I arrived at Mill Street’s Ottawa Brewpub before sundown and was warmly greeted as I checked in and was given a couple of beer tokens – hey, this was a media event after all. Industrious local musician Amanda Rheaume was already mid set as I opted for a glass of the brewery’s classic German-style Pilsner, sat with some friends and was quickly reminded that my voice is not well-suited towards an intimate acoustic show.
Despite its name, 100th Meridian Organic Amber Lager from Mill Street Brewery in Toronto, Ontario is actually a deep golden colour with the faintest of amber tinges and yields a small, tight white head that hangs around as a thin cap while leaving scattered streaks of lace on your glass. This American amber lager smells mainly of sweet grains and light caramel malts, though there is also a noticeably earthy and slightly sour quality reminiscent of freshly cut field grasses.
100th Meridian Organic Amber Lager has a rather sweet taste. Flavours of earth, fresh and toasted grains, white grape and red berry juices, cocoa and citrus peel can all be found in this lager. A distinct and sharp saltiness appears in the finish, along with a mild bitterness that’s just enough to balance the brew out. A fairly thick and bready mouthfeel is lightened up somewhat by a moderate effervescence and a mild grain flavour resonates in the aftertaste.
This flavoured porter from Mill Street Brewery in Toronto, Ontario is a deep, ruby-hued brown with a very frothy, nitro-charged beige head that settles as a persistent cap and leaves large swaths of lace as you drink. Mill Street Vanilla Porter has an appetizing blend of aromas including chocolate, coffee, roasted barley malt, berry and of course vanilla.
The taste of Mill Street Vanilla Porter is chocolate-forward with notes of dried dark fruits like plum, raisin and cherry and a subdued vanilla flavour. This ale is full-bodied, rich, grainy and slightly viscose, with very little carbonation aside from the head. There is a moderate bitterness on the tongue that lingers throughout the aftertaste along with a warm, woody tone.
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.
A signature beer of Mill Street Brewery in Toronto, Ontario and housed in the first mass-produced nitrogen charged can from a Canadian craft brewery, Cobblestone Stout is black and completely opaque, with a good inch and a half of creamy beige head (after settling a minute or so) that serves as a cap throughout the life of your glass. This English pub-style stout has a thick and dark roasted malt aroma, with a grassy tone and hints of chocolate, musty wood and coffee.
The taste of Cobblestone Stout has a warm smoky and woody character with a rich roasted malt body. Grain and fruit accents brighten the taste a bit before finishing with a solid dryness. The mouthfeel is thick and grainy, with a pronounced creaminess and little carbonation. Dark chocolate, malt and coffee flavours co-mingle in the aftertaste.