With summer just around the corner, it is a great time for brewers to roll out fruit-infused ales. One of the recurring seasonal ales that will be around for the entire summer is Great Lake Brewery’s Orange Peel Ale. This beer is a tried and true option that has been around for a few years now, but this year the folks at GLB have decided to take it up a notch and add orange zest for more “orangy goodness.”
First I should mention that this ale isn’t at all what comes to my mind when I think of anorange infused ale. I actually picture a smooth Belgian-style wheat beer with a fluffy white head and a delicate balance of cloves and orange. And if you were thinking the same, Orange Peel Ale will definitely be a surprise.
The Orange Peel Ale comes in a 650ml brown-glass bottle with 5.3% ABV emphasizing oranges on the label and some orange tin-foil on the neck of the bottle, a nice touch.
Soon after writing the stout beer style guide, I was fortunate enough to come across an unfamiliar brew, which attracted me with its flashy cylinder box detailing Kremlin and overused “Russian” font. The perpetrator was a new special reserve, bourbon wood-aged brew – St-Ambroise Russian Imperial Stout.
The label at the bottom of the cylinder, which said “Extra Strong Stout,” and the 9.1% ABV indication, confirmed that St-Ambroise means business.
Having only tried a few Russian Imperial Stouts – not all of which were good – I was excited to try this new brew. Behind the flashy red cylinder, hides a common brown-glass 341ml bottle with familiar St-Ambroise label.
The pour: As I poured the brew into the glass, the beer’s body looked thick, oily and left an appetizing, fluffy brown head on top of the snifter glass. The color is dark brown without any possibility of letting you see through the brew and the colour remains constant even at the edges of the glass.
To continue my holiday picks, I decided to step away from strong, warming spiced ales and pick out a brew that has recently become a favourite of mine. This beer is so good I can’t believe I’ve overlooked it my previous Brew Reviews.
I first stumbled upon this beer a couple of years ago during a raid of one of the finer LCBO locations. I was living in Cooksville at the time and my nearest LCBO was pretty ratty without any impressive selection. So, whenever I was in a vicinity of a newer, finer LCBO store, I would take full advantage of their selection and experiment with any beer that caught my eye. During one particular LCBO raid, I discovered…(drum roll)…WEIHENSTEPHANER HEFEWEISSBIER DUNKEL. Don’t let the name scare you even if you are puzzled by how to correctly pronounce it.
Many brewers recognize winter as the perfect season for strong, spiced ales and you are likely to see many strong seasonal ales on the shelves just in time for your holiday table.
Personally, I cannot imagine my holidays without one of the delicious ales from Unibroue, my favourite brewery. I hope that you, too, will find the excellence in Unibroue beers and make them an essential part of your holidays and your general beer diet!
From Unibroue Brewery (one of Quebec’s best breweries!) comes Maudite: one of my ultimate favourite ales to enjoy during the winter. Luckily, it’s not seasonal and can be purchased at any time of the year…
The name Maudite – meaning “The Damned” – comes from the folktale Le Chasse-galerie, or “The Bewitched Canoe.” This French-Canadian folktale tells a story of pioneer lumberjacks who struck a deal with the devil on New Year’s eve in order to fly their canoe across the sky. The bewitched canoe flew the lumberjacks back home to see their sweethearts and then back to work the next morning.
Last month when Molson announced Rickard’s Dark as the new addition to the Rickard’s line-up, I was intrigued. Although it’s not nearly my favourite white beer, I enjoy a pint of Rickard’s White here and there. And Rickard’s Red often finds its way onto my table during wing-nights as a commonly accessible red ale. Red also happens to be my girlfriend’s ultimate favourite since it reminds her of being a student and playing beer pong. Needless to say, I was more than willing to try Rickard’s new brew. Plus, the maple syrup idea seemed interesting.
Now that I’ve got a chance to try it, I must say, Rickard’s succeeded in creating another solid brew.
It is tough to review light beer. The biggest reason why it is so tough is probably because light beer is generally crap. I seriously have yet to taste a beer labeled ‘light’ that I would like. So far Amstel Light came the closest. But having said that, I was severely disappointed because I did have a normal Amstel while in Amsterdam, and there is simply no comparison between the two.
Anyway, Molson recently released a new brew called Molson 67, which was supposed to target a more health-oriented drinker. It’s a good marketing move because I personally know a ton of people that go to the pub straight after the gym to grab an after work-out pint. So a good light beer could be a great way to reduce your calorie intake if that is important to you. So naturally, Molson made a big deal out of the launch, complete with billboard ads, commercials, booths at food expos…the works.
So what about the beer itself? Here are my 2 cents:
During my recent trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia, I decided to visit the famous Alexander Keith’s Brewery and attend their brewery tour. I confess that it was one of my first brewery visits, but it left a unique impression on me and set a benchmark yet to be defied by other breweries. First of all, this is not your typical tour where you are led through the facilities, educated on the history of the brand and their beer making process and then given the opportunity to try some of the beer samples. Alexander Keith’s tour is more like an interactive show in which you also play a role. Just as a side note… I will not describe the tour in step by step detail simply to not spoil the experience….assuming that one day you will go there as well.
During your journey, you take on a role of a visitor from ‘our’ time who somehow ends up in the 19th century Halifax, right when Mr. Keith was doing his brewing magic. The experience takes place inside the old Alexander Keith’s house and the neighbouring Keith’s beer production facilities. As you make your way through various rooms and buildings, you get a chance to meet some of the actors, portraying the people who played a significant role at Keith’s brewery. Each one tells you a few interesting facts about Keith’s brewing and the impact it had on our culture. They also talk about their responsibilities around the facilities and usually get you to do something related to the brewing process… like assess the barley or approve a beer sample. Towards the end of the tour and after all the hard work, your reward is a few mugs of either Keith’s IPA, Red, White or Stout inside what looks like the original Red Stag tavern. While you enjoy a fresh brew, the actors entertain you with popular 19th century Nova Scotian songs, dances and a few old tavern games.
I left the tour with a big smile on my face, but I couldn’t help feeling like something was missing. The actors were great, the sets and decorations were top notch, and the beer samples very fresh. However, I never had a chance to see any of the actual workers in the midst of the beer making or the actual brewing facilities (except for the green beer storage tanks). And where was Mr. Keith himself!?! J By the end of the tour I realized that this wasn’t really a ‘brewery tour’ as it was advertised…it was more like a historic site tour…not what I expected. Nonetheless, I did not feel like the $12 I spent were a total loss. The actors kept me entertained every step of the way, and I did get 3 mugs of beer (about half pint each). However, it would’ve been nice if I was given some sort of a souvenir (like a mug) at the end.
To all of you reading this and those who plan on visiting Halifax, I would suggest that you check out the tour. It’s unique, it’ fun, and you get to learn some interesting facts about Keith’s beer. Here are some pictures of the tour after the jump: