This flavoured American porter from Nickel Brook Brewing in Burlington, Ontario is opaque and black, pouring with a moderate tan coloured head that settles as a collar with large bubbles and leaves small spots of lace on your glass. Nickel Brook Maple Porter has deep aromas of dark roasted grains, toasted cocoa, coffee and plum, with distinct notes of cigar, alcohol, wild grass and a damp, light wood like cedar or birch.
The taste of Nickel Brook Maple Porter is rather sweet and most definitely malt-forward, with a whole lot of roasted character accenting flavours of dark toffee and dry red wine. All that rich sweetness is well-balanced by a notable sharpness that gives way to a very dry finish that leaves lingering hints of maple and wood in the aftertaste. This ale is full-bodied and carries a moderate carbonation. It feels very thick and grainy throughout, but there is also a subtle syrupy quality that smooths everything out a bit.
An early spring seasonal, this doppelbock from Railway City Brewing Company in St. Thomas, Ontario pours with a creamy head that leaves ample lace and settles as a thick collar atop the dark brown and ruby-coloured brew. Sham-Bock smells mainly of dark fruits such as figs, dates and raisins, with notes of chocolate and butterscotch becoming more apparent as it warms.
The taste of Sham-Bock has a surprisingly strong bitterness for the style, though it is far from overpowering against the lager's formidable sweetness. Flavours of red grape juice, chocolate, honey and coffee are met with a wallop of maple syrup that brings a mineral-like sharpness along with its inherently sweet tone. A full body and modest amount of carbonation yield a grainy and mildly viscous mouthfeel, while the lager finishes quite dry, leaving hints of chocolate syrup and lemon juice behind in the aftertaste.
Detour from Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge, Ontario is a light, orange-tinted golden colour and pours with a soapy white head that has good retention, hanging around as a tight collar and film throughout your glass while leaving an ample amount of lace behind. This American pale ale has strong tropical fruit aromas of mango, pineapple and passion fruit over a fairly light base of caramel and toasted grain with subtle notes of lemon, pine and gypsum.
The taste of Detour is most definitely hop forward. Bitter citrus bites at the first sip, but is backed up by a surprisingly hearty and earthy grain flavour that remains throughout the finish. Along the way I found notes of caramel, red cherry, peach and green grape before a pithy aftertaste took over the back of my tongue. The ale is medium bodied and suitably carbonated, leading to a lively feeling on the tongue before its mild oiliness eases the beer down.
This American stout from Railway City Brewing Company in St. Thomas, Ontario is opaque black and pours with a spongy, mocha-tinted head that is retained as a thin collar and wispy film. Black Coal Stout has a veritable ton of roasted grain character in its smell, along with deep notes of chocolate, plum, raisin and coffee and hints of nuts and wood.
The taste of Black Coal Stout is thick with the chocolate and coffee flavours you would expect from a full bodied stout, with a red berry accent and a lemon juice note that is most apparent in the dry finish and coffee-forward aftertaste. The mouthfeel is a bit thin and somewhat oily, which makes this ale drink more like a porter, though it doesn't detract from the experience at all. Carbonation is minimal, with just enough there to prevent the beer from weighing too heavy on your tongue.
This extra special bitter from Beyond The Pale Brewing Company in Ottawa is a hazy, rusty brown colour and pours with a creamy white head that leaves a few small spots of lace on your glass and hangs around as a thin collar. Breaking Bitter has a breadlike smell, with aromas of fresh and toasted grain accented by notes of wild grasses, raspberry jam and hints of citrus and pine.
The taste of Breaking Bitter has a nice toasted character, with grainy flavours that bring breads, biscuits and bran muffins to mind. This ale is very well-balanced with an amount of bitterness in the finish that I consider to be spot on. The beer is full-bodied with mild carbonation and a slight oiliness. A dry lemon rind and pith flavour comes out in the aftertaste.
This spiced bock from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario is a clear ruby tinted orange colour and pours with a spongy off white head that dissipates quickly, leaving a stringy collar and a few spots of lace in its wake. Hogan's Goat is ripe with earthy, herbal and outdoorsy aromas like juniper, mint and pine oil standing out against a sweet malt backdrop with a hint of wood.
Herbal flavours of peppermint, orange peel and juniper berry also permeate the taste of Hogan's Goat. The addition of rye malt contributes to a decidedly dry experience, with toasted grain, red berry juice and a sharp hickory-like note rounding things out in the finish. This lager has a medium body and light carbonation, as well as a pronounced oiliness that lingers in the aftertaste with a blend of herbal tones that bring dry gin to mind.