Beau's All Natural Brewing Company (Vankleek Hill, Ontario)
Malt Liquor (8.1%)
Look: Deep, clear golden yellow. Large, soapy white head dissipates quickly and settles as a moldy film.
Smell: Sweet berry and honey tones that bring cheap fruit punch drinking boxes to mind. Lightly toasted, earthy malt (2-row/Pale, Pilsner). Metallic note.
Taste: Shockingly well-balanced. Honey-like sweetness, dry & slightly burnt grain, solid citrus peel flavoured bitterness, earthy finish.
Mouth: Grainy, full-bodied, slightly viscose. Aftertaste is crisp and mildly sour, but leaves my mouth feeling dry.
Opinion: Probably the only organic malt liquor I'll ever try. It's much more palatable than your average corn-based swill such as Olde English 800 or Colt 45, but at the end of the day it's still malt liquor. Drink it cold.
Food: Boiled hot dogs, frozen pizza, ramen noodles, Hot Rods, store brand potato chips, Chef Boyardee, cheap smokes.
This American brown ale from Cassel Brewery in Casselman, Ontario pours a deep reddish amber colour with a small and loose white head that leaves very little lace on your glass and is retained as a soapy-looking collar. Golden Rail has a sweet and toasty caramel malt smell, with a soft honey tone, light fruit esters, a faint vegetal whiff and a mildly boozy phenolic aroma.
The taste of Golden Rail is quite grainy and earthy. Caramel, toffee and honey flavours are all present, but the ale never comes off as too sweet. The finish is dry, suitably bitter and carries a cherry note while the aftertaste has a lingering, yeasty bread flavour and a touch of mineral character. A mild slickness can be felt on your tongue between sips of this full-bodied and mildly carbonated ale.
It’s that time of year again. The weather is cooler, leaves are changing colour and tables are filled with comfort food. For the third year, the folks at Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario have put together a mix pack of beers to celebrate and promote their famous Oktoberfest event that sees thousands of beer lovers from far and wide descend on the quaint eastern Ontario town in search of revelry, great food, big name musical acts and, of course, beer.
This year we see the return of some favourites from years past in Dark Helmut (complete with a new label) and Happy Pilsner, while Dial “Z” for Zwickel and Rauchstack represent the newest entries in Beau’s Wild Oats Series. I briefly reviewed the four beers, which are presented in alphabetical order.
Nickel Brook Brewing Company in Burlington, Ontario has crafted an extra special bitter that is a lovely ruby colour and yields a large, spongy tan head when poured that gets retained as a small cap and leaves scattered spots of lace behind. Equilibrium has a thick, chocolaty smell with aromas of dark stone fruit such as plum and black cherry, as well as mild pine and citrus accents.
The taste of Equilibrium carries similar notes of prune juice and raisin on top of a base that has both light and dark chocolate flavours. The beer's balance certainly lives up to its name and once the lemon-toned bitterness sets in, it hangs around throughout the somewhat woody finish and fruity aftertaste. This ale is very mellow and full-bodied, giving it an authentic English pub feel.
This semi-dry cider from NV Konings in Zonhoven, Belgium is a light golden colour permeated by an odd greenish hue. More odd is the presence of a small collar and lace when poured into a glass, traits not common to cider. Originating from South Africa in the 1990s, Savanna Dry is made using juice from Elgin Valley apples and has a fairly unique smell among ciders available in Ontario that most closely resembles the slightly sour apple crops that get harvested here in early fall.
The taste of Savanna Dry is ironically saddled with an exaggerated sweetness and countered with a taste that is far closer to sour than anything I’d label as dry. This cider’s most unique trait is a distinct, but soft note of coconut. The sourness takes on an unfortunate vinegar character in the finish, while dryness aided by the addition of citric acid can finally be perceived in the aftertaste.