This slightly hazy, golden-hued Helles lager from Collingwood, Ontario’s Side Launch Brewing Company has pencil yellow highlights and pours with a large and frothy head that has excellent retention and tends to leave some light spots of lace near the top of my glass. Mountain Lager has floral and perfume-like noble hop aromas, an almost steely mineral character and hints of stone fruit and red berry over a light base of German malts that give off an air of honey and light caramel.
The taste of Mountain Lager is crisp and finds supreme balance. Earthy, yet soft and honey-tinged malts and contrasted by a dry black pepper note, a citrus peel flavour and a moderate 27 IBU bitterness. I find that the fruity esters really come forward in the taste before transitioning to a dry finish that has lingering mineral, pepper and soapy tones. This lager is full-bodied for the substyle, with a pleasantly understated carbonation level and slight viscosity.
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.
Mad & Noisy Hop & Weizen from Creemore Springs Brewery Limited in Creemore, Ontario is cloudy, light chartreuse in colour and pours with a large and creamy white head that settles into a rocky cap and yields some chunky lacing. This hopped up take on german wheat beer has a fairly light and airy smell. Traditional aromas of banana, clove and bubblegum are found, but are muted somewhat by notes of lemongrass and grapefruit pith.
The taste of Mad & Noisy Hop & Weizen is quite crisp, with its slight bitterness front-loaded. There is plenty of grapefruit flavour, along with toasted wheat, light berry notes and a hint of clove in the starkly dry finish and aftertaste. The ale is medium-bodied and has a moderate amount of carbonation, as well and a rather lively mouthfeel.
The second beer to emerge from B-Side Brewing Label in Vankleek Hill, Ontario comes courtesy of Gigantic Brewing in Portland, Oregon. La Formidable “American-Belgo IPA” is a hazy golden orange colour and pours with a large & creamy white head that leaves small streaks of lace and hangs around as a silky cap.
This hybrid ale has aromas of pepper, clove and banana from Belgian yeast intertwined with the punchy lemon and orange notes you’d expect from American hops, all over a light caramel and honey-toned malt base. The taste of La Formidable is rather dry and earthy from start to finish. Thick toffee malts are accented by milt fruit esters and the beer’s sturdy (60 IBU) bitterness really hits home in the aftertaste, with also leaves mild lemon peel and pepper notes behind.