Thursday, 29 June 2017

Old Tomorrow Honey Ginger Shandy

It's not really beer, but I had a 473mL can of Old Tomorrow Honey Ginger Shandy, so I decided to give it a whirl. According to the can, this "flavoured malt beverage" is an "easy drinking beer cocktail". The ingredients list shows "beer", as well as Muskoka Springs Ginger Ale, as well as natural lemon and honey flavour.

Brewed (or concocted) in Toronto, Ontario, by Old Tomorrow Ltd., this low alcohol (3%) beverage is a nice, clear golden liquid with a decent white head. It has a sweet tea nose with a fair measure of citrus zing. It's taste has almost nothing to do with beer, but honey, lemon, and a touch of ginger are all well represented, particularly at the front end. The finish is where things break down a bit: it finishes thin, sweet, and a bit artificial.

Though I am unlikely to buy Old Tomorrow's Honey Ginger Shandy again for myself, it is the kind of drink that lots of people would enjoy on a hot day. A bit too sweet to be genuinely refreshing, but the notes of honey and ginger were pleasant enough and very inoffensive. The Bitter Wife certainly enjoyed it, and I'm not about to criticize that!

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Accelerated Stall Maverick's IIPA

I'm not wild about breweries giving their products two names. As a reviewer, I find it baffling. Such is the case with a new imperial IPA from Barrie, Ontario's Barnstormer Brewing Co. The beer is called either Accelerated Stall, Maverick's IIPA, or Accelerated Stall Maverick's IIPA. God, it might even be called Maverick's IIPA Accelerated Stall! See what I mean? What's a beer scribe to do? I'll tell you what: I'm going to call the beer "Maverick's", and the folks at Barnstormer should be grateful I didn't dock them points for this nonsense. End of rant.

Maverick's is sold in 473mL cans that are nearly as busy as those that house Flight Deck, another Barnstormer product. The beer inside  checks in at a pretty substantial 8.4% alcohol and a ballsy 80 IBUs. Under a durable and dense off-white foam, Maverick's proved to be a hazy golden orange ale. For so strong a beer, the nose was almost dainty, with subtle hops notes and a leaning toward citrus. Less dainty was the flavour, which also had citrus leanings (orange rind and grapefruit), but managed to contain some sweetness, much booze, and a bit of resin. The finish wasn't powerful, but it did definitely linger.

As IIPAs go, Maverick's 80 IBUs represented a substantial integer, but not one that translated into obvious bitterness to my palate. This was as approachable as an imperial IPA is likely to get, and would be the kind of brew I'd recommend to a recent craft beer convert with a hankerin' for something stronger. That's not to say the beer isn't good--quite the contrary! I liked it a fair bit. It's just not as gum-wrinklingly bitter or as unconscionably strong as some of its peers. A fine tasting beer that fits somewhere between a highly charged IPA and a less-than-obliterating IIPA.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Brown Van Kölsch-Style Ale

Brown Van Brewing's Kölsch, or more appropriately their Kölsch-Style Ale is a 4.8%, 23 IBU number from Ottawa, Ontario. It's a crystal clear straw gold ale hat pours with a slim cover of white head.

This kölsch-style brew has the slightly sweet aroma of toasty grain. The flavour profile meanders from sweet and grainy opening notes toward the finish line: a short, dry, and unexpectedly bitter back end.

Because of the sweet to bitter progression and the curtness of the finish, this beer manages to have exemplary crispness without sacrificing much flavour. While perhaps not as style-typical as some of the classics from Cologne, I find Brown Van's version of the tricky little brew to be a novel and noteworthy take. A bit more booze would be nice, but with its current strength, clarity, and brightness, this is the kind of craft beer that might turn heads among the macro lager crowd.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Friday, 23 June 2017

3-Point Saison

3-Point Saison is a farmhouse ale from Collingwood, Ontario's Collingwood Brewery. It's sold in 473mL cans and contains a pretty substantial 7% alcohol, as well as a modest 20 IBUs.

The beer is hazy and dull gold, with a fluffy white foam on top. It has a fragrance that is, at times, yeasty, tart, and briny, with sour apple notes. The flavour proved significantly less tart than the nose, instead featuring a somewhat unforeseen sweetness at the front end, with some banana esters a bit more suited to a witbier. The back end was, as expected, yeasty and dry.

While 3-Point wasn't quite as effervescent as many saisons, it was rife with wild yeast, giving homage to its Belgian-style roots. At 7%, there was more booze than the average Ontarian take on the saison. I enjoyed this brew while I was watching the Toronto Raptors kick the crap out of the Milwaukee Bucks in game 5 of their playoff series, so I was predisposed to like it, but I genuinely thought it was a good, not great, beer. Would definitely buy again.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Monty's Aged Ryed Ale

Monty's Aged Ryed Ale is named in honour of Jon Montgomery, the Canadian skeleton racer who won a gold medal and celebrated by chugging beer in a scene of patriotic glory. The beer, constructed by the Old Tomorrow Ltd., comes from Toronto, Ontario. According to the 473mL can, this 6.2% Ale is aged with oak that has been infused with rye whisky (100% Canadian of course--though it doesn't divulge which one).

Monty's is a swampy dull orange grog. It pours with a surprisingly bright white head and has a extremely sweet aroma--woody, with some vanilla notes. The flavour is also quite sweet, with clover elements and a fairly woody body. There is little bitterness to this ale, which makes it a good after dinner candidate, but also leaves it a bit unbalanced. There is a touch of whisky at the tail end that was warm and wily.

I thought that Monty's was a pretty innovative little brew. The oaked rye aging process made for an interesting taste profile, though I maintain that the beer was too sweet and could have benefited from a few more handfuls of hops. Still, I liked it and I'll buy it again.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Geronimo IPA

According to the 473mL can, Walkerville Brewery's Geronimo IPA is named in honour of the boat belonging to bootlegger Henry Low. Apparently the good ship Geronimo was seized by the authorities, but returned to Canadian shores due to a storm. Appropriately, Walkerville Brewery does its brewing in the border town of Windsor, Ontario.

The IPA Geronimo is a 6.3% alcohol brew. It's golden orange in colour and pours with a lustrous off-white head. It has a vibrant aroma that's resinous, bitter, and a bit juicy. It tastes bold, with grapefruit and swampy hops elements. However, the big flavour was a bit overpowering for the relatively thin mouthfeel.

Geronimo is a tasty and flavourful Ontario India Pale. It lacked something in terms of body, and I'd have liked another half a percentage point of booze or so, but I thought it was a nice lil brew.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Nottabottle Belgian Pale Ale

Nottabottle Belgian Pale Ale comes, as one might imagine, in a 473mL can. It's a lightweight 4.5% alcohol pale ale from Peterborough, Ontario's Smithavens Brewing Company.

The beer is faintly hazy, brightly carbonated, and has a ruddy orange hue. It pours with a thick white head that faded fast. It has a tart, fruity fragrance that has a potent yeasty bent. The flavour is sweeter than expected, particularly initially, with banana notes. Behind that, the ale is yeasty and only a little bitter.

According to the info on the can, Nottabottle contains just 20 IBUs and is made using an abbey ale yeast. I'd have liked a bit more oomph from this brew, and a tarter flavour. However, I enjoyed it and I'll certainly buy it again.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Thursday, 15 June 2017


Billed as a tripel with wildflower honey, RGBee comes from the Halo Brewery. A Torontonian ale with some heft, this re-imagining of the Belgian-style contains a stern 8.7% alcohol and comes in 500mL bottles.

Initially, the beer poured extremely clear, which was an unusual characteristic for a tripel-style ale. However, my second pour seemed to dislodge some sediment and resulted in a considerably more cloudy second half. Additionally, it proved to be substantially carbonated and occupied space beneath a fuzzy white head.

I found RGBee's nose to be a complicated affair, encompassing malt, honey sweetness, and a whiff of copper. The beer tasted extremely sweet--a product both of its boozy nature and of the use of honey in the brewing process. While there was definitely some Belgian-inspired yeastiness, I found it to be rather understated, taking a backseat to the sugary qualities that were the real drivers of this ale.

RGBee was a very interesting ale. I found it to be well-conceived, but not quite as well-executed. A bit too cloying and not nearly as representative of the tripel style as I wanted. Still, the use of wildflower honey created a pleasant clover feel that made for a memorable flavour.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Kingpost ESB

Kingpost ESB calls Collingwood, Ontario home. It's a 5.8% alcohol, 40 IBU extra special bitter from the Collingwood Brewery. The beer leaves its 473mL can looking copper-hued and clear, pouring under a decent layer of off-white head.

Kingpost has a sweet and malty nose, with an agreeable caramel bent. The flavour has a metallic quality alongside malt and caramel notes. The initial taste is sweet; I was caught off-guard by the depth of bitterness at the back end. There was some real hops astringency that resulted in a quick, dry, and bready finish.

I thought Kingpost was a nicely constructed English-style ale. The front end could have been stronger, but the finish was most satisfactory. Would buy again.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.


Sunday, 11 June 2017

ZiegenBock Texas Amber

ZiegenBock Texas Amber is a rusty copper amber Lager from Houston's Ziegenbock Brewing Co., an affiliate of Anheuser-Busch. It contains 4.9% alcohol and is sold in 12 oz bottles. It pours clear, with a decent layer of off-white head.

Its nose is mild 'n' malty, with sweet notes of bread and toffee. The flavour isn't particularly potent, but contains a malt-forward base and sweet caramel notes. The lager has only slight bitter qualities--a whisper of grainy hops noticeable only at the finish.

ZiegenBock is an agreeable enough macro-brewed take on the amber lager. It's less a bock than a Vienna lager, but it tastes fine and is easy-drinking. According to Wikipedia, this stuff was brewed to compete with Shiner Bock. If that's so, it's not quite in the same ballpark, but it still manages to refresh and satisfy.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Presumed Innocent IPA

Staying with two lawyers in Richardson, Texas meant that I had to buy a 12 oz can of Legal Draft Beer Company's Presumed Innocent IPA when I spotted it at the grocery store. From Arlington, TX, this India Pale contains a robust 7.2% alcohol.

Presumed Innocent poured a ruddy orange colour and had an unfortunate amount of chunky yeasty sediment. It's nose was grapefruit rich and bitter. The flavour, too, was bitter and citrus-driven, with a finish that turned toward slightly resinous.

This beer might have been on the shelf a little too long. It really did have some gnarly yeast chunks and they built up awkwardly on the bottom of my glass, but I'm not convinced it is typical of the beer. The flavour was pretty nice and it was just the right level of strong, though, which ensured a passing grade.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Full Moon Rye IPA

Full Moon Rye IPA comes from the Real Ale Brewing Co. out of Blanco, TX. It's sold in 12 oz bottles and packs an unlisted alcoholic kick (according to the Real Ale website it's 6.2% alcohol and contains 50 IBUs).

The beer poured a clear and bright copper colour under a lush off-white head. It had an assertively bitter aroma, backed with a nice spicy rye note. The taste proved comfortably hoppy, with some citrus vibes, metallic notes, and some whisky-stained rye warmth.

I thought that Full Moon was a really well-crafted Rye IPA. It wasn't memorable, exactly, but it left a lingering sensation of quality. This good beer made me curious about Real Ale's other offerings and feeling sorry that I wasn't in Texas long enough to investigate.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Goatman Imperial India Black Lager

Goatman Imperial India Black Lager is produced in Garland, Texas by Lakewood Brewing Co. At 9.3% and 82 IBUs, this brew has major chops. According to the label, the brew is in honour of the Goatman of White Rock Lake, though there are scant details on his story. The beer is brown-black and topped with tan head.

The aroma is toasty and rich, though fairly mild. The flavour was definitely not, though, with notes of licorice, spice, and heady hops ballast.

Goatman was a damned strong and robust. It was my first go at an Imperial India Black Lager, and I liked it a lot. I didn't have a frame of reference, but I'm confident this stuff stacks up well.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Blood & Honey American Ale

According to the label on 12 oz bottles of Blood & Honey American Ale, the stuff is brewed with "blood orange peel, honey & spices". A pale wheat ale, B&H comes from Granbury, TX, where it's brewed by Revolver Brewing. The beer came highly recommended by my pal JG, so I rushed out and bought a bottle at the first opportunity during a stay in Dallas.

The beer was cloudy and sunny gold, with a thin disc of white head. It' aroma was both slightly yeasty and slightly citrusy, with a whiff of something sweet. At 7% alcohol, it had some gravitas without putting me to sleep. As for flavour, the ale had an agreeable spice presence, some charming citrus elements, and a bit of honey sweetness attributable to Texas honey used in brewing.

On top of its excellent name, Blood & Honey proved to be a delightful little grog--strong and sweet, but backed with a decent hops finish, and buoyed by a zest of orange. If you're in Texas, you should really take this ale out for a spin or two.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.