Honey Ginger Shandy from Old Tomorrow Ltd. in Toronto, Ontario is a beautiful golden hue and pours with a loose and spongy white head that tends to leave small islands of lace on the glass. Ginger and botanical extract aromas waft from this blend of beer and ginger ale, along with notes of honey, lemon oil and sharp citric acid.
The taste of Old Tomorrow Honey Ginger Shandy is definitely on the sweet side and carries a solid ginger bite. We aren’t talking Jamaican ginger beer, but it has a defined tang and packs a touch of heat. There is a mild undertone of earthy grains, but ginger takes centre stage here. The beer has a medium body and is fairly viscose, though there’s plenty of fine carbonation to help it from feeling overly sticky as the honey flavour comes through in the finish. A faint lemonade character and hint of florals linger in the aftertaste.
Queen Street 501 from The Brickworks Ciderhouse in Toronto, Ontario has a deep golden colour that more closely resembles a typical American lager than it does a commercially produced cider and retains a small collar of bubbles longer than most. This semi-sweet blend of Ontario heritage apples smells McIntosh-heavy, with a soft and warm baked character and background sweetness that reminds me of Cortland or Gala.
That sweetness translates through to the taste of Queen Street 501, which is similar to a higher quality, not from concentrate juice that you might find at your local mom and pop grocery. Though this moderately effervescent cider is a bit sweet for my palate, there are some mildly funky yeast notes that open things up and the finish has a nice tartness Granny Smith fans will enjoy as well as a vague sourness that might even make you pucker a bit. The body has a mild viscosity and I was typically left with a soft fuzziness on my tongue.
Owned by Constellation Brands, Inc., Growers Cider Co. has produced a number of flavoured ciders of varying potability over the years. Growers Pear is the latest beverage to appear on shelves and is presented as a clear, almost colourless liquid that bears the faintest of chartreuse tones and sets free a torrent of fine bubbles when poured into a glass.
Growers Pear has a big, natural-smelling fruit aroma that really pops from the can or glass, along with a thick, syrupy quality that brings to mind a fruit cup you might pack in a child’s lunch. There are also hints of stonefruit and citrus in there, but the pear aroma is dominant and surprisingly convincing.
Look: Hazy, honey coloured. Airy and light white head settles as a small, puffy collar. Long streaks of lace.
Smell: Light honey malts. Red fife wheat and spelt are prevalent, bringing a vague sourness and earthy character. Hints of apple, pear, sweet white wine. Mild funk.
Taste: Crisp, dry and earthy. Soft honey sweetness countered by sharp lemon, orange and vinous notes. Finish is very dry, lingering lemon in the aftertaste.
Mouth: Medium to full body. Relatively soft carbonation, fairly viscose, earthy and a bit chewy.
Opinion: Very rustic take on the style. The grain bill is quite hearty, Cascade hops are well used and keep the beer from feeling too heavy. Not a lot of funk, but enough yeasty life on the tongue to give it some pop.
Food: Charcuterie, green or white grapes, creamy cheeses, lighter nuts, soft white bread. Note: Amsterdam Brewing Company provided me with a bottle of Home Grown Saison for evaluation.
This lighter take on a Belgian-style ale From Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario pours a hazy golden honey colour, with a creamy white head that settles as a thin film and fuzzy collar, leaving a few small streaks of lace behind. Farm Table: Grisette has a honey-soaked malt smell that reminded me of banana or carrot bread, with light aromas of apple and pear, fresh herbs, a hint of farmhouse funk and a crisp, white pepper-like note.
The taste of Farm Table: Grisette brings this bright and appealing melange forward and is set against a stark dryness that really promotes the grassy, herbal and floral tones. A quick, crisp and lemony finish punctuates the light-bodied and modestly carbonated ale, leaving vague hints of earthy, toasted malts, citrus rind and mineral.