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.
This American pale ale from Side Launch Brewing Company in Collingwood, Ontario is a hazy, light amber colour and yields a frothy white head that leaves splotchy bits of lace behind as it settles into a filmy cap. The smell of Side Launch Pale Ale is filled with fruity esters, carrying notes of passion fruit, plum, tangerine and lemon peel that suggest the use of Cascade and/or Galaxy hops on top of a lightly toasted caramel malt base.
Side launch pale ale is fairly sweet, bringing along nectarous fruit flavours in line with the beer’s aromas, as well as a thick, honeydew-like tone. Balance comes from bitter citrus zest and dry pepper notes in the finish and there are hints of field grass and mint to be found as well. Syrupy fruit tones continue to linger in the aftertaste of this medium-bodied and mildly carbonated ale.
Canada Southern Draft from Railway City Brewing Company in St. Thomas, Ontario pours a muted golden yellow colour. No lace is left behind as its loose white head burns off quickly and settles as a small cap. This American pale lager smells of sweet grains, a blend of berry, grape and citrus juices and has a faint hint of diacetyl.
The grainy and earthy taste of Canada Southern Draft starts sweet then quickly turns dry. Notes of fruit, mineral, toasted light malt and earth are present in this medium bodied and finely carbonated lager throughout the finish, with a distinct floral note coming through in the crisp and dry aftertaste.
Butler’s Bitter from Niagara College Teaching Brewery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario has a deep amber hue with honey highlights and a moderately-sized and frothy tan head that gets retained as a small collar and spotty film. A rocky, somewhat mossy mineral-heavy aroma is prevalent in this English bitter and backed up by bready, syrupy malts that evoke molasses and accented by a note of lemon juice.
The taste of Butler’s Bitter is also syrupy and rather sweet at first, here taking on a dark toffee character. Accents of cashew and coffee lead to a bitter finish with notes of lemon, black tea and mineral water and an aftertaste that carries a mild, berry-like fruitiness. This ale is full-bodied with mild carbonation and is heavy with malt and earth on the tongue.
Nightmare on Mill Street Pumpkin Ale from Mill Street Brewery in Toronto, Ontario pours a hazy and warm ruby-amber colour with a moderate light beige head that leaves spotty lacing and gets retained as a thin collar. This wheat-based pumpkin ale smells of grain, sweet malts, pumpkin and spices such as clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. A bitter chocolate-coffee aroma becomes apparent after warming.
Spices are at the forefront of the taste of Nightmare on Mill Street Pumpkin Ale and create a crisp bite, with a sweet pumpkin flavour behind that and an earthy and grainy backing. Vanilla comes through on the tongue and coupled with the spice blend reminds me somewhat of Dr. Pepper for a moment.
Nightmare on Mill Street Pumpkin Ale is fairly thin, but wheat character and fine carbonation give it a nice, lively body. There is a surprising mild sourness in the finish before going dry. Vanilla, pumpkin and spice all remain prevalent in the aftertaste, along with a mild syrupy feeling.