The Unbearable Lightness of Being (East)

It is my yearly pilgrimage east to visit the family and I have been sampling some of the craft beers Ontario has to offer to keep my    tasting skills finely honed.

First up I tried Mill Street Brewery’s Tank House Ale. This beer pours translucent amber with minimal head and a 5.2% ABV. The taste and nose seem vaguely like an IPA; clean drinking with a subtle bitterness but it does not have the bite of an IPA brewed on the North West Coast.  Drinkable but not particularly memorable; you will find this is a theme that will re-occur throughout this post.

I moved on to Orange Peel Ale from Great Lakes Brewing in Toronto and lo and behold much of the same.  The nose and appearance reminded me of wheat ale, and there was a subtle sweetness when drinking. Yet in a blind taste test I would be hard pressed to discern the ‘orange peel’ element that is the namesake of this beer.  Not a bad beer, but a definite summer sipper that you would want served ice cold.

Ever the resolute tippler I bought a six-pack of Campbellford-based Church-Key Brewing Company’s Northumberland Ale. Originally created to commemorate the anniversary of the Lift locks in Peterborough the popularity of this beer led to the continued production of the ale under the name Northumberland. The ale pours clear and amber with a diminishing amount of head. I wish I could spend more time waxing fondly on the subtle interplay of flavours but this is straight-up ale, a quiet mix of hops and malt that is easy to drink in multiple quantities (you can’t buy singles for a reason).

I have to say there is a highly drinkable quality underpinning all of these beers, kind of like the kid brothers of bigger bolder brews.  I should qualify that I have nothing but love for great everyday ale, the go-to beer that you can drink with anything and serve to anyone, but I hoped to discover something really unique that I could brag about when I got back to BC …the search continues.

Overall I would give Mill Street Tankhouse Ale a 3 out 5, Great Lakes Orange Peel Ale a 3 out of 5 and Church-Key Northumberland Ale a 3.5 out of 5


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