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.
Patio Saison from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario is a hazy golden-amber colour and yields a large, billowy white head that is retained as a small cap and leaves large rings of lace on your glass. This Belgian-style farmhouse ale has strong aromas of light, honey-sweetened malts and freshly picked cloves with a mild citrus note and a faint perfumy whiff that comes from the addition of elderflower.
The taste of Patio Saison is anchored by a blend of pilsener and wheat malts that create a soft caramel sweetness. Subtle citrus zest and peppery flavours contribute to a well-balanced dryness, while the ale finishes with a moderate bitterness and leaves notes of pith and clove in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel has definite earthy and grainy qualities, though long-lasting fine bubbles produce an air of creaminess and my tongue was left feeling a bit slick and syrupy between sips.
This hopfenweiss from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario is a cloudy, saffron coloured wheat ale and pours with a creamy white head that leaves weblike lacing behind as it settles into a thick collar. Wag the Wolf has a distinct earthy yeast smell with fruity aromas of lemon, mango, plantain and passion fruit along with spicy notes of pepper and cloves.
The taste of Wag the Wolf is rather dry and tart from start to finish. Its toasted wheat malt base is joined by lemon and grapefruit citrus tones, a hint of cloves and the beer has taken on a mild sourness since it was packaged that is rather pleasant. This ale has a medium body, a moderate amount of fine carbonation and a veritable ton of yeasty pop that creates a creamy sensation on the tongue and it finishes with an earthy bitterness that feels a bit stronger than the listed IBU of 20.
A spiced imperial stout from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario, Channel Ocho is opaque black and pours with a large, creamy, tan-coloured head that leaves swathes of lace and hangs around as a tight collar and film. There is a lot going on in the smell of Channel Ocho. Smoke is front and centre, with notes of clove, red pepper, plum, cinnamon and banana all coming through behind it. The ale also has a sort of chemical edge to it (likely from chipotle peppers) that softens as it warms.
The taste of Channel Ocho is quite spicy, particularly in the warming finish. Along the way, flavours of dark chocolate, black and white pepper, wet mushroom, and dark fruit like fig or raisin can be found in the full-bodied, mildly carbonated and very earthy feeling ale. The burn of white pepper lingers in the aftertaste along with a note of fresh grass.
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.