Well it is official I am East and that means it is time to begin exploring a whole new craft beer scene.
Since Ontario is controlled by the Big Brother of beer aka The Beer Store and the LCBO the choice is somewhat less diverse and less abundant than the options available to BC beer geeks (we are spoiled and don’t forget it).
Nonetheless I did manage to locate a mixed up six of various interesting looking local beers five of which came in cans -very throwback eh.
First up is Spark House Red Ale from Lake of the Bays Brewing Company based in Baysville, Ontario. Spark House pours a very clear reddish brown with lots of cream coloured head. The nose is very slight with overtones of chocolate and a slight funkiness. First few sips are very light bodied with lots of chocolate malt flavour. As you drink the malts continue to be the main feature giving this beer a sweetness that at times borders on cloying. It wraps up with a sweet malty finish. Not the typical red ale profile I was expecting but interesting nonetheless and quite session able at 5% ABV.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day beer lovers!
While the masses may be reaching for pints of green-hued lagers the craft beer legions know that real geeks celebrate the day by eschewing green and going red instead.
Red ales are malt-forward, light-bodied, often session-like, slightly sweet brews that just beg to be served by the pitcher.
I am marking the day with Luck of the Irish from Russell Brewing Company, a 5% ABV Red Ale.
Luck of the Irish pours a lovely clear red (duh) colour with lots of cream coloured head and great head retention. As always Russell impresses with their bottle, which is a no-label painted bottle using varying green tones and simple well-placed graphics. There are subtle notes of roasted grain on the nose and maybe a bit of sweetness. This red ale is a thin brew with sweet caramel and toasted grain flavours. It is very clean on the finish with just the tiniest hint at bitterness.
Overall a very sessionable, and thereby drinkable, beer that is a great way to start a night that inevitably must end with a big bold stout 😉
It’s the end of the week again (funny how that happens with such regularity) and that means it is time for a new brew review. I spent the start of my week in Seattle so I thought I would offer up a review of a local beer from Epic Ales.
Rooibos Red 7% ABV is a “hearty malty west coast red, made complex with loads of rooibos tea”.
Rooibos Red pours a very cloudy ice tea colour with lots of carbonation and just a little bright white airy head. There is a lot of cold tea aroma on the nose and some maltiness. A thin bodied beer with tons of tea flavour, a little like tea that has been steeped a bit too long, lots of malt, a bit of smokiness and just a touch of sweet. The finish is quite tannin heavy as well. Conceptually I like this idea and I like the quality tea imparts on beer making it somewhat tepid; however, I found this one a bit of a miss.
I first encountered Hopworks Brewery at the GCBF and shallow as this may sound I did not want to sample their beer because I really did not like their logo –it kind of reminded me of the logo on a can of bug spray. Fast forward to the other weekend when I once again crossed paths with Hopworks while visiting Portland and this time I decided I would visit the city’s first Eco-Brewpub. In the spirit of transparency (and in a city with a veritable buffet of breweries) the deciding factor was the fact that this pub had vegan pizza. So after a few missed turns my partner and I plunked ourselves down at a patio table overlooking the brewing tanks and general operations; a guy with a disco ball on his forklift shuttled kegs back and forth at an alarming rate. The fun industrial decor – think bicycle wheel lamps and metal pipe fixtures – and socially conscious philosophies had me re-thinking my earlier superficial judgements. With the sun blazing overhead I order a Radler, a lager mixed with lemonade, and my partner ordered a sampler of four beers to accompany our much anticipated vegan entree. The Radler may very well be the quintessential summer sipper combining the best aspects of a light lager with the tart sweetness of lemonade; to say this went down easy may be the understatement of the decade. Our sampler consisted of two seasonals the abominable winter ale and a Red whose name escapes me and two regulars the DOA Organic and the Survival Stout. First up the Winter ale which reminded me of a mild IPA, golden amber with fair amount of lacing, good but nothing jumped out at me defining this beer as a winter beer per se. The Red ale was very similar in appearance to the Winter ale, it had a bit of a soap-like hops taste but this was well balanced and the beer was clean to drink (the fantastic waitress mentioned this was her favourite). On to the DOA which looked much like the first two samples but had a smooth hop taste and a definite liquor presence. Last but not least the Survival Stout with its strong coffee nose and complex grain taste. Interestingly I could not discern the coffee taste while drinking and the beer tasted similar to a porter in density. We both agreed this was our favourite and bought a bottle to take home. It is interesting to think that I may have missed this experience entirely due to my tendency to judge a beer by its label, my rationale being a creative and witty label equates to unique and inspired ale, but perhaps I learned a life lesson here…if only I could remember what it was after all that beer!
- Out of a possible five I would give this Eco-Brewpub a 4.5 and the Vegan Pizza a 5.