Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Raspbeery Coco Lait

An entry from the Muskoka Brewery’s Moonlight Kettle series that I picked up at the brewery in Bracebridge, Ontario, Raspbeery Coco Lait is a milk stout flavoured with raspberry purée. The easy-drinking 4.5% alcohol ale comes in a 473mL can. It’s a dark ale with elegant ruby highlights.

RCL has an engaging chocolatey aroma with just the faintest hint of a tart raspberry backbone. The raspberry in the flavour is considerably more than a hint, though, giving the beer an assertively fruity vibe that follows on the heels of a malty, cocoa rich base.

Raspbeery Coco Lait is a decadent dessert beer that would pair brilliantly with a chocolate indulgence of some sort after a rich meal. And, since if you’re anything like me, you probably had a bottle of wine or two with dinner, you’re in luck that the beer has low alcohol count, so you might not nod off in your tort.

I’m irritated that the can didn’t tell me whether this is a stout or a porter, though those labels are often pretty arbitrary and the website declared it to be a milk stout. Otherwise, I have few negatives to heap on RCL, other than the fact that I’d have preferred a more bitter and gritty chocolate to the milky number in evidence.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Greenwood Vermont-Style IPA

The Bitter Wife works every second Saturday afternoon. This creates a perfect recurring opportunity to duck out for a pint or to check out a brewery. One of my preferred Saturday afternoon haunts is Toronto’s Bar Hop (the original King Street location). They’ve always got something new and fresh that I’ve never tried before. On this Saturday in early October, that niche was filled by Greenwood Vermont-Style IPA. Built by the excellent Left Field Brewery in Toronto’s Greenwood neighbourhood, this little brew arrived looking milky gold, under a modest off-white foam.


The 6.3% 65 IBU ale had an extremely juicy tropical fruit aroma and a flavour to match. Notes of piña and mango were well represented, nestled in an assertively bitter body.

Bitter yet juicy are the hallmarks of the Vermont style, and Greenwood certainly hit both of those pretty squarely. I like my IPAs to have a bit higher percentage—if this stuff was in the 7% range, it’d have been closer to my ideal. I’d also liked the fruit flavours to be tangier, rather than the sweetness that settled in particularly as the beer warmed. All of that aside, though, Greenwood was a delicious beer from one of Toronto’s best.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Friday, 17 November 2017

1857 Kölsch-Style Lagered Ale

The latest in a spate of Ontario-born kölsch-style ales, 1857 Kölsch-Style Lagered Ale comes from Waterloo, where it’s nourished into existence by Abe Erb Brewing Company. A 4.8% alcohol potion, 1857 is a golden ale with a faint touch of haze and a bright white head. It comes in 473mL cans.

The scent is a somewhat pedestrian grain and malt combo, but the flavour has some life and a pretty respectable bitter kick as it closes out.

Pretty crisp and hoppily pleasant, I thought 1857 was a pretty decent take on the classic style from Cologne. A bit more booze would’ve been a welcome plus, but the flavour worked and the freshness quotient was solid. Not a beer I’ll seek out, but one I’ll doubtless buy again.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Secret Goldfish

A member of Sawdust City Brewing Co.'s Winewood Series, I picked up my corked and caged 750mL bottle of The Secret Goldfish direct from he brewery. The label of this features a vignette about a woman discovering the magic of re-reading books and declares this 6.7% alcohol conviction to be a barrel-aged tart saison. The beer had a bronze tint. It was hazy and aggressively carbonated, with a modest covering of off-white head.

The Secret Goldfish had a sour and slightly saline nose with cranberry and cherry notes. The flavour, less sour than the scent, was still a bit tart, with unripened fruit elements. Cleverly, the barrel-aging flavour was almost hidden beneath a crush of tart notes, but it became more and more apparent as my beer warmed and my mind mellowed.

To this dork, there weren't a lot of saison elements to this stuff, other than a lively mouthfeel and a high concentration of yeast--still, I guess the saison is a big tent and getting bigger, so what do I know? Well, what I do know is that the flavour was nice, the strength just right, and the sourness far from oppressive. The Secret Goldfish made me with that Sawdust City's Winewood Series was available at my local store.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Wild North Pumpkin Ale

Wild North Pumpkin Ale comes from Baysville, Ontario. It’s brewed by the Lake of Bays Brewery, comes in 473mL cans, and checks in at a feisty  6% alcohol.

The beer, brewed with pumpkin, has a rich auburn colour and a loose off-white layer of head. It has an autumnal nose—pumpkin pie with clove and cinnamon. The flavour walks a similar pass, with sweet, aromatic pumpkin pie notes, backed against a mild bitter finish.

To my mind, the best pumpkin ales are strong, spicy, bitter, and bold. For me, Lake of Bays’ Wild North Pumpkin Ale ticks one of those boxes (spicy), comes very close on two others (strong and bitter), and falls a bit short on the last (bold). If this beer were upped to 7%, it might have hit all of my unofficial criteria. Still, as is, I liked the beer quite a bit. It had me hankering for a Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixins.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Muskoka Harvest Ale

During an anniversary trip to Ontario's beautiful Muskoka region, the Bitter Wife and I dropped into the Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge, where I bought a handful of brews and a lovely IPA glass. One of the brews I picked up was Muskoka's Harvest Ale; a 6.7% alcohol effort with a hazy golden tint and a fog of white head. According to the 473mL can, the beer is dry-hopped, though the hop is not identified.

Harvest Ale has a grassy, grainy, and malt-focused aroma. The taste is malty up front, with a hefty and dank hops finish that provides for a nicely rounded brew.

Strong and flavourful, I found Muskoka's Harvest Ale to be an agreeable can o' suds. Harvest ales are an amorphous bunch with few definitive characteristics--a group of beers that I have often found disappointing--but I found this iteration to be a pretty compelling one. With sticky hops and grainy body, this beer had a lot of positive attributes that left me both pleased and buzzed.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Bridal Veil Pale Ale

From the town of Little Current, on Ontario's Manitoulin Island comes Bridal Veil Pale Ale, a 5% alcohol pale brewed by the Manitoulin Brewing Co., and sold in 473mL cans.

The beer is brassy and clear, with a cumulus of white head. There is an evergreen, slightly floral aroma with a bit of a metallic edge. The flavour is similarly situated, with a woodsy vibe and a tinny subtext. The finish is crisp and brief, with a nice equilibrium.

According to the can, this stuff was dry-hopped with Cascade, which led me to expect a bit more citrus, but the flowery-foresty notes I got were decidedly enjoyable. Compared to the fine, but ordinary Swing Bridge Blonde, Manitoulin's Bridal Vale was a better executed ale. I'll be buying it again, but it probably won't become a Stout Man Refrigerator Regular (tm).

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.