Saturday, October 26, 2013

Arkell Best Bitter - Wellington Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Guelph)

Arkell Best Bitter - Wellington Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Guelph) 4.0%

Full gold in a glass, nearly amber. Roasty aroma with nutty tones. Caramelized malt and grain flavours are first and foremost but the flavour is fairly light overall with just a hint of creamed corn (DMS) and a subtle touch of red fruit all of which suit an English style Best Bitter. Not overly sweet, refreshingly bitter but mostly just balanced. The mouthfeel is also light which also makes it refreshing and Arkell Best Bitter has a pleasant lightly toasty aftertaste. This beer would go down well with standard pub fare.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Budweiser Crown Amber Lager

Budweiser Crown Amber Lager 6.0%

Full gold in a glass with a big and somewhat resilient head of off-white foam. The aroma was Budweiser-like (barely malty and lightly hopped, sometimes a tiny bit skunky) but with more malt and a touch of the promised caramel malt. Generally a distinctly lager-like aroma.

Malty and with more tastes of caramelization than a typical international lager though a bit skunky still. A bitter touch and just a hint of the slightly higher alcohol. Budweiser Crown has a sweet, nearly sugary, finish that is roasty with hints of caramel. A nicer mouthfeel than the typical Budweiser product.

Overall this is a decent effort by AB-InBev. It is quite a bit better than Budweiser and, although it certainly isn't the tastiest amber lager I have had, it is quite acceptable.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Vanilla Porter - Mill Street (Canada - Ontario - Toronto)

Vanilla Porter - Mill Street (Canada - Ontario - Toronto) 5.0%

Very dark in a glass, opaque even, with a large, light mocha coloured head of silky foam. You can hear a fairly violent discharge as the nitrogen capsule fires when you open the can. The foam takes quite a while to settle but that's alright since it tastes just as good as it smells. Speaking of which: Mill Street's Vanilla Porter has a delightful vanilla and milk chocolate aroma.

The mouthfeel is silky smooth, creamy and yet refreshingly watery at times. The beer tastes mostly of vanilla but with dark chocolate and coffee notes as well as a lightly smoky backdrop. On top of that it features an aftertaste that I can best describe by comparing it to coffee flavoured ice cream. This dessert porter is quite delightful and will certainly please fans of vanilla.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

County Dark Ale - Wellington Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Guelph)

County Dark Ale - Wellington Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Guelph) 5.0%

A dark mahogany colour in a glass with not much of a head. Creamy, nutty (hazelnut) and coffee tones to the aroma along with some light roasty and caramelized malt tones, a little like barley candy.

A chocolate forward beer with some earthy smoke tones and some roasty malt flavours of a red. Pub appropriate, easy drinking, refreshing with a nice mix of flavours Wellington County Dark Ale isn't going to blow you away with exotic flavours but it's an excellent after work pint.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pumpkin Ale - Great Lakes Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Toronto)

Pumpkin Ale - Great Lakes Brewery (Canada - Ontario - Toronto) 5.5%

A slightly cloudy, orange and gold colour in a glass. Great Lakes Brewery's Pumpkin Ale features a pumpkin aroma with cinnamon, all-spice and nutmeg but this aroma features with more gourd than spice.

The aforementioned spices are prominent in the flavour but, like in the aroma, a strong, earthy, gourd taste of pumpkin really is the main player in this tasty pumpkin ale. It also features a fairly bitter finish.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mr. Hyde - Beau's All Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill)

Mr. Hyde - Beau's All Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill) 7.0%

A polished copper colour in a glass with a bubbly, big, off-white head that faded rather quickly to a creamy but thin layer of foam over the beer.

A sweet, nearly caramelized aroma with cereal some subtle wood and earth tones, and a hint of red fruit. A bit like a bock. While it is true that everything is reminding me of autumn, since we're on the verge of full blown autumn here in Ottawa and it happens to be my favourite season, the aroma as I've described it really seems to be perfect for an autumn beer.

Unmistakable rye flavour, just like the bread: a bit of a darker grain flavour, earthy, rich and bordering on nutty but not nutty, with a bit of red fruit that lends a note that is barely tart to the beer. Quite a bitter aftertaste with a lingering roasted grain flavour. For a beer that is 7% ABV, the flavour is mild while also being multi-layered and certainly doesn't taste much of alcohol so, while Mr. Hyde is a beer deserving of slow consideration, it is also dangerously quaffable especially when it is cold. As regular readers know, I prefer my beers a bit warmer than most but Mr. Hyde especially needs to be given a chance to warm up from refrigerator temperature so that you can enjoy the full spectrum of flavours that may otherwise be missed. I don't believe I've had a Roggenbier before but if Beau's Mr. Hyde is typical of the style I will definitely keep my eye out for another: delicious!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Vanilla Barley Wine - Flying Monkeys (Canada - Ontario - Barrie)

Vanilla Barley Wine - Flying Monkeys (Canada - Ontario - Barrie) 11.3%

This magnificent barley wine is a dark cloudy brown in a glass (a pint glass!) on the Patio at the Arrow and Loon in Ottawa, with a creamy and resilient head of foam.

The aroma is straight vanilla at first but also toffee, caramel and sticky malt that comes to dominate. Some oaky wood tones, a bit of leather and some sweet espresso/coffee with milk added.

A creamy mouthfeel with caramel, vanilla, leather, smoke and mild wood flavours. Sweet initially with alcohol tones (though not as strong as you might expect from a beer that clocks in at a whopping 11.3% ABV) but the taste shifts (although it does so, so smoothly that it's much more like a glide) to a bitter finish and an aftertaste of barley candy. Overall, this is a really nice barley wine: sweet but balanced, malty, boozy and delicious featuring some very nice vanilla.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pink Fuzz - Beyond The Pale (Canada - Ontario - Ottawa)

Pink Fuzz - Beyond The Pale (Canada - Ontario - Ottawa) 6.0%

A sweet red ruby grapefruit aroma, cedar and resin hops as well. A bit of fresh, floral vegetable like really sweet, raw and fresh off the vine green bean.

A cloudy pale gold, more like yellow, in a glass with a slight pink hue that turns the colour of the beer to just like grapefruit peel. Cedar and pine flavours, grapefruit as well (though more subdued than in the aroma). The grapefruit is a little tart, more like actual grapefruit than the grapefruit-like aroma citra or cascade hops can give a beer. Overall, this is quite a nice fruit flavoured wheat.

If you happen to be in the Ottawa area you can buy Pink Fuzz in growler format straight from the brewery. If you do, be sure to agitate it gently so that the sediment is more evenly distributed: it holds a lot of the flavour. Of course, Pink Fuzz is also available on tap throughout Ottawa; a format in which this tasty brew never fails to please.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Beau's All Natural Brewing's 5th Annual Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill, Ontario

Beau's All Natural Brewing's 5th Annual Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill, Ontario

This weekend Vankleek Hill was the host to Beau's All Natural Brewing's 5th Annual Oktoberfest. A shuttle from Ottawa to Vankleek Hill got me there but there was also a bus from Montreal. I attended only the Saturday and am sure to return next year.

Not only was there a wide variety of splendid Beau's beers but there was also an extensive cask section with beers from a whole bunch of different breweries. In addition to beer there were lots of different restaurants from the region slinging their wares. Being a German festival there were lots of presumably tasty meaty dishes (if you are into that sort of thing) and the vegetarian options were few and far between. However, the Brisk-ain't this vegetarian ordered from The Branch restaurant was absolutely delicious.

On the beer side, Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale was a real standout to my taste (review upcoming) so I am pleased to report that Steve Beauschene announced that this beer will be brewed regularly by Beau's and distributed along with the rest of their fine brews.

I only choose to try two cask beers and, through no fault of anybody, their flavours were a bit all over the place. I happened to order two beers that were at the very, very end of their respective casks so I ended up getting quite a bit of sediment which kind of threw off the flavours; however, many people seemed to spend all day in the cask section so I'm sure most pours were fine and tasty.

Other than food and beer there were more fun (and hilarious) activities (beer dunk tank!) than you could shake a stick at including a homebrew competition (yum). Not to mention the whole thing raises a tonne of money for the many worthwhile causes that Beau's supports. For more information on that I suggest you head over to the event's webpage.

On top of ALL that, Rich Aucoin and the Mahones took turns rocking our worlds at the main stage. The Mahones were just awesome, speed folk metal on the accordion - I mean you gotta love it. Unfortunately, the shows were a little behind schedule so, in order to make the last shuttle back to Ottawa at 9 PM, I had to leave before Sloan took the stage. I really would have to see them but that in no way takes away from this awesome event and wonderful atmosphere.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

2 Weeks Notice (Wild Oats Series #12) - Beau's All Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill)

2 Weeks Notice (Wild Oats Series #12) - Beau's All Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill) 6.0%

Pitch black, completely opaque with a creamy off-white head of tiny bubbles that seems tan but with a touch of grey due to how black the beer is. Sediment remained at the bottom of the bottle but no way to tell how much made it into the glass, the beer is just too dark! A chocolaty, smoky and earthen aroma; black coffee and (faint licorice) with a touch leather too.

Creamy mouthfeel, milk chocolate at first and then dark chocolate as the bitterness builds when you swallow. 2 Weeks Notice is very drinkable; some light dark dried fruit (prunes) tones and the slightest touch of alcohol. Leather and earthy tones are still kicking around, grounding the lovely flavour in the realm of dark, delicious porters. A bitter, smoky aftertaste with a touch of acidity and lots of chocolate. Very nice.

Turned at a certain angle (see below) and you have to ask: how many weeks notice?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Smokin' Banana Peels Wild Oats Series #11 - Beau's All Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill)

Smokin' Banana Peels (Wild Oats Series #11) - Beau's All Natural Brewing (Canada - Ontario - Vankleek Hill) 4.9%

A typical weissbier aroma of cloves, blossoms, nectar and banana; as well as a lightly smoke twist that is more like well-browned, nearly burnt toast than a smoky wood fire.

Pale gold in a glass and as cloudy as you decide to make it. Similarly Smokin' Banana Peels features a silky white head of foam that can get quite foamy if you agitate it enough to get some of the sediment.

Creamy mouthfeel, yeasty with tasty cloves, banana and nectar flavours: sweet summery wheat beer flavours all. It isn't as smoky as other rauchbiers but there is a touch there, it comes out a bit more with some sips than other, and I'm sure the smoke flavour could be accentuated by pairing with smoky food. Fortunately, Smokin' Banana Peels is a very tasty weissbier even if it isn't very smoky and I have to say the name is quite clever.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Maredsous Brune (Belgium)

Maredsous Brune (Belgium) 8.0%

Yeasty, spicy aroma with floral hints and a dark malt back. Very roasty with a high alcohol burn that borders on a hum; floral and fruit tones (fig, prune). Very carbonated but that can be easily handled in the pour. Very nice brown version of you should expect from a Belgian Abbey Ale - perfectly balanced and bursting with character. Some light sediment that doesn't take anything away from the flavour.