Amsterdam Boneshaker IPA

Brewed in the Leaside Village area in Toronto, Ontario the Amsterdam Brewery has been redefining craft beer in Ontario since 1986. The first Amsterdam beer to leave the province and land in Alberta is the Boneshaker Unfiltered IPA. Brewed Amarillo hops with a 90 minute continuous hopping to 65 IBU’s and a heavy 7.1% ABV, Boneshaker is for hop fans only.

Pouring out a bright golden orange with a big bounty of white head Boneshaker has the generally IPA esque appearance despite a lack of haze or cloudiness. The nose has a big dose of pine and gooey resinous citrus aromas. A mild malty nose with hints of caramel and toasted breads the aroma is hop dominated. The first sip has full on resinous hop sweetness with grapefruit and zesty flavours. Toasted malts and bready notes blend well and help balance the flavour out but are lost quickly with big hops. The finish isn’t all that bitter for me but lingers quite well with a sharp and tangy grapefruit along with a moderate smack of resinous hops. A good beer overall if I can say so.

Grade: 86/100

Price: $17/ 6 pack

Mikkeller & Three Floyds BooGoop

BooGoop a highly lauded collaboration between two of the worlds most prolific craft breweries is a barleywine brewed with Buckwheat malt. The two breweries involved in the creation of this beer are Copenhagen, Denmark’s Mikkeller and Three Floyds from Munster, Indiana. I recently wrote a post on this blog reviewing Three Floyds Dark Lord 2012 an Imperial Stout which I was privileged enough to taste on tap at Mikkellerbar Viktoriagade. Boogoop was brewed at De Prouf Brouwerij in Belgium to 10.4% ABV and 80 IBUs.

BooGoop pours a highly carbonated mixture of creamy pale yellow head and a burgeoning blend of murky brown and ruby red. The aroma has a sensational toasted graininess with the aroma of a barley field. Sweet brown sugar with an emphasis of resin and grapefruit hops in the nose blends well with the overblown malt backbone. This beer has the aroma of a truly beautiful barleywine. Taking a first small sip a mouthful of brown sugar and molasses lends a ton of sweetness to the flavour. MIld toasted grains with a noted buckwheat flavour and light toffee and caramel malts. The mid palate has a large grapefruit presence with a tangy pinch of lemon rind and citrus zest. After the citrus subsides a mild resinous finish has a nice solid hop bitterness that lingers into the aftertaste. Boogoop has one of the most outrageous and solid barleywine flavours thanks to the heaps of hops and buckwheat. Boogoop has an incredible balance with a warm, resinous and hoppy finish that makes me want more.

Grade: 97/100

Price: $11.99/ 750mL

Flying Monkeys 8th Anniversary Ale – The Matador Imperial IPA aged on Spanish Cedar

Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery located in Barrie, Ontario has slowly started to release a few of the specialty releases into Alberta and Western Canada. The most recent of these is the Matador a 10% ABV Imperial IPA aged on Spanish Cedar brewed specially for Flying Monkeys’ 8th Anniversary. The bottle this beer and the brewing of it as follows:

“Aged on a bed of Spanish Cedar, a hardwood most commonly used in sweet-smelling cigar boxes, The Matador’s faboulous aroma cradles a spicy, peppery zing in the rich warm smells of leather and wood. Amarillo hops give this Imperial IPA astounding citrus flavours while pushing its bittering to a solid 88 IBUs. A beer made for sharing with true aficionados.”

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Opening up the lovely presentation box and a beautiful bottle makes me realize just what bottle art and presentation can do for a beer. Pouring Matador into my Dieu du Ciel! tulip a massive foamy off white head forms although it dissapates rather quickly. The appearance is that of an IPA with a bright orange body and a golden ue throughout with a thin yellowish off white head and a few big sticky lacing splotches around the glass. I am surprised to see no carbonation after the intense head when I first poured it before I remembered it had by aged on wood which would soften the carbonation. The aroma has a unique pine filled substance with big earthen sweetness and sweet cedary scents. The hops are a little bit subtle on the aroma despite moderate grapefruit and resinous aromas. This is a very unique smelling beer and my first sip is very apprehensive. The mid-palate is full of glorious woody accents and slight fruity flavours including a ton of pine needles and just a general funky wood flavour. Although its not quite as abashing as sticking a piece of cedar in your mouth there is a definite cedar flavour throughout the taste profile. Moderate hop flavour leaves me in ponderance and wanting more of a sticky resinous finish and overall bitterness regardless of the flavourful zesty citrus and big pine flavour. I can’t say much of the drinkability nor the general balance of this beer due to the general quirkiness and unique taste. The finish has a big lingering pine needle and cedar woodiness unlike any other beer available. Despite all the pros and cons of this beer I can say with complete confidence that The Matador is one of the most experimental and unrelentingly different. And for these reasons this beer is a must try because no one else to my knowledge has tried something so outlandish.

Price: $12.99

Grade: 89/100

Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza

 

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Oro de Calabaza is an oddity in the craft beer world to say the least. Brewed by Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in Dexter, Michigan, Oro de Calabaza is an 8% ABV golden ale aged in French oak brewed in a traditional Biere de Garde style. Translated from Spanish “oro” is for gold and “calabaza” is in reference to gourds including pumpkins.

Biere de Garde is a style of ale originating in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France. In many ways the style is similar to the Saison of Belgium in that they both use a Farmhouse style yeast and are brewed traditionally in the winter. Biere de Garde translates roughly in French to “beer for keeping” and is controlled by a appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) meaning that only beers produced in Nord-Pas-de-Calais region  are allowed to use the Biere de Garde name. This is similar to Champagne is only produced in the Champagne region and others are just sparkling white wines.

Oro de Calabaza pours out a marvelous out a bright and hazy golden yellow with a creamy fluffed up pure white head. A slow cascade of bubbles appear in the body as the head dissipates slowly into a thin cap. Taking the first sniff of the glass I immediately sense a mild funk and barnyard aroma. Woody, zesty with lemon and citrus esters, beautiful fruity notes and earthen funk notes with light toasted bread malts. Diving in further I sense a mild brettanomyces bouquet with a plethora of bursting fruits; lemon, white grapes, apples, pears and some black pepper. Oro has hands down one of the most unique and enticing aromas. Slowly taking the first sip, a sweet bready and light caramel malt forms in the middle with fruity notes. Apple and pears with a prominent white grape flavour come along with the funky brett and earthen barnyard flavours. Zesty lemon esters and mild hop bitterness on the finish with a bit of astringent dryness on the finish. Not even a single bit of evidence of this being an 8% brew on the finish as funk and fruity brettanomyces notes fill the aftertaste.

This is probably the most creative style of beer I’ve ever encountered and Jolly Pumpkin truly hit it out of the park with Oro de Calabaza. Complex, well balanced, tart and dry, fruity and funky….the list goes on and on. I could imagine this brew to be quite a handful for the more novice beer drinkers due to the high acidity. Overall, just an incredible beer.

Grade: 93/100      Price: $11.29