A spiced imperial stout from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario, Channel Ocho is opaque black and pours with a large, creamy, tan-coloured head that leaves swathes of lace and hangs around as a tight collar and film. There is a lot going on in the smell of Channel Ocho. Smoke is front and centre, with notes of clove, red pepper, plum, cinnamon and banana all coming through behind it. The ale also has a sort of chemical edge to it (likely from chipotle peppers) that softens as it warms.
The taste of Channel Ocho is quite spicy, particularly in the warming finish. Along the way, flavours of dark chocolate, black and white pepper, wet mushroom, and dark fruit like fig or raisin can be found in the full-bodied, mildly carbonated and very earthy feeling ale. The burn of white pepper lingers in the aftertaste along with a note of fresh grass.
Hawaiian Style Pale Ale from Spearhead Brewing Company Limited in Toronto, Ontario pours a hazy, bright pencil yellow colour with ample frothy white foam. The head has good retention and leaves a thick lace behind. This pineapple infused American IPA has a very hop-forward aroma with bright floral and citrus tones, along with a sweet, syrupy note and a subtle hint of pineapple juice.
Hawaiian Style Pale Ale has a crisp, bitter taste with a grapefruit citrus tone and a mild caramel backing. It’s a bit unbalanced, but is also very drinkable and has a crisp, dry finish. The ale is medium-bodied with a relatively mild carbonation level. There is a solid bitterness on the tongue with a slight oiliness. The aftertaste is tart, with orange peel and pineapple notes.
HogsBack Vintage Lager from the HogsBack Brewing Company in Ottawa, Ontario pours a very nice clear golden colour with a respectable and foamy white head that leaves a fair about of lacing before settling as a collar.
This beer has a relatively hoppy and surprisingly “boozy” aroma with some tangy citrus notes. It also has a sort of dank, earthy smell to it, common to many Ontario craft-brewed beers. Thankfully, these “moldy” traits lighten as the beer warms a bit.
The mouthfeel of HogsBack Vintage Lager is quite bubbly, making for a smooth and refreshing drinkability. The taste itself is more bitter than I’d expect upfront and remains that way, but it also carries a robust malty sweetness in the finish thanks to a three malt blend. I also get faint wood tones in the aftertaste.