Thursday, August 27, 2015

Head Stock IPA

The first time that I tried a beer from Nickel Brook, it was their flagship brew, Naughty Neighbour. It's a great, full-bodied American Pale Ale with good hops but not too bitter flavours. I tried it at the Arrow and Loon Pub, during the first time that I read at Blog Out Loud.

I think I said, in front of a crowd, that the beer was "fucking awesome."

Since then, I've enjoyed their Maple Porter, the Bolshevik Bastard, and La Paysan Saison.

But I'm not partial to their Cause and Effect Blonde, and I really disliked their gluten-free offering.

And now, I've tried their IPA, which to me is the obnoxious neighbour to the Naughty Neighbour.
Head Stock India Pale Ale (7.0% ABV)
Nickel Brook Brewing Company
Burlington, ON
Appearance: clear, amber-orange with a foamy, off-white head that lasts as a full cap.

Nose: aromatic citrus and a slight hint of pine. I loved the bouquet.

Palate: bitter tea and tannic pepper that builds to a big, hoppy finish that brings out the alcohol. The flavour builds and the finish lasts long.

Overall impression: this is an intense IPA that seems to focus on the bitter hops and alcohol. While I loved the aromas, I found that the flavours in the mouth are more than I'd like to have. Where Naughty Neighbour is well-balanced, Head Stock is bitter and strong.

While I would recommend this IPA, I recommend it if you like an ale that is in your face. If this beer were a neighbour, it would be the one who spoke loudly, wanted to be the life of the party, but when he had too much to drink, you just wanted him to go home.

Beer O'Clock rating: 2.5


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pengo Pally

I may live in Ontario, but my beer tastes are international. And though the LCBO seems to favour Ontario, I am always looking out for beer that comes from other reaches of our great country. And while my latest finding is still brewed in Ontario, its ingredients come from the Arctic.

Bush Pilot Brewing Company makes its beer at another great brewery, Nickel Brook, in Burlington, Ontario. But its inspiration for its latest creation comes from legendary Inuk bush pilot, Johnny May. His plane, named Pengo Pally—Inuktitut for I miss you—is the name of this saison, that features the Arctic herbs, crowberry and Labrador tea, which were picked in Nunavik.

Enough of what I read off the label: let's get to the beer.
Pengo Pally Saison (6.5% ABV)
Bush Pilot Brewing Company/Nickel Brook Brewing
Burlington ON
Appearance: cloudy, deep, dried-apricot orange that reveals an effervescent storm that swirls in the glass—I wouldn't want to fly through that! An active, foamy, cloud-like head pours thick—I believe in aviation terms, it's a cloud with a high ceiling—and takes a while to settle in the glass. It's a slow pour to fill your glass.

Nose: candied pear, banana, and yeast.

Palate: more banana, spiced fruit, and pepper. There's also a little something that I couldn't put my finger on, like a fruity grass. These flavours, no doubt, come from the Arctic herbs.

Overall impression: this is a great farmhouse ale—earthy, fruity, and well-balanced. I wish that the alcohol level was lower so that I could enjoy more than one bottle in a single sitting. To that effect, think of it as a one-way flight, rather than a round trip. That's my of saying that if you drink one bottle, don't drive.

Or fly.

Beer O'Clock rating: 4


Thursday, August 13, 2015

All Or Nothing

I abhor violence, will never watch a boxing match. I never understood the need to cheer on as two people pound the shit out of each other. But that's me: I'm a lover, not a fighter.

When it comes to beer, however, I've noticed that there are some killer brews that have recently lined the shelves of my local LCBO (which is finally bringing in 12-packs, but that's another story), and I have found one that's a real knock-out.
Hopfenweisse (5.1% ABV)
All Or Nothing (formerly Underdogs) Brewhouse
Oshawa ON
Appearance: a murky, unfiltered apricot with a thick, creamy-white head that, together, reminded me of a Creamsicle.

Nose: also creamy, nutty, and spicy, with distinct malt and a light-citrus bouquet.

Palate: a rich body with spice; flinty and warming, with a short finish and a clean aftertaste.

Overall impression: this ale drinks like a saison for a farmer's ale--something for a late-summer evening, when the temperatures cool and the humidity drops. The four hops and three malts make it a well-balanced, easy-drinking ale.

I'm learning to appreciate wheat ales more and more: with hopfenweisses such as All Or Nothing, I'll be a convert in no time. While I didn't slam this beer down, I find it a real hit.

Beer O'Clock rating: 4


Editor's note: on December 1, 2015, Underdogs Brewhouse changed it's name to All Or Nothing Brewhouse. I updated the post, accordingly.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Speak Easy, Drink Well

Ottawa's latest brewery is set to open its doors tomorrow, August 7, and it is taking on a theme that harkens to prohibition.

But it has no reason to hide.

Located in the dark depths under the Lunenburg Pub, where once veteran pub, Alfie's, crammed the booze faithful into its tight space, brewer Marc-André Chainey is seeing his two-year (plus) dream come true.

The suspenders-donning civil engineer, who has turned his love for beer, is opening Waller Street Brewing, starting at noon. There will be tasty treats, a live jazz band, and even an early Model A Ford.

And, of course, beer.

Marc-André has four brews on offer, for sampling or by the glass, but remember: this is a brewery and not a pub. If you want to drink it up, this is not the place. Pick up your half-growler and enjoy it at home.

The four mainstays of the brewery are as follows:

Bootleg Blonde (5% ABV)—an American blonde ale with good pepper notes and plenty of hops, this is one of the best blondes I've ever had, and I'm not into blondes (even though I married one). Easy-drinking, it reminded me of a session ale. (Beer O'Clock rating: 3)

Hideaway Hefe (5% ABV)—a German-style hefeweizen, this is my favourite of the Waller Street offerings. Big notes of banana on the nose and puréed pairs on the palate, this cloudy ale got me so excited that I drank the half-growler that I bought as soon as I got home. This hefe will be a hit for wheat-beer lovers. (Beer O'Clock rating: 4.5)

Speakeasy Red (4.4% ABV)—a complex, Belgian-American-red-rye-session-IPA. This is a mouthful, and your mouth will enjoy the many flavours that comprise this ale. "Everything is about balance and subtlety," said Marc-André, about his personal favourite of his creation. (Beer O'Clock rating: 3.5)

Moonlight Porter (6.3% ABV)—solid notes of coffee and chocolate nibs on the nose, with licorice and molasses on the palate, this substantial dark ale is full of hops and reminds me of an Imperial stout. I found this selection a bit lacking in carbonation, which may have made it a little silkier, like moonlight. Perhaps it was the condition of the growler from which we drank, but I'll be able to confirm that when I open my mini growler. (Beer O'Clock rating: 3)

At the brewery's grand opening, a special, unnamed, cask-condition ale will be opened.

I'm excited for Waller Street Brewing. They are off to a fine start with their beer offerings and their theme makes it a good attraction, given its location, outside the bustle of the Byward Market. Time will tell.