Saturday, 9 December 2017
Brewed in appreciation of Toronto’s gourmet mobile sustenance vendors, Food Truck is a blonde ale that, according to the copy on the 473mL can, is intended to pair nicely with chow. A product of the excellent Henderson Brewing Company, Food Truck is a low alcohol offering, at just 4.8%. It’s a a clear brass-gold ale that pours with an enticing off-white foam.
FT has a grassy, lager-like nose that features grainy notes and a touch of sweetness. The beer has a pretty nondescript taste that moves from slightly sweet to slightly bitter, with a grainy initial vibe and a finish that is sweet, yet fairly crisp.
This grog is very much a blank canvass that absorbs the colours and flavours of the accoutrements it comes with. As a result, it is wildly inoffensive, but has little character of its own. Not boring, exactly, but FT isn’t a particularly remarkable brew. Rather, it’s the background scenery in a local theatre production. A touch too sweet, but otherwise innocuous, FT isn’t much like Henderson’s other, more rambunctious offerings. It’s a fairly well-balanced but forgettable ale, waiting on external flavours to enhance its vitality. I liked it fine, but won’t remember it tomorrow.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10 (no photo because I'm not smart).
Thursday, 7 December 2017
Big Rig Brewery clocks in at a respectable 6.4%. It comes in garish 473mL cans that feature plaid-clad legs dancing a jig.
Tartan Pants is an extremely dark brown colour. It pours with little carbonation and a thin mist of creamy head. According to the copy on the can, hand smoked malt is used in the brewing process, which goes a long way toward explaining the rich, smoky scent that greets the nose. The flavour is malt-focused and full, with sticky toffee and Christmas pudding elements, assembled under a slightly smoky skyline. There aren’t a lot of overt hops characteristics to this ale, though there is a slight nod toward woodsy bitterness in there somewhere.
Scotch ales aren’t particularly commonplace in the Ontario craft marketplace, which is increasingly dominated by crisp pale ales. While I undoubtedly enjoy a good hoppy pale, I’m pleased when I see a bit of stylistic diversity in the brewing landscape. Big Rig’s take on a Caledonian ale was pretty well conceived and executed. The smokiness is big on the nose, but understated to the taste, which is a pretty neat trick as far as I’m concerned, as it lets the other flavour notes express themselves.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
Tuesday, 5 December 2017
With roots in Toronto, Woodhouse IPA Beer is a product of Woodhouse Brewing Co. It’s a 6% alcohol ale sold in 473mL cans. According to the copy on the can (which incidentally was white writing on a mint green can and virtually unreadable) indicated the presence of five distinct varieties of hops in the clear, coppery ale, but unfortunately, the types used were not listed.
The beer poured with a substantial cap of sudsy white head. It had resinous aroma that tightroped between bitter and sweet, with some floral funk played against a caramel quality. The flavour was a bit underwhelming, though it did have a subtlety that caused me to sip mindfully. Pine was the most prominent hop element, while some caramel was on display on the malt end of things. Between those poles, there were murmurs of pineapple and melon, too. Its finish was dry, quick, and pleasant.
In a nutshell, Woodhouse’s take on the IPA is a very accessible one. At just 6%, it’s far more session-friendly than some of Ontario’s more robust IPAs. The flavour is also apt to please the masses given its mellow approach to hops. Still, there is enough crackle and nuance to make a beer fiend like me sit up and take notice. The low octane hurts my rating, though others might prefer a less immediately intoxicating ale. The very modest melon notes, though, were definitely worth a half point on the ol’ Stout Man scale. It should also be noted that I liked this beer more by the end of my pint than I did through the first few sips, and I liked the next few I tried in the following days more still.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
Sunday, 3 December 2017
From Kastrup, Denmark’s Amager Bryghus comes RyeKing, a 7.7% alcohol smoked rye stout. Sold in 500mL bottles with America’s stars and bars on the label, the beer within is extremely dark. It pours with a thick layer of tan head, through with comes a tangy, smoky aroma.
RyeKing’s flavour is both mammoth and complex. It is smoky, spicy, and malty, with notes of leather, tobacco, and chocolate.
This beer has a lot going for it: depth, potency, and richness are some of its finer attributes. On the negative side of the ledger? Not a whole lot, actually. The mouthfeel is a bit syrupy, but that’s not particularly unusual for a strong stout. In short, I have few complaints.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
Friday, 1 December 2017
From Saint John, New Brunswick comes Moosehead Anniversary Ale, a 5.7% alcohol ale brewed in honour of two sesquicentennials: that of Canada and of the Moosehead Brewery. The been comes in 473mL cans that feature a map of Canada.
The beer is a dull golden number, with a luscious off-white head. The aroma is grainy with some punchy farmyard elements. Anniversary Ale has a dry mouthfeel, with some fairly hoppy elements. Mostly, though, the flavour is grainy, with straw and wheat notes.
For a macro brewery, this golden ale has some decent chops. It’s not a remarkable offering by any stretch, but it does taste pretty good. Not particularly special, but without any notable off notes, Anniversary Ale is a modest, but tasty, effort.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Low Boy is a 4.3% alcohol session ale. It’s billed as a New England-style pale ale brewed with apricot purée. Sold in 650mL bottles, the beer is an extremely milky orange soup that pours with a thin cover of white head. It comes from Toronto, and the Kensington Brewing Co.
A bitter, fruit-focused aroma greets the nose. Low Boy has a fresh and juicy flavour built atop a faintly tart citrus tingle. Apricot and orange notes are the flavour drivers, leading to a nicely hopped finish.
This beer was, compared to many of Ontario’s sessionable pale ales, fairly innovative and unique. The judicious use of apricot purée gave the body a bit of thickness. Additionally, it might be the milkiest looking beer I’ve ever downed. The only gripe I have with Low Boy is a slightly off note in the finish—something a bit earthy and murky that, while maybe great in another beer, fell a bit flat in this otherwise fruity and fresh ale.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
Monday, 27 November 2017
First World Problems is a Belgian-style IPA brewed in Edinburgh, Scotland by Stewart Brewing. The 6.2% alcohol ale is sold in pithy 330mL bottles that seek to illustrate a first world problem.
The beer is a hazy orange potion that pours with a considerable layer of loose off-white head, and which has a small measure of sediment. The beer has a potent aroma characterized by notes of yeast and some floral notes. Compared to the assertive nose, FWP’s flavour is unexpectedly mild. Not particularly bitter or punchy, this Scottish ale has a slightly earthy taste, with some perfumed hops evident at the back end. Mostly, though, Belgian-style yeast is the most prominent note.
I found FWP to be a bit of a disappointing effort. When I spy a new internationally-brewed IPA on local shelves, I expect a unique offering, something unique. This beer was fine and all, but it lacked a depth of flavour that would have set it apart from the bulk of Belgian-style IPAs. A fine ale, but really nothing special.
Rating: 6.0 out of 10.