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24Apr/140

Channel Ocho: ¡Ay, Ay, Ay, Eso es Caliente!

A spiced imperial stout from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario, Channel Ocho is opaque black and pours with a large, creamy, tan-coloured head that leaves swathes of lace and hangs around as a tight collar and film. There is a lot going on in the smell of Channel Ocho. Smoke is front and centre, with notes of clove, red pepper, plum, cinnamon and banana all coming through behind it. The ale also has a sort of chemical edge to it (likely from chipotle peppers) that softens as it warms.

Channel Ocho

Try Cooking with This Strong Spiced Ale

The taste of Channel Ocho is quite spicy, particularly in the warming finish. Along the way, flavours of dark chocolate, black and white pepper, wet mushroom, and dark fruit like fig or raisin can be found in the full-bodied, mildly carbonated and very earthy feeling ale. The burn of white pepper lingers in the aftertaste along with a note of fresh grass.

5Dec/130

Revisited: Winter Beard (Cellar Aged)

Though I started buying Muskoka Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout in 2009, I first reviewed in in December of 2011 after they rebranded it to Winter Beard. At that time, I thought it was a “wonderful holiday season treat and, in my opinion, is the star of the Muskoka Brewery lineup”.

Though there is a 2013 version of Winter Beard available in other provinces and at the retail store in Bracebridge, the team at Muskoka Brewery opted to give the rest of their home province a cellar aged edition of the 2012 batch.  Last winter they offered a limited number of aged 2011 bottles that were packaged in a wooden sleeve and I was able to compare an aged version to a fresh 2012 bottle. Without a doubt, I preferred the aged version and though the fresh bottle was still quite pleasant, I found it tasted a little “green”.

Winter Beard

This Wintry Treat Gets Better with Age

Pouring the 2012 version of Winter Beard (Cellar Aged) yields an opaque brew with a spongy beige head that has great retention; hanging around as a collar and film while leaving thick streaks of lace on your glass. The smell of this American imperial stout is very much chocolate-centric with a strong and juicy cranberry tone that opens things up and subtle hints of lemongrass, toasted malts and ground coffee.

27Dec/120

Tempest Imperial Stout: Causing a Commotion

This seasonal American imperial stout from Amsterdam Brewing Company Limited in Toronto, Ontario is opaque black with a creamy beige head that sticks around as a thick collar and leaves spotty lacing behind. Tempest Imperial Stout has aromas of roasted grains, coffee, chocolate, wood and dark fruit, as well as a peppery bite.

Tempest Imperial Stout

I Use a Corkscrew Knife to Cut the Wax Seal

The taste of Tempest Imperial Stout follows suit, with roasted grains in the forefront and accents of dark chocolate coffee. A pronounced fruit flavour has a tart black cherry tone that transitions to a sharply bitter finish. The stout is grainy, earthy and weighs heavily on the tongue. A mild creaminess and oiliness eases the beer down and its hefty ABV is thoroughly masked by the rich flavours, which blend and linger in the aftertaste.