Tag Archives: ale

Maine Beer Co. – Zoe

Maine is right next door to Atlantic Canada, but you rarely find the Maine Beer Company’s brews on offer here. I’ve sampled them a couple times on trips stateside, so when a friend recently visited New
England, I was quick to place an order for the brewer’s acclaimed Zoe
amber ale (courtesy of the Craft Beer Cellar in Newton, Massachusetts.)

IMG_2525From the brewery: Our take on an American amber ale. Complex malt bill delivers notes of dark raisin, chocolate and biscuit. Copious additions of American hops yield notes of pine and citrus.

Appearance: A perfect amber hue in the glass, with a thick and persistent tan head. Lovely, lingering lacing.

Aroma: A big smack of spruce on the nose, with hints of lemongrass and roast nuts.

Taste: The hops are far subtler than the nose suggests—starts strong, but then gives way to subtle flavours of brown sugar and lemon zest. Perfectly balanced between sweet and bitter.

Mouthfeel: Lively mouthfeel, a bit sticky, with average carbonation.

Overall: This is one of my favourite reds, period. It’s the standard I’m comparing all other reds to now. It’s well crafted, perfectly balanced and would pair beautifully with fried haddock and chips.

90/100

Regular contributor and guest reviewer Trevor J. Adams is senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine. In 2012, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing). You can see what Trevor is drinking on Untappd and follow him on Twitter.

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Smuttynose – Old Brown Dog

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We all know that distance can be a problem getting the beers we want to try, so when my wife was heading to New England on a trip I was pretty excited. I got out my pen and paper and made a list. Topping that list was pretty much anything from Smuttynose. After having the pleasure of trying their Finestkind IPA I knew I wanted more from them. When my wife returned with Old Brown Dog I knew this would be good.

From the brewery: Old Brown Dog has been cited as a classic example of the “American Brown Ale” style of beer. Compared to a typical English Brown Ale, Old Brown Dog is fuller-bodied and more strongly hopped.

Old Brown Dog has been around for many years. It was first brewed in 1988 at the Northampton Brewery. In 1989 it won a silver medal in its category (American Brown Ale) at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. It has since been retired from competition but enjoys love and respect from people all over the world.

Appearance: Deep golden brown with amber highlights. Off white, fluffy head. Clear.

Aroma: Clean aroma for an ale. Grassy-grainy malt with some light flowery hop notes.

Taste: Dark toasted bread with moderate bitterness. Little fruitiness – raisins, plum and hints of Toffee-like sweetness and slightly burnt sugar. There’s a little hops and is overall pretty balanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Medium-light carbonation. Pleasant on the palate.

Overall: Very nice to drink. Not like the IPAs that I’ve had from Smuttynose, but shows their range of producing fantastic beers. Balanced and with a good hit of alcohol (6.7%) that is unlike the UK cousin beers, though you’d never notice in this one. Well done.

83/100

You can find Smuttynose on the webFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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Pumphouse – Stonefire Ale

IMG_2142.JPGWith 15 years under its belt, Pump House Brewery & Restaurant in Moncton, New Brunswick is one of the originators of the East Coast craft brew scene. This fall, it marked its anniversary with its Stonefire Ale, in a limited release of just 4,000 750 millilitre bottles. Stonefire is a dark amber Steinbier—a traditional German technique in which brewers dunk red-hot stones into the wort to make it boil quickly. That caramelizes and burns the sugars, giving the beer a unique sweet profile. Matt and Trevor both sampled Stonefire lately, so we’re joining forces for a tag-team review. Matt’s bottle was 408 of the 4,000 produced, while Trevor had number 3,116.

Appearance: We were struck by what an attractive pour this beer is. It has a rich burnt orange colour, and slight head, with lively carbonation.

Aroma: Matt found it clean and malty, with slight grassy notes. Trevor, who seemed to get more head on his pour than Matt, was struck by a big unexpected nose of overripe oranges.

Taste: We were both expecting this to be a heavy and rich beer, perhaps something like an Irish red. We were astonished when what we tasted was more like a saison than anything else. Matt found it light and refreshing, with a hint of spice and orange-zest bitterness to finish. Trevor also got a big orange hit, but found a bit of creaminess—“This tastes like a tart creamsicle.” Very slight malts to finish.

Mouthfeel: With a light to medium body, this is a well carbonated beer. Trevor found it a touch fizzy; Matt didn’t.

Overall: This was the first Steinbier either of us had tasted, so we can’t tell you how well it represents the style, but it sure wasn’t what we were expecting. When we compared tasting notes, we saw that we’d both used the word “saison” over and over. It’s a unique, nuanced beer, shockingly easy to drink, yet rich in flavour. Trevor found it paired well with spicy fried pepperoni.

Matt: 82/100
Trevor: 84/100

You can find Pump House Brewery on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Garrison Brewing Company — Double Jack Imperial Pumpkin Ale

IMG_1984.PNGI’ve always been kind of iffy on pumpkin ales. They tend to have a compost aroma, and don’t actually taste much like pumpkin—“cloying nutmeg” would generally be a more accurate way to describe them. Garrison, however, never disappoints me, so I was willing to give the pumpkin-beer craze another shot. As the name suggests, it’s more of an imperial ale than a pumpkin one, and that works out just fine.

From the brewery: Lordy, Lordy, Garrison gets “Gourdy” with this scary big brew. Daniel carved up “Cinderella” pumpkins from the Dill Family Farm in Windsor, then added cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg to create pure, pumpkiny perfection! For a limited time, choose “treat” and get to know “Double Jack” Boo!

Appearance: Double Jack is a beautiful pour—deep rusty copper with a frothy white head and abundant lacing. It’s gorgeous in the glass.

Aroma: There’s a nice, but not overpowering, hit of cloves and nutmeg right off the top, followed by a bigger whiff of hops than you normally get from a pumpkin ale.

Taste: That spiciness tweaks the tongue first. It screamed cloves at me, but my wife tasted a whole bunch of cinnamon. The pumpkins join with four different malts (Maritime Pale Ale, Kiln Amber, Munich and Crystal) to create a flavour like sweet potato and marshmallow casserole. The Millennium hops show up during the long slow finish, ending the taste with a grassy but not bitter note.

Overall: This is a pumpkin ale for serious beer lovers. It’s nicely balanced—not too sweet, not too spicy, not too pumpkiny. It all combines for a beer that’s unique, well crafted and a grade above most pumpkin ales.

85/100

You can find Garrison on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

Regular contributor and guest reviewer Trevor J. Adams is senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine. In 2012, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing).

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Big Spruce – Hoppily Remarried Harvest DIPA

IMG_1992.JPGBig Spruce Brewery is a small brewery located on an organic farm located in Nyanza on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. This award-winning brewery can hardly keep up with the demand for their beers. Selling their beers in local farmer’s markets, from the brewery store, and at select tap accounts, this is one small brewery with a big future.

From the brewery: “Brewed in early September and after weeks of hard work harvesting hops from our hop yard, this is a wet hopped beer that is all about featuring the best of the hops from our hop yard.”

And what did I think?

Appearance: This beer pours with a nice, but short lived off-white, creamy head. It has a great bit of lacing and is dark red-orange.

Aroma: The aroma is hoppy with fragrances of pine and a slight citrus. The smell showcases how fresh this beer is and the wet hops used.

Taste: Upfront it’s the hops. The flavour is bitter, orange peal, resin, pine, woody, and tobacco. It really is hops right through and a nice fresh flavour. It leans a bit more towards the pine as it warms slightly and becomes better – the hops are still there, but mellow and smooth out.

Mouthfeel: The body is medium with a light carbonation. There is a bit of a slickness from hops.

Overall: A very nice IPA, smooth and drinkable, even with the elevated alcohol. Each drink begs for another. Its bitter, but not a palate killer – the more I drink the better this gets. This is worth the trip to Cape Breton. Well done!

87/100

You can find Big Spruce on the web, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Uncle Leo’s Brewery – Vohs Weizenbier

IMG_1753Apparently the folks at Uncle Leo’s Brewery in Lyon’s Brook, Nova Scotia aren’t given to bragging. Their sparse description of this German-style wheat beer scarcely does it justice. Smooth as melted butter with wave after wave of flavour, every mouthful is a delight.

From the brewery: A tribute to our neighbours, Matt and Brenda Vohs. Owners of Piper’s Landing Restaurant, Lyon’s Brook and our first customer to put us on tap.

Appearance: Beautiful golden pour, with a thick pearl head and lacing that goes on forever.

Aroma: Smells like a hot summer day in the country. Fresh and spicy—I swear, there’s a hint of sage in there.

Taste: The most dominant, and surprising, flavour is sweet corn and melted butter, followed by a hit of over-ripe banana. Just when you think it’s done, there’s a little smack of cloves.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and buttery, stimulates every taste bud without puckering the mouth or overwhelming the palate.

Overall: I hear that when Uncle Leo’s first offered this beer, it suffered from some quality-control problems, leaving an unpleasant soapy aftertaste. On the last two bottles, there wasn’t a hint of that problem—there’s nothing like that going on now. This is one of the finest beers I’ve tried all year, shockingly quaffable for a weizenbier. This pairs like a dream with a roast-chicken Sunday dinner.

88/100

Trevor J. Adams is a regular contributor to Drink N Brew, reviewing beers and curating social media. An award-winning journalist and editor, he’s been writing about libations, entertaining and related topics since 1998. He’s a beer enthusiast at heart, senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine by day. An avid sports fan, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing) in 2012.

Double Trouble Brewing – Fire In The Rye

IMG_1758.JPGDouble Trouble Brewery is a small start-up that was undertaken in 2012 by a couple of longtime friends in Guelph, Ontario. They had both been brewing for years and decided to start their own craft beer brewery. With their first three brews in the can, we can only hope to see more from them.

From the brewery: “Un-filtered and single hopped with centennial. Our Single Hopped, Roasted Rye Pale ale has landed! Fire in the Rye combines the smouldering aroma of rye with the floral notes of centennial hops. Landing at a flavourful 60 IBU’s, this is our boldest beer yet! We hope you love Fire in the Rye as much as we do. “

And what did I think?

Appearance: The appearance is a beautiful amber-brown colour, a bit cloudy. There is an off white head that has big, fluffy bubbles and is long lasting with good lacing.

Aroma: The aroma is mostly malty. There is a bit of a sweetness that comes through as caramel and there is a slight floral note from the hops. Also, there’s a bit of peppery spice (likely from the rye) and some hints of grainy, bread.

Taste: The flavour is malty with a little spice and hops. There is a perfect balancing bitterness to the beer. Nothing is too overpowering or heavy. There are some underlying hop flavours – a bit of citrus and pine – but those hop flavours are restrained for an IPA – maybe not as dominated as one wold expect, however they let the other flavours shine through.

Mouthfeel: The body is medium with an expected level of carbonation. There is a slight slickness to the mouthfeel, but nothing to detract from the beer – likely a result from the rye.

Overall: I liked this one. There was enough of the rye to let you know it was there, but it wasn’t dominating to the point of taking away from the other elements – it’s balanced well. This is one I will buy again.

82/100

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Picaroons – Upstream Ale

 

IMG_1858.JPGReleased in support of the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Federation, Picaroons Traditional Ales of Fredericton, New Brunswick has again released their Upstream Ale. This limited release is unique in flavour and help to support conservation efforts for wild salmon in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

What did I think?

Appearance: This beer is crystal clear, and golden in colour. With only a very slight head.

Aroma: The aroma is malty, with hints some dark malts (despite its light colour). There are some notes of wood or smoke.

Taste: The flavour is toasty and unique, with a slight smoke-like/phenol flavour. There is a bit of sweet malty flavour with some grain/bread. Even though its a light beer it still has a somewhat richness in the flavour. Unique.

Mouthfeel: The body and carbonation levels are both light to medium.

Overall: Not like anything I’ve had. Easy drinking and light, but bold at the same time. Its worth trying and you can fell good about supporting a great cause, but get it quick, this is a really limited release.

75/100

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Great Lakes Brewery – Canuck Pale Ale

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Building on the popularity of its signature pale ale, Great Lakes has become one of Canada’s top craft brewers, winning Canadian Brewery of the Year in 2013 and 2014. This summer, the brewery relaunched and rebranded the ale. Launched in 2010 to dovetail with the Vancouver Olympics, it was originally known as Crazy Canuck and brought the West Coast pale-ale style to eastern Canada. “While the name and branding change, the wonderful liquid inside the can remains the same,” says brewery owner Peter Bulut Jr. “Our version of a West Coast ale has been turning heads since we launched it in Ontario in 2010 and because it’s a serious beer, we wanted to give it a new look more in line with our increasingly popular Tank Ten series.”

From the brewery: “It’s been said that ‘Canada is the only country in the world that knows how to live without an identity.’ This beer doesn’t help much with that crisis. From the fiercely irresponsible stereotypical image on the front of the can to the distinctly American style of the beer inside it we’ve really made a mess of things. What have we done? Sorry.”

Appearance: Rich golden colour, hazy; thick, creamy head.

Aroma: A slight hoppy nose, with whiffs of fresh grapefruit peelings.

Taste: A nice refreshing hit of grapefruit-citrus at the start, but not as much as your nose tells you to expect. A dry hoppy finish, which stops just on the right side of overpowering. The taste stays with you, but that’s fine, because odds are good you’re going to drink another one anyway. It’s that kind of beer.

Mouthfeel: A little soft for my taste, but not under-carbonated… I’d just prefer a bit more.

Overall: This is pigeonholed as hot summer-day beer, but don’t let that stop you from trying it this fall. Its flavours are nicely layered and balanced. It’s a crisp, refreshing beer. Easy and pleasant to drink. Potentially deadly—you could drink a case of this and not notice it until you tried to stand.

85/100

Guest reviewer Trevor J. Adams is senior editor with Metro Guide Publishing and the editor of Halifax Magazine. In 2012, he published his first solo book, Long Shots: The Curious Story of the Four Maritime Teams That Played for the Stanley Cup (Nimbus Publishing).

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