Sunday, 15 October 2017

Puppers Premium Lager

According to the 473mL can, Puppers Premium Lager is "the official beer of Letterkenny", which is supposedly an extremely funny show that I have not seen.

The beer is a 4% light lager. It's a straw gold brew with a loose and thin white head and a significant amount of carbonation. Puppers comes from Sudbury, Ontario, where it is crafted by Stack Brewing. It has a sweet cereal grain nose and a flavour to match, though the sweet grain and corn gives way to a slightly bitter finish.

At just 4%, Puppers is incredibly sessionable. However, it lacks the crispness of a quality pale lager, and packs a bit more sweetness than I tend to enjoy in my bottom fermented beers. Not a bad beer, but a bit on the forgettable side. Not quite what I expect from a quality brewer like Stack.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Elvis Juice

Elvis Juice is marketed as a "grapefruit infused IPA". It comes from Ellon, Scotland, where it's coaxed into existence by BrewDog.

A ruddy orange potion, E.J. is a 6.5% ale that pours under a thin, sudsy, and quickly-dissipating cream head. According to the label, it's brewed using both orange peel and grapefruit peel, which explains its murky citrus aroma. Given the rich musk of the nose, I was expecting a robust flavour, but what I got seemed a bit restrained--almost timid--with dominant citrus notes at the vanguard and a resinous hops brining up the rear.

I downed this ale while cooking up a mess of rotini, and it made for an enjoyable sous chef. While it could have been more assertive and more sharply tart, I thought it was a pretty decent little brew all the same.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

St. Mary Axe

Brewed in London, Ontario, St. Mary Axe is billed as a "Canadian Best Bitter". Made by the eponymous brewery, SMX (as it appears in shorthand on the spare but clean 473mL can) is a sessionable 4.6% alcohol. According to the copy, it's a "divine dichotomy where old meets new and complex is simple." Hmm.

The beer is a slightly hazy burnished copper colour. It pours with a vibrant and loose off-white head through which wafts a balanced albeit mild aroma that walks a tightrope between caramel malts and metallic bitterness. The flavour, sweeter than I anticipated, kicks off with date or raisin notes and a sticky toffee quality. The finish is relatively modestly flavoured, but admirably subtle and complicated. There are treacle elements, but this share the spotlight with an undercurrent of earthy hops.

I really enjoyed SMX. It should be noted that, despite the session-friendly percentage, this beer manages to taste full-bodied and will fill you up. What that means, for me at least, is that it provides an excellent way to enjoy a lush, well rounded ale without getting utterly pickled. The truth, as I see it, is that SMX does deliver on its promise: it blends classic English ale elements and low octane with a 21st century hop profile. A little less sweetness is my only initial complaint.

I'll have to revisit this one soon to be sure, but my inclination after a single can is that this stuff merits a pretty great score.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Hops & Robbers Grapefruit IPA

Hops & Robbers Grapefruit IPA is new spin on a pretty solid IPA from Double Trouble Brewing Co. from Guelph, Ontario. Billed as "crazy delicious", I'd like to have a talk with the folks at Double Trouble about ableist language. The 5.9% alcohol ale comes in 473mL cans.

H&R Grapefruit has a handsome hazy, orange-copper hue and pours with a nice almost-white head. It has a formidable ruby red grapefruit nose--juicy, but bitter, with just a whiff of candy sweetness. The flavour takes a similar tack, with an emphasis on grapefruit zest and a seriously dry finish.

As I've said before, I'm suspicious of grapefruit flavoured IPAs, because it is such a naturally-complimentary flavour that can often be achieved by dry hopping. However, this little beaut really embraced its pulpy, juicy, and bitter namesake. Many IPAs taste like grapefruit, but this one exudes it. The only serious complaint that I have is that, unlike the aroma, the flavour is a bit over-sweet.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Fresh Start Summit APA

During a rare trip east of Yonge Street, I recently popped into the newly operational Eastbound Brewing Co. I didn't stay for a pint, but I did come home with a couple of cans, including a 355mL one containing their Fresh Start Summit APA.

At the standard 5% alcohol, Fresh Start is a hazy, orange-gold beer with a vivid and sudsy off-white head. It has a pretty funky yeast and hops nose, with notes of fermented fruit. Interestingly, I didn't love my first can of Fresh Start; however, a second brush with this little brew left me feeling much more engaged and impressed. The flavour has some modest juice notes, as well as a dank and resinous tang. There are pretty decent yeast elements, and a fug of subterranean vibes. It had a dry finish, but not one that was as crisp as I was hoping for.

For my first try of a new brewery's offerings, I liked Fresh Start far more than I expected to. APA is a style that is oft attempted and seldom innovated, but this one got it done with some verve. Funky yeast elements and wacky hops made this a pretty intriguing ale.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 5 October 2017


Popped into the newly opened Godspeed Brewery in Toronto's east end with the Bitter Wife during a Saturday afternoon and grabbed myself a 13oz pour of their Momiji, an amber kellerbier containing 4.6% alcohol. My beer arrived under a fog of cream head. It was a fairly hazy walnut brew that packed a malty and metallic aroma with some bready notes. More pungent than I expected given its low percentage, Momiji was malt-focused initially, giving way to a crisp, bitter back. The flavour, bready at first, turned dry as I sipped. Throughout there were copper notes.

My first taste of Godspeed's brew, Momiji left me thirsty to try more. It is a pretty well-made beverage, with some nuance, in a session-friendly format.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

360 Ale

360 Ale bills itself as an English pale ale. It hails from the fairly remote but extremely beautiful city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, where it's brewed by Sleeping Giant Brewing Company (named in honour of the mountain that overlooks the town). The 473mL cans are pretty snappy looking and the brew inside is a 4.9% grog. It's a copper-hued and hazy ale, and it pours with a proud layer of sudsy cream-coloured head.

To match the copper colour, 360 smells a bit like a penny, though one that's spent a fair bit of time around hops and malt. The flavour also has some metallic elements, though the beer is primarily malt focused. Toward the back end, there is a dusting of bitterness to approximate balance.

I thought that 360 Ale was a pretty engaging little pop. Despite the insinuation on the can, it's not all that innovative (English pale ales are plentiful--even ones that claim to finish with a North American fervour); however, what does provide is nice flavour, good balance, and sessionability. I definitely see myself purchasing this ale again--particularly since this one is available at my local grocery store (don't laugh non-Canadians; this is a new and exciting innovation in Ontario!). A bit fuller body might have been nice, but I'm not complaining.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.