Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Alpha Bomb IPA

At the end of a challenging work week, I found myself craving hops, and plenty of them. Lo and behold, I discovered a 473mL can of Alpha Bomb IPA in my local store, ready for my grubby mitts. Brewed in Kanata, Ontario by Big Rig Brewery, this hoppy number contains 6.6% alcohol and, according to the green and silver can, boasts "big grapefruit and tropical fruit hop character." 

In my glass, the beer proved to be a hazy orange-brown grog, and poured with a hefty layer of creamy head. This unfiltered IPA was cloudy and desirable, with a decidedly fruity scent--bitter, but with loads of the promised tropical notes. To my tongue, this little rascal was more fruity than it was bitter. It had some IBUs to be sure, but not enough to set the dial spinning like Boneshaker by Amsterdam or even Muskoka's Mad Tom. Along with the hops came something gently floral, which I found to be a welcome addition. The finish had some hops but was well balanced.

Having tried a few brews from Big Rig, I feel safe in saying that their Alpha Bomb is their superior ale. It's quite lovely. Not exactly the hop bomb I wanted, but well constructed and tasty.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Luck & Charm Oatmeal Stout

A dry stout, Luck & Charm Oatmeal Stout comes from Maclean's Ales in Hanover, Ontario. Sold in really cool 500mL bottles that feature a charm bracelet, L&C is a 5.6% alcohol elixir. It's a charcoal-coloured ale that pours under a lively tan head.

L&C has a mild scent--sweet and slightly grainy, with some malt notes. The flavour is a bit more robust, though still quite light and delicate for a stout. The progression moves from sweet and malty out front to a slightly coffee-accented bitterness in the finish. While the flavour is quite light, the mouthfeel has a bit more depth, with a creamy, smooth nature.

Maclean's Luck & Charm is a nice, gentle ale with a solid strength and a refined flavour. While I'd have liked something a bit more robust, this beer doesn't taste at all anemic--it's just mellow.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Starke Pils

Billed as a "traditional style pilsner", Starke Pils is a member of the Amsterdam Brewery's Seasonal Series. This Torontonian lager checks in at 5.2% alcohol. Sold in 473mL cans, the stuff is clear and bright gold, with a healthy white head.

Mown grass and grain are the chief notes on the nose. The flavour follows suit, with dry, grainy elements. The mouthfeel is dry and crisp, leading into a modestly bitter finish.

Amsterdam Brewery is one of the biggest players in the Toronto craft beer scene. Their beers run the gamut from really exceptional (Boneshaker, Detour, and Fracture) to pretty ordinary (Blonde and 416). Their seasonal pilsner, Starke Pils, is closer to the former than the latter. It's flavourful and well made, with few downsides. It's a good summer brew, and decently strong too.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Full City Coffee Porter

Opaque and black, Full City Coffee Porter pours with a dense tan head. At 5.5%, this London, Ontario ale comes in 500mL bottles. It's brewed by Forked River Brewing Company.

This dark ale has a gorgeous java aroma, built atop a sweet, malty foundation. Similarly lovely is its velvety smooth mouthfeel. The flavour is fine, too, though not quite as rich as the nose. It's got a hearty dose of slightly bitter coffee, as well as loads of malt.

Nice beer, good strength, with serious coffee elements, Full City is a quality coffee porter. I'd have liked to have gotten some details about the provenance of the coffee, though. Seems like a missed opportunity.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Kirby's Kölsch

Kirby's Kölsch is an Ontarian Kölsch-style ale brewed with a measure of peach juice. From Bracebridge's Muskoka Brewery, the stuff is gently hazy, straw gold, and topped with an extensively fluffy white head. Sold in bright orange cans containing 473mL of the 4.6% suds, this beer has a relaxed motif--there's a hammock and a lake right on the can.

The beer has a potent grainy aroma that only hints at the inclusion of peach juice in the brew. This beer really didn't taste as I expected it to. I was anticipating a juicy, artificial peachiness. However, I underestimated the skill and subtlety of the brewers at Muskoka. Instead of saccharine and overpowering, this stuff has a peach flavour like a barely audible whisper. Instead, the grainy kölsch flavours are the driving force, leading to a crisp, sensible finish, built around just enough hops to keep things balanced.

This beer is the antithesis of a pubescent teen layering on spritz after spritz of noxious body spray--it uses peach juice sparingly and with a disciplined hand. A little sweet early on, but not worth complaining about. This beer won't necessarily enter my regular repertoire, but I'm confident that I'll revisit it before the warm days are gone, and I'll hope to see it again next summer.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Hoppyum IPA

According to the 12oz bottle, the recipe for brewing up some Hoppyum IPA is pretty basic: "Take some hoppy. Add some yum." Sounds good to me! Yet another gift from the legendary KC (best pal a beer blogger could ask for!), this beaut came highly recommended by a gal who knows her bitter ales.

This elegant clear amber-gold ale comes from Winston-Salem in North Carolina. It's brewed by Foothills Brewing. At 6.25% and 78 IBUs, booze is on the mid to low end of the India pale ale spectrum, while the hops level sits mid to high. From beneath the dense fog of off-white head emerged a potent nose. Juicy orange notes dancing cheek to cheek with sticky hops made for quite the inviting scent. Southern citrus notes could also be found in the flavour, which was nicely balanced and built to a mildly resinous finish.

Hoppyum proved to be an upper echelon IPA. I'd have asked for a bit more booze, but the flavour, with its rich orange and lemon leanings, was just lovely.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Granville Island India Session Ale

Granville Island Brewery is a Molson property, and one that delivers a real mixed bag of brews. A really great Winter Ale, a lousy Maple Cream Ale, and just fair pale ale and lager. But I keep going back to the well, this time with their India Session Ale. At 4.6%, this stuff comes in azure 473mL cans. The beer within is a rusty brown ale, topped with a fuzzy cream head.

Nice balanced through the nose, with citrus and evergreen hops, and a decent malt profile, this beer has a comparable flavour--especially in the malty character, that adds a bit of value.

For a low alcohol brew, this stuff is full-bodied and agreeable. It's not remarkable, but it is genuinely well made. The kind of suds I'll be certain to revisit on the reg.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

root of evil

root of evil is billed as a "preprohibition lager". It's a 4.5% amber-gold lager from Ottawa, Ontario's Whiprsnapr Brewing Co. In spite of the irritatingly incorrect spelling of its name, Whiprsnapr's 473mL cans feature a clever logo using the square root symbol. The lager pours with a healthy fog of loose off-white head.

ROE is malty through the nose, with big grainy notes and a bit of sweetness. The flavour is punchy, but not entirely to my taste. It tastes primarily grainy, but has a curious down note that put me in mind of some of the gluten-free, sorghum beers I've tried. This curious taste lasted in to the finish and left me a bit nonplussed.

For a low alcohol lager, root of evil has a jumbo flavour, which is definitely to its credit. The fact that I wasn't wild about that flavour isn't a great feature though. I appreciate Whiprsnapr's innovation, and I'll keep my eye out for more of their brews, but their preprohibition lager wasn't for me. As always, though, that I wasn't mad about it doesn't mean you won't like it.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Red Devil

Red Devil hails from Simcoe, Ontario, where it's brewed by The Blue Elephant Brewing Company. It's an auburn ale with 5.1% alcohol and a handsome appearance--ruddy brown, clear, and covered with an eggshell head. According to the 473mL can, "Local tastes better", which is a sentiment I can usually get behind.

The beer has a malty scent, with notes of butterscotch and sweet grains. Sweeter than most auburn ales, Red Devil keeps up the aggressive butterscotch elements through the flavour, along with roasted malt notes. There is little by way of bitterness to keep things balanced, but fortunately the flavour is agreeable.

This beer had a lot to its benefit, but ultimately, it was too sweet. I was also mindful that the butterscotch taste might be the product of diacetyl. It looked pretty and tasted fine, but I won't be rushing back to Simcoe for another can anytime soon.

Rating: 6.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Rickard's Red IPA

As I'm sure I have mentioned before, one of my favourite traditions involves the purchase of beer for the folks that help you move. One of my dearest friends needed help moving a sofa, and while I did it because I love him and would do anything for him, I also expected ale in recompense. My pal lived up to his end of the bargain in spades, and one of the brews I received as part of the exchange was one I'd not yet reviewed: Rickard's Red IPA.

Rickard's is a craft beer label belonging to macro brewing giant Molson Coors. Its Red IPA is a 5.7% alcohol grog sold in 473mL cans. It's a pleasant looking tawny red ale that pours clear, with a blanket of eggshell head. 

Brewed in a variety of cities across Canada, the Red IPA had an evergreen hops nose, backed by caramel malts. Its flavour was coppery, initially, with roasted malt notes. Behind that came a wellspring of hops of the woodland variety.

Rickard's has long been a beer that I consume in the absence of something more palatable and locally-brewed. Specifically, their Red Ale is an agreeably forgettable potion that inhabits sports bars and chain restaurants, serving their role when there are no micro alternatives available. True to form, but slightly more interesting, Rickard's Red IPA is is a relatively low octane version of a red India that could do in a pinch. It should be said that this ale is head and shoulders above Rickard's' other offerings, but also a weaker brew than the average craft red I. For a macro brew, this stuff is solid and enjoyable, but compared with the unrestrained hops blast and heady percentage of a micro take on the style, it doesn't fare as well. However, if faced with this stuff in a sports bar with a limited selection and where I intended to watch a big game, I'd select it without a second thought.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Thomas Mullins Pale Ale

During a recent jaunt to Simcoe, Ontario, the Bitter Wife and I ducked into a little brew pub and bottle shop named The Blue Elephant Craft Brew House. Other than a tasty buffalo chicken in my belly, I left with a sextet of cans--two each of three brews.

The first one I sampled had a slightly inscrutable label. It was handwritten and appeared to say Thomas Mullins Pale Ale, but that might have been an error on my part, since the name was largely smudged out. Not smudged, though was the 5.1% and the fact that this stuff was brewed on August 12--I bought it on August 13!

Whatever it's called, my beer poured clear and golden, with a fluffy white head. It looked like a macro lager, but smelled like a grassy and mild ale--sweet, fresh, and faintly bitter. The flavour proved to be more floral and pastoral than dry and bitter, which wasn't what I wanted, but served me well enough all the same. 

Very light, mellow, and chill, Thomas Mullins (?) was an agreeable, if innocuous, piece of brewing. Extremely crushable, this'd be a fine ale to bring to a BBQ or a house party. Not short on flavour exactly, but very mild and almost fragile. I'd have loved a bit more hops ballast to crisp it out a bit though, as it lacked punch/bite through the finish. Pleasant, but rather forgettable, this stuff was an ale with an emphasis on the pale.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Home Sweet Home

Brewed with honey malt and vanilla beans and packed into a 650mL bottle, Home Sweet Home fairly jumped off the shelf and into my arms. This wheat ale, from Whitby, Ontario's 5 Paddles Brewing Co., contains 5.5% alcohol.

Home Sweet Home is a very pretty beer--brassy, slightly hazy, and topped with a blanket of white head. It is possessed of a sweet and smooth nose that blends honey with fresh grains. Notes of vanilla become more evident in the flavour, which is extremely sweet and a bit syrupy.

This beer is unique, particularly as a flagship brew. It has a nice, mellow vibe that is complimented by its appearance and folksy name. My biggest complaint has to do with over-sweetness, but really, when you're dealing with a vanilla-honey ale, sweetness is probably to be expected. The beer tasted fresh and pleasant. It's worth a trip to a local beer vendor.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Naughty Otter.

My lil' brudder left me an assortment of beers in exchange for minding his cats over the Labour Day weekend. One of them was a hazy, honey-toned lager named Naughty Otter. With a healthy 5.2% alcohol, this brew comes from the Gananoque Brewing Co., of Gananoque, Ontario. The 473mL can describes the suds as the brewery's "flagship beer"; one that's about "relaxing because you want to and enjoying life at your own pace."

I found N.O. to have a big and interesting nose; one that marries fresh grains and sweet fruit notes. The flavour was sweet, but also fairly yeasty, giving the  beer a vaguely Belgian feel. Fruity notes abound--it had a slight berry taste to me, or at least something reminiscent of berries. At 24 IBUs, this stuff had some hops to it for a pale lager, but not as much as a traditional pilsner.

For some inexplicable reason, I didn't have particularly high hopes for Naughty Otter--might just be that the packaging didn't speak to me. However, I found myself really enjoying the stuff. It is too sweet and full for serious session drinking, but a can or two goes down nicely, and with an engagingly unusual flavour. Pretty good spin on the often predictable pale lager style.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Coriolis Effect

From the crafty beersmiths at Sawdust City Brewing Co. in Gravenhurst comes a tart little Berlinerweiss named Coriolis Effect. Sold in garishly orange 473mL cans, CE is a cloudy and extremely pale-hued beer--it has the pale yellow, verging on green tint of pear flesh. It poured with a short-lived cap of white head.

With its sour, almost briny nose, CE sure smells like a Berliner. And like a classic Berliner, CE is low in booze, at just 3.5%, but big in tart flavours. It's funky with yeast, and built around lemon and unripened berry elements. For aftertaste, this stuff is quite abrupt--there one second and then gone.

I've only a limited experience with the style, but I thought that this Ontarian effort at the sour wheat beer was pretty engaging. I understand that traditionally Berlinerweiss is consumed with a fruit syrup--something in a raspberry or cherry would really make this stuff take off. As with all sour beers I've tried, I wouldn't bring a vat of this brew to a party, but as a first beer after a longer-than-usual Friday at work, it clicked nicely.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.