vanilla Roast coffee, roasted locally in Carabbus County. 

The coffee is, according to the copy on the can, blended with Carabbus Cotton Blonde Ale. The result is a hazy, dull gold ale that pours with a white cap. Sure enough the aroma does have sweet notes of French vanilla coffee—the type of java I cut my teeth in in high school before I discovered the glory of dark roasts and espressos—over a grainy foundation. The beer has a light mouthfeel that blends a bit incongruously with its heavily sweet nose. The flavour is also a bit of an oddity, with ample vanilla sweetness initially, easing into a modestly bitter and crisp finish.

Carabbus’ Vanilla Coffee Blonde Ale is a curious specimen. It partners scent and front end taste notes that are traditionally more at home in a porter with a very light, low octane and, easy-sipping ale. In short, a sweet and oddly rich lawnmower beer. While I didn’t find myself wishing for a second can, I must say I did enjoy the one that I had more than I expected to. I’d have liked a bit more boozy ballast, the sweetness could have been throttled down from a 10 to an 8, and the coffee could have been more evidently bitter, but it was still pretty decent. Perhaps there are more coffee-infused blonde ales out there, but this was a first for me. Hopefully it won’t be the last.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Night Jump Imperial Stout

Fuquay-Varina, NC is the birthplace of Night Jump Imperial Stout, a massive 13% alcohol ale brewed with cocoa nibs. It is brewed strong by the folks at Aviator Brewing Co., and sold in 473mL cans that feature a super creepy paratrooper in mid-jump.

The beer is almost black, and pours with an extremely thick and dense tan head. Night Jump has an invitingly rich aroma. It smells chocolatey; both sweet and bitter. The flavour has some sweetness, too, but it’s really the bitterness that makes this strong ale tick. The IBU count isn’t listed, but it must be through the damn roof, with high cocoa percentage chocolate leading the charge, over a molasses and malt base. As well, I’d be remiss if I didn’t comment on the booziness that pervades the flavour—no pretenses here. This beer tastes strong.

Big and bold, Night Jump is a pretty badass beer. If you undertake to drink one of these solo, I’d recommend hiding the car keys and clearing your schedule.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Red Sunset Irish Ale

By way of Collingwood, Ontario, and delivered to me via my brother, the unsinkable R.A.N., was a 500mL bottle of Red Sunset Irish Ale. Put together by Northwinds Brewery, this Irish red ale clocks in at 5.6% alcohol and 31 IBUs.

A hazy, deep ruby number, Red Sunset pours with a tight fog of creamy head. The beer has a mild metallic and malt nose. Its flavour is packed with sweet caramel notes, balanced against toasty malts and a grainy, unexpectedly bitter finish.

Well made, but not exactly special, Red Sunset is an enjoyable bottle of beer. Coppery, malty, and nice; this was a fine effort from an Ontario brewery that I haven’t heard much about, but will definitely be keeping an eye on. Although hops and bitterness aren’t staples of Irish reds, I’d have enjoyed this one a bit more if there had been a bit more IBU emphasis.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Where the Buffalo Roam

Watching a little NCAA basketball on a lazy Saturday, I was feeling bold, so I reached for a 473mL can of Where the Buffalo Roam. Brewed by Cameron’s Brewing Co., it comes from Oakville, Ontario. For some reason, the can comes in a box, which strikes me as excessive.  This barley wine packs a liver-battering 13% alcohol and 90 IBUs. Oak aged in bourbon barrels, the Buff is jumbo brew with a cloudy dullish brown-orange colour and a thick and durable cloud of off-white head.

For so strong an ale, Where the Buffalo Roam has an understated aroma, with toffee and raisin notes, and a blast of boozy warmth. To the tongue, there is nothing understated about this stuff, though it is quite mellow. The front end is sweet and a bit woody, led by dried fruit and treacle notes, while the finish is remarkably bitter—not in a hoppy sense, exactly; more of a molasses bitterness.

Where the Buffalo Roam has a bruisingly high percentage and a huge amount of flavour. But for all of that, it is a multifaceted brew. It’s too big to be subtle, but it does contain multitudes. As with many barley wines, I found this beer to be a bit too sweet, but unlike the bulk of brews in this style, I didn’t find this ale to be particularly spicy.