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.
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.
Look: Chill-hazed, light apricot orange colour. Small, loose, frothy white head hangs around as a cap.
Smell: Lightly toasted malt and fresh grasses. Tons of yeast esters…banana, clove, apple, pine, wintergreen, lavender. Very complex and appealing.
Taste: Very intense at first. Bitter citrus flavour is front-loaded, then mellows out nicely. Surprisingly light syrupy sweetness, notes of apple and pear, very dry and peppery finish with a hint of mint.
This hopfenweiss from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario is a cloudy, saffron coloured wheat ale and pours with a creamy white head that leaves weblike lacing behind as it settles into a thick collar. Wag the Wolf has a distinct earthy yeast smell with fruity aromas of lemon, mango, plantain and passion fruit along with spicy notes of pepper and cloves.
The taste of Wag the Wolf is rather dry and tart from start to finish. Its toasted wheat malt base is joined by lemon and grapefruit citrus tones, a hint of cloves and the beer has taken on a mild sourness since it was packaged that is rather pleasant. This ale has a medium body, a moderate amount of fine carbonation and a veritable ton of yeasty pop that creates a creamy sensation on the tongue and it finishes with an earthy bitterness that feels a bit stronger than the listed IBU of 20.
This American amber ale from Covered Bridge Brewing in Stittsville, Ontario is a hazy, copper toned amber colour and pours with a modest off-white head that sticks around as a tight collar without leaving much lace behind as it settles. The Amber Rose has an appealing blend of chocolate, caramel and lemon juice aromas, along with notes of white wine, chalk, raspberry jam and a faint whiff of alcohol that comes forward as it warms.
The taste of The Amber Rose is anchored by a soft, yet sturdy malt base that carries rich caramel, bran muffin and chocolate flavours, the latter of which is most prevalent in the finish of this full-bodied, mildly carbonated ale. The mouthfeel is grainy on the palate and feels nectarous and oily on the back of the tongue, where the beer’s moderate bitterness and grapefruit juice flavoured aftertaste come through.