Sunday, 29 November 2015

Mountain Shadow Black IPA

During a voyage to North Carolina, I made a stop, with some amazing ladies, at an awesome little bottle shop called the Carolina Beer Temple in Matthews. It was a pretty righteous establishment with a wealth of beers to try. One that I opted for was Mountain Shadow, a Black IPA built in Blowing Rock, NC, by the Blowing Rock Brewing Company. Listed at 6.8% alcohol, my brew arrived coal  black and covered with a thin, off-white head.

It had a surprisingly mild aroma with roasted malt notes. The flavour is a touch more assertive: roasty, malty, and darkly hoppy. Not as IBU-heavy as I was anticipating, but still fairly bitter. There's some licorice, too.

Quite a nice little ale. If I wasn't in a beery Mecca filled with a million things to try, I'da had another. It could have been a bit more zesty, but it got the job done.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, 27 November 2015


Styled an "Alabama Common", Workman is based on the California Common style. It hails from Madison, Alabama, where it is assembled by an outfit known as the Blue Pants Brewery. I picked up a 12oz. bottle of this 5% alcohol lager during a trip to the American South.

It was a cloudy golden-orange brew topped with a very sturdy off-white head. It had a grain-driven, malty and slightly bready aroma. The flavour started with yeasty tendencies, almost like a Belgian blonde ale. It proved to be a pretty full flavoured and punch little lager. There is a healthy malt-heavy profile with an uptick of hops at the finish.

I found this to be a tasty and interesting beer.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Another Way To Rye IPA

Another Way To Rye IPA comes from Franklin, Tennessee, where it is lovingly crafted by the oddly named Turtle Anarchy Brewing Company. During a trip to Nashville, I picked up a growler of this good stuff at an amazing beer seller called Craft Brewed Bottle Shop & Tasting Room. According to the Turtle Anarchy website, this stuff contains 6.2% alcohol and a pretty solid 62 IBUs.

We lugged the growler up to a friend's place but only drank half (she had lots of other beers to contend with). Finished it off a couple of days later--it had gone a bit flat, but still tasted pretty nice. It was a clear, copper coloured ale that had a hoppy, citrusy aroma. There was a healthy hop profile, bolstered by some high flying rye character.

My first impression of this brew was really favourable. The second experience drinking flat beer was less so, but I'd never hold that against them, since it was my fault I didn't finish the growler while it was fresh.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Class V India Pale Ale

Class V India Pale Ale's snazzy 473mL can lists an IBU count of 72, and describes that as "sessionably hoppy". The can also says "Make your mother proud" next to the recycling emblem. We're off to a good start.

This 5.5% alcohol beer comes from Foresters Falls, Ontario. It's put together by an outfit called Whitewater Brewing Co. According to the can, Class V is "hand-crafted using only the freshest ingredients from the Ottawa Valley." This statement left me with questions: Are all of the ingredients used actually from the Ottawa Valley, or are they just assuring me that those ingredients that do come from the Ottawa Valley are the freshest? Semantics aside, Class V is a murky copper ale that pours with an agreeable cap of off-white head. The aroma flits between dank, citrus hops and rich, caramel malts. The beer smells stronger than its 5.5% listing. In terms of flavour, I found things to be a bit too far on the sweet side, but there are nice soggy citrus hops underneath.

For an IPA, Class V is well understrength. 5.5% is far too low. Call this stuff an APA though, and I'm pretty happy. Despite its low number, it does deliver a pleasant flavour and hearty bitterness. If this beer were less sweet and a bit drier, I'd love it. As it is, though, I like it a fair bit.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Brettal Head All Brett Pale Ale

The 500mL bottle of Brettal Head All Brett Pale Ale is pretty darn rad. It's emblazoned with a goat and a crescent moon, and looks pretty sweet. The bottle advises that one should "Keep Refrigerated" and "Drink Fresh--Do Not Age". My fridge was pretty full, so I had to lay this stuff down on its side. A week later when I finally got around to uncapping it, I found that there was a line of yeasty sediment along the side of the bottle that was resting on the fridge.

This murky yellow-orange ale features a thick blanket of bright white head. The ale contains the standard 5% alcohol and has a dynamite aroma that is bitter, but but buoyed by tropical fruit notes and a nice yeasty streak. The flavour and mouthfeel are both less substantial than I expected--really, this stuff is pretty thin-bodied. The flavour, though mild, is quite nice. There's a bit of Belgian-style yeast fruitiness that leads to a modestly hoppy citrus and passion fruit finish.

I prefer a lot more hops wallop in my pale ales, but the interesting flavour is worth more than a little love. Brettal Head All Brett Pale Ale is yet another fine ale from the beer wizards at Toronto, Ontario's Bellwoods Brewery.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Old Tomorrow Canadian Pale Ale

Brewed in homage to Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, Old Tomorrow Canadian Pale Ale is a Torontonian beer fashioned by Old Tomorrow Ltd. Its 473mL can features an image of John A., though at just 4.(% alcohol, one suspects this would have been mere breakfast fare for a man as notoriously "spirited" as Sir John. I also suspect that the distinction between a "Canadian Pale Ale" and an American one is largely illusory, though the can does indicate that Canuck barley and rye are used. Perhaps its the inclusion of rye that does the job?

When poured, Old Tomorrow proved itself to be a nearly clear copper ale shrouded in a hood of off-white head. Its nose has bitter elements as well as a caramel malt spine. The can uses adjectives like "velvety" and "silky smooth" which proved to be fairly apt descriptors of the mouthfeel. On the front end, I found the flavour to be a bit sparse, with a bit of malt but little else. There is, though, a good crackle of woodsy hops in the finish that saves the day. I was hoping for a touch of rye spiciness, but the classic Canadian grain doesn't really do much more than poke its head out from backstage.

While this beer has some cons, like its slightly sub-standard percentage and its anemic initial taste, the back end's bitterness, the smooth texture, and the historically endearing name all guarantee that I'll be revisiting this stuff from time to time.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Hopsta la Vista

Garish? Gaudy? Overwhelming? These are adjectives that popped into my mind when trying to describe the totality of the 473mL can from which pours Hopsta la Vista, an India pale ale from Toronto, Ontario's Longslice Brewery (though it should be said that I do like the stylized hop quite a bit). Really, if they'd stuck with the front panel, it would've looked pretty cool, but the back is too much for me. But this is a beer blog not a style blog, so let's move on to the task at hand.

H. la V. contains 6.5% alcohol. It's darker hued than I expected, bearing a swampy brown-orange tint. It's aroma is a tad mild, but it promises resinous hops and fruit notes. Dank and bitter, the flavour left me satisfied. The hops are well selected and used. There is a bit too much sweetness taking place in the front end, though, which make this IPA a touch syrupy. There are some raisin and malt notes, too, but in moderation.

Would I buy Hopsta la Vista again? Undoubtedly. Did it have everything that I want in an IPA? Unfortunately no. Still, it's a tasty, enjoyable Torontonian brew, and it hit more than enough of my preferred attributes to ensure I'll be back.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Viven Porter

The 330mL bottle of Viven Porter refers to "The art of Belgian brewing," five words that make me thirsty. At 7% alcohol, this dark ale isn't shy. It comes from the Brouwerij van Viven, which, if I'm reading the label correctly, is located in Sijsele Damme, Belgium.

VP is pretty, deepest brown, and covered with a committed haze of tan head. It's aroma is intriguing, blending leather, malt, and yeast elements. The flavour is wonderfully bitter, and built around a pleasant, yeasty corpus. There are leathery notes, as well as a metaphorical handful of espresso beans.

Also worth noting, Viven Porter was almost criminally cheap. In Ontario, a 330mL bottle of this tasty Belgian import set me back a measly $2.65! That's some damn good value! It's a pretty grand little porter too. Very flavourful. It left me with few complaints and much satisfaction.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Red Racer Pale Ale

Red Racer Pale Ale had been, for me, the elusive middle sibling in the Red Racer family of beers. The eldest, the IPA, has been available in Ontario for ages, while the baby, the ISA has been around since at least the summer. The Pale Ale only just turned up, and to get it I had to purchase a mixer case of 355mL cans--good thing I like the other two, because I got eight of 'em.

Note: I have also tried the Red Racer Pilsner (which I quite liked) and the Red Racer Craft White Ale (which I found to verge on the disagreeable).

Born in Surrey, British Columbia, Red Racer Pale is the child of Central City Brewers + Distillers. It contains a standard 5% alcohol and pours clear, copper, and topped with a thin off-white head. It has a nice aroma suspended between roasted malts and swampy citrus hops. With a winning flavour, I'm willing to overlook the slightly anemic booze bill. This stuff has nice balance between burnt caramel malts and satsuma bitterness that I found really agreeable. There isn't much of a captivating finish, but the initial taste goes down a treat.

This is a perfectly pleasant little beer. It's not adventurous or ambitious, but the brewers certainly didn't phone it in either. It manages to deliver satisfaction without wowing. Well made and well received. A fine anchor to the R.R. beer family.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Märzen Oktoberfest Lager

With the label of its 600mL bottle adorned with a variety of musical instruments and Teutonic regalia, Beau's Märzen Oktoberfest Lager gives every indication of honouring the German heritage of the style. At 5.5%, this tasty lager is a member of the "Farm Table Series" from Vankleek Hill, Ontario's reliable and remarkable Beau's All Natural Brewing Co.

A clear, auburn bottom fermenting beer, this märzen pours with a delicate covering of eggshell head. It's nose gives off timid notes of roasted malts and cereal grains. Where the aroma is shy, the flavour is boisterous. It contains the same notes, primarily roasted malts and grains, but to a significantly more vigourous degree.

I wonder what the relation is between this beer and another märzen Beau's produced a while ago called Night Märzen. They both have the same amount of booze and a similar look. It's been ages since I sampled the latter, so I can't really say whether they're the same beer or whether the former is a refined or tweaked version. Whatever its roots, this is a tasty and satisfying lager. It's a great fall beer and a well made one too.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Monk's Brew

Good lord! This is my 800th post. That's pretty rad!

Monk's Brew is a strong beer! I'd have called it a dubbel, except at 10% alcohol, it's too strong. Too dark to be a tripel, I'm going to call this a quadrupel. This stuff is brewed by the transient Danish brewer Mikkeller at De Proef Brouwerij in Lochristi-Hijfte, Belgium. Sold in 330mL bottles, this stuff has really compelling labels. It's a super swampy dark brown ale topped with a healthy tan head. It has a sweet nose with notes of raisin; very warm and malty. It's flavour doesn't have the high concentration of yeast notes that typify most Belgian beers, but it definitely has the booze.

Sweet but not syrupy, Monk's Brew has lots of dried fruit notes with an ever-so-slightly tangy finish. It tastes strong, but not diabolically so, and it's got sufficiently subtle hops to create balance. For a strong ale, Monk's Brew is surprisingly drinkable and has a restrained, thoughtful flavour. None too shabby.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Summer Storm Lager

From the windbag of names that is Uxbridge-Thornbury-Nobleton, Ontario comes Summer Storm Lager. This bottom-fermenting brew comes from the Barn Door Brewing Co. It's sold in 500mL bottles and contains just 4.8% alcohol. According to the label, this brew is lagered in the Kellerbier style.

I got it half right when I downed this beer. It wasn't summer, but there was a a rain storm going on (or at least it was raining a bit). It was a slightly hazy dull gold beer that poured with a decent topping of eggshell head. For a pale beer, this stuff had an assertively hoppy nose. It's still plenty grainy, but promised ample IBUs. The flavour had a nice balance between cereal and bitterness. There was a malt to hops progression with a fairly dry finish, with a pilsner-esque vibe.

In all, Summer Storm was a fine lager. There was a metallic note that I found was struck a bit too squarely, and there could have been a bit more booze, but this stuff amounted to a nice Ontario lager.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Ontario Wet Hop Pale Ale

From the wilds of Burlington, Ontario comes Ontario Wet Hop Pale Ale, a tasty little brew built by the Nickel Brook Brewing Co. According to the label on the jumbo 750mL bomber bottle, this gem is brewed using all Ontario ingredients and encompasses "Ontario's only native hop variety, freshly picked Bertwell hops," which are apparently added the day that they're picked.

At 5.3%, this brew is a cloudy brass-hued ale that is topped with a loose, but very thick eggshell head. There is excellent head retention here. The aroma is fairly mild, but features charismatic and bitter citrus notes. Similarly, there is a very subtle flavour--not meek, exactly, but definitely mellow--though there is some nice grapefruit action from start to finish.

This is a pretty nice little brew. I love the all Ontario pedigree, and this was my first brush with the Bertwell hop--certainly not my last. I could have done with a more robust flavour and a chunkier mouthfeel though.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Golden Beach Pale Ale

"Can you bottle a season?" asks the 473mL can of Golden Beach Pale Ale. The answer, as expressed in the next sentence, is "Probably not, it's far too big." Still, the folks at Sawdust City Brewing Co. have but together a fair effort at the impossible with their sunny, hazy, and bubbly golden brew. This American pale ale, born in Gravenhust, Ontario, contains a very modest 4.5% and just 25 IBUs. It pours with a loose and fluffy white head and exudes an aroma that is both fruity and hoppy. Light and crisp, there are lots of tropical notes as well as some hops pop, and a short, dry finish.

A cheery and mellow ale, Golden Beach is pleasant and sessionable. However, even for an APA, it's a little too thin and short on flavour. A beer with potential, but limited follow through.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Old School Stout

An altogether too common pet peeve of mine is marketing that associates beer with cars. In a world where so many people die from drunk driving, why would you put a car on a beer bottle? One such brew is Old School Stout. Obviously this minor irritation didn't stop me from buying the stuff--I just wanted to go on record saying that it irks me.

O.S.S. is a British Colombian brew made by Tree Brewing Co. out of Kelowna. According to the 650mL bottle, it contains 5.5% alcohol and 40 IBUs. A coal black stout, O.S.S. pours with a downy layer of tan head. It has a potently roasty nose that doubles up on cocoa and molasses. Neither too sweet nor too bitter, the flavour has mocha elements and a dusting of hops, giving it very nice balance.

The bottle calls this a strong ale. I've said before that I don't think 5.5% should earn a brew the "strong" descriptor. This one would really have benefited by a touch more hooch too. Heat this stuff up to 7 or 7.5% and it'd really bring out the flavour. As is, it's a nice beer. Tastes good, drinks smoothly, and smells tasty. It's insufficiently assertive, but that isn't much to its detriment.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.