Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tooth and Nail

It seems that every couple of months, a new brewery opens up in Ottawa. And while I make every effort to get to all of them, it's not always easy. Some are off the beaten path. Others are nowhere near my route to and from work, or near places I tend to frequent.

Not so with our city's newest brew house. It's in Hintonburg, so it's not too far off from one of my routes to the office. It's also in a neighbourhood where I sometimes meet friends for Thursday Pints, and I think we should make this place one of our venues.

Tooth and Nail Brewing Company opened its doors just over a month ago, and already it's creating a buzz on the Ottawa beer scene. Located on Irving Avenue, just off of Wellington, the brewery has a long, inviting tasting bar, a few tables, and a friendly atmosphere. They are licensed to sell beer by the pint, as well as samplers.

You can also take some of their beer home, in cans. When I was there, last week, small cans of their stout and pilsner were available, plus they could fill and seal a monster can of their Belgian session ale, nearly one litre!

I decided to stay and try a sampler of all of their offerings: six 5-oz glasses. I took my time, enjoyed each in due course. I did swap the order of the last two ales—the stout and the IPA—and I'm glad I did. With the bold flavours and hops of the IPA, you want to drink it last.

Here, with a brief description, is each:

Housewarmer Multigrain Ale (5.1% ABV)

Appearance: pale straw.
Nose: wheat, like fresh-baked bread.
Palate: light body with a flavour that I can best describe as marshmallow. A good, clean finish.
Overall impression: this reminded me somewhat of Beau's Lug Tread, but with finer flavours. This ale is a collaboration with Beau's, so I did expect some influence from the Vankleek Hill brewery.
Beer O'Clock rating: 3

Stamina Belgian Session Ale (5.2% ABV)

Appearance: an unfiltered gold.
Nose: slight ginger spice and candied fruit.
Palate: more spice and alcohol but well-balanced.
Overall impression: this ale has a nice body that holds up well from start to finish. It was one of my favourite of the bunch (hence the monster can that I took home).
Beer O'Clock rating: 3.5

Vim & Vigor Unfiltered Pilsner (5.2% ABV)

Appearance: light gold.
Nose: I found no bouquet. It held its aroma close to its chest.
Palate: toasted hops and warm malt, with a good finish.
Overall impression: I'm not generally a fan of pilsners, but I did like this one. It's well-balanced with a good body and a nice finish. I would drink it again.
Beer O'Clock rating: 3

Tenacity Pale Ale (5.8% ABV)

Appearance: a clear, warm gold to amber.
Nose: grapefruit.
Palate: orange citrus and light hops, with a lightly bitter finish.
Overall impression: I felt somewhat disappointed by this pale ale. I anticipated great flavour with the grapefruit aroma and orange taste, but it seemed to fall away, with little hops. I wanted more on that front.
Beer O'Clock rating: 2.5

Fortitude Stout (5.3% ABV)

Appearance: brown with red highlights (similar to root beer).
Nose: coffee and cocoa.
Palate: dark chocolate and espresso, with toasted malt.
Overall impression: this is a very good stout—one that I could drink all night long. I brought four cans home but I fear that's not enough. This was my favourite pour of the lot.
Beer O'Clock rating: 4

Rabble Rouser IPA (6.8% ABV)

Appearance: a clear, deep gold.
Nose: this ale, like the Vim & Vigor, gave me no aromas.
Palate: burnt caramel and orange, with big hops and a lingering finish.
Overall impression: I'm glad I saved this IPA for last. With its bold, delicious flavours and long finish, I could taste this ale long after I finished the sampler. I was disappointed that it wasn't available in cans, because I would have liked to stock my cellar with it.
Beer O'Clock rating: 3.5

If this is how Tooth and Nail starts, I'm very excited to see how the brewers do once they get their groove and settle into the community. If you haven't been to see them, do yourself a favour and go. You can also follow them on Facebook.



  1. I still have to get there! Which do you prefer - crowler or growler?

    1. I haven't heard the term "crowler" before. I assume it's the big can. I haven't opened it yet but that's what I like about it: there's no rush to drink it because it lasts longer than the growler.

      I used to prefer glass bottles to cans, but I now see a benefit to stacking cans in my cellar.

    2. I'm really enjoying the canning trend. I can never finish a growler (without horrible morning consequences), but a can? Love it. The crowler may be too big for a weeknight, but as you said - way easier to store!

    3. A crowler is best saved for a long, slow evening.