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.
Located in Gravenhurst, Ontario Sawdust City Brewing is a relatively new craft brewery that was launched in 2013. They have five core brands and brew the occasional sessions. I tried their Lone Pine IPA a few years ago but had mostly forgotten how it tasted other than it was a hoppy IPA. I also think the Lone Pine is the only beer from Sawdust City Brewing that I’ve seen at an LCBO – granted the local LCBO is often pretty sparse in terms of craft beer. I loved the design of the can, the stark lone pine is an iconic Canadian image that they’ve made into a simple but visually appealing label design.
The name of the beer is well chosen as it has a distinctly pine smell. There’s a bit of a citrus hop smell buried under the pine but it’s minimal. In terms of taste it was an interesting blend of pine, hops, and a citrus (maybe grapefruit?) taste. It was relatively dry with lots of hops. It’s definitely a hop forward beer but manages to avoid being too bitter. I tried this beer while camping and it was a great beer to have in the evening after a hot day of hiking. Refreshing and a tad sweet.
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.
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.
I recently picked up a six pack of State of Mind, the session IPA from Collective Arts Brewing. Light, citrus flavoured, and full of hops this was an enjoyable pick for me. It poured a light golden yellow and had a slightly hazy look.
Collective Arts has a few other IPAs and pale ales that’s I’m hoping to try in the future. The Rhyme & Reason was recommended when I bought this selection so maybe I’ll try it next time.
One of the reasons I was excited about trying this selection was the labels that Collective Arts uses. The bottles feature limited-run artwork by artists. Additionally many of the labels are compatible with the Blippar app which allows you to scan the image to learn more about the artwork, artist, or listen to paired music. I loved the uniqueness of each label and the added bonus of being able to learn more about the artist using your phone was a neat surprise. A great conversation piece combined with tasty beer.
I love finding local places that are unique, offer a great product, and owned by friendly people. I think supporting local businesses and your local economy is important. The “Living Local” series is inspired by this affection for local places and local products. The series will highlight some of my favourite haunts, tasty eats, and miscellaneous local goodness.
If you hadn’t already guessed Andrew and I are beer drinkers. We recently sampled two beers from OutSpoken Brewing a microbrewery that recently opened in Sault Ste Marie. Outspoken currently has limited storefront hours and sells by the growler and howler. Your first growler is $20 and refills are $12-13. We picked up two growlers from OutSpoken, one of Anvil Red Ale and one of Rabbit’s Foot IPA.
Surprisingly I enjoyed the Anvil Red Ale more than the IPA. It was subtle, smooth drinking, and a lovely amber colour. Andrew and I are looking forward to trying more selections from Outspoken — especially since they recently introduced expanded hours.