Dark copper-bronze colour with a thick light beige head. Aroma of toasty malt, peppery rye, and pineapple candy. Medium bodied, a bit creamy on the palate. Flavour is predominantly malty at first - a bit of caramel, some rye bread crust - with subtle pine and citrus hops. But as it warms, the hops start to come forward and deliver the 60 IBU promised on the can. By the end of the glass, each swallow finishes with a nice hit of grapefruit peel and pine needle.
Brewery: Beau’s All-Natural Brewing, Vankleek Hill, ON
Style: Smoked Weissbier
Pours a light and hazy yellow with a thick white head that dissipates quickly. Aroma of banana, bread dough, lemon zest and wood smoke. Flavour follows - banana, lemon and smoke all in good balance, with bready yeast playing a nice backnote. A bit of lemon pepper in the finish. The body is a bit thinner than I’d like, but otherwise, a pretty successful hybrid
Brewery: Lake of Bays Brewing, Baysville, ON
Style: Vienna Lager
The first in a series of beers brewed in honour of legendary NHL goaltenders, China Wall is named after the nickname of Johnny Bower, and proceeds will benefit the NHL Alumni Association. A great inspiration, a great cause… and thankfully, a great beer to back them up. Pouring a dark and clear reddish amber with a thick tan cap, it has aromas and flavours of caramel, toasted nuts, a bit of brown sugar, roasted barley cereal, and a wisp of cocoa. Sweet up front and in the middle of the palate, it dries nicely in the finish with grassy and moderately bitter hops, and a hint of toasted hazelnut. Here’s hoping the upcoming installments in the series offer beer of a similar quality.
Brewery: Microbrasserie Charlevoix, Baie-St-Paul, QC
The first glass from the elegant 750 ml bottle pours a bright and clear golden-tawny with a big and rocky white head, and offers aromas and flavours of fresh fruit (apricot, papaya, pineapple) with a herbal tone, and some subtle bready yeast in the semi-dry finish. Later in the bottle, it has a hazier appearance, and the aroma and flavour correspondingly deepen, with white pepper and a bit of dusty funkiness overlaying the fruit esters, and a tart grapefruit peel element coming through in the much drier finish. It’s almost like getting two beers from one bottle - and thankfully, both of them are excellent.
Brewery: Moosehead Brewery, Saint John, New Brunswick
Style: Pale Ale
Bright and clear copper-amber body with a creamy cap of white foam that leaves some attractive lacing. Aroma and flavour are both fresh and well-balanced with malt notes of caramel and tea, and hop notes that are both earthy and citric, with a slight metallic tone in the medium length and moderately bitter finish. A respectable and easily quaffed beer that strikes a great balance between the UK and American pale ale traditions.
Brewery: Beau’s All-Natural Brewing, Vankleek Hill, ON
Style: Milk Stout
Dark coffee-brown body with a big cappuccino head. Relatively complex aroma for a 5%er - coffee, raisins, chocolate, toasted hazelnut, malted milk balls. Medium bodied - a touch thin for a bigger stout, but on base for a moderate strength one like this. Flavour follows the aroma by seeming simple at first, but revealing more layers as it warms up. Nice nutty chocolate and medium roast coffee notes, along with a bit of dark caramel, some toasted almond, and a finishing hint of licorice.
Brewery: Bellwoods Brewery, Toronto, ON
Style: American-Belgian IPA
Described as “an American style IPA fermented with a Belgian yeast,” Catherine Wheel pours a sunshiney golden-yellow with a subtle haze and a creamy white head. The aroma is a luscious combo of bright citrus, sticky pine, pineapple nectar, and a musky floral note. Flavour is a fruit bonanza - pineapple, tangerine, lime, apricot - with some yeast-driven dryness in the middle, and citrus peel with a bit of pepper in the finish. Another ridiculously great Bellwoods beer…
Brewery: Great Lakes Brewing, Toronto, ON
Style: Belgian IPA
Slightly hazy honey-gold with a large and creamy white head that leaves lots of lacing. Massive aroma that brings together both Belgian and IPA influences - fruity notes of pineapple and grapefruit, a subtle dry yeast character, a peppery backnote, a hint of dried apricot. Flavour is similar, with big and sweet tropical fruit up front, turning drier and slightly spicy in the middle, and citrus peel, lime leaf & tart pineapple all combining in the long finish. The grapefruit aftertaste lingers long after the pint is finished, almost begging for another. If it weren’t more than 8% abv, it would be very tempting to session this one…
Brewery: Trafalgar Ales & Meads, Oakville, ON
Style: Dark Ale
Dark orange-brown body with a finger or so of creamy white head that sticks around for a while. Very nice aroma of roasted malt, hints of dried leaf and ground coffee, caramelized brown sugar, and a slight tart berry tone, possibly from the juniper berries mentioned in the label description. Flavour is similarly impressive, with many of the elements promised by the aroma - roasty & toasty malt, quick and sharp hit of coffee, dark caramel in the background, and great herbal juniper notes in the finish along with a faint smokiness. The best beer I’ve had from Trafalgar in quite some time!
Brewery: Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery, Barrie, ON
Style: American-Style Kristalweizen
Golden-orange body with a very slight haze and a small and quick off-white head. Aroma of lightly toasted wheat and grain, and tropical-leaning hops - pineapple and papaya most notable - with a slight grassy tone. Light body that is crisp on the front of the palate, a bit creamy and slick toward the back. Flavour is refreshing and nicely balanced, following the aroma pretty closely, with the addition of some tangerine juice fruitiness, and citrus peel bitterness in the finish that builds as it warms. A very nice beer with more complexity than it lets on at first…