This herb and fruit-infused take on pale ale from Kissmeyer Beer via B-Side Brewing Label in Vankleek Hill, Ontario is a light and hazy peach or apricot-hued orange, with a loose but creamy white head that gets retained as a small collar and film while leaving small spots of lace on your glass. Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale has an earthy, slightly funky and mostly floral smell with notes of rye, oats, caramel, a vague sourness and a light grapefruit rind citrus aroma.
Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale tastes like a typical hop-forward American pale ale at first, but unwinds with a subtle complexity. Instead of simply contrasting between malt and hops, the taste is smoothed out by oat and wheat malts, with herbal accents creating a dry tartness in the finish and all held together by a hint of maple syrup. Rye and yeast flavours create an earthy aftertaste in this full-bodied and mildly carbonated ale.
This oak aged altbier from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario pours a ruby-copper colour with a large, frothy and creamy beige head that settles as a loose collar and thin film, leaving very small spots of lace behind. Festivale Plus Sticke Alt has a woodsy aroma that reminds me of pine and fir trees. Whiskey, dark berry, caramel and earthy grain accents contribute to a general warmth.
The taste of Festivale Plus Sticke Alt is fruity and red wine-like. There is also a grainy, woody and sweet character that reminds me of rye whiskey and honey-sweetened biscuit or muffin. The ale is full-bodied with mild carbonation, an earthy, raw grain mouthfeel and a slight oiliness. A rather dry finish precedes an aftertaste with oak and fruit notes.
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.
Czechvar from Budějovický Budvar, n.p. in České Budějovice, Czech Republic is clear and golden coloured with a soapy white head that quickly settles as a wispy ring. This Bohemian pilsener smells of floral, soapy hops, backed by aromas of sweet malts and corn and accented by light grass and fruit tones.
Czechvar has a fairly crisp taste that is balanced between earth grains and syrupy malts and accented by a mild grape juice note. The pilsener is moderately carbonated and bodied with a faint yeasty tingle on the tongue. The finish is dry and earthy, while the aftertaste leaves a sharp, fruity and slightly metallic flavour behind.
Fuller’s London Pride from Fuller Smith and Turner PLC in Chiswick, London, England pours a gem-like golden amber colour with a rich and creamy white head that settles as a sturdy film and leaves a moderate amount of lace. The aroma of this English Pale Ale is of roasted malts, with a cherry or plum-like fruitiness and it carries undertones of freshwater and floral hops.
The taste of Fuller’s London Pride has a bready character, with a toasted accent and a faint honey or caramel-like sweetness. This ale has an extraordinarily smooth and creamy mouthfeel, despite little to no perceivable carbonation aside from the head. A dark wood note comes through on the back of the tongue as it finishes and the aftertaste is nicely embittered.