Back to beer blogging! Two of this month’s selections came from Stonehammer Brewing in Guelph, Ontario. Formerly known as F & M Brewery, Stonehammer has been around since 1995 and all of their beers are made using spring water from Guelph’s artesian wells.
The first Stonehammer brew I tried this month was the Queen’s English Mild Ale. It poured a dark almost black mahogany with almost no head. Judging by their website this was a one-off specialty brew that was available for a a limited time. Though the description mentioned hops I didn’t really get a hops smells or taste with this one — the malt flavour and caramel notes took precedence.
Despite this being a dark beer than my standard fair I really enjoyed it. It was flavourful enough without being overbearing – and is the type of beer that both Andrew and I could agree upon. I’m looking forward to trying the Red Male Ale that also came from Stonehammer Brewing.
The other two beer selections in the recent beer of the month shipment were from Syndicate Brewing in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Both beers were simply named and their labels were very plain — I like to think that more effort went into the brewing than into the marketing of these beers. In a nice turn of fate Andrew and I were able to enjoy a couple of beers on the porch. It was finally warm enough to sit outside in the evening…and there weren’t any bugs yet. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The first of the two beers was simply titled “ESB” after the Extra Strong Bitter style of beer. It poured a dark copper colour, with a finger of bright white head, and lots of carbonation. As anticipated it had a slightly bitter smell and a bit of a bitter kick in its taste. After a couple of sips the bitterness settled and the beer was surprisingly smooth drinking. I enjoyed it.
The second beer from Syndicate Brewing was the dark beacon porter. Andrew really enjoyed this selection. It poured a dark brown almost black colour and was full bodied with subtle coffee notes. I wasn’t a huge fan, but that probably had more to do with not typically liking porters in general and nothing against this specific brew.
Andrew and I were both finally feeling well enough to sit down an sample a couple of craft beers. The most recent Beer of the Month Club shipment included two selections from the Barnstormer Brewing Company (BBC). The BBC was established in 2013 in Barrie, Ontario. All of their beers are unfiltered, they don’t pasteurize, and their brews doing include preservatives. In addition to their beer offerings they offer brewery tours and operate a microbrewery restaurant (aka brew pub). I also loved the fact that many of the names of the beers have regional references, which been from Simcoe County tickled my sense of nostalgia. Though I’m not a huge fan of the pin-up style girl that seems to be on all of their products…but that’s more of a personal preference than anything.
The first selection from BBC I tried was the Flight Delay IPA. It poured a golden blonde colour with very minimal head. It had a very citrus smell with a touch of pine. To say it was hoppy would be an understatement. It was like a hop explosion. I really like IPA style beers but this may have been too much hops even for me.
The second beer I tried was the 400 Blonde Ale. This was a fairly standard ale that I could see being great on a warm summer day. It poured a slightly hazy golden with minimal head, a paler colour than the Flight Delay IPA. I didn’t pick up much on the smell side, maybe a slight sweetness note, but that might be stretching it. There wasn’t a ton of depth in this beer. It wasn’t bad, but nothing particularly special.
On the weekend Andrew and I relaxed while watching curling and sampled a couple more of the beer of the month club brews. This time I tried the Lager by Cameron’s Brewing Company. Similar to their Auburn Ale, the Lager has recently underwent a rebranding and is now known as “Cameron’s Captain’s Log Lager.” By the looks of it the rebranding resulted in all their beers having slightly punny names. My sense of humor approves even if the names are almost groan inducing.
I was pleasantly surprised by this selection. I tend to shy away from lager style beers as they often have a harsher taste that I don’t particularly enjoy. This lager was smooth drinking with a clear crisp finish. It poured with almost no head and was a light straw colour. The lightness of this selection reminded more of a pilsner than what I typically associate with a lager. And given my preference that’s more than okay. But if you’re expecting a hard hitting lager I’d recommend searching elsewhere.
The second set of beers in the most recent beer of the month shipment were from Cameron’s Brewery. Based in Oakville, Ontario the family run craft brewery has been around since 1997 and is dedicated to creating quality all natural brews.
So far I tried their Auburn Ale, which based on their website has recently been rebranded. Actually as I’m writing this, it looks like they launched their new brand yesterday, so very recently. The Auburn Ale has been renamed as the “Ambear Ale”. And yes, the new branding includes a can with a bear on it – so the new name is just as punny as you thought it sounded.
This beer was darker than an anticipated and poured a dark copper colour. The head was very thin and it had a mild citrus smell. It had a very mild hops falvour that hung out in the background with the taste of malt and caramel taking centre stage. Smooth drinking with a surprising amount of depth that isn’t found in a lot of more generic amber style beers.
Andrew and I finally got around to trying some of the beer that was delivered the last week of January. This month’s selection included two beers from Strathroy Brewing. Back in September we tried the 1815 Lockstock Ale by Strathroy Brewing. As soon as I saw the bottle label for these couple of beers I remembered that we’d sampled something from this brewer before — the images of the griffin/almost dragon looking creatures on the labels apparently stuck with me.
The first selection from Strathroy this month was the Hop Happy Haymaker. It poured with very minimal head and was an amber colour. It smelt more hoppy than it tasted and had a slightly citrus undertone. It wasn’t quite hoppy enough to fall into the IPA category in my mind and was more of a mild APA style beer.
Andrew tried the other Strathroy beer this time so I can’t really comment on it, but it was a darker style beer and he seemed to enjoy it.
Another Christmas tall boy that I just got around to sampling. The Goose Island IPA is made by the Goose Island Beer Company. This is one of the few IPAs they carry in the Thessalon LCBO so I’ve tried it before. But it’s been awhile and I didn’t really remember how it tasted.
An English style IPA that pours a light golden colour with very white head. As as I opened it I was a bit overwhelmed by the citrus hop smell. Thankfully the taste wasn’t so abrasive – it was definitely hoppy but had a subtle pine flavour as well. The citrus notes continued to pretty strong throughout the drink and it had a bit of a bitter finish. The first few sips were a bit harsh but as I continued it kind of grew on me. But it was definitely more of a single beer in a sitting type of drink and predictably Andrew definitely wasn’t a fan.
Rumor has it that our latest beer of the month shipment just arrived so there should be new tasty beer in my future.
Despite having enjoyed Detour by Muskoka Brewery periodically since the summer I haven’t written about it yet. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe because it’s by a more run of the mill brewery and is easily accessible everywhere. Regardless, it’s tasty and is a drink that I keep coming back to.
Detour is an unfiltered IPA sessionable style beer that has been dry-hopped. The unfiltered style means it pours slightly cloudly, it’s a warm yellow tone and has a bit of foam on the top when poured. It has a citrus smell and slightly citrus taste and the hops are mild enough to not be overpowering. Andrew can drink a bit of it without being overwhelmed by the hops — which is how I usually judge if something is uber hoppy or not.
It’s a nice smooth brew that I enjoyed many a day on the dock, deck, or Muskoka chair. I’ve gone back to to it a few times, suggesting that it holds up to multiple sittings and is something I would definitely buy again or recommend to anyone interested in a mild IPA.
HopBot IPA. A catchy, rhyming name. And as an added bonus the can had a picture of a robot holding a hop on it. It made me picture a brewery that is very futuristic and completely run by robot overlords. Though that’s probably just my overactive imagination drawing on all the sci-fi I’ve been consuming recently.
I’ve previously tried the Barking Squirrel Lager by Hop City. I’ve had it both in a can and on tap. I remember being mildly disappointed that for a beer made by a company with hop in the name that it wasn’t particularly hoppy. So I was hoping that HopBot would have a stronger hop note.
Brewed as an American IPA HopBot is made with a combination of five different West Coast hops. It poured an amber colour with moderate head that lasted for a few minutes after pouring. It smelt and tasted slightly cirtus with a fairly mild hop note. The malt and fruity notes balance out the hop flavour – so it isn’t a hit you over the head with hops kind of IPA. It was smooth drinking and might be a good choice if you tend to like milder IPAs. A decent beer.
We’re a bit behind on the beer of the month consumption. I think this beer might have arrived in November but I just got around to sampling it last week. Two of the selections in this shipments were by Taps Brewing Co. from Niagara Falls. By the looks of it Taps is a brew up that does a bit of side business in bottled and growler beer.
The Rye Knot brew poured a hazy slightly dark colour with a rye, spicy, and slightly hoppy smell. The slightly citrus taste combined with the rye notes surprised me a bit. I normally associate citrus with a much lighter style of beer. We’ve tried a few rye beers in recent months. They are an interesting mix of flavours and have a range of depth to them. This was an okay rye beer, not my favourite but not bad.
Andrew sampled a couple of the Red Cream Ales from Taps. He liked them but each time he opened the beer there was way too much carbonation and head ended up going everywhere. Even when poured there was far too much head (eg. almost a whole glass of head). We’re not sure if we got a bad batch or what, but it definitely wasn’t a great drinking experience.
Now to keep tackling the beers that were Christmas gifts.