Seasonal beers are always fun to try. Especially when they involve an ingredient that makes you think “how in the world did they turn that into beer?”. February is a fun time of year to explore all of these funky beers. Basically the reason is hops have been used for all of the heavy dark IPA’s, Stouts and Black lagers for the late fall and winter. It is also too cold for much of the maple syrup here in Canada so the sweet Porters and Maple Ales have yet to fully flourish. Finally it just feels weird drinking a light citrussy Saison in the middle of the winter. From those restrictions come some of the best creativity a brewer can think of. From using lavender and spices to pistachios and lucky charms (what? I’m looking at you Anderson Craft Ales)
Some of these crafty specialities are a winner and sometimes become mainstays, while others become lessons learned to create even better beer next time.
From recent memory, my favourite seasonal would be the Black Currant Bock from Cowbell Brewing, however I’m not totally sure that it is a seasonal but more of a “only at the brewery” kind of beer. Either way I’m pretty sure black currant berries don’t grow year round, so that counts.
Now, for a brewery who seems to enjoy experimenting in the world of fun and enjoyable seasonal beers is Perth Brewery. Residing in the lovely town of Perth, just 45 minutes north of Kingston, this brewery embraces their Scottish heritage and offer many classic beers alongside their limited time offers. I have had many opportunities to have Last Duel Lager on tap at the Grad Club at Queen’s University. Such a refreshing and simple lager, perfect for all to enjoy during a great funk show.
Of course at the brewery you can find something I have never even thought to put in beer. Perth Brewery in collaboration with Walesbone created an Oyster Stout! Most people’s first thought might be “ew I hate oysters” but mine was “oh man, I love oysters!”. With no coincidence I also really enjoyed this beer. I will say that the oysters did not impact the beer overtly and anyone who enjoys a good Stout should surely try this one out. Thing only thing I wouldn’t recommend is having this beer while enjoying oysters. I’d save some vodka and tobacco for those little guys.
A little less out there, but still parked in the realm of “Huh” is Perth Brewery’s Pistachio Ho Ho Holiday Ale. I posted about this one on Instagram, but I fell like I should mention just how intricate the flavours were in the one. The smell was very much the same you would get from pistachio ice cream. The flavours are similar but feature a lot more spice and nutty overtones. There’s also a tiny zip of cinnamon in there which really ties in the festive feeling of the beer. Unfortunately when I was at the brewery they looked like they only had about 2 dozen cans left and they said there wouldn’t be any more until next year.
As the weather does warm up you will start to see more maple beers filling up the shelves. Especially here in Eastern Ontario. This is exciting for two reason. 1. It getting warmer and I love rain, it smells great. 2. Maple Ales are some of the most crushable beers ever made and I couldn’t recommend more for people to try these out if they havnt enjoyed beer before. Most brewery’s don’t have a hard time creating a good beer using some sweet sweet maple syrup. I hope to make my way up to Pakenham to grab some more of Cartwright Springs Maple Ale. They use all syrup instead of water to create that amazing beer.
Perth has also made quite a tasty Maple Ale. Oh Canada as it’s aptly named was probably my favourite beer I tried last Friday with Rachel (@rayrayrosee on Instagram). A nice spicy sweetness and long lingering flavour was a nice surprise.
Here are a few short descriptions I had of some of their mainstays at Perth Brewery.
A nice sweet IPA that has hints of citrus without over doing it
Bon Fire Black Lager
Still nice and smokey coming off the tap compared to in a can that I had a while back. Light after taste and small bubbles to not fill you up.
A great patio beer for sitting with friends talking about how hot it is. But also great for barside on a chilly Friday evening talking about how cold it is. Classic pilsner.
Actually has the taste of a coffee mocha, not too sweet which is nice. Reminds me of an iced coffee kind of.
Perth – Honey Lager
A beautifully sweet lager with nice malty undertones light. bubbles keep the whole beer feeling weightless.
Going into week 4 of Beau’s Febrewary, I unfortunately missed out on week 2’s specially but week 3 offered up a great spicy Belgian Style Black Ale. I enjoyed this lovely brew at the Kingston Brewing Company, which will have each weeks Beau’s on tap. The Belgian Ale had all the sweetness of a good old fashioned version, but the roasted malts and spices created a unique battle between the two. There was also hints of a little smokey roasts as well.
So if you’re out and about at your local brewery and you see they have a seasonal available, don’t be afraid to give it a try, you’ll never know if it will end up being your favourite beer or not. What is there to lose?