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Tonight's sip is another potstopper from Howe Sound Brewing.  The potstopper is their signature container, and I have enjoyed many of their offerings in this format.

"Total Eclipse of the Hop" is an Imperial IPA that is quite well put together.  It presents a respectful, conservative nose and mouthfeel without an abundance of fruity or floral flavour notes, but still makes its presence felt with its formidable 8%abv alcohol content.  This is not a beer to be tried after first drinking a half-sack of something lesser, as I somewhat foolishly did the first time, but the next time around I started to really get this ale.  There's just a hint of vanilla here, which I think contributes more to its overall straight-laced feel than any other factor, but unlike so many other allegedly hop-forward brews this one is not overbearing or even particularly challenging (except for its alcohol strength, of course).  Indeed, one might opine that it really does not live up to the hype of its name: in no way is this a total eclipse of anything except perhaps sobriety.

This one-litre potstopper cost about $10 at the local Sobey's-owned purveyor of inebriation.  Was it worth it?  As a way to once again abuse alcohol to take the edge off a bleak existence, perhaps.  The quantity of alcohol on offer is certainly worth the price.  But as a hop-forward total IIPA experience?  Not quite.  It's far too staid and sober for its name.  No, the irony is not lost on me.

My rating: 7.5/10.  I have had maybe 50 Howe Sound potstoppers (I still have the empties!) and rarely bought the same one twice, and I am really not sure if I would buy this one again unless I had just received very bad news and I could have only one beer to last me the evening.  Then, along with Howe Sound's entire current potstopper line, would TEOTH be a contender.

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What's I'm Drinking Tonight: Phillips Brewing & Malting Co.'s Scarfface Cranberry Orange Wit!

That's Scarf Face, not Scarface.  No Pacinos here.

As you might have guessed from the full name, this is a witbier with a couple of extra fruity ingredients.  Now, I love the orange-cranberry combo; the food arm of the liquor purveyors where i picked this can of Scarfface up bakes a delightful cranberry orange muffin.  But alas, the combination does not work so well with beer.  Both nose and the first taste impression are strong with mandarin orange, but then the wit kicks in and the mishmash is just... not there.  I never did detect the taste of cranberry.

4.3%abv, about $2.29 in the can shown here.  My rating: 4/10.  Will not buy again.

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What I'm drinking tonight: East Van Micro Brewery Vancouver Special IPA!

I'm a little under the weather today so this is a mini-review.

It says "Big & Sturdy" on the bottle and that's exactly what this is!  A well made IPA, well hopped ("hop-dominant"), a slightly bitter aftertaste that lingers a bit.  Floral and piney notes, with just a hint of citrus.   This would be best enjoyed in the summer, as it is quite refreshing.  6%abv.

My rating: 8.5/10.  Well done!

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What I'm drinking tonight: from Everett Washington, Scuttlebutt Brewing Co.'s Ming the Merciless Imperial IPA!

I was never a really big fan of the Flash Gordon franchise but you'd be hard pressed to come up with a more epic name for a beer than this.  Aptly named, Ming is powerful and terrifying.  But not in a bad way, if you are on its good side! 

This limited release pours to a deep amber, although it's not as dark as it looks when held up to the light.  Powerfully hopped, but Ming has no time for fruity or flowery nonsense.  The delicate dimensions of hoppiness are better left to beers with a beta personality.  What Ming delivers is straight-on conquest of your tastebuds and the smouldering remains of your sobriety!  Although the tongue is met with a forcefully bitter hop assault, the bitterness does not linger.  This makes for a surprisingly satisfying mouthfeel overall.  Reaching deeper into the flavour complex, I notice a bit of caramelly malt, but not enough that I would drink it just for the malt.  Strangely, the most powerful taste element is the alcohol itself!  At 8.7%abv, Ming the Merciless is very much a hi-test to be respected, but it's quite unusual for an ale even this strong to smell and taste so strongly of... alcohol!  It tastes like it could be 20%abv or higher, and reminds me of when in my younger days I would sometimes use beer as a mixer for rum or whiskey!  Is this a genius illusion?  Is it part of Ming's evil plot to usurp your soul as its namesake usurped the planet Mongo?  You'll have to decide.

It's a well executed double IPA, and I appreciate what its creators were going for here.  But to be honest I don't like to be reminded that I might be a borderline alcoholic, so the bizarrely strong flavour of alcohol is actually a minus for me.

My rating: 8/10.  

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What I'm drinking tonight: a collaboration brew!  "The Streets" by Main St. Brewing and Powell Street Craft Brewery!

Why I chose this brew: Lately I've been promoting Weird Al Walker's "The Streets" game door on our telnet BBS.  The instant I saw this on the cooler shelf it was a no-brainer what I'd try next!

So it's a Scottish Golden Ale, and to be honest, I am not entirely familiar with the style.  It pours to a very pale golden yellow with a generous, thick white head that dissipates quickly.  It has a strongly yeasty nose, and a peaty presence on the tongue that is familiar to me as a whisky lover but unexpected in a beer.  And yet not unwelcome!  An acquired taste, and not for everyone, but a very good experience overall.

EDIT: It doesn't show well in the picture, but The Streets is ever so slightly cloudy, and by the time I finally got to the bottom of my glass some time after I first posted this, I did notice a small amount of dregs (sediment) at the bottom of the glass.  Again, not for everyone.

My rating: 7/10.  This was an interesting experience, if a bit mild at 4%abv and 20 IBU, but something of a novelty and thus really no one's nightly go-to brew.

$5.99 in the 650ml bomber shown here.

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