Saturday, 21 October 2017
Junction Craft Brewing, Shacklands Brewing Company, and Rainhard Brewing Company. The three nearby breweries (in the case of Shacklands and Rainhard, they're actually contiguous) on Symes Road combined to brew a 6.8% India pale ale in honour of the 2017 iteration of Toronto Beer Week.
The Aleyards Collab is a lightly carbonated and considerably hazy ale with a brushed gold hue and a fog of loose, white head. It has a resinous, citrus/evergreen scent and a flavour that feels comfortably balanced. There are some caramel malt notes and a finish meanders between sweet tangerine and sticky hops.
Aleyards Collaboration Ale is definitely good beer--decent strength, nice flavour--nothing to complain about. It's not all that remarkable or memorable, except as a reminder that brewing, when done right, should be collaborative and community-based. My favourite brewers are the ones that enjoy and recommend ales from their "rivals" and support their "competitors" with advice and feedback as they are sought. The whole industry wins when micros offer a better product and sway drinkers from the macro dross, and a strong local community like the one in the Aleyards is to be commended.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
Thursday, 19 October 2017
Transatlantic Pale Ale, another member of the "Pitch and Pray" series from Toronto's Godspeed Brewery seems to be their most "conventional" offering. My 355mL can, straight from the brewery's bottle shop, was a murky brown number with a thick but loose off-white head. The 5.2% brew had a had a curious nose--somewhat gastric, but not unpleasant, with some acidic notes atop a fruity base.
The flavour is malt-driven, with some dark fruit elements, built against a modest, dank bitterness and some metallic tang.
This was a hard ale to rate, given that it had a unique flavour and dark hue that set it apart from the glut of Ontario pale ales, but a unusual taste that wasn't at all crisp or refreshing. The maltiness made me think English-style, but it wasn't really that. A bit of an oddball ale, I nonetheless enjoyed Transatlantic Pale. Not session-friendly nor strong and surly, there was a lot to like and a lot to dwell on. Certainly a beer worth revisiting!
Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
Tuesday, 17 October 2017
A member of the "Pitch and Pray" series from Toronto's Godspeed Brewery, Godspeed Stout came to me by way of the East-End brewery's newly opened bottle shop. Sold in 355mL cans, the beer packs a slightly light 4.7% alcohol. The stout is a more brown than black ale that poured with a loose but thick tan head.
G.S. had a subtle, but not at all non-existent aroma--cocoa and coffee, on top of a malty base. Compared to the mildness of the nose, I found the flavour to be compellingly rich, driven by java and dark chocolate notes, as well as a taste of leather. The back end even had some pretty respectable bitterness that belied the low alcohol percentage.
I gotta say, this stout caught me a little off guard. At 4.7%, I was expecting dry and smooth, but what I poured into my eager maw was full and rich. If the Godspeed Stout is a lodestone, Godspeed will be a brewery worth monitoring. It takes some skill to make a dark ale that flourishes at a low percentage.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
Sunday, 15 October 2017
According to the 473mL can, Puppers Premium Lager is "the official beer of Letterkenny", which is supposedly an extremely funny show that I have not seen.
The beer is a 4% light lager. It's a straw gold brew with a loose and thin white head and a significant amount of carbonation. Puppers comes from Sudbury, Ontario, where it is crafted by Stack Brewing. It has a sweet cereal grain nose and a flavour to match, though the sweet grain and corn gives way to a slightly bitter finish.
At just 4%, Puppers is incredibly sessionable. However, it lacks the crispness of a quality pale lager, and packs a bit more sweetness than I tend to enjoy in my bottom fermented beers. Not a bad beer, but a bit on the forgettable side. Not quite what I expect from a quality brewer like Stack.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10.
Friday, 13 October 2017
Elvis Juice is marketed as a "grapefruit infused IPA". It comes from Ellon, Scotland, where it's coaxed into existence by BrewDog.
A ruddy orange potion, E.J. is a 6.5% ale that pours under a thin, sudsy, and quickly-dissipating cream head. According to the label, it's brewed using both orange peel and grapefruit peel, which explains its murky citrus aroma. Given the rich musk of the nose, I was expecting a robust flavour, but what I got seemed a bit restrained--almost timid--with dominant citrus notes at the vanguard and a resinous hops brining up the rear.
I downed this ale while cooking up a mess of rotini, and it made for an enjoyable sous chef. While it could have been more assertive and more sharply tart, I thought it was a pretty decent little brew all the same.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
Wednesday, 11 October 2017
Brewed in London, Ontario, St. Mary Axe is billed as a "Canadian Best Bitter". Made by the eponymous brewery, SMX (as it appears in shorthand on the spare but clean 473mL can) is a sessionable 4.6% alcohol. According to the copy, it's a "divine dichotomy where old meets new and complex is simple." Hmm.
The beer is a slightly hazy burnished copper colour. It pours with a vibrant and loose off-white head through which wafts a balanced albeit mild aroma that walks a tightrope between caramel malts and metallic bitterness. The flavour, sweeter than I anticipated, kicks off with date or raisin notes and a sticky toffee quality. The finish is relatively modestly flavoured, but admirably subtle and complicated. There are treacle elements, but this share the spotlight with an undercurrent of earthy hops.
I really enjoyed SMX. It should be noted that, despite the session-friendly percentage, this beer manages to taste full-bodied and will fill you up. What that means, for me at least, is that it provides an excellent way to enjoy a lush, well rounded ale without getting utterly pickled. The truth, as I see it, is that SMX does deliver on its promise: it blends classic English ale elements and low octane with a 21st century hop profile. A little less sweetness is my only initial complaint.
I'll have to revisit this one soon to be sure, but my inclination after a single can is that this stuff merits a pretty great score.
Rating: 9.0 out of 10.
Monday, 9 October 2017
Hops & Robbers Grapefruit IPA is new spin on a pretty solid IPA from Double Trouble Brewing Co. from Guelph, Ontario. Billed as "crazy delicious", I'd like to have a talk with the folks at Double Trouble about ableist language. The 5.9% alcohol ale comes in 473mL cans.
H&R Grapefruit has a handsome hazy, orange-copper hue and pours with a nice almost-white head. It has a formidable ruby red grapefruit nose--juicy, but bitter, with just a whiff of candy sweetness. The flavour takes a similar tack, with an emphasis on grapefruit zest and a seriously dry finish.
As I've said before, I'm suspicious of grapefruit flavoured IPAs, because it is such a naturally-complimentary flavour that can often be achieved by dry hopping. However, this little beaut really embraced its pulpy, juicy, and bitter namesake. Many IPAs taste like grapefruit, but this one exudes it. The only serious complaint that I have is that, unlike the aroma, the flavour is a bit over-sweet.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10.