It’s a Stout Time I Began Writing Again

After a long hiatus of figuring out what is going on in my life and the over saturation of flavours that the fall brought us, I am back with a new post!

Everyone knows that Winter is cold and the time for cold refreshing drinks is not now. So what brewers have been doing for a very, very long time, is aging and already dark beer that was once a refreshing brew into a strong, flavour packed, slow sipping Stout, perfect for sitting next to the fire.

Of course, when I thought about writing again I figured I’d have to go for something topical, and something that once people read this they could go out and get some Stouts for themselves. What I hadn’t realized was when I walked into the LCBO that there was so many choices! There are so many great breweries making great Stouts and they all come out right now! How can one possibly try them all without blowing the bank or getting sick of them? Well you could try that, and I would applaud you, but I’m not about that, So I’ve gone deep into the totally unreliable memory of Stouts past that are still available, assisted by what I’ve written before as well as selecting a few readily available and popular Stouts to give some of you a basis of what to go for.

When people think of Stout, craft or not, their first thought is Guinness Irish Stout. By no means are they craft beer, but damn it’s still a pretty darn good Stout, a classic that I will always recommend everyone tries at least once. It’s on the sweet end of the Stout spectrum, with a very creamy kind of texture to it especially if you have the chance to have it on draft (not Draft Can). The flavour profile is simple, which you may want in between all of the experimental choices most Ontario breweries are going with. And can we talk about the perfect pour that you can get at The Old South Village Pub?

When looking at Craft Stouts, there’s two thinks you need to notice before buying. Those two things are Imperial Stout and Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout. If you haven’t had either, or let alone any Stouts, they will beat you up and take your lunch money. These guys are heavy hitters, usually sitting around 9-11% and after sitting in a tank or cask for several months or years they are grumpy and ready to slap you with flavour and booziness.

The first one that comes to mind is Nickel Brook’s Kentucky Bastard, and 11.9% Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. After a full year of sitting in whiskey-soaked wood you can taste exactly that with hints of vanilla and oak. If you like bourbon straight, then this might be like a dessert for you. Nickel Brook also has a much more modest stout called Cheeky Bastard, a chocolaty dry stout that will leave you wishing you kept your moustache from Movember (I have a half-written blog post about that which will come out eventually).

Sawdust came out with two more Stouts, or rather two version of one Stout. Aptly named “Long, Dark Voyage to Uranus”. An Imperial Stout that is rich with a very dark chocolate, almost like baker’s chocolate. Roasted flavours loom long after you’ve sipped this smooth low carbonation beer. It’s very easy to forget that it sits at 9.2% this one is for the fans of a rich mocha espresso. The other version emphasizes vanilla and coffee, which I have yet to try.

Remaining up in cottage country, Muskoka Brewery also offers a main stay stout: “Shinnicked Stout” is a much more coffee flavoured Stout. You can clearly smell the freshly brewed coffee and because of that there is an emphasise of malts as well. Not as smooth, and much more of a sipper, Shinnicked only sits at 5.2% and doesn’t make you feel bad for having another one.

How about catching a train down to Railway City and then finding out they put you on the naughty list and gave you “Black Coal”. Well in this instance, it’s great! A much sweeter Stout compared to the previous two, I would say Black Coal resembles Guinness in that it’s quite refreshing while being quite filling. Not much to say for roasted flavours or chocolate, but definitely hints of vanilla.

Finally, there’s a 3rd type of Stout, the Oatmeal Stout. This is a pretty old-fashioned way of making beer mostly because oats were readily available. My prime example for everyone to try comes from Sawdust City: “Skinny Dippin’ Stout“. This low impact 5.5% brew is packed with bitter roasted oats that warms you up while filling your ever-challenging backyard ice rink.

I see no need in ranking these because they all bring something different to the table. Obviously, there are plenty of other Stouts to go out and try, but hopefully these few selections will make some good impressions for you.

Family, Friends, and Beer

Come sit at the bar and drink a beer with me.

There is nothing I love more than talking with people over a couple of pints. Add a great pub with great beer and it makes my night fantastic.

Something I learned from my Dad was how to talk to people. How to be friendly and how to carry a conversation with anyone about anything. While at a pub, sitting at the bar I have watched my Dad become a friend to many and share things I’ll never forget. I aspire to have that kind of skill like he has. Once my Dad knows the person at the bar, he remembers the littlest of things to make the conversation about them.

“How’s the new house?” “How is your son doing at his new school”

Things like that make sitting at a bar with him so unique and refreshing. Of course, I’m not always at the pub with my Dad and so I take on the role of conversation starter. The main thing I learned is a beer should be shared with Family and Friends.

While home in London (South Western Ontario) I get to have quite a few beers I don’t have access to here in Kingston (Eastern Ontario). Such things include Railway City Brewing based out of St. Thomas, Forked River (London)or Anderson Craft Ales (London).

anderson

Link to a post I made about Anderson Craft Ales.

Every time I am home my Dad is excited to share the beer he bought for me and asks if he picked good ones and what I think of them (He always picks great ones). The key here is, he always gets two of each. One for me and one for him. That way we compare how it tastes. As we drink the beers we talk about how our days have been, how was work or school, but also that way the beers taste. Obviously not everyone has someone in their family writing a blog about beer, and so they don’t go into detail about the hops in a certain brew, but you should! I have found a great connection with both my parents over good beers. Even further, getting to talk about beer with my sister and her fiancé.

It’s appropriate to mention talking with friends and family today because today is Bell Let’s Talk day. Now, I won’t go into how Bell and the top the mobile companies refuse to make competitive prices, but what Bell is doing today, and all year long, is raising awareness of mental health. So while you’re sitting down, drinking a beer, feel free to send a tweet with #BellLetsTalk, or call a friend you haven’t heard from in a while, or just ask the person next to you how they are doing. You never know how much that can change someone’s day.

Cheers!

Lager & Beau’s

January 24, 2018

Firstly, everyone who’s had a beer, whether you enjoyed it or not, has had a lager. The Lager is what I consider the entry level beer. It’s the beer often used for parties, concerts and sporting events but I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that; In fact I really enjoy a lager here and there. Unfortunately it gets a bad rap by a lot of beer enthusiasts. This is because most craft breweries focus on Hops, Spices and big flavours. A lager shouldn’t be any of those things and therefore is brushed aside for IPA’s and Stouts (among many others).

Except every once and a while a Craft Lager will pop up from a brewery and I get to enjoy a simple refreshing beer. The first one that comes to mind is Muskoka Brewery’s Craft Lager. It features a light refreshing fizz without any murky aftertaste at all. What I mean by murky aftertaste is that often times a lager that has been heavily processed, or mass produced has a lingering flat taste after sipping. A lager should not linger. craft-lager-1

Muskoka Brewery – http://www.muskokabrewery.com

This brings me to Beau’s Lug Tread Lagered Ale. What does that mean? Well it means it is a Kölsch. What’s that? It is a Lager. Yes, a bit confusing, but stay with me. Lager is an umbrella term for how the beer is made. It has to do with the yeast and what temperature the beer was kept at during the brewing process which is generally colder. I won’t go into details because I wouldn’t get it right anyway. Besides, what is important is Lug Tread is a great beer to show off to your friends that you drink craft beer. Beau’s nailed the semi-sweetness of a lager with the contrast of hops. A great beer for year-round drinking and since it’s their flagship beer they have it available everywhere in bottles and most recently in short cans.

lugtred can

Beau’s Brewing Co. Lug Tread Lager Ale – Twitter.

Most recently I had Beau’s “Lamb’s Wool” Apple and Spice Gruit. Just about everything in this beer is organic which I find pretty cool. Apples from Quebec, Spring Water from near the brewery and real cinnamon and cloves. The apple juice was very apparent with a blanket of spice making this a very flavourful but lightweight beer. With much tinier bubbles than the Lug Tread this Gruit doesn’t fill you up nearly as much. Typically a Gruit would make up for the lack of heavy hops with boat loads of spices. This one found a happy place between spice and the tang of apple juice to produce something quite tasty. Conveniently February 1st is International Gruit day, and I wouldn’t look any further than Lambs Wool for that day.  I would love to have this beer sitting outside under a warm sun, but that will have to wait.

In the mean time, Beau’s has their annual month long event “FeBREWary”. Every week for 5 weeks, Beau’s releases a new beer! Check out their website for the list a beers and where you can get your hands on them, including local pubs. I will also be grabbing these as well to write about. http://www.beaus.ca

lambs wool

A beer that is much more appropriate for this season is actually another Beau’s I had this week. “Dunkel” is also technically a Lager, but if I’m using Lager as an umbrella term then Dunkel is getting a bit wet. While the brewing process is fairly similar, a Dunkel features a much more dominant malt flavour. I describe malt as a salty caramel flavour that often feels a little heavier. The reason this beer would be good for colder weather is the natural warmth it gives after a nice big sip. It’s like a softer version of the warmth you would get from a decent scotch or bourbon (neither of which I can claim I’m an expert on).

When I first started trying new beers I simply picked the coolest name or the coolest looking label. I’ll admit that I still sometimes do, but now I am able to understand what I’m getting myself into based on the style of beer the brewers claim it to be.

I hope that learning a bit more about Lagers will help you choose some off the shelf. Of course there are plenty others that one day I will get to including Helles, Bock and more proper Kölsch.

Cheers!