The LCBO is good at bringing local craft beer to its shelves, but with the explosion of Ontario craft breweries, it's hard to put every brewer in every store. More times than not, you will see the beer from the breweries that are closest to your home. And while this is not a bad thing in of itself, it does mean that you may not get the opportunity to discover the smaller producers that are farther afield.
About a month ago, in the week leading up to my beer hiatus, I had the opportunity of discovering some of the breweries that are not widely known in the Ottawa area. One of these breweries is MacLean's Ales.
This Grey County brewery models itself on English-styled ales that brewer Charles MacLean discovered on a motorcycle ride across England. And while I travelled around the Bruce Peninsula, I tried two of his ales: his IPA and his pale ale.
The IPA was fine, went down well on a hot, sunny afternoon, but I found that for an India Pale Ale, the hops weren't as prominent as I would have expected. It was good, but it was safe, too.
With an IPA, I'm not interested in being safe. I want bold, distinctive.
I enjoyed the pale ale more, and so I'll focus on it.
MacLean's Pale Ale (5.2% ABV)Appearance: amber-copper with a beige head that settles to a dense lace. It was a tad darker and more red than I would have expected in a pale ale, but it still looked good in the glass.
Nose: grass, malt, and a mix between caramel and corn syrup (a malty sweetness).
Palate: I detected more malt than hops, but there is still a nice balance, blended with good flavour. While I understand that a pale ale is not typically as bitter as an IPA, I would have liked to have tasted more bitterness. The finish fades quickly.
Overall impression: this is not a bad pale ale, but it actually reminded me more of a lager, rather than an ale. But if you're looking for something to quench your thirst on a hot summer afternoon, this pale ale went down nicely.
Beer O'Clock rating: 2.5
I was really glad to get out to another part of my province, where I could experience craft brewers that I don't typically see in my home LCBO. With the selection that I had on my vacation, I want to get out and try even more.