This American pale ale from Lake of Bays Brewing Company in Baysville, Ontario is hazy and pencil yellow colour, with a fairly small, but creamy off-white head that leaves a stringy collar and some lace when settled. The smell of Crosswind Pale Ale is built on a chocolaty roasted malt base and accented by aromas of toasted oats and rice, butterscotch, grapefruit and limestone.
Crosswind Pale Ale is led by earthy, roasted grains in its taste and is countered by a punchy grapefruit flavour that brings with it a moderate bitterness. I also get hints of chocolate, light nuts and a tart note in the finish that reminds me of lemon seed. A medium body and carbonation, as well as a fairly resinous and earthy mouthfeel give way to a sharp, mineral-like aftertaste.
This hefeweizen from Denison's Brewing Company in Toronto, Ontario pours a hazy, slightly rusty yellow colour with a very frothy white head that leaves thick rings of lace and settles as a long-lasting pencil thick cap. Denison's Weissbier has a classic blend of aromas including lightly toasted wheat, yeast, cloves and bubblegum with accents of lemon peel and clove.
The taste of Denison's Weissbier is very easygoing. Wheat, banana, yeast and bubblegum flavours lead to a tart, lemony and slightly earthy finish. Though the ale has a thin body and mild carbonation, yeast sparks on the tongue and the mouthfeel is rather creamy. The aftertaste carries a mild yeast flavour.
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.
Little Scrapper IPA from Half Pints Brewing Company Limited in Winnipeg, Manitoba pours a hazy, light amber colour with golden highlights and a frothy, creamy off-white head that has nice retention as a pinky finger wide cap and leaves fairly heavy lace on the glass. This American IPA carries aromas of caramel, pepper, lemon peel, umami and pineapple anchored by a thick, toasted grain tone.
The toasted malts anchor the taste of Little Scrapper IPA from beginning to end as well, accented by juicy pineapple, lemon and mango flavours, as well as a hint of brewed black tea. This ale is easily quaffed, with a medium body, low carbonation, light oiliness and grainy warmth. There's just enough bitterness to please a hop head in the finish that lingers through the aftertaste and is joined there by a slightly salty tone.
Nickel Brook Premium Organic Lager from Better Bitters Brewing Company in Burlington, Ontario pours a clear, golden-amber colour with a frothy off-white head that leaves spotty lacing before settling as a thin film and collar. The smell of this American pale lager is grassy, floral, soapy and earthy, anchored by toasted grain and honey tones and carrying soft green apple and yeast accents.
The taste of Nickel Brook Premium Organic Lager is very earthy with a honey and caramel-sweetened, toasted grain flavour and distinct mineral note. It is rather heavy on the tongue with a mild carbonation. It comes off as creamy, though it’s also fairly viscose. The finish has a burntness and twang of yeast to it, while mild bitterness comes through in aftertaste.
Spring Maple Belgian Blonde Ale from Lake of Bays Brewing Company in Baysville, Ontario pours a golden honey colour with light amber tinges, a moderate and soapy white head that settles as a stringy collar without leaving much lace at all. This maple-infused ale really doesn’t smell like maple at all, but has a rather odd blend of sour milk, butterscotch, shredded wheat, candi sugar, yeast and soapy hop aromas.
I simply can’t find maple in the taste of Spring Maple Belgian Blonde Ale either. I do get caramel-sweetened malts, yeast, freshly cut grain and graham cracker flavours, accented by floral and peppery hop tones. This ale is medium bodied with rather mild carbonation. There is a slightly creamy and yeasty character in the mouth, but I find it very syrupy overall. The finish is almost cloying and thick with caramel, then the aftertaste is tart, bordering on sour with a lemon oil tone. It goes from one extreme to the other and leaves my teeth feeling sticky.