Saturday, 21 October 2017

Aleyards Collaboration IPA

Aleyards Collaboration IPA is ... you guessed it ... a collaboration! It's a project worked up between the three breweries that make up Toronto's Aleyards Brewing District": 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

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

Godspeed Stout

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

Puppers Premium Lager

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

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

St. Mary Axe

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

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.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Fresh Start Summit APA

During a rare trip east of Yonge Street, I recently popped into the newly operational Eastbound Brewing Co. I didn't stay for a pint, but I did come home with a couple of cans, including a 355mL one containing their Fresh Start Summit APA.


At the standard 5% alcohol, Fresh Start is a hazy, orange-gold beer with a vivid and sudsy off-white head. It has a pretty funky yeast and hops nose, with notes of fermented fruit. Interestingly, I didn't love my first can of Fresh Start; however, a second brush with this little brew left me feeling much more engaged and impressed. The flavour has some modest juice notes, as well as a dank and resinous tang. There are pretty decent yeast elements, and a fug of subterranean vibes. It had a dry finish, but not one that was as crisp as I was hoping for.

For my first try of a new brewery's offerings, I liked Fresh Start far more than I expected to. APA is a style that is oft attempted and seldom innovated, but this one got it done with some verve. Funky yeast elements and wacky hops made this a pretty intriguing ale.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Momiji

Popped into the newly opened Godspeed Brewery in Toronto's east end with the Bitter Wife during a Saturday afternoon and grabbed myself a 13oz pour of their Momiji, an amber kellerbier containing 4.6% alcohol. My beer arrived under a fog of cream head. It was a fairly hazy walnut brew that packed a malty and metallic aroma with some bready notes. More pungent than I expected given its low percentage, Momiji was malt-focused initially, giving way to a crisp, bitter back. The flavour, bready at first, turned dry as I sipped. Throughout there were copper notes.


My first taste of Godspeed's brew, Momiji left me thirsty to try more. It is a pretty well-made beverage, with some nuance, in a session-friendly format.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

360 Ale

360 Ale bills itself as an English pale ale. It hails from the fairly remote but extremely beautiful city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, where it's brewed by Sleeping Giant Brewing Company (named in honour of the mountain that overlooks the town). The 473mL cans are pretty snappy looking and the brew inside is a 4.9% grog. It's a copper-hued and hazy ale, and it pours with a proud layer of sudsy cream-coloured head.

To match the copper colour, 360 smells a bit like a penny, though one that's spent a fair bit of time around hops and malt. The flavour also has some metallic elements, though the beer is primarily malt focused. Toward the back end, there is a dusting of bitterness to approximate balance.

I thought that 360 Ale was a pretty engaging little pop. Despite the insinuation on the can, it's not all that innovative (English pale ales are plentiful--even ones that claim to finish with a North American fervour); however, what does provide is nice flavour, good balance, and sessionability. I definitely see myself purchasing this ale again--particularly since this one is available at my local grocery store (don't laugh non-Canadians; this is a new and exciting innovation in Ontario!). A bit fuller body might have been nice, but I'm not complaining.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

The Inner Eye Pale Ale

During a recent visit to Toronto's Blood Brothers Brewing, I left the source with a 500mL bottle of The Inner Eye Pale Ale, a 5.5% job with a beautiful label. The beer inside proved to be a handsome and hazy auburn colour. It poured with a fluffy and thick off-white head and featured aroma that was at times grainy and at others tart and bitter. Inner Eye had a pretty robust flavour; one with some faintly sour fruit notes, but also a smattering of yeasty, Belgian-inspired bitterness.

I took to The Inner Eye right away, though it didn't wow me quite as much as BB's flagship IPA. It finished with a swell bitterness that left my arm aching for another sip, which I take as a pretty positive sign. Blood Brothers, with its focus on hoppy apes, is quickly becoming of my favourite Toronto beer-makers, and The Inner Eye did nothing to dampen that opinion.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Death & Taxes Raspberry Radler

Happy fifth anniversary to my wonderful spouse! You challenge me, impress me, and inspire me everyday.

When I spotted the cool 473mL cans of Death & Taxes Raspberry Radler on the shelf at my local store, I immediately bought two--one for myself, because I love raspberries, and one for the Bitter Wife, because she's the Radler Queen.

Brewed in Gravenhurst, Ontario, by Sawdust City Brewing Co., this 4.3% alcohol brew is made raspberry purée and a very light ale. The beer has a hazy pinkish gold hue and pours with a fluffy off-white head.

Bitter Wife: Smells like beer--not as juicy as expected, and with only a faint raspberry note. The flavour tastes as though there are real berries in it--like raspberry juice. Like they've taken a lager and poured raspberry juice into it--but the tastes don't blend very well. It tastes as though there are two separate components. Drinkable, but it could use some additional boldness, crispness, and tartness. They're not really taking full advantage of raspberry. It's not a radler for people who like radlers craft beer. It's not flavour-focused. If you think of it as a beer, there is an appealing fruity edge, like a bear wearing a funny hat, but pointless as a radler.

Rating: 6.0 out of 10.

Stout Man: Unlike the missus, I found Death & Taxes to have a fairly assertive, sweet raspberry jam nose. There is a very thin mouthfeel that is not nearly as crisp and fizzy as I wanted and expected. The taste is mild, but has a nice, slight tinge of berry sweetness. Bitterness is nearly non-existent in this one, and there isn't abundant tartness either.

For me, D&T was a bit of a flop. It had some nice elements, including a refreshing quality, great strength for a radler, and a very pleasant scent, but overall it was too thin to hold my interest. It has a vitamin water quality that underwhelmed. I might have felt differently if it were 30 degrees out and I was sitting on a patio, but in my living room in early September, it didn't make a lot of waves.

Rating: 6.0 out of 10.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

La Blanche du Fjord

One of the many joys of my blessed union with the Bitter Wife is a primo set of in-laws. Great folks who'll bring you beer when they visit, my mother- and father-in-law are tops. On a recent visit, they brought me a couple of bottles, including a 660mL bomber of La Blanche du Fjord. This witbier comes from Chicoutimi, Quebec, where it's brewed by La Tour à Bières. It's a 5% alcohol brew that, if my French isn't failing me, is flavoured with citrus and coriander--sounds like a Belgian-style wit to me.

The beer imitially poured cloudy gold with a milky hue, but as I got to the bottom of the bottle, some orange-brown sediment entered the mix. The aroma was yeasty, fruity, and a touch spicy. There was a thin yet smooth mouthfeel and a mild flavour that danced between wheat, yeast, orange rind, and banana. No bitterness at all featured in La Blanche, which gave it a fine level of refreshment.

La Blanch du Fjord was a pretty tasty micro from QC. It could have been a bit less sediment-heavy, and I wouldn't have minded a bit more body, but I enjoyed it well enough. I'm certainly grateful it found its way to me.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Beer Snob

Beer Snob is not the name of my autobiography. It could be, had I lived a life worth reading about, but in this instance it is the name of a Belgian rye ale from Toronto's Shillow Beer Co. (also makers of the surprisingly delightful Bitter Waitress). The bearded, trilby and plaid-wearing hipster on the 473mL can is too slim to be me, but the sentiment is clearly there. The beer contains 6% alcohol. The copy on the can is good enough to warrant reproduction in full:

An intellectually complex brew that no one else understands. With soft hints of indifference and strong notes of irony, this beer is best served in glassware you've brought with you from home.

Touché.

The beer is a hazy golden affair that pours with a dense and rowdy white head. It has a surprisingly grainy and slightly spicy nose, but a flavour that tends more towards yeasty and fruity. There are elements of dried fruit and coriander which lead into a modestly bitter and peppery finish.
 

To this beer snob, Beer Snob was a pretty good effort from one of Toronto's more enigmatic beer makers--seriously, their website gives you almost no info! The beer was too sweet and insufficiently spicy to be a top tier rye ale, but it did some things pretty well. Certainly well enough to merit a re-purchase.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Elora Borealis Citra Pale Ale

Elora, Ontario is home to the Elora Brewing Company. During a weekend cottage getaway on Georgian Bay, I was lucky enough to split a 500mL bottle of their Elora Borealis Citra Pale Ale with a pal. The excellently-named ale weighed in at 5.1%. It was a hazy golden beer with a loose cap of off-white head.

EB had a dry, citrus scent. The flavour was pretty lovely, with hoppy grapefruit notes. The mouthfeel, though, was a little on the thin side without much complimentary crispness, which wasn't a huge plus. Not a deal breaker, though, since the flavour was really quite beautiful and rich.

My friend told me a bit about the brewery in Elora while we sipped and, given her description and the quality of the beer, I've got a hankering to get out there sometime.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

IPA No. 3

IPA No. 3 comes from Hamilton, Ontario, where it is brought into being by the brew artists at Collective Arts Brewing. Sold in teal 473mL cans with a cubist look, the beer checks in at 7.1%. This Ontarian IPA is brewed using both Citra and Crystal hops. It has a cloudy, dull orange aspect and pours under a bright eggshell foam.


No. 3 has a juicy, fruit-forward aroma that suggests grapefruit bitterness. It's flavour is packed with tropical notes, built above a dank and resin-focused bitterness.

 
The beer works well enough, although I found it to be a bit too sweet for comfort. To get to the next level, its bitterness would need an amping up, and its juicy fruit sweetness a dimming. However, it was still excellently strong and, incongruously, very easy to drink. Given the sugar content apparent in this beer, I'd expect it to be a hangover magnet if enjoyed in significant quantities. However, a can or two go down fluidly and with few complaints. I like what Collective Arts is doing with its IPAs, and I found No. 3 to be a pretty solid entry, though not as engaging as some others in the series.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Zodiak

Happiest of birthdays to my dear ol' da! Cheers to you, Pops!


With its 473mL can adorned with neon green and alien symbols and its tiny letters above the barcode that declaim "Space is the Place", Omnipollo's Zodiak fairly screams intrigue. The 6.2% IPA comes from Stockholm/Toronto. It's a cloudy brew with a bright gold tint and a layer of sudsy white head.

To my inexpert but well-practiced nose, there seems to be a resinous, evergreen whiff. Given the scent, the flavour is somewhat surprising, in that it leads off with a slightly fruity zest before veering toward a floral/forest vibe. The mouthfeel is lovely, suggesting a full-bodied and well-made ale. The finish, while fine, cost this beer a bit, owing to the fact that it isn't as dry and crisp as I wanted it to be.

I've been absolutely wowed by Omnipollo before, so I had high hopes for this stuff. It didn't blow me away, but it was still a very nice, mindfully crafted brew with a lot going for it.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Mellifera

Mellifera comes from Le Trou du Diable in Shawinigan, Quebec. Sold in 500mL bottles with beautiful luchador/Catholic imagery, the beer has 5.8% alcohol. According to the label, this lil brew is built using local honey and lactic fermentation.


The beer is a dull gold offering, with a fairly thin covering of off-white head. It's hazy and packs a tart aroma, running parallel with a sweet, honeyed note. The flavour is considerably sour, with citrus and acidic notes. However, thanks to the use of honey, there is also a scintilla of apiary sweetness.

Tart and tangy, Mellifera has some bittersweet elements that make it an interesting beer. Not quite a sour, but nearly as acidic, it's an ale with a honeyed tongue. Very thought provoking stuff from an extremely strong Quebec brewery; however, not to be messed around with if you don't dig your beers sharp and assertive.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Raspy Engine--Old Engine Oil

Raspy Engine Old Engine Oil is a 5.3% alcohol porter brewed with Scottish raspberries. Born in Hillfoots Village, Alva, Scotland, this little number was created by Harviestoun Brewery. According to the label enveloping the 330mL bottle, Raspy Engine is a modified and lighter version of Harviestoun's Old Engine Oil--an imperial porter--although I've never had the opportunity to taste the original. As well, the label indicates that the berries used in this brew were used whole--seeds and pulp, as well as juice.

Sure enough, the midnight dark ale with the ruby-tinged highlights and creamy head had a potent whiff of raspberries on the nose. Not the tartness of fresh berries, though. Rather the sweet, sugared aroma of jammed razz. Along with the jammy scent, there was a chocolate and coffee vibe that made it clear that this is a dessert brew. The beer had some loose porter elements--it was relatively malty, had some cocoa notes, a dark chocolate spine, and a modestly bitter fin--however, raspberries were the factor that made this ale's engine turn over.

Not quite as tart or as java-focused as I wanted, perhaps, but Raspy Engine still managed to demonstrate the range of flavours a that a raspberry porter can occupy, and with a bit of flair, too. Extremely easy drinking, I found that my glass was empty long before I expected it to be.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Takumi Saskatoon Berry Sour

Because they are swell, my good pal K.F. and her partner J. Lastname brought me a 650mL bottle of Takumi Saskatoon Berry Sour, a wheat sour beer brewed with fresh Saskatoon berries.

At 5.8% and 7 IBUs, Takumi pours a loud pink colour, with a fuzzy light pink head. It has a hefty and tart aroma with notes similar to cranberry. The flavour is also fairly tart, though with a slightly candied taste reminiscent of punchy gummy bears.

The beer was lively and yummy, but a bit to heavily candied to opt for a second. All told, it was super tasty little brew, and, as a Saskatoon berry virgin, I was grateful for the opportunity to try it.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Canada 150 Best Bitter Ale


Brewed in honour of Canada's sesquicentennial, Canada 150 Best Bitter Ale comes from Toronto, Ontario's Black Creek Historic Brewery. Sold in 473mL cans featuring a canoe full of voyageurs, the cloudy, brown ale contains 5% alcohol and pours with a short lived off-white head.

While its aroma isn't particularly powerful, Canada 150 has a decidedly malty nose, with some mild caramel notes. Chiefly malty to the taste, the beer is also a bit bready, and closes with a clatter of bitterness that has a bit of a molasses streak.

Black Creek makes much of the fact that its recipes are inspired by brewing in the 1800s. Having visited the brewery, I can attest to the fact that the beer making on site uses some traditional methods. However, I'm dubious that the canned and commercially available offerings owe all that much to their beery forebears. This suspicion is heightened by the lack of details on the can concerning the particular recipe used.

Still, Canada 150 was a pretty solid best bitter--unremarkable, maybe, but tasty and made with some skill. I didn't find myself caught up in the excitement that has surrounded Canada's 150th year, so I likely wouldn't have bought this beer for myself. However, my baby bro left me a couple cans in exchange for cat-sitting, and I'm glad he did.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Dankosaurus IPA

Dankosaurus IPA came to me via my man J. It's an India Pale Ale from the Cedar Creek Brewery in Seven Points, Texas. The 355mL can doesn't list a percentage, but does indicate the the suds inside contain 70 IBUs. The website says 6.8%, so that's pretty respectable.

This East Texas ale is hazy, orange-gold in colour, and pours with a thick fog of creamy head. It has a fairly standard West Coast IPA aroma; rich in bitterness and tinged with juicy fruit notes. The flavour is a bit more remarkable, though, with citrus notes that are actually fairly tart, but still bitter and enjoyable.

For an IPA, I found Dankosaurus to be a bit light on the crushingly bitter tastes I was craving. However, it was still quite flavourful and tasted reasonably well made. Would buy again.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

West Sixth Brewing IPA

During my continuing adventures in Kentucky, drinking local beer was a top priority.West Sixth Brewing IPA comes in 355mL cans that don't include the alcohol percentage (however, the website says it's 7%). The beer, brewed in Lexington, KY by West Sixth Brewing Company. It's a cloudy dull gold brew with a decent cover of off-white head. For a 7% IPA, there isn't much to the nose, with just a whiff of bitterness. The flavour is similarly mild, with some citrus elements, a good hops bill, and little else.


Very drinkable and modestly nice, but not at all memorable. Great strength, though.

Rating: 6.0 out of 10.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

London Balling

London Balling is a barleywine from Louisville, Kentucky. Brewed by Against the Grain Brewery, LB comes in funky 16oz cans with an inked up punk gent. At 12.5%, this beer is a good one to share, which I did with the illustrious M.M.--apologies but somewhere in the downing of this strong ale, I seem to have forgotten to take a picture.

The brew is a swampy brown sludge with a creamy head. It has a sticky dried fruit aroma with some caramel notes. The taste is big, boozy, and complicated, with some rummy fruitcake elements, a hefty malt base, and ample sweetness. Not much here by way of bitterness, but the strength keeps things on the rails.

Against the Grain's London Balling is a nice brew with some serious attitude. Strong and sweet, you're not gonna reach for a second, but the first will leave you feeling mellow.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Shotgun Wedding

I found myself in Bardstown, Kentucky--Bourbon Capital of the World--with the Bitter Wife and two great friends. After an afternoon spent touring a distillery, I needed a bit of a break from the Kentucky Brown, so we ducked into the 3rd Street Tap House for a quick brew.

I selected a pint of Shotgun Wedding, a 5.3% alcohol vanilla brown ale brewed by Country Boy Brewing, in Lexington, Kentucky.
 
My pint poured hazy, with an amber-brown hue and thinnish layer of off-white head. It had a warm, toasty malt nose with smooth vanilla tones and some caramel sweetness. The flavour is incredibly mild, but sweet. It has a malt focus with understated vanilla bean notes. It finishes sweetly, with a slightly toasted quality and just a hint of bitterness.

I thought that shotgun wedding was pretty decent, though not really anything to write home about. It was mellow and approachable, but a bit too sweet for a second.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Winnower

From the Burial Beer Co. in the beer Mecca of Asheville, NC, comes Winnower, a porter brewed with raspberries and cocoa nibs from the Burial Beer Co. At 40 IBUs and 7% alcohol, it is not messing around.

The beer is a dark, hearty colour; hazy and nearly black. It has a strong chocolate scent, with a waft of berries. The flavour is tart and berry-first, with a cocoa backing band. Winnower has a flavour that ranges betweeen an initially sharp berry taste to a more rounded and chocolatey finish.

Rich and indulgent, Winnower was a fine ale with a strong, syrupy vibe. Well made but a bit sweeter than expected.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Yard of the Month

From Raleigh, North Carolina, Yard of the Month Cream Ale was hyped by my pal M.M. as her very favourite cream ale. It's a 4.4% alcohol brew from Trophy Brewing Co. Sold in 16oz cans, the beer is pale, yellow gold. It poured with a tiny white head and has a fresh, grainy aroma.  The flavour is mellow, but pretty rich. Notes are primarily grainy and the mouthfeel tended toward the smooth and mild.

Yard of the Month is a mild, sessionable, and well made beer. I liked it quite a bit, though I'm not sure it'll be all that memorable in the long run. Also, 4.4% is great for session drinking, but it's really a bit low test for this guy.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Monday, 28 August 2017

A Beer


While in Louisville, Kentucky, my pals and I dropped into Sergio's World Beers; a little joint in the city's Butchertown neighbourhood. The bar had a stunning selection, which made it hard to choose, but I found my eyes drawn to Against the Grain Brewery's A Beer. A Beer is billed as an Extra American Pale Ale. The 16oz can is loud and funky, with a bearded bro in Stars and Stripes shades and a hop moustache. From Louisville, A Beer contains just 4.5% alcohol. The beer is hazy and orange, with a very thick off-white head.

It packs a hefty citrus aroma; slightly sweet, but mainly bitter. Crisp and sessionable, A Beer has a slightly yeasty flavour, grapefruit notes, and a slightly watery mouthfeel.

Very easy to drink, tasty, but a bit thin. A Beer certainly got the job done, and in a refreshing way.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Cutaway IPA

A rye India Pale Ale from Nashville's Tennessee Brew Works, Cutaway IPA comes in 12oz bottles. The percentage isn't listed on the label, but the TBW website told me that the beer contained 6% and 55 IBUs.


 The beer was hazy orange-gold with a little bit of yeasty sediment. It poured with a decent covering of off-white head, through which wafted a burly aroma rich in spicy rye, dank hops, and a tropical fruit edge. Cutaway proved to be a full-flavoured ale, with a nice blend of warm rye notes and bitter citrus stank.

I found Cutout to be a really enjoyable rye ale. Well made and sassy.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Smith & Lentz Mosaic IPA

During a stop at East Nashville's Smith & Lentz Brewing Company, I found myself hankering for something bitter, and the bartender pointed me toward the S&L Mosaic IPA, a 6.5% alcohol India Pale described as "dank, juicy, floral" on the taproom blackboard.

My pint arrived looking golden and beautiful. It was clear and poured with a thin halo of off-white suds. The nose of this ol' brew was potent; rich in fruity notes and a resinous waft. "Dank" was the word of the day for the flavour of this IPA, with bitter and resin-heavy notes dominating the palate, buttressed by some sweet, tropical fruit notes.

Mosaic IPA by Smith & Lentz had a lot of the things I most want in an IPA, with sticky bitterness and moist fruit notes. I'd have liked the finish to be a bit more dry, the percentage to crest the 7% threshold, and the head would have been a bit more durable, but still, the beer was succulent and I liked it quite a bit.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Smith & Lentz Vienna Lager

In Music City for the wedding of two dear friends, I made a couple of visits to Nashville's Smith & Lentz Brewing, a lovely little spot near our AirBnB. My first visit was as part of a pretty wild pub crawl organized by the Bitter Wife, so I didn't have the chance to pen any reviews. The following day, I made a return trip to take some notes and revisit some of the ales and lagers I'd hazily enjoyed the night before.
 

First up was S&L's Vienna Lager, which came highly recommended by the lad behind the bar. It was a slightly hazy amber brew that poured with a lusty cream head. Though I was suffering through a bit of a head cold, the toasted malt and rich sweet grain scent came through clearly. There was no shortage of flavour here, either, with a malt-driven opening note that preceded an amply dry and relatively bitter finish. Toffee kept the flavour going from tape to tape.

S&L's Vienna Lager was a great representation of the style, with a robust flavour a great look. At just 4.8%, it was pretty session-friendly and very approachable. If you're in Tennessee, I'd say a stop at this Nashville taproom wouldn't be complete without a taste of the VL.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Found Bikes Ride Faster Experimental Pale Ale

Brewed in collaboration with Toronto's Great Lakes Brewery in celebration of its 30th anniversary, Found Bikes Ride Faster Experimental Pale Ale comes from Ottawa, Ontario, where it's brewed by Big Rig Brewery. Sold in 473mL cans with a cycling hipster trailing hops, the beer clocks in at 6% alcohol.

Found Bikes is a golden ale with an orangish tint. It's hazy and pours with a bit of silt and a bright white foam. The aroma suggests a mélange of fruity sweetness and resinous hops, and the scent plays out in the flavour, which is juicy initially, before cornering into a dank, bitter finish. En route, there are some winey grape notes that added a bit of value. On the downside, the finish, while bitter, is also a touch too saccharine for my preferences.

All told, Found Bikes is a pleasant and interesting brew. Unlike the glut of Ontario pale ales that tend to follow a similar formula, this one seems a bit off the beaten track, possibly due to the "experimental hop" referred to in the copy on the can. I'd buy it again. In fact, I already bought another can for my brother to try.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Friday, 18 August 2017

No Nonsense Lagered Ale

From Tecumseh, Ontario's Frank Brewing Co. comes No Nonsense Lagered Ale, a 5.4% alcohol kölsch-style beer. Sold in 473mL cans, No Nonsense pours clearly,  with a yellow-gold colour and a short-lived white head.

There is a bumpin' toasted malt and sweet grain aroma to greet the nose. The flavour runs along the same lines and the mouthfeel presents a fairly refreshing crackle. The beer finishes somewhat dryly, though not particularly bitter.

I've observed that summer 2017 has seen an explosion of kölsch-style brews hitting the market in Ontario. Frank Brewing's take on the style is a pretty decent interpretation. It has decent strength, a crisp feel, and a nice scent. I'd have liked the flavour to stretch a bit farther and the finish to be a bit hoppier, but despite the minor critiques, I'm likely to buy the stuff again.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Infinity Mirror Brett I.P.A.


According to the label on the 650mL bottle of Infinity Mirror Brett I.P.A., it's brewed by Halcyon Barrel House, which is "Part of the Beau's Family" out of Vankleek Hill, Ontario. The 6.5% ale sports a cheery orange hue and pours with a sudsy white head.


There is a crisp nose with notes of apple and funky yeast. As for taste, the flavour has hefty yeast notes, some tart fruit elements, and some jazzy bitterness. The finish is notably dry and fairly pleasant.

I liked Infinity Mirror well enough, but I wouldn't call it all that memorable. I'd have liked a bit more malt emphasis in the early going to fill it out a bit. Definitely a nicely made beer, though.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Westvleteren 12

When my ol' pal WFM returned from his honeymoon in Belgium, he came home with a sixer of Westvleteren 12, reputed to be the best beer in the world. Lucky me, I got to enjoy one 12 oz bottle of the stuff because my friend is magnanimous. At 10.2%, this brew is a hefty tripel. It's a hazy rusty ale that pours with a thick, creamy head. It comes from Sint Sextus Abbey in Vleteren, in West Flanders, Belgium.


W12 doesn't have a powerful aroma, but it has some serious subtlety, with notes of raisin, rich yeast, and some tart cherry. The flavour, though, isn't the least bit tart. It's very smooth, with yeasty, malty, and sweet, with raisin notes. Remarkably, the alcohol (10.2!!!) is barely detectable--brilliantly masked.

While I don't think I'd class it as the best in the world, W12 is a pretty damn tasty ale. It's very rich, criminally easy to drink, and strong as fuck. The flavour is extremely nuanced and compelling. Down to the lack of a label, this beer is unpresumptuous, letting the flavour do the talking.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Yuzu Pale Ale

From Radical Road Brewing Co. in Toronto's Leslieville neighbourhood, Yuzu Pale Ale is brewed using yuzu fruit. According to Wikipedia, that fount of knowledge in the digital era, yuzu is a citrus fruit, similar in look to a small grapefruit, that is native to China and Tibet that is now more widely grown in Japan and Korea. The beer comes in 473mL cans and clocks in at an even 5.0%. It's a bright and hazy golden number that pours with a shock of white head.

To my ol' sniffer, Yuzu Pale Ale had a feisty scent that was bitter and heavy on lime notes. The flavour had less to do with lime and more to do with grapefruit and lemon. All told, a real citrus cornucopia. As well, it was fairly bitter, though not quite hops-heavy as I might have wished.

 
Yuzu Pale Ale gave me a real gift in that it was a genuinely new (to me at least) twist on the pale ale. I found it refreshing in every sense of the word. My complaints were minor and my zeal was genuine, though I must confess, it was a wee bit thin of mouthfeel. Still, it was a grand summer pale.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Wheat Kings


During a recent visit to Descendant Pizza, a place in Toronto's Leslieville that came highly recommended and lived up to the hype, I found myself with some time to kill before the Bitter Wife was due to arrive. Fortunately for me, directly across the street was Radical Road Brewing Co. While I didn't have time to sample anything while I was there, I did pick up a couple of offerings from RR's small bottle shop. One of these was Wheat Kings, a wheat pale ale sold in 330mL bottles. At 5.5%, WK has enough puissance to take the edge off, but certainly isn't strong. It's a hazy golden brew--amply carbonated--and topped with a mountainous white head. Pour gently!

As far as my nose could detect, this beer had a subtle and faint aroma with a slightly fruity quality and a touch of grain. The flavour, thankfully, had considerably more heft. It started sweet, peachy note, but ended with some pretty respectable hops static.

 
Wheat Kings was a very refreshing summer ale. I'm a fan of hopping up wheat beers (less so of wheating out hoppy beers), and I thought that this did the former pretty well. It was crisp to the end, but started with a juicy quality that I found inviting. For a better rating, I'd need a richer aroma and something a touch more assertive. However, the head had staying power that was worth mentioning; by the time my glass was "empty" there was still an inch of foam at the bottom.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.