Friday, May 1, 2015

Beau's Mission Accomplished

As many of my loyal readers may know, I have a tendency to be skeptical about IPA's.  It's not that I don't like IPA, it's just that some breweries have a habit of getting into a hops arms race that ends up overshadowing the actual flavour of the beer.  Fortunately Beau's have managed to keep their hop instincts from going into overdrive, producing a really interesting and flavourful brew.

It pours a nice orange colour, darker than straw coloured but not not the colour of a dark beer. One interesting thing to note about it is the amount of sediment, when you look at it through a glass you can see some dust floating around.  You get a good hop flavour on the nose, not over powering but an interesting almost light and sweet smell.  The flavour is interesting as well, it starts with that sweet and bitter hop combo, sorta fruity but not that intense grapefruit flavour that some IPA's have.  After that hop intro it settles down a lot into a smooth, slightly malty brew.  The malty and bready middle then trails off into a slightly watery and disappointing finish.  This is an IPA that has a lot of potential, I quite like it, although I have had better IPA's.  Beau's did a good job at keeping the hops under control and creating something that doesn't taste like most IPA's.  One thing to note is that if you are a bit skeptical about having a lot of sediment in your beer, you are best to drink it out of the bottle as opposed to pouring it into a glass, but if you are like me and don't mind having extra pulp in your beer then a glass is the way to go for sure.

It's available at their brewery or occasionally at the LCBO.   Unfortuantely it is a seasonal beer, and umm, that season has passed so sorry about that.  I was given a bottle for helping the good folks at brewdonkey proofread the French version of their website, but if you see it, and like interesting IPA's then I highly recommend this beer.

Alc 6.7 % IBU's 65
Rating: 3.75 Steins.  Oh and BTW I am now awarding quarter steins, because I can. 

What you need to know

Website:
www.beaus.ca

Brewery address
10 Terry Fox Dr.
Vankleek Hill, ON

Twitter
@beausallnatural

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/BeausBrewery?fref=ts




Saturday, April 25, 2015

King Brewery Dark Lager

I love dark lager.  A good schwarzbier is a nice alternative to a traditional blonde lager on a sunny day so I tend to be optimistic when I get my hand on one and King Brewery have a reputation for making good beer, so on paper this has the makings of being a very promising brew.  Unfortunately beer isn't brewed on paper so this didn't exactly live up to expectations, but is still a decently tasty beverage.

Now don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad beer, it just isn't all that great either.  The intro is nice and malty, but it has a really odd sour taste.  I am not sure what to make of it, and it is hard to describe but it is definitely interesting.  This sour taste is followed by a clean and smooth finish, slightly watery but perfectly drinkable. King Brewery Dark is definitely different from most black lagers which tend to be heavier, in fact this is actually quite light for a dark beer (which seems like a weird thing to say).  It is definitely not the worst black lager I have ever had, but it isn't the best either.  The weird malty flavour will probably be a bit off-putting to some, but I think it adds an interesting aspect to the beer that most other black lagers don't offer.  I am definitely willing to give it another try, some beers need multiple samplings in order to fully appreciate them, and this is one of them.

It's available at the LCBO, the Beer Store, and at their brewery in Nobleton, ON.  I had it in a bottle, but their website says it is on draught in some parts of Ontario.

Alc 4.7% Rating: 3 Steins

What you need to know

Brewery
5645 King Road
Nobleton, Ontario
L0G 1N0

Website:
www.kingbrewery.ca

Twitter:
@kingbrewery

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/kingbrewery?fref=ts

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Bicycle Craft Brewery, Belle River Blonde

A lot of craft brewers struggle with lighter and paler ales. They are a lot more complicated to make than you would expect, especially compared to IPA's where the general solution is to throw hops at any problems.  Unfortunately to make a good, drinkable lager or pale ale you need to be a bit more creative.  Some succeed, some fall flat on their faces, some end up somewhere in between, and that's where Belle River Blonde comes in. 

I will admit that my first glass of Belle River blonde did not impress me, but that was after having had a glass of Nita's much maltier and hoppier OPA, so Belle River sorta fell flat to me.  I really needed to step back, and have this as a standalone beer, instead of following something stronger.  Belle River is not complicated, nor does it pretend to be, bit it is refreshing.   The nose is actually quite pungent, almost sour with a noticeable hop aroma, but when you actually take a drink it is not hoppy whatsoever.  The pour is quite cloudy, so you would expect it to be a bit wheaty, but it isn't, it is just simple and refreshing with a slight hop finish.  Personally I like it, it's what you want after a hard day of work, not complicated, not too strong, just pure beer.  I imagine it would be great in the summer in front of the barbecue, but even in the winter it really goes down smooth, and at 4.7% it's nice and sessionable as well.  Fans of more complicated beers might complain that this is a bit bland, which it can be, but that's not the point of this beer, the point is to be a refreshing, clean beer to be enjoyed after a hard day of work.  It's simplicity will prevent me from giving top marks, but this would be a great beer to introduce to people who don't drink craft beer, it's not easy to win over the Coors Light crowd, but this could be a good stepping stone. 

It's available in Growlers at their brewery and you can order it online at brewdonkey.ca.  You can also get it on tap at various pubs and restaurants in Ottawa, a list is available on their website.

Alc: 4.7% IBU 22

Rating: 3.5 Steins

What you need to know

Brewery and tap room
850 Industrial Ave, unit 12
Ottawa, ON
K1G 4K2

Website:
http://www.bicyclecraftbrewery.ca/

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/bicyclecraftbrewery

Twitter
@Bicyclebrewery 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ontario Beer Company 100 Mile Lager

Local, a word that you often see in connection to Craft beer, but just how local is your beer?  It may be made down the street, but where did those ingredients come from?  If your hops were grown in Germany, and the barley grown in Saskatchewan then it is not really that local, at least according to the Ontario Brewing Company who make beer comprising only ingredients grown in Ontario.  Despite the fact that the ingredients aren't grown within 100 miles of the brewery in Toronto, is still a novel idea so I was very intrigued by the concept. 

Lager can be a tricky business because the flavours are so subtle it is very hard to make something unique, and unfortunately 100 mile lager misses the mark somewhat.  The first thing you note is that it is quite sweet, and a bit wheaty on the tongue, almost pilsner-esque.  Unfortunately that's where it goes a bit downhill because the middle and finish are pretty watery, with a slight bitter and hoppy note.  It's not that it is unpleasant, just watery and a bit bland with some balance issues.  I can definitely see the potential here but what I tried was a bit of a letdown.

It's available at the LCBO, and on tap in Toronto, including at the Duggans Brewery, who are one of the collaborators in this company

Rating: 2.5 Steins

What you need to know

Website
http://www.ontariobeercompany.com/

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ontario-Beer-Company/205451729636616

Twitter
@Ontariobeerco

Friday, March 20, 2015

Broadhead: Grindstone Amber Ale

I have always struggled with Broadhead beer.  The guys are proper beer guys, I have chatted with them at beer fests and they are really fun and enthusiastic about what they do, but their beer has tended to be a letdown.  In my experience they have had issues with the beer being watery and generally bland, but I was willing to give them another shot with Grindstone Amber, a beer style I am quite fond of, unfortunately this one still struggles to bring much flavour to the table.

The first sign of trouble is the pour, the side of the can tells you it has a rich amber colour, but the reality of the situation is that the colour is more of a light gold, closer to what you would expect from a Pale Ale or a Vienna lager.  I am not one to judge a book by it's cover or a beer by it's colour so I pressed on to nose, which didn't provide a whole lot to go on either.   At tasting time, the can told me it should be balanced with a bitter-sweet finish and caramel overtones, unfortunately that didn't really happen either.   I got the bittersweet finish, but the caramel overtones were nowhere to be found.  What I did find was a wimpy and watery amber that leaves you wanting for more.  The sip intro provides a bit of a malty flavour but then things just fall off a cliff, I was hoping to get that caramel flavour but what I got was pretty much nothing, very watering with little to no flavour, quite a disappointment.  It sorta picks up on the finish with a slight bittersweet finish, but this beer needs work.  It's a shame because they broadhead guys are really funny and down to earth, but their amber leaves a lot to be desired.  It goes down smooth but fans of Amber ales will be left wanting for more.

It's available at their brewery, at the LCBO as well as on tap throughout Eastern Ontario.

Rating: 2 steins

What you need to know

Brewery
81 Auriga Drive, Unit 13
Ottawa, ON, K2E 7X7

Website
http://broadheadbeer.com/

twitter: @broadheadbeer

Facebook
Facebook page

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Duggan's No. 9 IPA

Mike Duggan is a perfect embodiment of the spirit of adventure and bravery that appeals to craft beer fans.  A veteran of the industry he has founded 3 breweries Mill Street and Duggan's Brewery (twice!).   His self titled Duggan's brewery is a story in itself, after leaving Mill St, Duggan opened his own brewpub in a cavernous old building on Church street in downtown Toronto, where I first tried No. 9 and chatted with Duggan.  Unfortunately the first brewpub didn't work out and it closed in 2011.  Undeterred, Duggan borrowed brewery space to keep making No 9 until he re-opened Duggan's brewery on Queen Street west, in the Parkdale neighbourhood where he has had more success.   When I tried No. 9 in 2010 on Victoria street I really liked it, so when I was in my local LCBO I decided to pick a couple up to see if it is still as good as I remember it, fortunately it is!

Number 9 pours a nice amber colour, and it has a nice hoppy nose to it so the start is promising. From there it smooths out into a malty smooth middle that is almost creamy in feel.  This middle is not complicated, but it goes down easy and avoids a lot of the wateriness that some less finely tuned IPA's can suffer from, unfortunately I still found that middle to be a bit bland, but it is not too bad.  The finish brings back the hop bouquet quite nicely, although it may be a bit grapefruity for some.  It's not perfect, but I like it, the sip is a journey, much more than most beers are, so you sorta get the malt and the hops in different stages.  Duggan does a good job of keeping the hops under control but still adding the strength and depth that appeals to IPA fans.  It may not be a mass-market IPA but this should appeal to most IPA fans apart from the Uber-hop afficianados.   The slightly bland middle does let it down a bit, but this is still a tasty brew and one I will be happy to try again.

It's available across Ontario in the LCBO as well as at their Queen St. West brewpub and on tap at a variety of bars and restaurants in Ontario

Rating. 3.5 steins

Alc 6.2%

What you need to know

Brewpub
1346 Queen St W
Toronto ON, M6K 1L4

Website
http://www.duggansbreweryparkdale.com/

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/duggansbrewery

Twitter
@Duggansbrewery

Friday, March 6, 2015

Barley Days: Wind & Sail Dark Ale

Barley Days are one of the more succesful Ontario craft breweries.  Based in Prince Edward County near Kingston, they make  a very popular, and pretty decent, harvest gold ale that you can get at the LCBO.  When I noticed they had a dark brown ale I was looking forward to giving it a try.  Although I had some reservations about the Harvest gold, I love brown ale, particularly English style brown ales so I was looking forward to giving this one a go, unfortunately I'll need to keep looking.

Everything about this was unfortunately a bit of a letdown.  I took my first sniff and didn't get a whole lot of flavour in the nose but I still had high hopes for the middle and finish.  It intros quite bland, not a whole lot of flavour, but the middle improves to a decent nutty and hoppy flavour, the only redeeming quality.  Unfortuantely that hoppiness gets mixed with a bland, watery finish that produces a bitter, almost sour aftertaste.  The potential is there, but the balance is all wrong, if you are a fan of brown ales I would suggest looking elsewhere, this one just doesn't cut it in my books.

It's available year round at the LCBO as well as on brewdonkey.ca

ABV: 5%

Rating: 1.5 Steins

What you need to know

Brewery address
13730 Loyalist Parkway
Picton, ON
K0K 2T0

Website:
www.barleydaysbrewery.com/

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/barleydaysbrewery

Twitter:
@barleydaysbrews