Sea Level Brewing first opened in November of 2007. They were the first, and still only, microbrewery in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. Located in Port WIliams, they produce small batch award willing beers from their small brewhouse. They’re a small brewery, mainly doing tap sales locally and growlers from their brewery shop, but they also have a canning line for their beers, canning 3 cans at a time. Labelling and date-stamping the cans by hand, this is a real labour of love and truly “craft”, and if you’re lucky you might be able to find a 6-pack near you (though, it probably still means a trip to Nova Scotia, but it will be worth it).
From the brewery: “This award winning ESB, inspired by the blue heron in our tidal Cornwallis River, is a full bodied flavour from its signature smooth malts, to the complex hop flavours, and aromas. Brewed with four different hops varieties, this charismatic brew is dry-hopped inside the serving tank.”
And what did I think?
Appearance: Deep golden, burnt orange, with highlights of caramel-brown. Little in the way of head on the beer, but it has lacing that lasts through until the end.
Aroma: The aroma is mainly that of hops and a caramely sweetness. The malt comes through with a bit of breadiness and that sweet, grainy aroma. There are also notes of toffee and flowers with a touch of earthiness.
Taste: Hops upfront, with the bitterness settling to the back of the tongue. Pleasant earthy notes and a bit of sweet malt flavour cutting through the solid bitterness. As it warms slightly more of the malt sweetness starts to peek through the hop presence. Some slight fruity-floweriness comes through, but isn’t dominate.
Mouthfeel: The body is medium with the carbonation on the lighter side that makes it seem at bit more full-bodied and creamy they it would otherwise.
Overall: The hops were surprising at first, and probably a bit more than you might expect from a “traditional” ESB, but the settle in nicely. Well balanced and easy drinking, this is truly a great beer and those fortunate enough to find this little brewery near them are lucky to have the pleasure of this fine ale. And those of us who have to come from away will find it worth the trip.