Highlander Brew Co. of South River, Ontario recently introduced two specialty beers to complement their flagship Scottish Ale, a beer I considered one of my favourite new retail releases of 2012. I had a chance to sample both Twisted Spruce Ale and Blacksmith Smoked Porter, as well as speak with owner and brewmaster Brian Wilson about his brewery’s relatively brief history.
Brian Wilson established Highlander Brew Co. in 2009 using a long time appreciation of beer and the severance package he received after being laid off from his position with a large financial firm along with 20000 of his colleagues and relocating his family to northern Ontario.
Ambre de la Chaudière from Mill Street Brewery’s Ottawa Brewpub pours a hazy, rusty orange colour with amber tinges and a moderate tan coloured head that gets retained as a string-like collar and leaves some spotty lace behind. This Bière de Garde smells of wheat, grains, yeast, banana and bubble gum and it has a subtle hint of alcohol.
Ambre de la Chaudière has a deep taste of biscuit-like grains with a toasted, earthy character. Sweet, fruity accents of strawberry and banana and an assertive boozy bite round out the taste. The unfiltered beer is full-bodied with a low carbonation level. Yeast provides a pop on the tongue before a bready character takes over. The finish has a nice dryness and the aftertaste has a honey-like flavour and syrupy quality.
Brewed in a small Czech village near Prague and named after the billy-goat, Velkopopovický Kozel Premium is a clear, golden bohemian-style lager with medium carbonation. It creates a fresh, grainy and flowery aroma with subtle earthy tones when poured.
Velkopopovický Kozel Premium provides a creamy mouthfeel and a crisp, dry and bitter taste that carries a notable sour bite. The lager finishes with a smooth, honey-like sweetness. There are no adjuncts used in the brewing process, only water, barely malt and hop extract.