Another Ontario beer maker, and one that I’ve come to feel pretty nostalgic about over the years. In fact, back in my university days, this label was one of the most popular items to be featured in my beer fridge. In addition, its popularity at the local bars meant that new additions did not remain put of my sampling range for long! It has been a few years since I’ve drank from their lineup, as they are not available in BC, and during my most recent trip, I really didn’t partake too much. But given my long-standing history with Wellington, I can tell you a great deal about them just from memory, most of it good!
Based in Guelph, Ontario – as a good many breweries seem to be – the Wellington brewery is renowned for producing many true British-style ales. I’ve tried all of them, with the exception of their wheat ale, and found that they were both authentic and highly enjoyable. All across Ontario, pubs boast many taps dedicated to their beers, and for good reason. Between the quality, the name and the image they carry, Wellington commands a certain air of respect amongst English-speaking Canadians who are proud of their heritage. But getting to specifics, here is their lineup, in alphabetical order:
Arkell Best Bitter: A light and dry beer, the Arkell is served in both the “real ale” (i.e. hand-pulled) and draft/bottle style. In both cases, it boasts a sweet malt taste and a light hop finish, combined with a light copper color and a grainy, nutty nose.Of course, the draft and bottled varieties also possess a degree of carbonation and a more refreshing finish, that goes for all beers that come in both cask and draft. Although not particular dry, bitter or tawny (like many of its peers) this beer is very appealing, refreshing, and well paired with your high-end pub grub, especially chicken pot pies or Beef Wellington. 4/5
Country Dark Ale: Clear, dark amber, smelling of oak and strong malts, this beer is a perfect example of a traditional dark ale. Nutty, with a sweet taste that is reminiscent of toffee and baked bread, it is well suited to heavier fare, such as roast beef, assorted red meats, and stews. 4/5
Imperial Stout: A stronger customer (at 8% alc/vol), this deep, black stout is a historic creation. Originally made by British breweries for export to Russia, Imperial stouts were renowned for being strong, rich, and heavy with coffee and chocolate-like characteristics. This beer achieves all that, with a slight, anise note that is discernible after just a few sips. Another 4/5!
Iron Duke Strong Ale: An unusual beer, at least to those not familiar with winter ales and barley wines. Named in honor of the Duke of Wellington himself, this seasonal ale boasts a dark burgundy color, is cloudy, and has a real viscous, malty quality that is apparent the second it hits the tongue. It’s nose is a rich cherry, and the taste is rich and slightly tawny, reminiscent of port or other fortified wines. A true Brit! Cheers! 4.5/5
Special Pale Ale: Another lighter beer, reminiscent of an ESB and Niagara Pale due to its dry hop, tawny quality. Although it is not as bitter or citrusy as many pale ales go, this too is an easy-drinker with a rich, sweet aroma and nice, balanced finish that is well paired with spicey dishes. 4/5
Trailhead Lager: Without a doubt, one of the lightest lagers I have ever tasted. Initially, I was taken aback by its nutty, clean, taste and very light hop finish (normally, I prefer a heftier dose). However, I soon learned to appreciate it for the simple reason that it was just so drinkable and well paired with spicey dishes. In addition, its subtle malt flavor and hop profile tend to become more discernible as time goes on, leading to a deeper appreciation. Hmm, that’s two spicey food beers from one brewery… I smell a revised “Beer that tames the fire” posting in the near future! 3.75/5
New and yet to try: Only one! Their Silver Wheat Ale came out since my departure, and which I shall be seeking out the next time I’m in town! Cheers to all!