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.
The pour: Orange Peel Ale began to deviate from my expectation of an orange ale right from the start. Instead of a hazy unfiltered ale, this beer poured a clear orange color, very similar to orange pekoe tea. Fizzy white head quickly formed at the top of the glass, and just as quickly settled and disappeared leaving some faint lacing.
The nose: Like you would expect; the Orange Peel Ale has a pleasant aroma of fresh oranges with a barely noticeable hop aroma. In fact, the smell was very similar to the smell of freshly squeezed orange juice.
Body and mouth-feel: Here the Orange Peel Ale continued to shatter my set image of an orange ale by delivering a nicely balanced combination of orange peel bitterness, malt and hop bite. Very different and surprising taste. Medium body, with a noticeable fizzy carbonation that complements the flavour. Label indicated that some honey was involved, although I couldn’t really notice.
Finish: The orange zest + hops combination delivers a lingering bitter finish.
Overall, Orange Peel Ale is a very unique and surprising beer that brought an interesting twist to an otherwise predictable infusion. I can definitely see myself enjoying a pint or two at one of Toronto’s patios. While the hops + orange zest bitterness can be a little intimidating to some drinkers, Orange Peel Ale is definitely worth a try.