Friday, 30 October 2015

Mojo Citra Rhubarb Wheat Ale

When I first started to pour Mojo Citra Rhubarb Wheat Ale, I remarked upon how clear it was for a wheat ale. However, by the time the whole beer had been glassed, there was an unusual hazy swirl taking over my pint of golden ale. Sold in lovely 500mL bottles, Mojo is produced by the Forked River Brewing Company of London, Ontario. Under strength at just 4.5% alcohol, Mojo gets rhubarb into the mix, though it isn't clear from the label whether the beer is brewed with actual rhubarb, or simply using 'barb flavour.

Through a covering of bright white head, there comes a sizable tart rhubarb aroma, as well as a murmur of bitterness. Thin-bodied, but packing a nice flavour, Mojo is somehow both tart and mellow. Rhubarb flavour is seated in the front row, with some wheaty chill in the wings.

Short on alcohol and thin: these are two comments that figure to be the death knell of most beers that I review, but Mojo ekes out a respectable rating because of its interesting taste and novel concept.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Midtfyns Bryghus Imperial Stout

I've tried hundred--thousands--of different beers in my life, but Midtfyns Bryghus Imperial Stout provided me with something that I've never noticed before and something I'd like to see more of: braille on the label. Oddly, the city of origin isn't listed on the label of the 500mL bottle (at least not on the English language side), but a trip to the Midtfyns Bryghus website told me that the beer comes from Årslev, Denmark.

This Imperial Stout is an imposing beer. It contains a whopping 9.5% alcohol and is a jet black brew topped with a deep tan head. According to the label, this stuff is aged with oak, and I found that the sweet woodiness really comes through in the nose, as does a rich bourbon quality. The flavour is also quite oaky. It's fiercely malty with a damning quantity of boozy heat. There is lots of rich mocha here, which gives way to a dusky, bitter finish.

A thoughtful sipper, this beer pairs well with an after dinner cigar, much like a port. It left me feeling drowsy and mellow. The sweet heat to bitter cocoa progression luxurious, though by the end of the glass, I was wishing for a bit more hops dynamism to cut some sweetness.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Short Pier, Long Walk Double IPA

Listed as containing "100+ IBU", what Short Pier, Long Walk Double IPA lacks in specificity it makes up for with the promise of massive bitterness. Sold in gorgeous and somewhat imposing 750mL bombers, this strong ale contains 8.4% alcohol. According to the production date listed on the bottle (2015/10/06), this stuff was brewed just two weeks before I cracked it open.

Short Pier, Long Walk is the brainchild of Refined Fool Brewing Co., an outfit that operates out of Sarnia, Ontario. It's a slightly murky orange-gold grog that pours underneath a fluffy off-white head. With a hoppy citrus aroma, this beer seems mighty inviting. As for flavour, sweetness and bitterness are tangled up around a set of juicy grapefruit notes. Very astringent, this mug o'suds has hops enough to strip the enamel from your chompers,  but isn't too bitter to be enjoyable.

Get ready of an unseemly dose of alliteration: Big bottles + bitter bite + bountiful booze = badass beer. Refined Fool was new to me, but if their Short Walk, Long Pier is any indication, Ontarian beer fans has a new brewery to expect big things from. I'll most definitely be watching for new offerings.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Waterloo Smoked Applewood Roggenbier

Spotted something new at the store today, Waterloo Smoked Applewood Roggenbier. From Kitchener, Ontario's Waterloo Brewing Co., this stuff is redundant--the "smoked" is implied when speaking of a roggenbier. Still, I couldn't resist the lure of the 473mL can and I had the feeling that it'd be swell on a chilly evening. To my luck, the very next evening saw the mercury plunge and I had a veritable fall eve on my hands, so I hauled my can out of the fridge to give the 5.3% tipple a try.

My pint poured beautifully--clear, auburn hued, and with a lustrous cream head. My nose declared Waterloo's Roggie to have a sweet, smokey aroma. This scent was matched, even exceeded, in the flavour. Not as smokey as a rauchbier, this still has a pretty ample campfire tang, and an agreeable one at that. Sweet and malty are the other adjectives that sprung to mind instantly. Additionally, I had to double check the percentage, since this brew tastes well stronger than the listing of 5.3%.

I find that I go up and down with Waterloo's beers. They have some amazing ones, and others that interest me not at all. This one fits in the former camp--a fine, flavourful, and nicely executed accompaniment to an Autumn evening. A touch to sweet, and not the kind of stuff you'd want to double up on, but otherwise a grand ale.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Pickup Truck Pilsner

Watching the Toronto Blue Jays battle the Royals in the ALCS, I worked up a powerful thirst. Given that it was a Saturday afternoon, crisp and cool, but bright and sunny, I figured that a pilsner was the way to go. I cracked a 473mL can of Pickup Truck Pilsner, an effort from Nobleton, Ontario's Thornbury Beverage Company. It contained 4.8% alcohol and poured a bubbly clear gold, underneath a healthy white head.

There was a mild, fresh grainy aroma. To my palate, Pickup Truck had a crisp, grassy flavour, backed with a pretty fair hops crunch. It's flaw is a thin and slightly watery front end, but it isn't fatal.

Pickup Truck is a decent Ontario pilsner. It's nicely hopped and quite refreshing. Like pilsners? If you've got, as they say on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the "thrills for the pils", this one won't disappoint. It's not top shelf stuff, but it's agreeable.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

#99 Double IPA

On an oddly warm Saturday afternoon in October with nothing to do after my semi-weekly squash game, I decided to ride the 501 streetcar into Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood to stop in at the Duggan's Brewery and check out their bottle shop.
Truthfully, I found the shop to be a bit of a disappointment. In terms of cans and sixers, all they had to offer was stuff that is available in Ontario's liquor stores. Other than a small selection of pretty cool merch, the only thing that made this brewery store worth visiting was the small selection of 64oz and 32oz growlers filled with some of Duggan's less widely available ales and lagers. There were a few I hadn't tried, so I picked myself up a 64oz jug of #99 Double IPA. Including the $5 deposit, it ran me about $26--not exactly economical.

#99 is the brawny older sibling to Duggan's excellent #9 IPA, which I have previously written about and think highly of. The Double 9 also has a lot to offer, though with a little less refinement than its little bro. It's a murky auburn ale that pours with a fog of creamy head--a dapper little pour for sure.

Instead of the heavy bill of piney hops I was expecting, there is a malt-driven aroma that gives off only a hint of bitterness. The beer is flavourful, with a heavy does of buttery, roasted malts rounding out an otherwise bitter profile. Hops are much more apparent in the flavour than the scent, with resinous and evergreen elements lending their properties to make this a nicely balanced Double IPA.

At 7.5% alcohol, it's a bit low octane for a double, but still strong enough to taste hearty and get the juices flowing. My growler tasted nice and fresh, which is always a delight. The balance between powerful malts and vigourous hops played well with me. To be "betterer" it coulda beer "bitterer", but there's not much to whine about. Now I have a handsome Duggan's growler, which I'm sure will see some future duty, and about a litre and a half of nice beer to make my Thanksgiving weekend all the more pleasant.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Dark Matter

Dark Matter came to me by way of Victoria, British Columbia. It gets its start in life at the Hoyne Brewing Company, where it is coddled up to a strength of 5.3% alcohol and bundled into 650mL bottles. The labels on these hefty bottles are lovely, displaying a campfire and the aurora borealis. Curiously, there is no style listed on the bottle; just "beer/bière". I'm gonna call it a dark ale, likely a porter, and double check on their website later.

Stout dark, and topped with a layer of cream head, Dark Matter has an extremely malt forward aroma. There are also notes of molasses and raisin to tickle the nose. It's got a creamy mouthfeel and ample flavour. The latter leans heavily to the malty side of the spectrum, and favours roasted grain and mocha vibes.

Victoria is a city that I've yet to visit, but I've tried a lot of craft beer that hails from BC's capital, and it's got me hankerin' to make the trip. Dark Matter is a credit to its hometown. Not quite as strong or as bitter as I'd have liked it, but rich in texture and flavour.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Gregorius Trappistenbier

Austria's Trappist brewery, Stift Engelszell, is the outfit responsible for Gregorius Trappistenbier, a liver-battering 10.5% alcohol ale. Hailing from Engelhartszell, Austria, this stuff is sold in 330mL bottles. It's a very dark ale; a bloody, swampy, deep ruby, and pours with a fluffy but short-lived head. I'm pretty sure that this stuff would be classed as a quadrupel.

Gregorius has a powerful aroma: sweet, fruity, and extremely boozy. There are raisin and fig notes on the nose that carry over into the flavour. It's a very rich ale that begins with a lot of sweetness, but there is actually a pleasant bitterness buried in the finish that really keeps things interesting.

Strong. That's what this stuff is. It's flavourful and thick, with heaps of hooch. Not an ale for novice drinkers of Trappist ales.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015


Cackalacky is a ginger pale ale brewed in Duke country--Durham, North Carolina--by Fullsteam Brewery. According to the aesthetically engaging 355mL can, the stuff contains 5% alcohol, is brewed with ginger, and should be both "hoppy" and "zippy".

Largely clear and moderately carbonated, Cackalacky poured with a respectable measure of off-white head. Perhaps not shockingly, it's nose displayed a lot of ginger heat, alongside a tinge of hops bounty. Spicy yet crisp, Cackalacky is among the best ginger-infused beers I've tried--not a ginger beer, but a beer brewed with ginger--important distinction. There is still a pretty decent ale profile in this stuff, though not as much as I'd have liked.

Cackalacky was better than a one off novelty flavored beer, though not likely something I'd buy with any degree of regularity. If I'm looking for a ginger kick, give me a dark and stormy or a rye and ginger any day.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Cauld Reekie

From the windswept moors of Scotland (actually from the cosmopolitan City of Edinburgh) comes Cauld Reekie, a dark ale labeled as a "superior stout." Made by Stewart Brewing, C.R. is sold in pretty 500mL bottles and contains a stalwart 6.2% alcohol.

A glamorous blackish ale with ruby streaks, C.R. pours with a half inch of tan head, though it wasn't keen on sticking around long. Sweet and malt forward through the nose, there's a whiff of dark fruit and another of fine leather goods. The mouthfeel is silky and sexy. As far as flavour, roasted malt is well represented, as is raisin. Delving a bit deeper, molasses and cocoa each have a seat at the table, as does some nice(if mild) hops kick, as things draw to a close.

Superior is a strong word, but this stuff puts in a pretty fair try. It's a little on the sweet side and it could be more bitter. That said, it's a wonderful little ale. I'd buy it again in a flash.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

New Growth Pale Ale

I received a 650mL bottle of New Growth Pale Ale from my ol' pal K.F. Born in Victoria, British Columbia, New Growth is the offspring of Driftwood Brewery. According to the beautiful label, this beer contains the standard 5% alcohol, and is brewed using local Centennial and Newport hops grown at Sartori Cedar Ranch.

My beer poured clear and bright gold, with a rambunctious topping of fluffy white head. Aroma is unassuming without being timid, with subtle floral hops notes. The initial flavour is gentle and faintly sweet, but this quickly transitions into a hearty, hoppy body. There is a nice amount of dryness and a pretty decent finish, too.

New Growth Pale Ale has a lot to like. A gentle and agreeable flavour, local ingredients, and a handsome look. What it needs to take it to a higher level is a more assertive opening note. It's a good, easy drinking pale ale. K.F., I'd like another, please.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Mikkeller Green Gold American-Style India Pale Ale

Mikkeller Green Gold American-Style India Pale Ale is a tasty ale brewed in Lochristi-Hijfte, Belgium, at De Proef Brouwerij by Mikkeller. Pretty punchy at 7%, this beer comes in 330mL bottles. It's a hazy, ruddy copper ale, topped with a sexy cream head. There is a stanky, resinous head that manages to smell pretty boozy. It's an extremely bitter brew that leans heavily toward the dank and resinous side of the hop spectrum. There's also a slightly yeasty tang to give is a definite Belgian vibe.

Green and Gold is a quality IPA, though not quite as bouncy and playful as I was expecting it to be. It's a somewhat dour take on the style, without the bright evergreen or grapefruit notes that tend to characterize my favourites. There is, however, an excellent amount of alcohol that shows itself in just the right way--neither bashful nor braggart.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Hr. Frederiksen Imperial Stout

Hr. Frederiksen Imperial Stout is a Danish brew, all the way from Kastrup, Denmark, where it's lovingly constructed at the Amager Bruyghus. According to the label on the 500mL bottle, this beer is named for "a good friend without whose amazing support and assistance Amager Brewery would not be where it is today."Having a beer named in your honour is one of the coolest things that this brew nerd can imagine, and having it be a 10.5 alcohol Imperial stout pushes the coolness meter into the stratosphere!

The Freddy was an opaque black grog--my glass looked like a mug of midnight, topped with a heavy tan head. It had a sincere and approachable nose with malt all over it, but also chocolate and a bitter espresso tint. My palate was greeted with toasty alcoholic sweetness that shelters some cocoa notes. There was a surprisingly assertive hops character that inhabited the finish, and manifested as a pushy java jolt.

My advice is to forget about the 10.5% at your great peril. There was a pretty smooth mouthfeel for so strong a stout, though the bitter finish added a slight speed bump. My only complaint was a smidgen too much syrupy sweetness in the early going. Otherwise, Freddy was a Danish dynamo.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Downhill Pale Ale

The Collingwood Brewery, out of Collingwood, Ontario is the brewery behind Downhill Pale Ale. It's a clear copper beer topped with a rebellious froth of white head. There is a mild aroma that doesn't really give much away, except to hint at an English style and modest hops. The taste is very enjoyable. It's well balanced between caramel and malt initially, and dry and almost imperceptibly spicy hops à la fin. The mouthfeel is a touch thin, especially in the early stages.

The 473mL can isn't super macho, with a powder blue colour and cursive font, but I kinda like it. The beer clocks in at 5.4% alcohol.

Downhill Pale Ale is perhaps an unremarkable beer, but it's none the worse for it. It's well made and delivers a pleasant and reliable flavour. I'll definitely buy this beer again. I wonder what else we can expect to come out of Collingwood?

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Dead Crow Bourbon Beer

In exchange for watching his cats while he's away, my brother usually leaves me some beer in his fridge. It's a pretty civilized arrangement. And because of my propensity for trying new beers, he'll often leave me a few bottles of something I might not have tried (though this is becoming an increasingly tough endeavour). The last time he was away, he found something new to me: Dead Crow Bourbon Beer.

According to the label, Dead Crow is brewed by an English outfit inspiringly called Beverage Brands, which operates out of Gloucester. The beer, a clear, honey-hued number, comes in clear 330mL bottles and contains 5.5% alcohol. It's kinda hard to tell from my shitty photo, but there is a raised map of the world etched into the bottle. It poured with a scant head and had a curiously tart, almost cider-ish aroma. I found the stuff to be extremely sweet, with little in the way of beery qualities--you know, bitterness or maltiness. Like the nose, the flavour had more to do with a sugary cider than a beer. Toward the end, there was a touch of boozy heat that made me think of bourbon, but really only slightly.

I can't blame my bro for trying, since he found something that I'd never tried and gave me something to write about, but Dead Crow Bourbon Beer was definitely not for me. I found it slightly disagreeable, actually. But don't let my own cool reception dull your fervor. By all means give it a try. Let me know what you think!

Rating: 4.0 out of 10.