On Saturday, March 28, 2015 more than 100 venues throughout Ontario will go dark as part of Mill Street Brewery’s fifth annual “Lights Out with Mill Street” fundraising event is support of and conjunction with Earth Day Canada. Along with some of my contemporaries like Ottawa Beer Events, Ottawa Beer Club and Ottawa Beer Calendar, I was invited to attend a preview event on Thursday, March 19 that literally gave us a taste of what to expect from the ones taking place during Earth Hour.
I arrived at Mill Street’s Ottawa Brewpub before sundown and was warmly greeted as I checked in and was given a couple of beer tokens - hey, this was a media event after all. Industrious local musician Amanda Rheaume was already mid set as I opted for a glass of the brewery’s classic German-style Pilsner, sat with some friends and was quickly reminded that my voice is not well-suited towards an intimate acoustic show.
Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company (Vankleek Hill, Ontario)
Irish Dry Stout (4.1%)
Look: Black, but not quite opaque. Ruby tinges when held to light. Large & spongy tan head settles as creamy collar, large lace spots.
Smell: Roasted malt, baker’s chocolate, sea water, birch bark.
Taste: Dry chocolate, dark roasted malt, stone fruit, a bit salty in the finish and aftertaste.
Mouth: Light-medium body, though grainy. Moderate carbonation, some mineral character.
Opinion: Drinks as advertised. A well-crafted traditional stout you could enjoy all day.
Food: Beef or pork stew, young cheddar or marble cheese, light rye bread, root vegetables, smoked oysters.
The second beer to emerge from B-Side Brewing Label in Vankleek Hill, Ontario comes courtesy of Gigantic Brewing in Portland, Oregon. La Formidable “American-Belgo IPA” is a hazy golden orange colour and pours with a large & creamy white head that leaves small streaks of lace and hangs around as a silky cap.
This hybrid ale has aromas of pepper, clove and banana from Belgian yeast intertwined with the punchy lemon and orange notes you’d expect from American hops, all over a light caramel and honey-toned malt base. The taste of La Formidable is rather dry and earthy from start to finish. Thick toffee malts are accented by milt fruit esters and the beer’s sturdy (60 IBU) bitterness really hits home in the aftertaste, with also leaves mild lemon peel and pepper notes behind.
The flagship beer of the newly-opened Nita Beer Company in Ottawa, Ontario is an American pale lager that had a clear, deep golden colour and pours with a frothy white head that is retained as a dense cap and leaves large wisps of lace behind. Thick, dewy florals, honey and lightly toasted malt aromas permeate from a glass of Ten12, along with a sweet cereal note and a fresh, grainy character that reminds me of harvesting and bagging feed on my uncle’s dairy farm.
The taste of Ten12 is decidedly crisp and refreshing, with an inviting air of light, fruity flavours like grape, apple and red cherry over an earthy and mineral-toned malt base. A surprisingly sturdy bitterness (25 IBU give or take) transitions to a slight saltiness in the finish, with honey and grain notes lingering in the aftertaste. Ten12 is quite full-bodied for a lager, with an ample amount of carbonation that never seems to dwindle.
Grindstone Amber Ale from Broadhead Brewing Company Limited in Ottawa, Ontario is a fairly light golden-amber colour and pours with a tight, creamy white head that dissipates quickly and leaves a thin film behind. The smell of this American red ale is punctuated by various citrus tones such as lemon and tangerine, which are sharp against a sweet toffee malt base.
That toffee character anchors the taste of Grindstone Amber Ale, which also carries notes of light berry and grape juices. A semi-sweet chocolate flavour is balanced by a solid, lemony bitterness that comes forward in the finish and checks in at 25 IBU. The aftertaste goes dry, but still holds a hint of light caramel. The ale is full-bodied and grainy with a moderate carbonation level. It’s certainly hearty, but not too filling as to discourage a second pint.