Clocktower Brewhouse


Hello all. As promised, I made it out to the first of the many brewpubs I intend to visit while here in Ottawa, and have returned to share what I learned. As I might have mentioned already, the Clocktower is an old haunt that my friends and I used to hang out at all the time. And while the lot of them enjoyed drinking cider, my fondest memories were for the microbrews themselves. Since I left Ottawa, their operation has expanded to the point where they now have four locations spread across town.

Last night, the friends and I convened there for some much needed catch-up time, some food and drinks. And I did my best to sample the entire lineup, though I did need a little help. Here’s what they had to offer and how it all went down…

Wishart’s ESB:
This is one of my favorites from the old days and was therefore the first that I tried. A traditional English Extra-Special Bitter, the beer is light amber in color, clear, and has a good foam head and carbonation. In terms of smell, what immediately comes through as some syrupy malts, a hint of sweetness, and a dry hop aroma. A slight tang, mild toffee and baked bread are immediately apparent on the tongue, followed by some dry, grassy hops. The beer finishes with a lingering tang, malt and herbal notes, an all around pleaser! 8/10

Clocktower Red:
This one will always be known as Fenian Red to me, regardless of how they change the name over time. This beer is dark red, clear, and with a creamy head and good carbonation, the beer has notes of peat, smoke, and rich malts on the nose. The taste is loaded with syrupy, saccharine malts, with a slight smokey edge and a crisp, bitter dose of hops. The beer finishes with a lingering hop bitterness and some more traces of syrup malts. 8.5/10

Bytown Brown:
Another classic, one which I enjoyed often when I frequented the pub back in the day. This beer pours a deep, dark brown, is clear, and has good foam retention and carbonation. The nose is packed with coffee and chocolate malts, reminiscent of a good, solid stout. This impression continues well into the flavor department, which consists of toasted malts, traces of cocoa, espresso, and a dose of bitter hops. The beer then finishes with more traces of chocolate, hop and coffee bitterness. 8.5/10

Raspberry Wheat:
Another brew that takes me back. It seemed that in the summer of 98, shortly after the pub first opened, every craft brewer was producing their own version of a fruit-infused Krystalweizen. So naturally, I was sure to try the Clocktowers, and I can say it hasn’t changed a bit over the years. The beer pours of a light golden color, is clear, and has good foam retention and carbonation. The nose contains mild yeasts and wheat malts and a good dose of raspberry sweetness. The flavor is much the same, opening with a light tang, traces of wheat and yeast, and a strong tart/sweet fruit flavor. The finish is clean, with small traces of fruit and malt, and is quite refreshing. 8.5/10

The Clocktower’s take on a venerable German altbier, the Kolsch is now their flagship beer. Light in color, clear, and has good foam retention and carbonation. The nose contains traces of apple and honey, mild hops and subtle malts. In terms of flavor, the beer is very clean, has traces of apple, and possesses some pilsner-like hop crispness. The finish is clean, with some mild malts and lingering grassy hops. 8/10

Pumpkin Ale:
As the brewhouse’s seasonal product, I was absolutely sure to try the Pumpkin ale before calling it a night. And honestly, this beer was the most impressive sampling of the evening. Golden-orange in color, clear, and with good foam and carbonation, this beer smells of nutmeg, allspice, and pumpkin pie. In terms of taste, it has a big burst of spice, semi-sweet pumpkin-infused malts, and a long, lingering finish packed with spice and thick malts. 9/10

Not a bad visit, and it is encouraging to see a favorite old hangout doing so well. Tonight, we go back to Vineyards to pay it another visit and find out if its still one of the best damn bistros and places to get obscure beers in town! More to follow, stay tuned…