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.
This American red ale from Molson Coors Canada is a clear amber colour, yielding a large and spongy white head that has good retention, lingering as a rocky cap. Rickard’s Red IPA has a strong, lemony aroma and light peppery tone in front of light toffee malts that carry notes of fresh grain and warm biscuit.
The taste of Rickard’s Red IPA seems somewhat imbalanced at first, but manages to come together, wavering from a sweet but sharp buckwheat honey-like tone to a punchy citric bite and then warm, syrupy peach and mango flavours. A moderate bitterness (40 IBU) transitions to an earthy and grainy finish and though there are pleasant lemon and fruit notes that linger, they are saddled with an unfortunate stickiness that had me reaching for my water glass between sips of this full-bodied ale.
This dry cider from Spirit Tree Estate Cidery in Caledon, Ontario is a pale, brassy yellow and has no shortage of large bubbles streaming from the bottom of your glass when poured. The smell of Spirit Tree Draught Cider is green apple-forward, with notes of crabapple, baked dessert apples, white grape and wild yeast, which creates a mild funk.
Tart and crisp are the two words that best describe the taste of Spirit Tree Draught Cider to me. Green apple and white grape flavours are balanced with a warm and mellow honey sweetness that gives way to a dry finish and a punchy hint of sourness. The cider has a full body and plenty of life on the tongue, along with a mild syrupy feel and an air of creaminess you just won’t find in a typical mass-market product. A funky yeast note lingers in the aftertaste, along with a dry spiciness that brings cinnamon and black pepper to mind.
This seasonal dunkelweizen from Muskoka Brewery Inc. in Bracebridge, Ontario is cola brown in colour, with a deep ruby tone visible when held towards light. It pours with a small and rocky tan cap that doesn’t tend to stay around very long, though a steady stream of bubbles appeared at the top of my glass. The smell of Winter Weiss is an inviting blend of chocolate, stone fruit and plantain that reminds me of warm fruitcake, with notes of clove and evergreen punctuating the beer’s wintry feeling.
Winter Weiss has a robust taste, with flavours of dark toffee and stone fruit at the fore over a biscuit-like malt base. A sharp note of herbal liqueur and mild bitterness keep things from getting too sweet and the ale finishes dry, while hints of clove and lemon peel tend to linger on my palate. Though Winter Weiss is fairly light-bodied, there is a noticeable viscosity and some earthiness to the mouthfeel.