More Beer!

In this last installment of my series dedicated to my hometown, I would like to address some of the miscellaneous beers I enjoyed during my most recent trip. They were several, and diverse, so no single brewery could be cited for exclusive praise. However, I shall do my best to give credit where credit is due. Here goes:

Barn Dog Ale: This beer is nominally known as Nickelbrook Draft, but which is made specially for Woody’s Bar and Grill on Elgin Street. This beer is naturally golden, has light malts and a light hop bite, this beer is unassuming, unpretentious, and a generally refreshing brew. Not the most complex or palatable beer I’ve ever had, but well-suited to easy drinking and well paired with pub grub. 3.5/5

Beaver River IPeh?: An interesting take on the traditional IPA’s, combing both British and American styles. Based in Vankleek Hill, Ontario, this brewery is a relatively new operation, and during my trip, I saw there beers just about everywhere I looked. However, once i cracked a bottle and got down to sampling it, I was somewhat unimpressed. IPA’s are renowned for being hoppy and bitter, but generally manage to balance that with citrus and floral notes. Unfortunately, this beer is heavy on the former, light on the latter. However, it does possess some dark, tawny malts that add to the aftertaste, which is just unfortunately a little too bitter for my liking. 3.5/5

Churchkey WCPA: Generally, I have nothing but nice things to say about Church Key brewery. However, this particular attempt at a West Coast Pale Ale was a bit of a misfire for me. Much like the IPeh? it was too bitter and not provide any balance to its strong hop bite. Although it too had some smooth malts, they did not balance the hops, which were too powerful and too bitter, and combined with a very light aftertaste, made for an experience which was kind of over and underwhelming at the same time. Oh well, can’t knock em all out of the park, can ya? 3/5

Kichessipi 1855: Located right in Ottawa, this brewery is a relatively new addition to the capitol’s beer scene. Naturally, I was sure to sample all that they had on tap before leaving, and was lucky in that there are only two for the time being. Of them, this beer was the lesser for me. Though it too had good malts, it was a bit underwhelming when it came to hop flavor and complexity. In short, it had a bitter start, a watery finish, and some maltiness to speak of but not enough to satisfy yours truly. 3.75/5

Kichessipi Blonde: As already noted, the better of the brewery’s two signature creations! Once again, we have a beer that boasts nice, smooth malts, a nice dry-hop bite that is reminiscent of Pilsner, and a certain minerality that is reminiscent of Creemore’s own Lager. I suspect that this is due to the use of natural spring water to make this beer, which I highly approve of! I will be looking for it and any additional Kichessipi products during my next visit. 4/5

Muskoka Dark Ale: A newer installment in Muskoka’s lineup, and comparable to everything else I used to enjoy by them. Much like Neustadt’s own 10w30, which I tried a few nights prior, this is an English-style brown ale. And like a good brown, it is smooth, dark, and tawny with discernible notes of chocolate and caramel amongst the malts. A delicious dinner or desert beer, well paired with meat, chocolate, or creme caramel. 4.5/5

Trafalgar ESB: From Oakville, nestled in the nook of Lake Ontario, Trafalgar Ales and Meads is a brewery that keeps popping up on my radar. Years back, I was regaled by their tallboys of Irish Ale. Crisp, clean, and slightly tawny, it was one of those beers that just goes great with spicy food or on its own after a tough workout! During my most recent visit, I was lucky enough to spot the newest addition to their lineup, the Trafalgar Extra Special Bitter. I can honestly say without exaggeration that it is one of the better bitters I have ever had. Like a good bitter, it is light in color and taste, but possess a smooth, tawny taste and dry hop bite that provide complexity. Good job Trafalgar! Can’t wait to try your meads! 4.5/5

Trafalgar Irish Ale: Now this one was a little less impressive, but still good as beers go. Typically, Irish Ales are smooth, creamy, and have a little bit of a bitter bite in addition to their tawny malts. However, this particular Trafalgar beer was particularly bitter to taste, with dark malts that contain coffee notes, and a rather underwhelming finish that was just the slightest bit watery. 3.5/5

Well, that was Ottawa! I still have more Ontario breweries to cover and compliment, but those are amongst my all-time favorites and fell outside of my sampling repertoire this trip. I look forward to our next trip, seeing our friends and sampling more beers. Preferably at the same time!

Neustadt Springs

And were back! After reviewing Winterlude’s Winter Beer and Icewine event, plus some of my favorite watering holes, I thought it high time for me to get back and review some of my favorite Ontario breweries. So today, I thought I’d cover a historic and memorable one, the Neustadt Brewery.

This one and I go back quite a ways. In fact, I’m not even sure when I first sampled this beer, but I imagine it was shortly after I became of legal drinking age ;). Not being cheeky; the way I remember it, I actually had a bit of a frame of reference when I first tried it. And what’s more, I’ve tried it several times since and have found plenty of things to appreciate about it.

Established in 1859, this brewery has the honor of operating on the grounds of the oldest craft brewery in Ontario. In addition (and not coincidentally) it just happens to be located over one of the finest sources of spring water in Ontario, which they use to make their craft beers. This is clear the moment you drink any one of their products, which have an added attribute which I can only describe as “minerality” (it’s a word, look it up!).

In any case, during my most recent visit to Ottawa, I was sure to pick up some beer that carried the Neustadt label. And wouldn’t you know it, they’ve actually added a few new beers to their catalog since the last time I sampled them. So here is what I thought of the Neustadt brewery’s products, taking into account their old classics, and the latest addition to their lineup.

Lager: Their flagship brew, done in the Belgian country style. This beer is crisp, refreshing and has a smoothness and deeper hue that make it distinct from your average lager. In addition, the malts have an exceptionally clean, effervescent quality that is reminiscent of spring water. A somewhat unusual experience when it comes to a beer, but definitely a worthy one which grows on you! 4/5

Scottish Ale: The brewery’s red label, which is actually the first beer the brewery ever produced. Brewed in the traditional Scottish “heavy” style, this beer is smoother than the lager with noticeable scotch malts that are reminiscent of whiskey. Notes of caramel, spice, and a nice hop finish top this one off. And of course the clean, pure taste of spring water is never far behind. 4/5

10w30 Brown Ale: Now this beer impressed me quite a bit! Made in the tradition of a true brown ale, this beer has plenty of flavor, but is smooth and tawny with subtle notes of coffee that reminded me of some of the best west coast browns I’ve ever had. In addition, the light touch of minerality makes for a perfect, complex finish. The first beer I had during my trip, and it happened to be one of the most memorable! 5/5

Man, I drank a lot of beer this trip! Not so much in terms of quantity as variety. But I shall do my best to cover them all in the days and weeks to come. Stay tuned… Up next, the Muskoka, Wellington, Church Key, Trafalgar and Magnotta breweries (not necessarily in that order!)