Friday, 31 March 2017


Rype is billed as a "golden citrus rye pale ale". It comes from the north side of town in Fredericton, New Brunswick, where it's brewed by TrailWay Brewing Co. I purchased myself a pair of 473mL cans of the 5% alcohol ale fresh from the brewery.

The beer proved to be a hazy, slightly milky orange grog. Through a thin covering of white head comes a very agreeably juicy, fruit aroma. The flavour kicks off with a bright tangerine zest. The back end remains citrus-tinged, but takes a slightly hoppier turn.

The beer has a lovely taste profile and I like it a lot, but there are two modest downsides. Firstly, the mouthfeel is a bit on the thin side of the ledger. Secondly, there wasn't quite the degree of rye warmth that I'd have liked: I don't need my rye ales to crackle, but I'd have liked a bit more of a rye reminder--a "ryeminder"--than the hearty grain is present. All told, Rype is a very good beer. Fredericton's beer scene is taking off, and, if this stuff is any indication, TrailWay will be joining the leading lights in the city's brewing community.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Bricks and Mortar

Show me a 650mL bottle of a coffee porter brewed in Ontario and I'll show you a damned easy sale. Such was the case with Bricks and Mortar, a coffee porter brewed by Toronto's Left Field Brewery. I saw it, and I bought it. No hesitation at all.

At 6% alcohol, this dark ale was a near black with handsome amber highlights. It poured with a bedeviling layer of sudsy, cream-hued head. According to the bottle, this beer was brewed with freshly roasted coffee beans from a local Toronto roastery: Pilot Coffee Roasters. The result is a rich java bouquet, complimented nicely by roasted malts. The flavour is also coffee-fueled, with both bitter espresso and mellow mocha represented in equal measures. While the coffee notes are the star, the dark beer flavours that make up the foundation are also worthy of praise.

I couldn't come up with much by way of critique of this beer, other than the fact that, unlike Left Field's other offerings, this one lacked a baseball theme. One of the better coffee/beer hybrids I've ever tasted.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Smoke on the Porter

Smoke on the Porter is, as you'd expect, a smoked porter. It's a Torontonian ale, built by the raccoon-mad folks at Bandit Brewery. Sold in sharp 500mL bottles, this ale contains the standard 5% alcohol--a little light for the style, perhaps, but adequate.

SotP poured with a dismally thin layer of off-white head--a bit discouraging. If I had to guess, I'd say that this stuff had been sitting in the cooler at Bandit's bottle shop for a bit longer than it should have been. It's aroma was quite inviting though, with smoky malt notes and a whiff of leather. As for flavour, malt was the driving force, backed with a smoky tang that offered a bit of mystery. In terms of mouthfeel, SotP was fairly thin, which wasn't quite to my pleasure. It's finish was agreeable, though, with a blend of lingering smoke and bitter molasses.

My forays into Bandit's offerings have been largely positive, but I was a bit nonplussed by Smoke on the Porter. It had some delightful elements, but the overall product was a bit wanting. Still, I'd be willing to try it again, lest I picked up an unrepresentative bottle. For a smoked beer, there wasn't the assertive campfire warmth that I was pulling for. Coupled with a thin mouthfeel, this is a beer that, though promising, needs some fine tuning.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Smuttynose Baltic Porter

Smuttynose Baltic Porter (not to be confused with the Smuttynose Robust Porter) is a strong beer (9% alcohol) that comes in convenient four-packs of 355mL bottles. Don't drink a four-pack in one sitting. Just don't. This beautiful dark ale comes from Hampton, New Hampshire and its Smuttynose Brewing Company. It's an obsidian-dark ale with a lush, thick tan head.

SBP has an understated aroma with a roasted malt spine, fleshed out with notes of figs. For flavour, there is a complicated blend of bitter molasses, dark fruit, and tobacco, warmed by every drop of that 9% booze.

When I started my review brew, it was refrigerator cold and already complex, but as I sipped, the flavour gained layers at an interest rate that approached criminal. This is a beer to savour--not one that should be rushed. I paired it with an after dinner bourbon on the rocks and a quarter of NBA basketball, and it left me hella mellow and peaceful. A strong beer that speaks softly. Highly recommended.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Symington Saison

Symington Saison hails from Toronto. It's assembled by Katalyst Brewing Company and sold in spiffy 473mL cans. At 5.5%, it has a bit of play, and according to the ingredients list, there is a little taste of rye grain in the stuff.

The Belgian-style saison is a cloudy yellow-orange number that pours with a moderate covering of off-white head. It has a piquant aroma that is both yeast and nicely spiced, and a flavour that transitions from grainy to tart, with a side trip through rye, clove, and caraway.

I found this to be a very agreeable saison, with a rich flavour and a decent strength. Though there are many pluses, it should also be said that the front end of this beer is too sweet, and the mouthfeel insufficiently ebullient. I'll be keeping an eye out for more brews from Katalyst. They show promise.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Starter

The Starter is billed as a "light IPA with notes of citrus fruits". The 4.8% alcohol brew comes from Rockwood, Ontario, where it is nurtured by Four Fathers Brewing Co. It's sold in 473mL cans that uses a cute sports analogy to describe the liquid within. That liquid proved to be an attractive auburn brew with a dense off-white helmet of head. Much darker and richer looking than I expected.

With a modest bouquet that suggests citric bitterness, I found myself salivating at the prospect of trying this stuff. Its got a nice, sizable flavour for its size, well outstripping the aroma with notes of grapefruit riding high atop a roasted malt podium. It finishes dryly, with a hoppy crackle.

Having never sampled anything from Four Fathers, I had no idea what to expect from The Starter. Turns out, it was really quite good. A beer I'll doubtlessly be adding to my repertoire in the months to come.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Charlie Wells Dry Hopped Lager

When I cracked my 500mL can of Charlie Wells Dry Hopped Lager, it fairly crackled. The lager within decanted beautifully--clear and gold, under a bright white head. Brewed in Bedford, England by the establishment of Charles Wells Ltd., this little number contained 4.7% alcohol.

The beer had an unassuming bouquet--slightly grainy and dryly bitter--but nothing too assertive. The flavour, too, proved to be a bit on the mild side. Grainy first, with only a touch of the promised hops, manifested as a floral charge that was admittedly pleasant, but nowhere near the bombast I was salivating over.

Truthfully, this dry-hopped lager had only the IBU heft of a Czech pilsner. Though it might have been hoppy by U.K. standards, it didn't offer the jolt I was counting on. I thought that this was, mostly, a fine beer, but if you're gonna boast about your hops, you'd better deliver.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Sinister Minister

I'd never heard of Ridgeway, Ontario when I purchased a 500mL bottle of Sinister Minister, but now I think I might like to visit, if only to visit Brimstone Brewing Co., the maker of the 7% alcohol IPA.

Aesthetically, I dig both Sinister Minister's hazy, burnished copper colour and the label, which depicts heavily tattooed hands clasped in prayer. The beer pours with a lusty off-white foam that lingered for a respectable period. To my nose, SM waltzed with notes of tropical fruit and a sticky bitterness. The flavour was resinous, faintly fruity, and garnished with a burnt sugar accent. The finish was murky, bitter, and assertively punctuated.

One of the more original Ontario IPAs I've sampled in a while, Sinister Minister has the makings of something quite excellent. It has some rough edges, but to my mind, those quirks are what gives it character. I'll definitely be buying this one again, and keeping my ear to the ground for the bottle-on-bottle tinkle of more Brimstone offerings.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Doc Perdue's Bobcat West Coast Red Ale

According to the legend set out on 473mL cans of Doc Perdue's Bobcat West Coast Red Ale, the eponymous doctor was the veterinarian in Blythe, Ontario in the latter decades of the 19th Century. The man had a fondness for drink that once manifested itself in his returning to a watering hole, after having been cut off, with an ornery bobcat, and threatening to unleash it on the proprietors if he were not promptly served his preferred libation. Local colour--I love it!

Doc Perdue comes from Blythe Brewing & Distilling Inc. (seemingly also known as Cowbell Brewing Co.) It's a 5.5% alcohol red ale that hazily pours ruddy copper, with a thick, cream-toned head. At just 30 IBUs, the "West Coast" in the name had me fearing that Blythe and Co. might be a bit of a liberty.

Dr. Perdue is an ale with a healthy nose comprised of citrus notes and roasted malts. Its flavour is similarly situated, with a modest twist of lime and grapefruit, settled comfortably atop a malty base. Had I not seen it in print, I'd never have believed that this brew had just 30 IBUs--it gives the impression of a much more bitter offering.

All told, I found this flavourful red ale to be quite solid. In fact, it had a slightly spicy note that almost made me think it was a rye ale. I've tried (and enjoyed) Absent Landlord from the same brewer, but I found that Doc Perdue was a considerably stronger offering from a brewery that is now well on my radar.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Aromatherapy American IPA

The 473mL can of Aromatherapy American IPA is extremely eye-catching. It features a gorgeous image of a hop. One look and I had to have it, despite the fact that the can, at $4.50, seems grievously overpriced.

Aromatherapy comes from Ottawa, Ontario's Beyond the Pale Brewing. It's a not particularly strong or bitter for an American-style IPA, at just 6.5% and 55 IBUs. The beer is hazy and golden orange, draped under a fluffy white tarpaulin of head. As you'd expect from a brew named Aromatherapy, this stuff smells glorious! It has a slightly tart and significantly bitter citrus nose. The scent is replicated closely in the flavour, with juicy grapefruit and tangerine notes. The finish is dry and, despite the modest 55 IBU listing, quite bitter.

While I'd have liked this beer to be a bit stronger and about $1.50 cheaper, I found it to be a seriously agreeable ale. It's playful and flavourful.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

True North All Natural Inukshuk IPA

If you buy a sixer of 341mL bottles of True North All Natural Inukshuk IPA, allow me to give you a free tip: the thin cardboard six-pack holder is garbage and if you're not particularly cautious, you're gonna lose your beer and your mind.

That said, Inukshuk IPA, from Magnotta Brewing in Vaughn, Ontario, is a decent enough India pale. It's fairly low-test, at just 6.5%, but it definitely looks the part, with a handsome brass colour, hazy, with a thick layer of white head. The nose is a tad confusing, with some pilsner-like notes beneath an evergreen and grapefruit top note. Taste-wise, Inukshuk IPA starts sweetly, with some pleasant ale malts, before ending on a marginally bitter note, assisted by a modest hops profile.

Inukshuk IPA is, as full-size IPAs go, close to a session beer. It's lower-than-average strength makes it relatively easy to consume, and it's mild flavour assists in the task. However, for these very same reasons, it is not an elite or upper tier IPA. It could use a touch more booze and considerably more direction to get near that level. Still, if I saw this stuff on tap at a pub, I'd gratefully revisit it.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Shinnicked Stout

Shinnicked Stout originates in Bracebridge, Ontario, where it is crafted by the team at Muskoka Brewery. According to the 473mL can, this little stout is unfiltered, checks in at 5.2% alcohol, and is brewed using Lumberjack coffee from Muskoka Roastery. As well, the can taught me some Ontario cottage country slang: apparently "shinnicked" is the chilly feeling that comes from jumping into a cold lake. On to the beer proper!

Shinnicked Stout proved to be a heavy brown colour with amber highlights. It poured with a loose cap of tan head. With a fulfilling, mocha heavy nose, the stuff had me salivating for a sip. The flavour was perhaps not as engaging as the aroma, but it was rich in roasted malt and coffee elements. The mouthfeel was very creamy, though also a bit on the thin side. Shinnicked finished decent dose of bitterness.

While Shinnicked lacks the cache of Myskoka's better widely available brews (Mad Tom and Twice As Mad Tom), it was a pretty satisfactory beer in its own right. Ontario seems to be flooded with coffee stouts and porters these days (good winter drinkin') and you could do a lot worse than to pick up a couple of cans of this little brew.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Précaris Quadrocinno

Précaris Quadrocinno is a Belgian quadrupel infused with coffee. At 9.5%, it has serious potency and heat. A dark brown ale under a tan head, Quadrocinno hails from Oedelem, Belgium. It's produced by Vliegende Paard Brouwers and comes in attractive, hefty 330mL bottles.

In spite of my expectation that the beer would have an assertive coffee scent, the nose was actually quite yeasty and boozy, with only a sprinkling of java. Likewise, the flavour has only a whisper of coffee, and is instead dominated by sweet, strong notes of roasted malt and dried fruit. However, coffee is in evidence at the finish, albeit subtly.

Very strong and sweet, Précaris Quadrocinno makes a lovely after dinner beer--with some strong cheese or a chocolate dessert, it would really sing. I was a tad disappointed that the coffee element didn't hold up to the boldness of the underlying quad, but pleased to find that the underlying quad was pretty good.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Sunday, 5 March 2017


Half-Truth is a session IPA from Toronto's Halo Brewery. I bought a 500mL bottle from the west-end brewery during a post-Christmas visit with a couple of pals. At only 4.5% alcohol, this hazy, pale golden grog is a true session beer. It poured with a lush ecru foam, through which emerged a modestly tangy citrus nose.

In terms of flavour, Half-Truth is moderate, just. It lacks the bursting fruitiness or arid dryness of some of Ontario's finest sessions. However, in that subtleness, there are some good qualities worth crowing about. For instance, for the style, Half-Truth has a degree of balance that is uncommon--typically session IPAs tend to go full bore to achieve maximum hoppiness with a minimum of alcohol. This stuff plays its bitterness a bit closer to its vest, which makes for a slightly rounder low-velocity ale than the average session India.

While I'd have liked Half-Truth to arm itself with a bit more of a hops arsenal, I definitely respect the moderation exercised by the brewers at Halo. This is a tasty beer that, while not a hop bomb in micro, is mindful and carefully built. Plus, it does still have a bit of the short, dry finish that I wanted to find.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Friday, 3 March 2017


At just 4.8% alcohol, Go To IPA is a session ale from Escondido, California's Stone Brewing Co. it comes in sharp 473mL cans that describe their contents as "a vibrant hop-bursted session IPA."

The beer is bright yellow-gold. I found it to be a bit over-carbonated, resulting in an extremely thick and sudsy white head that made pouring a chore. Through that fog of foam came a perky citrus aroma and a healthy hops profile. It tastes crisp, with copious notes of juicy grapefruit.  Behind that came a dry and hoppy finish. Over-carbonation reared its head again in the mouthfeel, resulting in a fizzier brew than I'd have preferred.

Go To IPA is a good, sessionable pint; however, with a little less carbonation, it could be an excellent one. The hops level and flavour are admirable, but some of the magic is lost because of distracting texture.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Continuity Baltic Porter

Despite some egghead mumbo jumbo about Gestalt continuity on the label, I decided to pick up a 500mL bottle of Continuity Baltic Porter, a nice dark ale from Guelph, Ontario's Stone Hammer Brewing. The brew was a solid 7.8% alcohol, balanced against just 34 IBUs. It poured blackly with auburn highlights beneath a thick tawny head.

Continuity had a brawny nose, rich with dried fruit notes and a touch of fruitcake. The flavour was an attention catching jumble of tastes--raisin, coffee, leather, and well-roasted malt were the chief elements that I picked up. CBP finished sweetly, but with a ripple of hops. By the end, the booze bill was also starting to assert itself.

According to the slogan printed in the label, "continuity" is a noun defined as "the unbroken and consistent existence of great beer over time." Lofty stuff. Fortunately, this Baltic porter did approach greatness, with its stalwart, never showy flavour, and its high percentage. It could have been a bit more bitter--that would have given the finish a bit of verve. Still and all, CBP was a really nice dark beer from one of Ontario's better below-the-radar brewers.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.