Strong Patrick from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario is a honey tinged, rusty amber colour with a large and creamy tan head that sticks around as a collared film and leaves streaks of lace on your glass. This oak and partially barrel aged Irish red ale has aromas of toasted grains, vanilla, rye, lemon rind, alcohol, red berry and peat. Interestingly, the oak takes on a sweet, hickory-like character.
Strong Patrick has a very smooth taste. Honey-sweetened toasted grains create a muffin-like quality with chocolate, butter and berry accents contributing to encompassing warmth. Some citrus and pepper flavours are also noted, while a mellow yet sharp nibble of whiskey permeates the finish and lingers in the aftertaste. The ale is full-bodied with low carbonation. The mouthfeel is earthy and biscuit-like overall, but also has creamy and oily characteristics.
This Imperial gruit from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario is a murky, steely dark brown colour with a frothy tan head that is retained as a thick collar and leaves spotty lacing. The Bogfather has a somewhat medicinal smell and cacophony of aromas that evolve as it warms, including raisin, hazelnut, sharp herbs, root beer, anise, bread crust and bubblegum.
The taste of The Bogfather is just as complex. Flavours off chocolate, black licorice, toast, herbs, tart red berries and plum can all be detected. This beer is full bodied, with mild carbonation and a yeasty pop on the tongue. The finish is somewhat bitter and a bit salty, with lingering dark bread and bubblegum notes in the aftertaste.
Brewed in collaboration with Ottawa’s Bridgehead, Winterbrewed from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario is a clear, rusty amber colour and pours with a healthy off white head that leaves some spotty lacing before settling as a thin collar and film. This coffee-infused amber brings sharp citrus, toasted grain, light caramel and mild vanilla notes to the aroma, which is anchored by a warm and strong presence of freshly roasted and brewed coffee.
The taste of Winterbrewed builds off the coffee-heavy aroma with a distinctly dark and bitter flavour. Toasted barley and a light fruit note that brings peach or mango to mind create a sturdy and slightly sweet base. The mouthfeel is grainy, yet creamy with mild, fine carbonation. Coffee and light chocolate flavours are found in the finish while the aftertaste is dry with a slightly sharp lime rind character and thin oiliness.
Brewed in collaboration with Patrick Boisvenue of Members of Barleyment, this vanilla porter from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario is opaque black with a spongy, light beige head that settles as a thick film without leaving much lace. Burnt Rock smells of vanilla, molasses, waffle cone, toasted grain and a light red berry jam.
The taste of Burnt Rock also has an overarching berry flavour and is rather sweet overall. Flavours of lightly roasted malts, mild coffee, dark toffee and vanilla are also present. This spiced porter is very thin bodied with a moderate carbonation, making for a creamy mouthfeel. The finish has tartness and sees the berry flavour move back to the fore, while the aftertaste is mildly bitter with a burnt coffee note.
September 30, 2012 marked my second visit to the fairgrounds in the quaint town of Vankleek Hill to partake in the annual Oktoberfest event presented by Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company. I was on the fence about going this year because I had a six month old baby at home and the prospect of spending the day that far away from my small family seemed daunting.
When I received an invitation to attend as a member of the media, I convinced myself (and the wife) that I should go and the next thing I know I was squeezed onto a yellow school bus hurtling east on highway 17 through the rain on a Sunday morning. I only had about 5 hours to spend at the festival, so after checking in I got down to business, promptly buying some beer tokens, a souvenir shirt and keychain and then placing an order for the commemorative Oktoberfest 6-Pack through the BYBO team.
After sampling a few of the new Beau’s-brewed beers and watching the King of Polka himself Walter Ostanek roll out the commemorative first cask that was tapped by Beau’s co-owner Steve Beauschesne, I headed to the Beer School where I attended a session on writing about beer and another on beer tasting and proper glassware use.
I got to meet some of my beer writing contemporaries and also had the pleasure of chatting with a quirky, unassuming brewer named Anders Kissmeyer, who was there for an International Brewers Panel and to brew a new collaboration with Beau’s.
There was a ton of great food to be had. I devoured a “Beauswurst” sausage from The Piggy Market much too fast and there were no less than a dozen other great looking and smelling booths operated by area eateries. There was a homebrewing competition, alpine dance demonstrations, dunk tanking for charity and a series of contests such as sausage eating and stein holding that I simply didn’t have time to check out this time around.
You can read more about the Vankleek Hill Oktoberfest experience at some other great beer blogs, but this year I was all about checking out the six brand new Wild Oats Series beers Beau’s was serving at the event in addition to favourites Lug Tread Lagered Ale, Night Märzen and Weiss O’ Lantern. I’ll briefly review all six in alphabetical order.
This flavoured wheat beer from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill Ontario is yellowish orange in colour and pours with a large, soapy white head that hangs on as a thin collar without leaving much lace. Weiss O’ Lantern has a funky and outdoorsy, but very appealing smell. Staple yeast and bubble gum aromas from its hefeweizen base are joined by notes of fresh grains, mature pumpkin, lemongrass and spices.
The taste of Weiss O’ Lantern has banana and yeast overtones and a hefty dose of orange rind. The pumpkin purée flavour is mild and a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and clove imparts a nice dryness. The beer has a silky smooth, creamy mouthfeel with a small burst of yeast on the tongue. The finish brings a honey sweetened malt flavour and the aftertaste has hints of the spices, along with a mild bitterness.