This American pale ale from Lake of Bays Brewing Company in Baysville, Ontario is hazy and pencil yellow colour, with a fairly small, but creamy off-white head that leaves a stringy collar and some lace when settled. The smell of Crosswind Pale Ale is built on a chocolaty roasted malt base and accented by aromas of toasted oats and rice, butterscotch, grapefruit and limestone.
Crosswind Pale Ale is led by earthy, roasted grains in its taste and is countered by a punchy grapefruit flavour that brings with it a moderate bitterness. I also get hints of chocolate, light nuts and a tart note in the finish that reminds me of lemon seed. A medium body and carbonation, as well as a fairly resinous and earthy mouthfeel give way to a sharp, mineral-like aftertaste.
The appearance of Bog Water from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario certainly lives up to its name. This gruit ale pours a murky, sludgy rust red and copper brown mixture with an off-white head that burns off almost immediately, leaving a thin ring and almost no lace. Bog Water has a very smooth and appealing aroma anchored by earthy grains, grasses and malts. Sweet flowers, raisin, banana, spices and a bit of an overripe pear note also come through.
Bog Water tastes of honey sweetened flowers with a syrupy malt backing. A solid bitterness takes over, then grassy and flowery tones come through in the finish. The wild ale is medium-bodied with a very low carbonation, with both syrupy and yeasty qualities noticeable on the tongue. The aftertaste is bitter, with a floral taste and a sort of medicinal quality.
Southern Tier IPA from the Southern Tier Brewing Company in Lakewood, New York pours a clear, golden-amber colour with a sizable, frothy, tan-coloured head that laces and gets retained as a collar. This strong ale has a fresh and appealing hop aroma with lots of citrus tones including grapefruit and tangerine. There is also a nice honey-like sweetness that brightens everything up.
The taste of Southern Tier IPA is surprisingly sweet up front, with a toasted malt overtone. A well-balanced bitterness is followed by buttery, piney and citrus hop tones. The mouthfeel is creamy, with a medium-heavy body and little carbonation. A honey-like sweetness at the end masks the ale’s ABV.
Fuller’s Extra Special Bitter from the Griffin Brewery in London, England is a rich ruby-amber coloured ale that produces a lingering, sponge-like head that laces your glass. This award-winning brew has a deep fruit and malt aroma with molasses undertones.
A two-malt, four-hop blend creates a rich biscuit-like taste that is punctuated by a bitterness reminiscent of baker’s chocolate. Fuller’s Extra Special Bitter finishes with warming peppery and spicy tones and has a very creamy mouthfeel from the start of your glass to the end.
This lager from the Pivovarna Laško in Laško, Slovenia is a beautiful golden colour. Fitting, as the name Zlatorog translates to “goldenhorn”, which is a legendary alpine chamois (goat-antelope hybrid) found in a 19th century story by Rudolf Baumbach. Zlatorog produces a thin white head when poured and a very grainy and earthy aroma with a hint of corn.
The lager has a refreshingly light, sweet and hoppy taste that is balanced by a very dry finish. Zlatorog tastes clean on the palate and has little in the way of aftertaste. Unlike many eastern European beers, there is nothing at all “skunky” about Zlatorog. It always smells and tastes fresh.