Though I started buying Muskoka Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout in 2009, I first reviewed in in December of 2011 after they rebranded it to Winter Beard. At that time, I thought it was a “wonderful holiday season treat and, in my opinion, is the star of the Muskoka Brewery lineup”.
Though there is a 2013 version of Winter Beard available in other provinces and at the retail store in Bracebridge, the team at Muskoka Brewery opted to give the rest of their home province a cellar aged edition of the 2012 batch. Last winter they offered a limited number of aged 2011 bottles that were packaged in a wooden sleeve and I was able to compare an aged version to a fresh 2012 bottle. Without a doubt, I preferred the aged version and though the fresh bottle was still quite pleasant, I found it tasted a little “green”.
Pouring the 2012 version of Winter Beard (Cellar Aged) yields an opaque brew with a spongy beige head that has great retention; hanging around as a collar and film while leaving thick streaks of lace on your glass. The smell of this American imperial stout is very much chocolate-centric with a strong and juicy cranberry tone that opens things up and subtle hints of lemongrass, toasted malts and ground coffee.
Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus from Sawdust City Brewing Company in Gravenhurst, Ontario is completely opaque black with a creamy dark beige head that is retained as a stringy collar and leaves long swaths of lace on the glass that appear to drip like spray paint. This Russian imperial stout predominantly smells like coffee and dark chocolate with a syrupy and cordial-like fruit tone, woody hints of pine and fir and an unmistakable whiff of alcohol.
The taste of Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus is uncommonly dry, which allows rich chocolate, pepper and coffee flavours to poke through individually and then blend together. A deceptively strong bitterness is balanced by thick notes of cherry, anise and blueberry. Though the finish of this full-bodied and grainy ale a bit hot, it's not too out of line and leads to an aftertaste of lemon oil that helps to refresh the palate somewhat.
This milk stout from Beau's All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario is opaque black and pours with a very creamy tan coloured head that doesn't stick around long, but leaves a tidy collar behind along with a few spots of lace. The Tom Green Beer! is thick with aromas of ground coffee, dark fruits such as cherry and plum and chocolate, with outdoorsy notes of musty wood and fresh tobacco.
The taste of The Tom Green Beer! has an undeniable sharpness to it when it first hits your tongue and plays out much like the smell. Coffee, chocolate and dark fruit flavours are warmed by a woodsy accent, before a suitable sweetness takes over in the finish. This ale has a very smooth and creamy mouthfeel despite its full body and grainy undertone. A mild oiliness helps to ease the brew down, leaving subtle chocolate and cedar tones behind in the aftertaste.
This English IPA from Lake of Bays Brewing Company in Baysville, Ontario is a deep, fiery amber colour with a frothy off-white head that settles as a bubbly collar and film while leaving long streaks of lace on your glass. 10 Point India Pale Ale has aromas of caramel, fresh and toasted dark grains, dark berries, lemon zest and has a mineral note common to the ales from Lake of Bays.
The taste of 10 Point India Pale Ale is thick with caramel and roasted grain flavours. Sharp mineral and citrus tones create a nice bite on the tongue and a pithy bitterness. This ale has a full body, subdued carbonation and is fairly oily throughout. The finish is grainy and transitions to an aftertaste that reminds me of lemon oil.
Canada Southern Draft from Railway City Brewing Company in St. Thomas, Ontario pours a muted golden yellow colour. No lace is left behind as its loose white head burns off quickly and settles as a small cap. This American pale lager smells of sweet grains, a blend of berry, grape and citrus juices and has a faint hint of diacetyl.
The grainy and earthy taste of Canada Southern Draft starts sweet then quickly turns dry. Notes of fruit, mineral, toasted light malt and earth are present in this medium bodied and finely carbonated lager throughout the finish, with a distinct floral note coming through in the crisp and dry aftertaste.
This unfiltered rye beer from Cameron’s Brewing Company in Oakville, Ontario pours a rusty orange colour reminiscent of orange pekoe tea. It has a small but frothy and persistent white head that creates a thin cap throughout the glass and leaves small spots of lace. The smell of Resurrection Roggenbier has a fruity blend of red berry and grape aromas anchored by toasted, earthy malts and accented by a light rye note and a hint of sweet smoke that brings hickory to mind.
Resurrection Roggenbier tastes of sweet malts and a blend of dark fruit and spice reminiscent of fruitcake or raisin bread. As with the smell, the rye character is fairly light, but creates a fiery bite towards the finish that harmonizes with a solid bitterness and lingers on the tongue. The ale has a thin to medium body with a light syrupy feeling and a hint of mineral can be detected in the aftertaste.