Friday, 9 December 2011

Beers of the Year(s)

Tonight I ventured into BarVolo for a bite and a pint (that basically turned into three pints) and it got me to writing.

Through flights as well as only a single literal 'pint,' I managed to taste five draft beers this evening that were all new to me: Grand River Brewing's Jubilation Winter Warmer Spiced Ale, Great Lakes' Etobichoker, Black Oak's Nutcracker Porter, Denison's Dunkel, and Publican House's Henry's Irish Red Ale.  Some brief thoughts on each follow before a statement of some of my favourites as way of introduction to my tastes, preferences, and current beer awards.

The Dunkel from Denison's Brewing Company in Toronto is a very good beer that is exemplary of the style.  Though it was too dark to truly assess the colours (and the head in this flight glass was poorly presented), the sweet raisin-bready aroma and malty goodness were there to enjoy nonetheless!  Despite an overwhelming maltiness, the crispness of the carbonation and hoppy dryness bordering on astringency provided a very strong balance.  This beer is quite good and, were I more of a dunkel-guy, I might rate it higher.  As a dunkel it gets an A+, but as a beer'o'mine it falls into the B+ range which is highly enjoyable and high praise indeed!

The Nutcracker Porter from Black Oak presents beautifully with a nice, thick, creamy head that trails away with a fine lace.  A very pleasant grainy and nutty aroma greets the nose and the flavour finishes with a dryness reflecting of the style.  While a good beer, I couldn't help but feel like the bitter-sweetness of the roasted malt flavours were overshadowed by a slightly excessive dryness afterwards.  Enjoyable, but far from my favourite Porter.  B

I will refrain from commenting at length on the Grand River Jubilation since I was on the phone at the time and took only the briefest of notes.  Suffice it to say, as the style demands, it was indeed warming with spicy cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves flavours and a strong nutmeg aroma alongside fairly heavy carbonation.  B

The Great Lakes Etobichoker, a Belgian Strong Ale, presented obvious active yeasts in its cloudiness and heavily yeasty aroma which was smoothed out by fine citrus scents.  Flavours of yeast exemplary of the style are moderated by a touch of pear, though a delayed and slightly astringent afterbite seems a bit out of touch with the more dry properties typical of the style.  Good, but not great nor as exemplary of their style as others reviewed herein. B-

And the gem of the night year season: Publican House's Henry's Irish Red Ale.  This winter-only annual offering is as close to perfection as a beer can get, in my opinion, though I am partial to the style.  The beige creamy, yet slightly rocky (in diminishment) head left a remarkable trailing lace.  A strong coffee aroma greeted me and beckoned me further towards its allure and I was not disappointed in the slightest!  This beer has exceptional balance, providing a moderately dry finish to a smooth choco-malty (or perhaps mocha with it's coffee hints remaining in the mouth as well) toasted flavour, coupled with a creamy medium bodied mouthfeel.  Insofar as balance is desirable in a beer, this beer exemplifies not just the style but balanced my night. A+

It was this delicious Red Ale that got me to ponder writing tonight.  It made me reflect on my favourites and to that end I share this with you:

Favourite Styles: Traditional Pale Ales, IPAs, Bitters/ESBs, Dubbels, and Brown Ales

Once Upon a Good Beer: I do enjoy and will always love a classic Innis & Gunn for having introduced me to the world of good beer (beyond the Lager), though it is no longer my favourite, it is still unique, sweet, and noteworthy!

Brown Ale: Brooklyn Brown Ale
IPA: Innis & Gunn Limited Edition IPA (was it 2008?)
American IPA: Southern Tier IPA
Dubbel: Grimbergen Dubbel (with Chimay Premiere close behind)
Tripel: Koningshoeven La Trappe Tripel
Belgian Strong: Delirium Tremens
Dunkel: Gotta try Erdinger Dunkel and Denison's side-by-side to see (maybe Spaten)
Oktoberfest: Black Oak Oaktoberfest
Oatmeal Stout: Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout
Dry Irish Stout: Moylan's Dragoon's Stout
Amber Ale: New Belgium's Fat Tire
Pale Ale: Mill Street Tankhouse
Old Ale: Samuel Smith's Old Brewery Ale
Scottish Ale: Orkney Dark Island
Pale Lager: Neustadt Lager or Nickel Brook Organic Lager
Bitter: Coniston Bluebird Bitter

Go To Beer in Toronto: Mill Street Tankhouse

Favourite Breweries:
US: Southern Tier or New Belgium
Ontario: Mill Street?  (Their one-offs, like the Betelgeuse Tripel just push it over the edge for me, though Publican House is making a push)
Quebec: McAuslan
UK: Samuel Smith's, Orkney, and Innis & Gunn (Though I'd like to try a few more from Consiton... LCBO, care to help me out by bringing them to Ontario?)
Belgium: Chimay maybe though I tend to find good dubbels come from different breweries than good tripels (in my opinion) (again, though, could the LCBO bring more Grimbergen, please?)

Hope that introduces you to my beer loves which will change as you hear about them in the days, weeks, and months to come!


1 comment:

  1. Shortly after this post, Rochefort 8 and 10, as well as St. Bernardus Abt 12 kicked the shit out of a few beers on this list!