Thursday, August 18, 2016

Absent Landlord

As the story goes (the one that's printed on the side of the can), the tiny town of Drummond, less than 30 kilometres east of Goderich and Lake Huron, in Southern Ontario, was founded in 1851. Four years later, a wealthy landowner in Berkshire, Southern England, bought the entire town, sight unseen, and changed the name to his own.

Henry Blyth never set foot in the town.

From this incredible story comes a beer to honour the town's namesake, who was absent so long ago. Why the brewers decided to choose a West-German-style ale is beyond me, but this is not your average Kölsch.
Absent Landlord Coutry Kölsch (5.3% ABV)
Cowbell Brewing Company
Blyth, ON
Appearance: a bright, cloudy orange-apricot with a creamy, off-white head that forms a thin but solid cap.

Nose: pear, with floral notes and ripe banana.

Palate: the nose carries through to the palate, with candied pear, rich banana, and a touch of creamy barley, which gives the strange impression of drinking a melted, unsweetened Creamsicle. It's rich, decadent, and flavourful.

Overall impression: this is the cloudiest Kölsch I've ever had and possibly, the most flavourful. It's certainly the best Kölsch I've ever had.

The fresh-fruit flavours give it the impression of being sweet, but this ale cleanses the palate and refreshes, especially on a hot day. Since my first can of Absent Landlord, I have picked up nearly 20 more and I expect that by the end of this week, I'll clear out the remaining stock on the shelves of this Ottawa LCBO, because it's only one of three stores in my city that stocks Absent Landlord, according to the LCBO Web site.

So grab it before it goes absent.

Beer O'Clock rating: 4


Thursday, August 11, 2016



Yup, sometimes, there are beer labels that you can't pass up. Actually, you can, but why would you?

The other weekend, when the missus and I were out in the west end, looking for hardwood flooring, we found ourselves passing by a local brewery that I haven't visited in a couple of years. I decided, once the flooring shop was visited, to pay another visit to this brewer.

It's a place that's generally out of the way, so I took advantage of my situation (there's always a reason to stop for beer).

I was pleased to see that Covered Bridge Brewing had moved into using cans, as well as growlers, so I picked up a couple of cans from the four brews that were available in aluminum. I decided that I wouldn't review all of them but if another of the four moves me while I drink it, I'll do more reviews.

But first, I had to focus on this quirky-named ale.

The hipster dude makes me roll my eyes (when is that fad going to go away?) and the name of the beer would make me blush to say in public, but it's the style of the beer that I'm all about.
Lumbersexual Session IPA (3.5% ABV)
Covered Bridge Brewing Company
Stittsville, ON
Appearance: a cloudy deep-apricot, with an off-white to beige head that was thick and foamy, and settled to a solid cap, then dense lace.

Nose: orange peel and ruby-red grapefruit. It was powerfully fragrant, with solid hops.

Palate: at first, there was a watery lightness that disappointed me, but at the end the hops came through. On subsequent sips, the wateriness dissipated as the hops coated my tongue, though I still came back with the impression of a watered-down IPA. Only the low alcohol reassured me that it was also a session ale.

Overall impression: the nose was huge and powerful, like a lumberjack, but the palate was gentle, like a lover. I now get the name of this ale. But did I like it?

Yes, I did, once I got past the first mouthful and really started drinking it. It's refreshing and light—perfect for these hot, hazy summer days. And with the low ABV, it's something you can throw back without a care.

Beer O'Clock rating: 2.5

Currently, this beer is only available at the brewery, but because it's packaged in cans, I'm hopeful that it'll soon make its way to LCBO shelves.


Friday, August 5, 2016


I love discovering new Ontario breweries. Take last night, for example: it was International IPA Day, and I found myself in Carleton Place, a small but beautiful town a half-hour or so west of Ottawa. After a photo shoot in a hot, abandoned factory, I needed to find a cool pub and have a cooler brew to celebrate this special day.

I found such a place at St. James Gate. And, not only did they have an IPA to help me with the celebration, but this IPA was from the very town I was in.

I'll have to review that ale, but not today.

No, today, I take a look at another discovery from a Kitchener brewer, whose cans of American Pale Ale found their way to my local LCBO shelves.

And this APA was not what I expected.
Harbinger American Pale Ale (5.5% ABV)
Descendants Beer & Beverage Company
Kitchener, ON
Appearance: a deep amber to copper, more in line with an amber ale; a creamy, beige head left a solid cap.

Nose: slight malts, but otherwise, closed. I expected some fresh hops, but found none reaching my nostrils.

Palate: hop-forward with solid malt balancing from the first mouthful, but as the ale went down past the tongue, the hops prevailed as the dominant flavour. There's also a burnt toffee-ness that coats the tongue. It drinks somewhere between an amber lager and a red ale.

Overall impression: this is not what I expected when I opened the can. A few hours before I tucked into this APA, I had a Kichessippi 1855 with lunch. The two were very much in the same class, where I would have initially thought that they would be very different.

I did enjoy this ale for the body and flavours that it offered. Expecting a pale ale, though, I would have been disappointed if that was all I really wanted. This ale is so much more that it seems to depart from its category.

If you're looking for a full-bodied amber or a lighter red, this will go just nicely. If you want an APA, beware.

Beer O'Clock rating: 2.5