Wuchak Black from Kichesippi Beer Company in Ottawa, Ontario pours dark brown with crimson tinges visible when held towards the light and a frothy, tan-coloured head that leaves spotty lacing and settles a thin collar. This Cascadian Dark Ale (aka Black IPA) has a rich roasted malt character on the nose. Coffee, cigar, wood and chocolate tones are accented my piny hops and red berry juice.
The taste of Wuchak Black goes hand-in-hand with its smell. Deep, dark chocolate and coffee flavours are anchored by an assertive bitterness, with complimentary notes of lemon rind, pepper and grainy biscuit. The mouthfeel is fairly thick, grainy and oily, the carbonation is on the low side and a persistent collar creates a smooth creaminess that helps ease the ale down. Coffee, pepper and a lingering, lemony bitterness permeate the aftertaste.
2012 was a pretty good year in terms of both the quality and quantity of regularly-brewed Ontario craft beers hitting the shelves at one’s local LCBO or The Beer Store. I selected 12 of them to quantify as favourites, with a few caveats. First, the beers had to be listed at at least 25 retail outlets.
The beers had to be ones that I’ve published a review for, not just tried at a show or festival. Seasonal and one-off beers were not considered, I’ll try to make a list of those next. Re-branded or re-packaged beers were also not counted, however those that were previously available at a brewery’s retail store or at a licensee were. All that said, here are my selections in alphabetical order.
This English brown ale from Kichesippi Beer Company in Ottawa, Ontario pours a deep, rusty copper colour with a very thick frothy off-white head that leaves cascading lace on your glass and settles as a soapy collar and film. Kichesippi 1855 has a very warm, woody, fatty and nutty aroma with sweet hints of toasted malt and red berry.
The taste of Kichesippi 1855 is quite crisp at first, then smoothed out by a mellow roasted grain character. Notes of currant, cocoa, biscuit and coffee also come through. This ale is full-bodied with a grainy mouthfeel, a subtle tingle on the tongue and a mild oiliness. The finish brings a temperate bitterness and the aftertaste is earthy, grainy and woody.
A rarely-brewed style of American Porter that originated in Pennsylvania in the early 1900s, Kichesippi Logger from Kichesippi Beer Company in Ottawa, Ontario pours a nut brown and ruby colour with a frothy beige head that persists as a thin collar and leaves some heavy lace behind. Kichesippi Logger has a woody and nutty smell, with a solid whiff of lager yeast, dark fruit and cocoa accents and a light toastiness about it.
The taste of Kichesippi Logger really shows its lagered roots with a crisp bite. Ripe fruit, chocolate and wood flavours are present and a fairly strong bitterness is found in the finish. The mouthfeel is typically thin and yeast creates a tangy sensation on the tongue. The aftertaste is mildly syrupy with lingering fruit and chocolate notes.
This American blonde ale from the Kichesippi Beer Company in Ottawa, Ontario pours a deep and clear golden yellow colour with a small white collar of a head that gets retained well and leaves some spotty lacing. Freshly cut grains and toasted light malts dominate the aroma of Kichesippi Natural Blonde and are accented by a soft, honey-like sweetness as well as a subtle fruit character.
Kichesippi Natural Blonde has a surprisingly rich and balanced taste for its style. The toasted malts and honey sweetness are joined by notes of floral and soapy hops, a hint of berry juice and a good wallop of bitterness comes through in the finish. Also somewhat surprising is the hearty, bready mouthfeel; though a medium-heavy carbonation eases the beer over the tongue. The aftertaste has a certain syrupy sweetness to it, but then fades away crisply and cleanly.