Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What Was Wrong with My Name?

It was no secret that this beer was coming.

Mill Street's Facebook page was building up a buzz around the Ottawa pub's upcoming seasonal: a cherry ale. The only thing that was missing was a name for this new brew.

Being a regular of their pub (they sometimes refer to me as their in-house writer), I would sit with head brewer, Adam Rader, and share in his excitement for this beer. Eighty kilos of frozen, sour cherries were added to the mash. Fourty percent of the brew would be wheat malt. And, with many of Adam's creations, it was going to be a strong beer.

Adam delivered.

Nineteen kegs of this ale were created, and I wouldn't be surprised if it went fast.
Big Red Cherry Wheat Ale (7% ABV)
Mill Street Brew Pub
Ottawa, ON
Beer O'Clock rating: 4.5
Appearance: crimson red with copper highlights and a pinkish-beige head that dissipates quickly.

Nose: as Adam pointed out, the initial scent is reminiscent of what you get when you open a fresh package of Twizzlers red licorice. I found it also made me think of cherry cola: there was a sweet, intense fruitiness to the bouquet.

Palate: a definite sour cherry that coated the tongue and held on for a full, dry finish. There is no sweetness in the mouth, but there is intense fruit.

Overall impression: although I'm not generally one for fruit-infused beer, I love the flavour in this ale. This is a well-balanced, full bodied beer that would be perfect for patio season. It's a keeper beer, even though it won't last long in the pub and won't return again for some time.

But you will be counting the days for when it does come back.

Why do I not give this ale a perfect score? I'd like to say it's because of the name. When Mill Street started a contest where fans would suggest names on their Facebook page, I offered Adam my suggestion: Cherry Blossom. I thought it would coincide with the time of year, when cherry trees are not far from blooming. I posted my suggestion on their page, and judging by the other entries, I felt my name was a sure thing.

Big Red? Really?

I love the beer: hate the name.

Get some while you can. Cheers!


  1. Even though I'm suffering some effects from a recent cold.. I really enjoyed Big Red. Personally, I picked up a champagne-ness in the finish.

    I always enjoy your reviews Ross. They're usually spot on with my thoughts. Hoping Mill St. decides to keep this as a regular release.

  2. Yes, I totally get the champagne-ness. It's totally that dry dry finish.
    Great review, Ross!

  3. Agreed about the name - I thought it was supposed to have something to do with Ottawa?

    1. "Big Red" makes me think of "Big Rig," which I'm sure is the last thing they want me thinking about.

      I didn't necessarily think the name had to be tied to Ottawa; I was thinking more about spring with my name choice.


    2. This is what the original contest said:

      "Name Our Next Beer Contest!

      Our head brewer Adam Rader is creating a new beer brewed in Ottawa.

      Its a cherry wheat beer with 5 malts, Carmel and biscuit flavors.
      Trappist yeast from Chaudiere to lend sweet floral notes. Organic hops from Richards farm for aroma and 80kg of sour cherries! It will be filtered and should be deep red in color.

      Here's the scoop:
      The naming contest will run until Thursday April 11th - 12pm.
      Adam will choose the winner at that time.

      The winner chosen will receive 2 free tickets to our June 21st, 2013 Brewmasters Dinner.

      In the event of any duplicate names - the first to post will have priority.

      Contest is for National Capital Region residents only.

      The name MUST have Cherry in it and be Ottawa & N.C.R focused.

      Let the contest begin!
      Please Share and RT!"

      guess they didn't like any of the ones that were "Ottawa & NCR focused".

    3. "The name MUST have Cherry in it and be Ottawa & N.C.R. focused."

      The name neither has Cherry in it nor is Ottawa/NCR focused. My suggested name was Cherry Blossom. I used Cherry and had thought of the spring blooming in the capital: go to the Experimental Farm and you'll see cherry blossoms.

      In truth, I'm not sore about not being chosen (I think the more I bring it up, the more I contradict that statement, so I'll say nothing more). But because Ottawa has another brew pub called Big Rig, the name Big Red makes me think of that other place. Mill Street is miles better.