Tag Archives: Mill Street Brewery

Ontario Craft Beer, As Advertised – Beer 2

Vanilla Porter


On the other end of the porter spectrum from Les Trois Mousquetaries Porter Baltique we have Vanilla Porter Draught from Mill Street Brewery (5%). This porter pours a deep black brown with just a little skim of mocha coloured head. Lots of vanilla bean on the nose and a bit of cold coffee. A light bodied and airy beer very consistent with other draught cans (think Guinness) but veering close to the watery side of things. As I alluded, the vanilla presence is quite unmistakable in this one though personally I did not find it be an artificial extract-y taste. Flavour wise (aside from the vanilla) you get cold coffee and roasted malts, and this porter finishes dry and slightly sweet.

Overall not a bad porter if you are looking for something light and easy though it may be a tad sweet for some of you beer geeks out there …#beercandy.


Summertime and the Drinking is Easy

Last year at this time I wrote an ode to the humble lager, long-time ball park staple and ubiquitous summer brew of choice for those wanting something thirst quenching, ice-cold and somewhat embodying sunshine in a glass. But as all good beer geeks know there are many other options at the lighter end of the spectrum that make equally good summer drinking.


Tuff Lite Lime


Putting the obvious IPA aside, when it is a hot humid dog-dangling kind of afternoon and your thoughts turn to the beer fridge think pilsner, kolsch, hefeweizen, fruit beer, porters or sour beer for something just a little outside the box. Each of these choices retaining a lighter bodied quality that makes them hot weather compatible while at the same time offering something just a little bit more than your basic lager.

Some of my summer stock includes Mill Street Brewing’s Lemon Tea Beer, Anchor Brewing Liberty Ale, Unibroue Ephemere Cerise, Tofino Brewing Tuff Lite Lime and Swans Brewing Company Coconut Porter.


Ephemere Cerise


Mill Street Lemon Tea Beer 

A light almost tepid beer that tastes somewhere between ice tea and a summer ale. Very refreshing and simple, I think this makes an excellent starter beer for your BBQ or for sipping under your patio lanterns. Hoping they bring this one out in six-packs in the BC area.

Anchor Liberty Ale

A malt forward ale that also has a decent amount of hoppiness. A bit more body than some of my other summer selections, Liberty Ale is a  great example of the style. No frills, no fruits, no weird flavour combinations; it is what it is and what it is is a really good beer.

Unibroue Ephemere Cerise

Ephemere apple is one of my favourite summer beers so I was quite excited to see a cherry version on the shelves this summer. Unibroue never disappoints on the Belgian beer style but the addition of cherry was a bit of a miss for me. While the apple adds a tartness the cherry flavour just seemed artificial, like cherry candy or cough syrup, and the beer had an almost chalky taste.

Tofino Tuff Lite Lime

Putting a Simpsons’ style label on this beer meant I was going to buy it no matter what, throw in the cheeky wordplay on the nefarious Bud Light with Lime and I may just have to purchase stock options. This may be one of the lightest bodied beers I have had in a long time; clean drinking with a hint of lime this beer it exactly what it claims to be. Another great starter beer when you want something easy.

Swans Coconut Porter

For those who just cannot part ways with their beloved dark beers coconut porter is a great summer option. Lighter bodied but still retaining some roasted malt character the sweetness of the coconut literally makes this beer scream summer, sunscreen and sipping. Also, if everyone else around you breaks out the pina coladas you’ll have you very own beery version.


Liberty Ale

Being a Beer Tourist in my own Backyard

Instead of my usual cross-border dash on long weekends, I played tourist in my own hometown this Saturday visiting a couple of our great taprooms The Alibi Room and Bitter Tasting Room.

The two locations have quite a bit in common with their hipster chic décor of industrial fixtures and reclaimed wood, foodie menu staples (local chicken undergoes spiritual counselling prior to be brought to your plate), slightly gentrifying neighbours and neighbourhoods, and of course the obvious care and attention lavished on their beer selection. Luckily for beer geeks there are also some key differences, which means you really need to try both places.



The Alibi Room concentrates on draught beers, presenting an impressive menu of over fifty beers broken down into various styles bolstered by a couple of cask selections. Obviously the focus on is local breweries but a number of American and foreign craft beers can also be sampled. Eleven dollars buys you a flight of four so you can try a variety before committing to any one pint – as every good beer geek knows you gotta do your homework. Alibi Room is bright and spacious with long communal tables that allow you to interact with your best new beer friends aka your tablemates. You can do a little train watching while you drink, and the ‘stick a bird on it’ mentality further ensures hipsters feel comfortable. There is even a bar downstairs to accommodate an extra busy night. Stairs, many stairs, to the bathroom always seems like an inherently bad idea in a place serving alcohol but they present a good challenge after a few rounds of taster trays.


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Bitter Tasting Room is a smaller space with a central bar, a cool wall of illuminated fridges and a throw-back speak-easy vibe emphasising black and white décor, metal fixtures and interesting graphics/fonts everywhere you look. Here the focus is on the bottle with an extensive line-up of brews and half a dozen or so taps for good measure. One really neat menu item is their selection of beer cocktails from the staple shandy, to a beer geek take on the Caesar, to a grown-up version of root beer. You can order flights here as well but they are pre-set selections based on style (mix of draught and bottle). We tried the dark beer trio for eleven dollars. I like the idea of letting the learned bartender set out choices that complement one another. The food menu is not that dissimilar from The Alibi Room but they have pretzels (!!!), which were obviously invented just to pair with beer. Really nice and informative staff – someone helped me take pictures and our server debated the merits of adding sea salt to stout (I think this is a brilliant idea). Rumour has it that they will be opening a patio onto the side street maybe in time for summer.


Now onto the Beer…

First, I always try the cask beer at The Alibi Room just because I have to. After the casked brews I pick whatever piques my interest and whatever I haven’t tried before. Sadly, this time out I was really stretching for a beer I liked enough to order by the pint. Out of the twelve samples my favourites were both from Yaletown Brewing Company, the Oun Bruin Flemish Brown Ale and the Raspberry Ale.

I went to Bitter specifically to try the R&B Milk Stout (an exclusive) since I am a pretty big fan of Rogue Creamery but alas this milk stout was just okay for me. Of the dark trio I actually think the Mill Street Coffee Porter was the best of the lot. Luckily The Bitter Chill was a standout for me, a savoury and spicy beer cocktail that would work wonders on a hot day.


Closing Thoughts

I am not sure I get the late opening times for the tap houses, do people really only want to drink beer after 5pm? The Alibi Room opens earlier on the weekend but then the kitchen closes mid-afternoon until dinner. If you can’t get any food to soak up some of your beer, you can’t makes room for more beer, which ends the vicious but profitable cycle that traps beer geeks like lint in the dryer. Also, I know we live in Vancouver but eleven dollars for a flight of beers? Really? C’mon.

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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