Friday, 15 December 2017

The Sociable Pilsner

Fresh and fizzy, The Sociable Pilsner is a pale lager offering from Toronto’s COMMON GOOD BEER COMPANY. It’s an effervescent yellow-gold lager with a thick and fluffy white head. At 4.7%, Sociable is sessionable. It comes in sparse but stylish orange 473mL cans.

Sociable has a predictable but comforting grain and grass scent. The flavour is spare, but nice enough, with grainy notes and a modest noble hop bitterness.

Not as robust as classic Czech pilsners or the more formidable of the Ontario versions, Sociable has positioned itself behind its crisp and fizzy mouthfeel more than its flavour. It is a crushable and thirst-quenching lager, but not one that left me feeling thoughtful. A classic “lawnmower” beer, but not the kind of suds that attract effusive adjectives.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Escape Velocity

Escape Velocity is an unusual ale: it’s a sour ale brewed with coffee cherry (also known as cascara), as well as cinnamon and ginger. Brewed in Cornelius, North Carolina, EV is the progeny of District 9 Brewing. It’s a powerful ale, with 14.2% alcohol. Sold in 355mL bottles, this beer is basically three-in-one.

EV has a dry, tart nose, but there is also a genuine undercurrent of aromatic spices. It has a unique flavour—primarily sour, with cherry and cranberry notes, but also with an unusual spice profile. According to the copy on the label, this beer is a “new-fashioned spin on the fragrant Ethiopian libation Hashara”. I’m not familiar with Hashara, this beer undeniably incorporates some exotic flavours into a sour and boozy base.

This beer came my way from the tremendously tremendous MM, a true friend of the Bitter World. I liked it a lot, though I unwisely uncapped it before looking at the percentage, resulting in a very unproductive Sunday afternoon. I was suspicious of a heavily spiced sour, but this beer gave me a lot to think about. I don’t say this often, but it might actually have been too strong for the style, but it was undeniably a one-of-a-kind brew—one I was pleased to try.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Sägemehl Stadt Fest Bier

A take on the marzen style, Sägemehl Stadt Fest Bier is an amber lager from the Sawdust City Brewing Co. It’s a 5% alcohol beer brewed in Gravenhurst, Ontario. I picked up a 473mL can direct from the source. It was a clear, copper lager with a lush white head.

The beer featured a fresh, damp malt aroma with some raisin notes. Malt was the most prominent flavour note, along with biscuit and a slightly bitter tinge to the finish.

SSFB was a pretty tasty Ontarian take on a classic German style. It had a fairly rich, malt body that I found pleasant. A bit more booze bombast might have given this harvest lager a bit more chilly weather warmth, though.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Food Truck

Brewed in appreciation of Toronto’s gourmet mobile sustenance vendors, Food Truck is a blonde ale that, according to the copy on the 473mL can, is intended to pair nicely with chow. A product of the excellent Henderson Brewing Company, Food Truck is a low alcohol offering, at just 4.8%. It’s a a clear brass-gold ale that pours with an enticing off-white foam.

FT has a grassy, lager-like nose that features grainy notes and a touch of sweetness. The beer has a pretty nondescript taste that moves from slightly sweet to slightly bitter, with a grainy initial vibe and a finish that is sweet, yet fairly crisp.

This grog is very much a blank canvass that absorbs the colours and flavours of the accoutrements it comes with. As a result, it is wildly inoffensive, but has little character of its own. Not boring, exactly, but FT isn’t a particularly remarkable brew. Rather, it’s the background scenery in a local theatre production. A touch too sweet, but otherwise innocuous, FT isn’t much like Henderson’s other, more rambunctious offerings. It’s a fairly well-balanced but forgettable ale, waiting on external flavours to enhance its vitality. I liked it fine, but won’t remember it tomorrow.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10 (no photo because I'm not smart).

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Tartan Pants Scotch Ale

From Kanata, Ontario, a satellite community of Canada’s national capital, comes Tartan Pants Scotch Ale. This ale from Big Rig Brewery clocks in at a respectable 6.4%. It comes in garish 473mL cans that feature plaid-clad legs dancing a jig.

Tartan Pants is an extremely dark brown colour. It pours with little carbonation and a thin mist of creamy head. According to the copy on the can, hand smoked malt is used in the brewing process, which goes a long way toward explaining the rich, smoky scent that greets the nose. The flavour is malt-focused and full, with sticky toffee and Christmas pudding elements, assembled under a slightly smoky skyline. There aren’t a lot of overt hops characteristics to this ale, though there is a slight nod toward woodsy bitterness in there somewhere.

Scotch ales aren’t particularly commonplace in the Ontario craft marketplace, which is increasingly dominated by crisp pale ales. While I undoubtedly enjoy a good hoppy pale, I’m pleased when I see a bit of stylistic diversity in the brewing landscape. Big Rig’s take on a Caledonian ale was pretty well conceived and executed. The smokiness is big on the nose, but understated to the taste, which is a pretty neat trick as far as I’m concerned, as it lets the other flavour notes express themselves.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Woodhouse IPA Beer

With roots in Toronto, Woodhouse IPA Beer is a product of Woodhouse Brewing Co. It’s a 6% alcohol ale sold in 473mL cans. According to the copy on the can (which incidentally was white writing on a mint green can and virtually unreadable) indicated the presence of five distinct varieties of hops in the clear, coppery ale, but unfortunately, the types used were not listed.

The beer poured with a substantial cap of sudsy white head. It had resinous aroma that tightroped between bitter and sweet, with some floral funk played against a caramel quality. The flavour was a bit underwhelming, though it did have a subtlety that caused me to sip mindfully. Pine was the most prominent hop element, while some caramel was on display on the malt end of things. Between those poles, there were murmurs of pineapple and melon, too. Its finish was dry, quick, and pleasant.

In a nutshell, Woodhouse’s take on the IPA is a very accessible one. At just 6%, it’s far more session-friendly than some of Ontario’s more robust IPAs. The flavour is also apt to please the masses given its mellow approach to hops. Still, there is enough crackle and nuance to make a beer fiend like me sit up and take notice. The low octane hurts my rating, though others might prefer a less immediately intoxicating ale. The very modest melon notes, though, were definitely worth a half point on the ol’ Stout Man scale. It should also be noted that I liked this beer more by the end of my pint than I did through the first few sips, and I liked the next few I tried in the following days more still.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Sunday, 3 December 2017


From Kastrup, Denmark’s Amager Bryghus comes RyeKing, a 7.7% alcohol smoked rye stout. Sold in 500mL bottles with America’s stars and bars on the label, the beer within is extremely dark. It pours with a thick layer of tan head, through with comes a tangy, smoky aroma.

RyeKing’s flavour is both mammoth and complex. It is smoky, spicy, and malty, with notes of leather, tobacco, and chocolate.

This beer has a lot going for it: depth, potency, and richness are some of its finer attributes. On the negative side of the ledger? Not a whole lot, actually. The mouthfeel is a bit syrupy, but that’s not particularly unusual for a strong stout. In short, I have few complaints.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.