Friday, July 10, 2015

Beau's Kissemeyer Nordic Pale Ale

The quest for the perfectly balanced pale ale is a long and winding road.  Different interpretations of the genre can lead to different results.  In my mind the perfect pale ale has a strong and fragrant nose, with a good malt and hop balance and a smooth finish.  I have tried a plethora of different pale ales and each have had their strengths and weaknesses, but Beau's have come up with an intriguing creation that is one of the closest interpretations I have found.

The Kissemeyer series of beers are collaborations between the good folks at Beau's and other brewers.  Nordic Pale Ale is a unique brew that features a variety of different ingredients such as herbs, dried heather, cranberries, and maple syrup.  One would think that all of these ingredients would result in a mess of conflicting flavours, but Beau's have pulled it off.  It pours a proper straw yellow colour, as pale ales should, with a foamy bitter head.  On the nose those herbal notes really come out, complimenting the hops quite nicely.  The sip starts with an herby/malty almost sweet flavour, which is where that maple syrup comes in.   This herby intro progresses into a nice and bitter/hoppy middle.  A lot of pale ales punch you in the face with hops to start and then follow it up with the malt, but Nordic Pale Ale switches it up which makes the beer more palatable to those not used to hoppy beers, a very nice touch.  The finish is not the smooth trail off that most pale ales have, but it's actually a bit sour, but not too sour, which makes it a neat drink.  Overall this one is a true winner, the syrup and herbs make it much more drinkable than a lot of pale ales.  Some purists may be turned off by the extra ingredients, but this is a perfectly balanced beer that is a bit out of the ordinary.

It's available at the LCBO as well as the Beau's brewery in Vankleek Hill, ON.

Alc 5.6% IBU 30

Rating 4.5 Steins

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Clock Tower Kölsch

Kölsch, the beer representing the German city of Cologne, and something you don't want to order in neighbouring Dusseldorf (but that's a long story).  Kölsch is a unique beer style, a sweet, golden lager that is meant to be consumed in large quantities out of tall, skinny 10 oz glasses.  I had a glass and a coaster (which you use to count how many you have in a kölsch hall) I was only missing one German city, and a man with a rack of beers.  In Europe kölsch would only be brewed in Cologne, but in North America we can be more liberal with the naming of beer styles and the Ottawa brewpub chain The Clocktower makes their own version that is a decent re-creation of the German original.

Kölsch should be sweet, golden and sessionable, and Clock Tower's version ticks most of those boxes.  It pours that perfect golden colour, more orange than most sweet light beers, which is proper kölsch.  It moves on from a light intro to a nice malty sweet middle that trails off into a slightly watery finish. Regardless of the slight watery letdown, this embodies the proper spirit of kölsch, a perfectly sweet, sessionable lager that refreshes and has very little hint of hops.  I have struggled with some of Clock Tower's beers in the past, but this one is of their better ones.  It still could be a bit more balanced, but it has the sweetness and smoothness of a proper kölsch, so I recommend it for something to drink in a longer session and if you are looking for something a little more rounded than a light beer.

It's available at their brew pubs on draught in Ottawa as well as in bottles for off sale.

Alc 4.4% IBU 25

Rating: 3.5 Steins

What you need to know

Brewpubs
Glebe
575 Bank St,
Ottawa ON

New Edinburgh
422 MacKay St
Ottawa, ON

Byward Market
89 Clarence St
Ottawa ON

Westboro
418 Richmond Road
Ottawa, ON

Website
Clocktower.ca

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

Twitter
@The_Clocktower

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Publican House Brewery: Square Nail Pale Ale

It's always nice to try beers from different breweries, so when I saw Peterborough ON's Publican House Square Nail in the LCBO I decided to give it a try.  It is self styles as a West Coast Pale Ale, which is means that it should be a heavier, maltier pale ale than most.  Fortunately it hits that button in an interesting but slightly unfulfilling brew.

Square Nail pours a nice burnt orange colour, which is a good start, but the nose leaves a lot to be desired.  On the tongue you get a nice caramel taste, good maltiness that progresses into a citrussy middle with a relatively bitter finish.  Unfortunately all of these characteristics are only notes, they are very nice notes, but they are a part of a relatively bland melody.  Like a lot of complicated ales, this one struggles for balance, it has a lot of potential but I found that the overall flavour is thin and weak.  It's perfectly refreshing, but I had been hoping for more.  If ever there was a beer to remind you that the whole is more than the sum of its parts, this is it.

It's available at the LCBO in cans as well as at their brewery in Peterborough.

Alc 5.5% IBU 43

Rating 3 steins

What you need to know

Website
http://www.thepublicanhouse.com/

Brewery address
300 Charlotte Street
Peterborough, Ontario
K9J 2V5

Twitter
@PublicanHouse

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

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Great Lakes Brewery Canuck Pale Ale

Pale Ale is such a widely used term that opening a can or bottle can be a bit of a gamble.  Am I going to get something akin to a lager, or something so hoppy it could be used as paint thinner.  A proper pale ale should be decently hoppy, but not over the top, somewhere in the 25-40 IBU range is perfect (for those who pay attention to such things).  Canuck Pale Ale does fall into that bitterness zone, but it leaves you wanting for more.

Usually when I review beers that come in a can or bottle I pour them into a glass but I decided to drink Canuck straight from the can, and when I say I decided not to use a glass I really mean I was too lazy to use a glass.  No matter, right from the can is perfectly acceptable for pale ale and my first sips were decently promising.  It opens with a nice hoppy tongue, punctuated with a bit of malt.  A proper pale ale will surf the malt wave before trailing off into a smooth finish.  Unfortunately Canuck needs to work on it's surfing techniques because it quickly falls of the wave into a watery abyss.  It's  a shame really because this has the potential to be a very nice beer, but it's just not balanced enough.  If the hoppiness was present throughout the beer then it would be excellent, or if the malt would stay longer it would be excellent too, but this just doesn't do it for me.

It's available in cans at the LCBO and Beer Store in Ontario as well as at their brewery in Etobicoke.

Alc. 5.2% IBU 35

Rating 2.5 Steins

What you need to know

Website
http://greatlakesbeer.com/

Address
30 Queen Elizabeth Blvd
Etobicoke, Ontario M8Z 1L8

Twitter
@greatlakesbeer

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

Friday, June 12, 2015

Big Rig: Release the hounds, Black IPA

I love black ales, and I find that a lot of IPA's can be over-hoppy, so when Big Rig came out with a Black IPA I was intrigued.  Will this be bitter like an imperial stout, or will it be smoother like a black lager?  The answer is something in the middle that is a brilliantly balanced brew.  I have to admit that this is not the first time I have had Big Rig's Black IPA, the first time I had it was at their brewpub about a years ago when it was a seasonal and I thought it was excellent so I tweeted to them saying it should become a regular beer, and it has since become a regular on their menu.  I am not going to claim responsibility for the decision, but in my (occasionally delusional) mind I think I had a part to play. 

It pours almost black, more of an extremely dark brown with a decently creamy head.  The first sip produces a delightfully malty flavour, something akin to a light stout such as Guinness, but the texture feels definitely like an IPA.  This nutty/malty intro fades into a hoppy (but not too hoppy) middle, followed by a nice smooth finish.  This hoppiness is as hoppy as a proper IPA should be, which is to say that the hops are perfectly noticeable but they are but one piece of the overall puzzle, as opposed to overwhelming the beer the way some IPA's do.  I really like this beer, it is well balanced, flavourful, and perfectly drinkable for a 6.2% dark beer.  Big Rig have a large range of beers, but their Black IPA is a real winner, probably my favourite of their range.

It's available at their 3 brewpubs in Ottawa on draught and in growlers to take home.  It's also sold at the LCBO in cans.

Rating: 4.5 steins

What you need to know

Brewpubs
2750 Iris Street (Near Ikea)
Ottawa, ON

103 Schneider Road (Kanata)
Ottawa, ON

115-1980 Ogilvie Road (Gloucester Centre)
Ottawa, ON

Website
http://www.bigrigbrew.com/

Twitter
@Bigrigbrew

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



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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