I recently tried the Stone Hammer Pilsner brewed by Stone Hammer Brewing, which is a small craft brewery located in Guelph, Ontario. I’ve previously sampled the Red Maple Ale and the Queen’s English Mild Ale as part of the beer of the month subscription Andrew and I were receiving. Based on my blogs from the other two beers I liked them both, with my preference being for the Red Maple Ale.
Disappointingly their Pilsner wasn’t nearly as tasty. It poured a clear straw yellow with a full bodied head. There was a mild fruity and straw smell but both were fairly mild.
Taste wise it was smooth drinking. It wasn’t bad but it definitely didn’t fall into the “I would buy this again” category – it was more of your standard generic tasting beer that didn’t really stand apart in any way. It was smooth drinking and I could see it being refreshing on a warm day, however I doubt it will become one of my stables.
Instead of doing another year of the ‘beer of the month’ mail order beer selections Andrew and I decided we would take turns in 2017 buying random beers to explore together. This idea has been helped greatly by our move and being closer to an LCBO with better craft beer selections, a nearby grocery store which has a surprisingly awesome beer section, and the fact that you can now order online via the LCBO.
Andrew recently picked up a handful of beers for us to try. This batch of beers included “4×4 Belgian Quad” by Stack Brewing. Stack Brewing is a Sudbury based brewing company, with its name relating to the well known mining stack landmark that towers over the city. This beer is also essentially named after an ATV (quad is another name for ATVS, something I had no idea of until moving to Northern Ontario).
At 10.5% this is definitely a strong beer. It poured a hazy dark auburn brown colour with minimal head that quickly dissipated. The smell was faintly sweet with a bit of a malt note. Considering the alcohol content I was surprised by the smoothness of this particular beer. There was a lingering fruit and spice note that hung on with this beer. It was definitely a bit darker than my usual preference but it wasn’t bad tasting and I was surprised by how much I liked it.
Andrew and I recently tried Swingbridge, a beer crafted by the Manitoulin Brewing Company. I love the fact that this is a Northern Ontario made beer and is semi-local to our area. So far it looks like Swingbeer is the only beer brewed by the Manitoulin Brewing Company but based on the taste of this one I hope they venture into other offerings.
Swingbridge is a blonde ale and poured a hazy yellow colour with a small amount of white head that stuck around for awhile. This had a maltier edge to it that then most blonde ales which was a nice surprise. The malt is well balanced with hops that have enough flavour to be noticeable while still being subtle enough to be enjoyable. Smooth drinking, well balanced, and full of flavour this one was a huge win in the local beer category.
Another pumpkin beer. This one was by Nickel Brook Brewing Company (Burlington, Ont.) which I’ve tried a couple of beers from previously. I haven’t been thrilled with their beer in the past – kind of a good but not great selection of beer. Similarly, I have yet to find a pumpkin flavoured beer that is great. I love pumpkin but that love doesn’t seem to transfer into pumpkin beer.
The “Pie Eyed Pumpkin Ale” fell about middle of the road in terms of pumpkin beer. It poured a hazy copper colour with minimal head and smelt fairly strongly of spice. The taste was predominately spice (cinnamon, all spice, cardamon) with a little bit of malt. The spice wasn’t crazy strong but the balance didn’t quite do it for me. It wasn’t really the flavour mix I associate with pumpkin and felt more like just a bottle of spices tossed together. It was good but not really pumpkin at all.
I was delighted to find that this month’s beer deliver contained a beer from the Black Creek Historic Brewery. I’ve written previously about my love for the fact that their beers are brewed based on archival recipes from the 1800s. I love the idea of using beer and food generally as a way to explore the past and connect present day people to history.
When I went back to read my recollections on the Black Creek Brewery I realized that I’d had their “Marzen” beer before, which is the one that was included in this month’s delivery. This particular selection is brewed in the style of something from 1860s and I enjoyed it the first time.
My opinion of the beer has stayed fairly similar – I loved the balanced hop and malt notes in this beer. It pours a dark amber that is almost brown, is unfiltered, and has minimal head. It’s a bit of a heavier beer which makes it a bit of an outlier for the traditional Marzen style, but despite that heaviness it is still smooth drinking. I would definitely recommend this and buy it again.
Pïckup Truck Pilsner
Another LCBO grab bag selection and another pilsner style beer. The Pickup Truck Pilsner is brewed by the Thornbury Village Cidery and Brewery. I hadn’t tried any beer or cider by Thornbury prior to this surprise selection and didn’t really know anything about the brewery or their reputation.
The Pickup Truck Pilsner is brewed in the Czech pilsner style which has some overlapping characteristics with the German pilsner style – especially when those styles are interpreted by North American breweries.
The beer poured a light clear yellow with minimal short lived froth. The beer is a nice mixture of malt and traditional Czech style hops with both a grassy and spicy flavor. I enjoyed this and it would definitely be my preferred pick out of the two pilsners in the grab bag.
Polly Want A Pilsner
It’s beer and it has a punny name. Winning all around! A friend recently gave me a LCBO craft grab bag which included four cans of beer, including a can of “Polly Want A Pilsner” by Hop City Brewing Company. I’ve previously tried Hop City’s Barking Squirrel Lager and their Hopbot IPA – it’s been awhile in both cases but I remember them being decent beers.
Polly Want A Pilsner is brewed in the German Pilsner style and poured a dull straw yellow colour with an inch or so of white froth, which dissipated pretty quickly. There’s a mild hop smell that carries over to the taste. The beer was on the medium bodied side of things but still smooth drinking. Basically it’s a well made albeit fairly typical North American brewed pilsner. I’d have it again.
I’ve been a bit on the slow side posting about the most recent shipment of beer of the month selections. As I mentioned earlier I wasn’t a fan of the Break of Dawn Session IPA that was in this batch and we’ve been a bit hesitant to try the other selections.
Beer two of three in this set was the Absolute Altitude Saison from Barnstormer Brewing Company. Every time I have a beer from Barnstormer I really want to like it – mainly because it is a Barrie brewery and I have fond feelings for that region.
The Absolute Altitude had a slight citrus note but didn’t have a ton of complexity beyond it. It was missing some of the spiciness that is typical of the Saison style. It was a good tasting beer but didn’t really set itself apart as something wonderful.http://www.oslickenacres.com/wp-admin/post-new.php
Andrew and I recently got around to trying a couple of different selections from one of the local breweries. The Union Jack Brewing Company opened in May 2015. Initially their beers were only available in-house but they just recently managed to get their beers into the Beer Store. A number of local restaurants also offer their beer on tap.
Algoma Pale Ale
The first Union Jack Beer I tried was a tall can of their Algoma Pale Ale. Given my love of IPA style beers I was excited to try this selection though a bit leery given how many overwhelmingly hoppy beers have been labeled as IPAs recently. Thankfully this wasn’t a beat you over the head with hops situation – the Algoma Pale Ale was well balanced with notes of hopes, malt, and subtle pine. I really enjoyed this selection and it would be something I would definitely pick up again.
1870 Amber Ale
Andrew and I both tried this selection on draught at a local restaurant. Though described in the style of an American pale ale, this felt more like a traditional amber selection to me. I’ve really been enjoying the complexity but smoothness of amber ales recently and this was a good example of something simple but tasty. Malty undertones and little to no hop taste.
Rapid River Cream Ale
Only Andrew has tried this one so far (okay, I stole a sip of his beer but not enough to comment on it). It was a number of weeks ago that he had this particular beer – but remembers liking it if nothing else. I figure that just means we have to try it again to confirm that it was good.
Some how two months have already flown by and another beer shipment arrived in the mail this week. The month’s selection includes three beers beers from three different breweries – four bottles of each beer. The first one we’ve tried is the Break of Dawn Session IPA by Black Oak Brewing Co.
Black Oak is a craft brewery that was originally started in Oakville in 1999. It now calls Etobicoke home and the brewery prides itself in brewing in small batches.
The beer poured a slightly hazy golden colour. The Break of Dawn beer is described by Black Oak as having notes of grapefruit and mango with a hoppy finish. I found there was a very subtle citrus taste but there was way too much hop for my preference. There seems to be a trend recently to make every IPA style beer overwhelmingly hoppy. I love hops. But I like when they are subtle and you can still taste other flavours in a beer. Needless to say I wasn’t a huge fan of this selection and unfortunately there are three more bottles of it still.