As promised, another review of one of Ottawa’s premier eating and drinking establishments! Much like last year, the wife and I knew that we had to set aside time to visit the Mill Street Brewpub which opened up just a few years ago in the LeBreton area. And I was determined to try all this beers this year that were either unavailable or that I didn’t get a chance to last year. This included the latest seasonals, such as their Oktoberfest, pumpkin ale and Ambre de la Chaudiere. Paired with some delightful eats, we both had a pretty good evening and sampled our fair share. Arranged in order of tasting, here’s what I thought of them all:
Mill St. Oktoberfest:
Just in time for the autumn, Mill St. has put their take on the traditional Marzen on tap, and I was sure to include a glass in my sample train. And consistent with this seasonal lager, it was nicely balanced in terms of malts and hops. The former were slightly darker, syrupy, and sweeter than your average lager; while the hop content was very much consistent with the usual grassy, and grainy quality common to a Marzen or Pilsner. It also had a noticeably creamy quality, and a relatively refreshing finish. It was admittedly a bit light for my taste, but was still very pleasing and went well with my wife’s plate of nachos and my Elk burger!
Appearance: Golden amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Very light malt and hops, traces of nuts
Taste: Smooth, slightly creamy, semi-sweet malts, hint of nuts, mild hop bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering grainy malts and hops
Ambre de la Chaudiere:
Now this beer was a bit of a surprise, a seasonal which I have never before seen at the Mill St. brewery or as part of their extended lineup. As a Bière de Garde, a style of strong farmhouse pale ale that comes from the Calais region of France, this beer is noted for being darker, stronger, and fermented a second time in the bottle. This beer happened to be my favorite of the evening, and of course came in a special glass! Boasting rich malts, good yeasts, and an oaky, semi-sweet taste, it was also rounded out by a nicely balanced profile that was strong without being overpowering.
Appearance: Dark amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Yeasty, rich heavier malt, notes of spice
Taste: Smooth, semi-sweet malts, notes of oak and yeast
Aftertaste: Slightly coarse malt finish, light lingering yeasts
Nightmare on Mill St. Pumpkin Ale:
This beer was a must have, which was why I ordered a pint of it on top of the glass of Ambre and the sample train I ordered. So much for sampling on the cheap! In any case, it was what one would expect from a pumpkin ale that comes brewed by a faithful craft brewery. This would include a dark amber hue, a nose that calls to mind pumpkin pie, and a malty, spicy flavor profile that is quite refreshing and appetizing. Again, it was a bit light for my taste, but nevertheless gets high marks for doing this seasonal variety of ale right. I was happy I was able to score some alongside their Ambre, making it a two-fer night for seasonals!
Appearance: Dark amber, clear, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Pumpkin pie, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, rich malts
Taste: Immediate hint of sweetness and pumpkin, giving way to allspice
Aftertaste: Lingering spice and malty finish
Now this was the part where the sampling began to diminish for me. In the past, I had some bad experiences with Mill’s own Stock Ale and their Lemon Ice Tea, two beers which regrettably made it into their sample pack. However, I was undecided about the Pilsner, so I chose to include it in the sample train. And while perfectly inoffensive and somewhat charming, it also possessed some characteristics which I don’t feel belong in a Pilsner. These included the sweeter than normal malts, which came across as quite honey-like in terms of smell and flavor and overpowered the hops to a fair degree. On top of that, it did not finish clean and crisp as a Pilsner should. This one felt more like a blonde ale in my estimation, not a true lager.
Appearance: Golden amber, clear, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Sweet malts, mild honey and light hops
Taste: Mild tang and hop bitterness, touch of honey sweetness
Aftertaste: Lingering tang and grainy hops
Last, and strangely enough, least, was their Organic Lager, a beer which I had sampled in the past but could not recall. After taking my first sip, I remembered why. Alongside their Stock Ale, this beer is a perfectly forgettable, very light, and very oddly flavored lager. All throughout, one gets the impression they are drinking a light beer, as it is both lacking in color and is consistently underwhelming in terms of taste. What’s more, some interesting and odd fruit flavors come through as a result of the light malts and very light hops, such as traces of mild apple and melon. Not an offensive beer by any measure, but if the best you can say about a beer is that it’s inoffensive, something’s missing.
Appearance: Light gold, clear, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Mild Pilsner malts and grainy hop
Taste: Very mild malt, mild tang, light grassy hops, mild apple and melon
Aftertaste: Very light finish, no real aftertaste
Well, that was Mill Street for 2013, every bit as adventurous and interesting as our 2012 visit. Coming up next, our visit to Pub Italia, and the other assorted beers I managed to sample while in town!