This American red ale from Molson Coors Canada is a clear amber colour, yielding a large and spongy white head that has good retention, lingering as a rocky cap. Rickard’s Red IPA has a strong, lemony aroma and light peppery tone in front of light toffee malts that carry notes of fresh grain and warm biscuit.
The taste of Rickard’s Red IPA seems somewhat imbalanced at first, but manages to come together, wavering from a sweet but sharp buckwheat honey-like tone to a punchy citric bite and then warm, syrupy peach and mango flavours. A moderate bitterness (40 IBU) transitions to an earthy and grainy finish and though there are pleasant lemon and fruit notes that linger, they are saddled with an unfortunate stickiness that had me reaching for my water glass between sips of this full-bodied ale.
This seasonal dunkelweizen from Muskoka Brewery Inc. in Bracebridge, Ontario is cola brown in colour, with a deep ruby tone visible when held towards light. It pours with a small and rocky tan cap that doesn’t tend to stay around very long, though a steady stream of bubbles appeared at the top of my glass. The smell of Winter Weiss is an inviting blend of chocolate, stone fruit and plantain that reminds me of warm fruitcake, with notes of clove and evergreen punctuating the beer’s wintry feeling.
Winter Weiss has a robust taste, with flavours of dark toffee and stone fruit at the fore over a biscuit-like malt base. A sharp note of herbal liqueur and mild bitterness keep things from getting too sweet and the ale finishes dry, while hints of clove and lemon peel tend to linger on my palate. Though Winter Weiss is fairly light-bodied, there is a noticeable viscosity and some earthiness to the mouthfeel.
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.
St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout from McAuslan Brewing Incorporated in Montreal, Quebec is opaque and jet black, with a frothy tan coloured head that settles as a thick and rocky cap and leaves large splotches of lace on your glass. The simple yet sturdy smell of this stout carries aromas of chocolate malt and syrup, black cherry juice, oatmeal and ground coffee.
The taste of St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout is full-flavoured and very well-balanced. There is a very strong chocolate character that gets accented by an earthy, grainy bitterness clocking in at 45 IBU. The oatmeal brings a bit of sourness, notes of plum and raisin mingle in the slightly woody finish and the aftertaste is assertively dry. This ale has a thick and grainy body, mild to moderate carbonation and a pleasant creaminess smooths everything out.
A traditional English-style pub ale, Earnscliffe ESB from Dominion City Brewing Company in Ottawa, Ontario pours a steely, ruby-brown colour with a small off-white head that remains as a persistent collar throughout your glass. The smell of roasted chocolate malt blends with aromas of caramel and tea biscuit to create a sturdy base, on top of which are deep plum and raisin notes, along with woody hints of pine and cedar.
Chocolate and dark toffee flavours anchor Earnscliffe ESB. The taste of plum and raisin is joined by a vinous and slightly sour grape tone that transitions to a lighter grape jelly-like character in the finish. This ale’s bitterness is spot-on and leads to a dry aftertaste with notes of chocolate and pepper. A full body and low amount of carbonation give the brew an authentic English pub feel.