This slightly hazy, golden-hued Helles lager from Collingwood, Ontario’s Side Launch Brewing Company has pencil yellow highlights and pours with a large and frothy head that has excellent retention and tends to leave some light spots of lace near the top of my glass. Mountain Lager has floral and perfume-like noble hop aromas, an almost steely mineral character and hints of stone fruit and red berry over a light base of German malts that give off an air of honey and light caramel.
The taste of Mountain Lager is crisp and finds supreme balance. Earthy, yet soft and honey-tinged malts and contrasted by a dry black pepper note, a citrus peel flavour and a moderate 27 IBU bitterness. I find that the fruity esters really come forward in the taste before transitioning to a dry finish that has lingering mineral, pepper and soapy tones. This lager is full-bodied for the substyle, with a pleasantly understated carbonation level and slight viscosity.
This American brown ale from Toronto’s Left Field Brewery is a deep, dark and mostly opaque brown, with ruby highlights around the edges of the glass like a root beer or cola. A billowy mocha-tinted head settles in as a long-lasting soapy cap and leaves small islands of lace behind. Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale carries dark malt notes of coffee and chocolate that intertwine with berry-like yeast and oatmeal aromas, as well as a soft hint of roasted tree nuts. There is also an assertive hoppiness to the smell that brings forward pleasant citrus and grassy tones along with an air of freshwater.
The taste of Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale almost waivers towards a Black IPA, where the richness of the chocolate and coffee tones becomes more apparent, a toffee-like sweetness appears and the citrus-heavy, somewhat earthy hop notes really pop forth with a crisp bitterness that checks in at 35 IBU. Notes of strawberry jam and cooked oatmeal come through in the finish of this light and creamy feeling brew and linger on the palate between sips. To be succinct, this beer tastes like it smells, but more so.
Billed as a “Canadian Golden Pilsner”, Mythology by Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery in Barrie, Ontario is a deep, golden honey colour with a slight chill haze and pours with a fluffy, spongy white head that settles into a rocky cap and leaves a cascade of lace as you drink your glass. My tasting notes said that Mythology smells like “Noble hops out the Wazoo” and I think that description is apt. Floral tones, lemony citrus and an earthy pepper note pop from the glass, set against a base of steely, fresh cut grains and light aromas of honey and caramel.
These Noble hop qualities are also showcased in the taste of Mythology. It’s flowery and slightly soapy with a very crisp and tart citrus pith tone up front. Pilsner malt brings a light, yet somewhat earthy caramel base that’s just sturdy enough to hold a bitterness that checks in at 24 IBU. I found the finish dry and almost clove-like, with a pronounced lemon tone and earthy mineral notes beyond that. Mythology is a fairly light-bodied and well-carbonated lager, though it does have a pleasant bit of slickness on the tongue as well.
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.