Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Five Ontario Beers That Own My Fridge

Craft brewing is alive and well in Canada from coast to coast. While my adopted home province isn't yet pumping out the quality and quantity of beers as Quebec, it's well on its way to becoming a major producer of exceptional suds. Over the last few years, I've reviewed dozens of beers that originate in Ontario, including some truly elite ones. This post, however, isn't strictly about the best Ontario beers. Rather, it's about those beers that find their way into my refrigerator most frequently.

As you'll be able to see from my list, I'm a hop devotee. When I'm not looking for new things to review, my tastes run to the bitter. Citrus hops and spicy rye get me fired up.

The five beers below are the ones that I regularly stock my fridge with and the ones that I regularly bring to parties. The criteria here are beers that are: 1.) widely available in liquor stores across the province, 2.) that I love, and 3.) that are Stout Man staples. If you invite me over, there's a pretty solid chance that I'll show up with one or more of these beauties, and we'll all be richer for it.

Note: This was a hard list to make, and I need to give hat tips to the following honourable mentions: Conductor's Craft Ale, Dead Elephant, Prison Break Pilsner, 666 Devil's Pale Ale, Spearhead Hawaiian Style Pale Ale, 10W30, Lug Tread, Duggan's #9, and Tankhouse Ale. These are all terrific beers and you should buy them.

5. Cameron's Rye Pale Ale

This beer rocks rye spiciness, grapefruit bitterness, and considerable balance, all at a hefty 6.6% alcohol. This brew comes from the woefully under-rated Cameron's Brewing Company, out of Oakville, Ontario. What keeps me coming back is the strength and depth of flavour. Read my review here.

4. Naughty Neighbour American Style Pale Ale

When you want huge citrus hops flavour without pickling your liquor and muddling your mind, you can hardly do better that Nickel Brook Brewery's Naughty Neighbour American Style Pale Ale. This pale ale contains a restrained 4.9% alcohol, making it wonderfully session-friendly. However, it doesn't give an inch in terms of flavour. A second entry out of Halton Region, Nickel Brook hails from Burlington. Read my review here.

3. Boneshaker Unfiltered India Pale Ale

Boneshaker comes from Toronto, where it is brewed by the Amsterdam Brewing Co. It's the strongest beer on my list, at 7.1%, and also the most flavourful. It is packed with a ridiculous amount of citrus hops that give off a blast of grapefruit and a tongue-pummeling level of bitterness. Sure, this beer will knock your socks off, but it's also beautifully crafted. It's not subtle by any stretch, but it is wonderfully well-made and always delicious. Read my review here.

2. Fire in the Rye Roasted Rye Pale Ale

My love for rye ales is no secret, and I've yet to sample a rye beer from Ontario that can hold a candle to Double Trouble Brewing Co.'s Fire in the Rye. This beer, born and raised in Guelph, is bitter: it clocks in at a Stout Man-pleasing 60 IBUs. But it also has ample rye heat and a not-to-be-sneered-at 6.1% alcohol. Fire in the Rye is the only entry on my list that I have yet to review. Rest assured, I have do have a review drafted. I just have to get around to typing it up. Notably, though, Double Trouble's Prison Break Pilsner (which I have reviewed) is the lone pale lager that almost made this list.

1. Mad Tom IPA

Muskoka Brewery's Mad Tom IPA is, without a doubt, the beer that most often inhabits my fridge. It isn't necessarily the best beer in Ontario (though I do think it'd at least be in the running), but it is definitely the one that I always seem to have on hand. In fact, there is seldom a time when I don't have at least one bottle or can of this 6.4% alcohol gem of an ale in my icebox. The pride and joy of Bracebridge in cottage country, Mad Tom is a study in bitterness, flavour, and craft. At 64 IBUs, it doesn't fool around, tending toward citrus hops, but it is also accessible enough to make it suitable for all beery occasions. Read my review here.

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