Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Harbinger American Pale Ale

Harbinger American Pale Ale marks my first brush with a brew from Kitchener, Ontario's Descendants Beer & Beverage Co., and given the name, I'd be surprised if this isn't their first commercially available offering. Given my unabashed love for fantasy novels, the 473mL can, with its cowled, crystal-gazing figure, certainly caught my eye. Additionally, the copy on the back of the can led me to search for Stammtisch on Wikipedia, so it ended up being an educational pint.

At 5.5% alcohol, Harbinger has a good degree of heft for an APA. It's a bright gold, clear, and well carbonated ale that poured with a healthy though short-lived layer of white head. It's nose is built around toasty malt and a modest bitterness. The flavour, too, is toasty, though there is a bit of a paucity in the hops department. It's not that the beer la is bitterness, but rather that it's a wee bit short on definition and character. I was hoping for a sharp, almost abrupt APA in the style that's so de rigeur right now in Ontario (see Detour, Naughty Neighbour etc.), but found a slightly meandering ale. However, it should be reiterated that Harbinger does have a lovely, well toasted element that I really enjoyed, and it's a very handsome ale.

This is the kind of stuff that I'd bring to the beach or to a Saturday afternoon pool party--cheery beer with a mildly elevated booze bill, but one that won't overwhelm or obfuscate. Did I like it? Sure. Would I buy it again? Likely, though not until it warms up. But the takeaway for me is that Kitchener has a new brewery, and it's one that has demonstrated a little skill and creativity. I'll be watching out for more from Descendants--hopefully something with a bit more vigour.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

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