Honey Ginger Shandy from Old Tomorrow Ltd. in Toronto, Ontario is a beautiful golden hue and pours with a loose and spongy white head that tends to leave small islands of lace on the glass. Ginger and botanical extract aromas waft from this blend of beer and ginger ale, along with notes of honey, lemon oil and sharp citric acid.
The taste of Old Tomorrow Honey Ginger Shandy is definitely on the sweet side and carries a solid ginger bite. We aren’t talking Jamaican ginger beer, but it has a defined tang and packs a touch of heat. There is a mild undertone of earthy grains, but ginger takes centre stage here. The beer has a medium body and is fairly viscose, though there’s plenty of fine carbonation to help it from feeling overly sticky as the honey flavour comes through in the finish. A faint lemonade character and hint of florals linger in the aftertaste.
Look: Hazy, honey coloured. Airy and light white head settles as a small, puffy collar. Long streaks of lace.
Smell: Light honey malts. Red fife wheat and spelt are prevalent, bringing a vague sourness and earthy character. Hints of apple, pear, sweet white wine. Mild funk.
Taste: Crisp, dry and earthy. Soft honey sweetness countered by sharp lemon, orange and vinous notes. Finish is very dry, lingering lemon in the aftertaste.
Mouth: Medium to full body. Relatively soft carbonation, fairly viscose, earthy and a bit chewy.
Opinion: Very rustic take on the style. The grain bill is quite hearty, Cascade hops are well used and keep the beer from feeling too heavy. Not a lot of funk, but enough yeasty life on the tongue to give it some pop.
Food: Charcuterie, green or white grapes, creamy cheeses, lighter nuts, soft white bread. Note: Amsterdam Brewing Company provided me with a bottle of Home Grown Saison for evaluation.
This lighter take on a Belgian-style ale From Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario pours a hazy golden honey colour, with a creamy white head that settles as a thin film and fuzzy collar, leaving a few small streaks of lace behind. Farm Table: Grisette has a honey-soaked malt smell that reminded me of banana or carrot bread, with light aromas of apple and pear, fresh herbs, a hint of farmhouse funk and a crisp, white pepper-like note.
The taste of Farm Table: Grisette brings this bright and appealing melange forward and is set against a stark dryness that really promotes the grassy, herbal and floral tones. A quick, crisp and lemony finish punctuates the light-bodied and modestly carbonated ale, leaving vague hints of earthy, toasted malts, citrus rind and mineral.
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.
This American blonde ale from Nickel Brook Brewing Co. in Burlington, Ontario is slightly hazy, golden-amber in colour and yields a large and spongy white head that has good retention as a rocky cap before receding to a thick collar. Cause & Effect has a hop-forward smell, with grapefruit and tangerine joined by herbal, grassy, piny and peppery aromas. A light blend of English and German malt creates warm, honey and caramel notes that serve as an inviting backdrop for the bright hop characteristics.
The taste of Cause & Effect is hop-forward and quite crisp, but certainly not overbearing. Stone fruit, juicy tropical fruit and grapefruit flavours are accented by an earthy note, while the malts create an air of darkened (but not quite burnt) toast. The ale has a medium body and is mildly carbonated. The finish is dry, earthy and mildly bitter while a hint of pepper lingers on the tongue.