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.
This American brown ale from Cassel Brewery in Casselman, Ontario pours a deep reddish amber colour with a small and loose white head that leaves very little lace on your glass and is retained as a soapy-looking collar. Golden Rail has a sweet and toasty caramel malt smell, with a soft honey tone, light fruit esters, a faint vegetal whiff and a mildly boozy phenolic aroma.
The taste of Golden Rail is quite grainy and earthy. Caramel, toffee and honey flavours are all present, but the ale never comes off as too sweet. The finish is dry, suitably bitter and carries a cherry note while the aftertaste has a lingering, yeasty bread flavour and a touch of mineral character. A mild slickness can be felt on your tongue between sips of this full-bodied and mildly carbonated ale.
It’s that time of year again. The weather is cooler, leaves are changing colour and tables are filled with comfort food. For the third year, the folks at Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario have put together a mix pack of beers to celebrate and promote their famous Oktoberfest event that sees thousands of beer lovers from far and wide descend on the quaint eastern Ontario town in search of revelry, great food, big name musical acts and, of course, beer.
This year we see the return of some favourites from years past in Dark Helmut (complete with a new label) and Happy Pilsner, while Dial “Z” for Zwickel and Rauchstack represent the newest entries in Beau’s Wild Oats Series. I briefly reviewed the four beers, which are presented in alphabetical order.
Nickel Brook Brewing Company in Burlington, Ontario has crafted an extra special bitter that is a lovely ruby colour and yields a large, spongy tan head when poured that gets retained as a small cap and leaves scattered spots of lace behind. Equilibrium has a thick, chocolaty smell with aromas of dark stone fruit such as plum and black cherry, as well as mild pine and citrus accents.
The taste of Equilibrium carries similar notes of prune juice and raisin on top of a base that has both light and dark chocolate flavours. The beer's balance certainly lives up to its name and once the lemon-toned bitterness sets in, it hangs around throughout the somewhat woody finish and fruity aftertaste. This ale is very mellow and full-bodied, giving it an authentic English pub feel.