Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bongo

Last month, when I was reviewing radlers, I always imagined these fruity, low-alcohol beers being served on sunny pub patios, umbrellas shading the sun-glasses-clad, beautiful people who were enjoying the heat of the day.

I almost exclusively sipped these cold, refreshing brews on my patio, taking refuge in shade, admiring the shimmering sunlight coming through my neighbour's small-leafed tree; sometimes, watching the glowing sky of the setting sun.

Radlers are for summer.

There's a new radler that I tried this week: nowhere on the can is the word radler written on it, but there's no doubt that this is exactly what it is. It's name does not make me think of summer patios: rather, it makes me think of beaches, at sunset, with a bonfire burning on the shoreline, women in bikinis and men in swim shorts, playing volleyball or singing along with someone who is strumming an acoustic guitar, another paddling a percussion instrument that goes by the name of this beverage.
Bongo Grapefruit Ginger Lager (2.9% ABV)
Big Rig Brewery
Ottawa ON
Appearance: a murky, pinkish-orange, like ruby-red grapefruit juice, with a foamy, white head that settles to an effervescent lace and a lingering collar.

Nose: candied citrus with barley overtones.

Palate: sweet, sparkling grapefruit juice with distinct barley flavour. Although ginger is used, it's not discernible in the mouth: only after you're more than halfway through your glass can you taste a trace of ginger in the throat. This fruit-flavoured lager, with its barley flavour, actually tastes like a beer. There is a good, well-balanced finish.

Overall impression: this is a really good radler (yes, I'm going to insist on calling it what it is). There is a sweetness, but it's subtle and is no sweeter than my favourite radler, Stiegl. I like the barley, which lets you know that you are drinking a beer, not a summer pop.

Big Rig hasn't been one of my favourite breweries, as I find it to be hit-and-miss, with more misses than hits, and with hits that seem to come rarely. Bongo, fortunately, is a solid hit. Of the radlers that I've enjoyed this summer, this one comes a very close second.

Unfortunately, if you live outside Ottawa, Bongo is out of your reach: it's only available at Big Rig, which is a shame because it's perfectly packaged for transport, with its shiny copper-and-black cans.

Brewmaster Lon Ladell told me that he's hoping to get them in the LCBO for next summer, and if it does get there, you would do yourself a favour to grab it.

And then, hit the beach.

Beer O'Clock rating: 4

Cheers!

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