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.
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.
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.
This American pale lager from Lake of Bays Brewing Company in Baysville, Ontario is a deep golden colour and pours with a frothy white head that doesn't leave much lace behind as it settles into a thin collar and film. Top Shelf Classic Lager has a very floral and soapy smell, with warm aromas of honey and lightly toasted malts rounding it out.
The sweet and malty taste of Top Shelf Classic Lager has a notable light caramel tone and fruity, berry-like esters that contribute to a crisp and dry finish. This lager has a medium body and fairly high carbonation level. The mouthfeel has a certain earthiness to it and there is almost no palpable aftertaste, which makes for a clean and refreshing experience.