Quick reviews of beers from across Canada by Greg Clow, publisher/editor of CanadianBeerNews.com

Bin Brewing SaskAle

Brewery: Bin Brewing, Swift Current, SK
Styles: Pale Ale
ABV: 5%

A caramel-amber ale with a clean aroma and flavour of light caramel, toasted grain, a slight fruitiness, and grassy hops, finishing with a bit of orange oil. Not much else to be said - it’s just a simple, easy-drinking ale, which appears to be exactly what they were going for.

Railway City Canada Southern Draft

Brewery: Railway City Brewing, St. Thomas, ON
Styles: Pilsner
ABV: 4.3%

Clear bright golden-yellow with a couple of fingers of white foam that recedes slowly. Aroma of toasted grain, honey crackers, freshly cut grass, and peppery herbs. Flavour follows the aroma pretty closely - grain and honey sweetness to start, grassy and peppery hops to finish. Builds quite a respectable amount of dry bitterness as it warms up a bit. Starts out a fairly nondescript pale lager, but by the end of the glass, it reveals itself to be a rather nice little pilsner.

Bellwoods Phantom Limb

Brewery: Bellwoods Brewery, Toronto, ON
Styles: Tripel
ABV: 8%

Sunset golden-orange body with a slight haze and a thin & persistent white head. Punchy aroma with notes of stone fruit - esp. apricot - and tart apple, and spicy hints of clove and allspice. Flavour starts with a simple malt sweetness with a hint of candi sugar, but starts to develop layers of complexity as it goes across the palate, especially once it warms. Apricot, nectarine, peppery yeast, clove, lemon zest, cut grass, candied orange and more all come through at one point or another. Finish has a slight medicinal character that is the only off-note for me. Otherwise, an excellent beer.

Waterloo Traditional IPA

Brewery: Brick Brewing, Waterloo, ON
Styles: IPA
ABV: 5.2%

Copper-orange body with a thin off-white head that doesn’t stick around. Aroma is quite sweet but not cloying, with notes of caramel and candied orange, and an odd hint of musk melon. Flavour is well balanced, with sugar cookie and caramel malt off the top, leading to mellow hops that offer some subtle but noticeable bitter orange character as the beer warms. The body is on the light side of medium - a bit thinner than is preferable, but it still carries the flavour well. It’s certainly not a heavily hopped North American style IPA, and shouldn’t be judged against them - but as far as more traditional UK style IPAs go, it’s respectable.

Great Lakes / Amsterdam Ezra Cider Barrel Aged Farmhouse Ale

Brewery: Great Lakes Brewery & Amsterdam Brewing, Toronto, ON
Styles: Saison
ABV: 6.2%

Slightly hazy peachy-gold with a thin head. Aroma has an interesting complexity to it - some tropical fruit, peppery yeast, woody cider, mild funkiness, a medicinal tinge. Flavour is simpler, but that’s not a complaint - it’s a solid saison with cider and sour wood notes from the barrel aging integrating nicely with the fruit and pepper of the base beer. Finish is dusty and tart, with quick, sharp apple and lemon, and a lingering herbal dryness. Medium bodied with a good level of carbonation bringing some crispness. An excellent beer that won’t be at the LCBO for long, so grab it while you can.

Bellwoods Stay Classy

Brewery: Bellwoods Brewery, Toronto, ON
Styles: Light Session Ale
ABV: 2.8%

Bellwoods’ contribution to the increasingly popular trend for lower alcohol but still flavourful ales is one of the least alcoholic - they reckon it may be the lowest abv beer in Canada outside of 0.5% near beers - but it certainly doesn’t want for flavour. Or aroma, for that matter, as the bright and hazy golden-yellow beer throws off ton of fresh green hops with backing notes of canned peaches & mandarin orange and cut grass. The body is light as crisp - as you’d expect from a 2.8% beer - but it still manages to carry the big and luscious flavour of the Mosaic and Citra hops - tangerine, pineapple, bit of pine resin - with some faint biscuity malt hanging out in the background. A strong contender to be a benchmark example of this recent and still evolving style.

Stanley Park Wit

Brewery: Stanley Park Brewing, Vancouver, BC
Styles: Belgian Wheat Ale
ABV: 5%

Pours a moderately hazy golden-yellow with a good sized white head that hangs around for a minute of two before quickly receding. Aroma of cracked wheat, dusty lemon, a touch of sulphur, and an odd suggestion of marshmallows. Flavour takes a similar path at first, with wheat and a spritz of lemon to start, turning a bit yeasty in the middle, and finishing with notes of coriander and ginger. Not exactly to style, but still pleasant, and certainly better than previous Stanley Park beers I’ve tried.

Le Trefle Noir Foublonne

Brewery: Le Trèfle Noir, Rouyn-Noranda, QC
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.5%

Slightly turbid red-copper body with a thin off-white head. Aroma is very hop forward, but with a curious candied fruit sweetness balanced by pine resin bitterness. Flavour starts with some sweet orange and caramel tones before the brash hops kick in, bringing a lot of pine, a slight medicinal tang, and a wisp of citrus peel in the medium length finish. No boundaries being pushed here, just a nice, well-hopped IPA.

Dunham / Kissmeyer Leo’s Early Breakfast IPA

Brewery: Brasserie Dunham, Dunham, QC (in collaboration with Kissmeyer Beer, Charlottenlund, Denmark)
Style: IPA with Earl Grey tea and guava purée
ABV: 6.2%

Hazy golden with a good sized white head that leaves notable lacing. Complex aroma with a strong tropical fruit character - guava and pineapple being most prominent - along with hints of Earl Grey tea and orange blossom honey. Flavour leans more towards bitter citrus peel than sweet fruit, although some guava still comes through off the top, and bergamot lingers in the dry finish alongside a big hit of grapefruit zest.

Granville Island Shipload of Hops Imperial IPA

Brewery: Granville Island Brewing, Vancouver, BC
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.7%

Ruddy copper-amber body with a slight haze and a thin cap of beige foam. Robust aroma of caramel malt, sweet orange, overripe pineapple, a hint of spruce sap. Flavour is similarly big and bold, with the bitterness you’d expect from a 100 IBU beer - grapefruit pith dominates, pine resin as a backnote - but there’s plenty of malt to balance. Finish is long, rather bitter and slightly boozy, but not aggressively so. Quite good!