Bentley Brewers Copper Lager from Brewer’s Delight, Inc. in Ottawa, Ontario is a clear golden copper colour and pours with a soapy white head that hangs around as a mossy cap. This Vienna lager has deep aromas of toffee-sweetened malt, juicy stone fruit and biscuit, along with more subtle notes of lemongrass and minerals.
The sturdy and well-balanced taste of Bentley Brewers Copper Lager is built on an earthy, yet smooth malt base with light toffee and cocoa accents, as well as a light lemon tone that keeps things from being too heavy on the tongue and palate. Bitterness becomes more prevalent in the finish of the medium-bodied lager, while mineral, salt and citrus notes linger in the crisp aftertaste.
Sweetwater Squeeze Radler from Amsterdam Brewing Company Limited in Toronto, Ontario is made with blood orange and grapefruit juices, as well as the brewery’s house made soda. This flavoured light beer is golden orange in colour with a turbid appearance. It pours with a loose white head and tends to leave bits of pulp on your glass.
Unmistakably bright aromas of grapefruit and blood orange are weighed down somewhat by an earthy rind tone and there is a hint of lake water to be found. The not-from-concentrate juice flavours burst forth on your tongue and despite the addition of soda, Sweetwater Squeeze Radler is relatively dry and tart, with a hint of sourness before an acidic aftertaste takes over.
The second retail release from Ottawa’s Big Rig Brewery is Release the Hounds Black IPA. Also referred to as a Cascadian dark ale, the beer is black and completely opaque. A large and creamy tan head leaves web-like lacing as it settles into a long-lasting and rocky cap. This hybrid ale has a rich and roasty smell, with deep coffee and dark chocolate aromas joined by bright notes of cherry juice and lemon peel, along with a pleasant air of dewy grass.
The roasted character megers with a thick sweetness in the taste of Release the Hounds Black IPA, which is balanced by dry and bitter chocolate and coffee flavours. Punchy notes of citrus and pine bring along a sturdy bitterness (I’d guess 60-70 IBU) and there’s a hint of salt in the finish. The aftertaste of this full-bodied ale has roasted grain and dark toffee flavours that tend to linger.
This American Pale Ale from Amsterdam Brewing Company in Toronto, Ontario is a clear and bright golden colour, pouring with a loose white head that’s retained as a small collar and thin film. Cruiser All Day Pale Ale has a pungent and earthy smell, with sharp aromas of black pepper and lemongrass, a relatively neutral umami note, sweet mango and just a hint of ammonia—think cat pee, but in a good way.
When fresh, the taste of Cruiser All Day Pale Ale can be pretty intense. Citrus flavours include lemongrass, yuzu peel and tangerine and are all backed up by a punchy pepper note. A toasty toffee and caramel malt base is light enough to showcase the blend of Citra and Sorachi Ace hops, but not so delicate as to get lost.
Notes of mango and yellow honeydew come forward in the finish, while a mild lemon peel tone lingers in the aftertaste. Cruiser All Day Pale Ale has a light-medium body and is moderately carbonated with fine champagne-like bubbles.
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.