This American pale ale from Lake of Bays Brewing Company in Baysville, Ontario is hazy and pencil yellow colour, with a fairly small, but creamy off-white head that leaves a stringy collar and some lace when settled. The smell of Crosswind Pale Ale is built on a chocolaty roasted malt base and accented by aromas of toasted oats and rice, butterscotch, grapefruit and limestone.
Crosswind Pale Ale is led by earthy, roasted grains in its taste and is countered by a punchy grapefruit flavour that brings with it a moderate bitterness. I also get hints of chocolate, light nuts and a tart note in the finish that reminds me of lemon seed. A medium body and carbonation, as well as a fairly resinous and earthy mouthfeel give way to a sharp, mineral-like aftertaste.
Highlander Brew Co. of South River, Ontario recently introduced two specialty beers to complement their flagship Scottish Ale, a beer I considered one of my favourite new retail releases of 2012. I had a chance to sample both Twisted Spruce Ale and Blacksmith Smoked Porter, as well as speak with owner and brewmaster Brian Wilson about his brewery’s relatively brief history.
Brian Wilson established Highlander Brew Co. in 2009 using a long time appreciation of beer and the severance package he received after being laid off from his position with a large financial firm along with 20000 of his colleagues and relocating his family to northern Ontario.
Nickel Brook Premium Organic Lager from Better Bitters Brewing Company in Burlington, Ontario pours a clear, golden-amber colour with a frothy off-white head that leaves spotty lacing before settling as a thin film and collar. The smell of this American pale lager is grassy, floral, soapy and earthy, anchored by toasted grain and honey tones and carrying soft green apple and yeast accents.
The taste of Nickel Brook Premium Organic Lager is very earthy with a honey and caramel-sweetened, toasted grain flavour and distinct mineral note. It is rather heavy on the tongue with a mild carbonation. It comes off as creamy, though it’s also fairly viscose. The finish has a burntness and twang of yeast to it, while mild bitterness comes through in aftertaste.
Spring Maple Belgian Blonde Ale from Lake of Bays Brewing Company in Baysville, Ontario pours a golden honey colour with light amber tinges, a moderate and soapy white head that settles as a stringy collar without leaving much lace at all. This maple-infused ale really doesn’t smell like maple at all, but has a rather odd blend of sour milk, butterscotch, shredded wheat, candi sugar, yeast and soapy hop aromas.
I simply can’t find maple in the taste of Spring Maple Belgian Blonde Ale either. I do get caramel-sweetened malts, yeast, freshly cut grain and graham cracker flavours, accented by floral and peppery hop tones. This ale is medium bodied with rather mild carbonation. There is a slightly creamy and yeasty character in the mouth, but I find it very syrupy overall. The finish is almost cloying and thick with caramel, then the aftertaste is tart, bordering on sour with a lemon oil tone. It goes from one extreme to the other and leaves my teeth feeling sticky.
Strong Patrick from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company in Vankleek Hill, Ontario is a honey tinged, rusty amber colour with a large and creamy tan head that sticks around as a collared film and leaves streaks of lace on your glass. This oak and partially barrel aged Irish red ale has aromas of toasted grains, vanilla, rye, lemon rind, alcohol, red berry and peat. Interestingly, the oak takes on a sweet, hickory-like character.
Strong Patrick has a very smooth taste. Honey-sweetened toasted grains create a muffin-like quality with chocolate, butter and berry accents contributing to encompassing warmth. Some citrus and pepper flavours are also noted, while a mellow yet sharp nibble of whiskey permeates the finish and lingers in the aftertaste. The ale is full-bodied with low carbonation. The mouthfeel is earthy and biscuit-like overall, but also has creamy and oily characteristics.