Let’s hope I like the wine as much as I like the label.
I saw this one recommended by someone in my Twitter feed, though I can’t for the life of me find where exactly. I generally like Portuguese wines and the price was right so I picked it up. I opened it last night and, unfortunately, was disappointed. It tasted like it was trying to pack too much flavour in, it was too tannic for me. A shame, really, but you can’t win ‘em all. At least I’m only out $13.
This one is much more of a sure bet. I’ve had Kaiken Malbecs before and always enjoyed them. I started following the winery on Twitter a few days ago and have been craving their wine ever since. This is a big, warm wine that goes great with the colder weather we’re starting to get. If you’re looking for something new I definitely recommend taking a chance on Kaiken.
Oh, Great Lakes Brewery. I love you so much, I just can’t help myself. This little beauty is a Belgian-style India Pale Ale. It’s a bit more mellow than other IPAs out there, with a hoppiness that’s more middle-of-the-road than burn-your-face-off. GLB makes great beer and I’m sure this one will be no different. If you like IPAs or Belgian-style beers you should pick this one up.
Allow me to introduce you to Left Field Brewery! Left Field is a relatively new brewery based in Toronto. It’s adorably baseball themed, hence the name Eephus, which baseball fans might recognize as the name of a type of pitch. This beer is a lovely little oatmeal brown ale, and is the only Left Field beer available in the LCBO. It’s a mellow beer – creamy and malty and would be lovely to curl up with on the couch. If you’re looking for an easy and approachable brew you should get to know Eephus.
As always, you can follow me on Vivino or Untappd to see what I think of my new purchases.
Beau’s is a great Ontario craft brewery. They’re one of the bigger craft breweries in the province in terms of market share and brand recognition and, like most craft breweries I know of, put out great short-term beers in addition to their flagship beer, Lug Tread, and their seasonals.
They also have a huge Oktoberfest celebration every year at their brewery in Vankleek Hill with tons of music, beer, and general good times. I WILL go one year! I can’t go this year because I’m doing social media for a new food and film festival, which you should totally come to if you’re in Toronto October 4-6 (how’s that for a shameless plug?).
Every year Beau’s polls their fans to decide on the four beers that should be included in their annual Oktoberfest mixpack.
Can we talk about the artwork for a second? Always awesome.
Just like with wine, one of my favourite things to do is try new beer, so trying out the Oktoberfest mixpack is something I look forward to every fall. I saw it in the shop this past week and couldn’t wait to take it home and try each beer.
So – let’s get tasting!
Up first, Boghopper, in all it’s caramel-coloured glory.
Dunkelhopfenweiss, 6.3% alcohol
The description calls this one a “dark and hazy wheat beer with an amped up hop presence”. It’s got a lovely caramel colour and that thickly opaque unfiltered look. The nose is sweet and malty, all warm and inviting. The flavour was earthy and spicy, with a clean, almost sharp finish. The hops are definitely there, and might be a turn off if you’re hops-averse, but I’ve had my fair share of super intense IPAs so this was completely fine by my palate.
The slightly blurry (my bad!) Gose.
… And Boom Gose the Dynamite
Gose, 4.6% alcohol
This one is another hazy wheat beer, but the hops have been switched out in favour of brewing an old German style called Gose. There’s a saltiness that exemplifies this style of beer, and I definitely get that when the beer hits the front part of my tongue. I didn’t know what to expect with this beer – I haven’t had many goses and so was a bit wary. But it’s got a brininess that I really enjoy.
So clear you can see right through it!
Haters Gonna Hate
Kölsch Bock, 8% alcohol
Can we just talk about the look of this beer for a minute? That golden hue! That clarity! Be still my beer-loving heart!
The brewery says this one is an extra-strong version of their flagship beer, Lug Tread. And is it ever! At 8% alcohol this beer isn’t messing around. The nose is is surprisingly, well, tropical! I smelled mango more than anything else. Flavour is smooth and round with a nice cleanness and a satisfying breadiness that I love in a good beer. It’s also more on the sweet/smooth malty of things, as opposed to the sharp/pungent hoppiness you get from other, more aggressive beers.
Orangey pumpkin-y goodness YUMMMMM.
Pumpkin Weiss, 5.6% alcohol
Mmmmmmm, pumpkin beers. Seriously, is there anything better? (hint: the correct answer is ‘no! pumpkin beers are the best!’) The colour is a bit darker than Haters Gonna Hate (don’t you just love these titles?), and strikes me as just a bit more pumpkin-y than the others, all orangey and autumnal. This guy is another wheat beer but this time the brew is spiced with pumpkin-y things – clove, ginger, cinnamon, a bit of orange. The nose is super creamy with a bit of spice, just like a pumpkin pie – no, seriously! And the flavour is more of the same deliciousness – creamy, pumpkin-y and with just enough spice. But! It’s pretty clean and crisp tasting, it doesn’t have quite the big breadiness I tasted in Haters Gonna Hate – I wonder if alcohol volume has something to do with it? One last tidbit – apparently is more than 350lbs in a batch of Wiess O’Lantern. Holy pumpkin!!
Thoughts on the Mixpack as a Whole
I like that the Beau’s chose four beers that were quite different from each other. There was no bottle that I had where I thought ‘I’ve just had this’. Even though three out of four were wheat beers (!) they all had their own thing going on. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
The only drawback is that these beers only show up in the mixpack. I really wish I could get these on their own.
Only getting to try one bottle of each is a bit of a tease, I’m going to have to keep an eye out in case I can get my hands on another mixpack.
I know what you’re thinking – I thought this was a wine blog! And of course you’re right – but as the title suggests it’s also about tasting with intention and giving your palate some valuable practice, and Ontario craft beers are certainly worthy of that.
It’s a great time to drink beer in Ontario. There are so many breweries doing so many interesting things – from using unconventional ingredients to using ancient recipes to collaborating with each other to create new things entirely. It seems like every time I go to the liquor store there are more offerings to try. Seems a bit like the wine industry, doesn’t it?
This one was delightfully malty with great body.
I tasted a healthy number of beers over the last two weekends. Here are a few I especially enjoyed.
This was an English golden ale brewed with Belgian yeast. It was a little biscuity, and the Belgian yeast helped it taste a bit like other Belgian ales you’d find in the shop. It had great body and a solid, confident flavour. If you come across this beer (or any Royal City brews, really) I highly recommend.
I can’t remember ever having the pleasure of sampling a Baltic Porter until last weekend, when I realized what I’d been missing – pure deliciousness! Baltic Porters (named for the fact that they were first brewed in the Baltics) are usually fairly high in alcohol and bridge the gap between more common British-style Porters and Russian Imperial Stouts – meaning that Baltic Porters are usually dark and opaque in colour, and strike a balance between the mellow chocolatey notes of the former and the sweet tang of the latter. I found this particular beer in keeping with that balance, and loved the way the tanginess added dimension to the sweetness.
I will be honest, I am not usually a fan of session ales. They’re built to be mild, so that you can drink a few in one go (hence the name ‘session’) but it’s exactly that mildness that leaves me a little bored. Not so with the Brakeman’s. Yes, it’s more mild than an IPA or a Porter, but this one still had great body which kept things interesting. And, as an added bonus, you can find this one in the LCBO.
So many beers, so little time…
All of the beers I tasted at these two events were interesting, complex, and made by thoughtful, intelligent brewers. There are so many beers you can bring the same sense of intention and adventure to that we’ve talked about with wine. Next time you crack open a bottle try and tease out some of the different smells and flavours going on.
Are you a beer lover like me? What are some of your favourites?