More reviews to come, as soon as I drink something noteworthy. For more in-depth beer business, visit OnBeer.org.
Russell New Style Pacific NW Pilsner
Usually I forsake pilsners and lagers at the beer store in favour of more adventurous brews. But every once in awhile I'm reminded not to overlook these styles when I encounter something as tasty as this offering. A team effort from Doan's Brewery and Russell Brewery, this wonderful pilsner pours a nice golden colour with a fruity, malty scent. Malt and hops combine for a crisp, rich flavour.
Alley Kat Ginger Beer
Alley Kat does it again! Unlike Philips Ginger Beer (see below), this ginger brew doesn't pack too much of a punch in the ginger department, but instead provides a terrific undertone to this wonderful, malty ale. It's a seasonal brew, so get some while you can.
Dooryard Summer Ale
I do love a good wheat ale, although I find there isn't a lot of variety with what's out there. Dooryard's Summer Ale is certainly one of the better ones, with a crisp, biscuity flavour and a nice, floral scent.
Lighthouse Race Rocks Ale
This tasty amber ale has become a new favourite. Race Rocks has a nice malty taste with some cola undertones and just a touch of hops. Nothing fancy, but very, very good.
Village Woodsman Northern Red Ale
A very nice brew from our friends down in Calgary. This is a sneaky beer, if you ask me: it's really a brown ale disguised as a red ale. It pours a deep, dark amber colour, with a rich, hearty malt flavour tinged with caramel and biscuit.
Phillips Sky High Grand Fir Ale
Another winner from Philips. Brewed with – you guessed it – fir boughs added directly to the kettle. Pours a light golden colour and gives off a nice pine and floral scent. Very smooth to drink, with a bright taste and a nice, subtle bit of tingle at the end of each sip.
Phillips Electric Unicorn IPA
I'm not a big hops guy when it comes to beer, unless there's some strong flavour to balance them out. Philips delivers with Electric Unicorn, a cross between a white beer and an IPA. Gives off a spicy, coriander scent and provides a lively mix of citrus, wheat, and hops in your mouth. Wow. And at 6.5% you'll get your beer buzz quicker with this terrific brew.
Phillips Blue Buck
The boys at Phillips really know what they're doing, despite some of their beers being too intense for my taste. This delicious amber ale has quickly become one of my favourites. Nice deep amber colour, fabulous malty taste with just a hint of hops in the taste and scent. Beer with a capital "B", man. I'm going to steal a marketing phrase from those chumps at Molson and award it to Phillips Blue Buck instead: this is what beer is all about.
Creemore Springs Premium Lager
Sometimes in my quest to seek out really interesting and exotic beers, I overlook some brews that are simple pleasures. Sometimes less is more in your beer glass. Creemore Springs Premium Lager certainly fits this description: it's a clean, crisp, golden lager with a touch of malt and caramel. Nothing complicated or fancy, just really good beer.
Alley Kat Main Squeeze Grapefruit Ale
Fruity beer can be tricky – and those grotesque berry-flavoured coolers give fruity beer a bad name by association – but when it's done right, fruit beer can be terrific. Main Squeeze is a real show-stopper. It gives off a gorgeous citrus scent, and the taste is clean, crisp and fruity with a grapefruit tang and bitterness. In a word: wow. This seasonal brew was certainly Edmonton's "beer of the summer" in 2013, and the demand was so great that Alley Kat announced that they will make it available year round.
Unibroue makes excellent craft beer with some flamboyant graphic design that adds to its appeal. Maudite's label features some voyageurs paddling their canoe through the setting sun while a grinning devil waits below. Don't know what this means, but this beer is just as bad ass as the label art. This deep amber ale gives off a heady fragrance of orange and coriander (like their excellent Blanche de Chambly white beer), and features a rich, dark, spicy flavour similar to Leffe but with a darker undertone. It has quickly become one of my favourites.
Dieu de Ciel Route Des Épices
C'est formidable! Quebec's Dieu de Ciel makes a really good looking set of beers (and their arty graphic design really matches what's in the bottle). This is a very nice rye beer flavoured with black pepper. It has a nice malty taste with a hint of caramel and a nice peppery bite in the aftertaste.
Yukon Brewing Bonanza Brown
If I ever go ahead with my plan to only drink Canadian beer for a year, Yukon Brewing's beers will definitely be in the roster. This is a great brown ale that strays a little into stout territory with coffee and chocolate undertones and a dark, nutty flavour. A very nice beer for autumn and winter, but not so dark that you couldn't drink it during warmer months.
Alley Kat Pumpkin Pie Ale
Alley Kat's Pumpkin Pie ale is a fantastic brew that only comes once a year, making it something to look forward to and definitely something to savour. The first time I tried this beer, I flipped. I was amazed that something in a bottle could taste this good. Spicy in aroma and flavour, with hints of nutmeg, ginger and cinammon, this delicious brown ale is wonderful. The perfect beer to sip on a chilly October evening.
St. Ambroise Citrouille
It's the great pumpkin, Charlie Brown! I love pumpkin beer in the autumn, and St. Ambroise's delicious Citrouille just might be a little tastier than Alley Kat's much-revered brew. While it doesn't have the heady, spicy scent of Alley Kat's brew, this beer has a dark, rich, spicy, taste full of cloves and caramel. Quite magnificent.
St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout
I'm not a huge fan of stouts, but I certainly enjoy them now and then. This black ale is one is my favourites, and if you check out the beer nerd websites, most people agree. This is an award winning beer with a dark and earthy malt taste and strong flavours of coffee and chocolate before a mildly bitter finish. Black velvet.
Phillips Ginger Beer
While the novelty Crabbie's Ginger Beer tastes like ginger beer, Phillips Ginger beer tastes like beer with ginger; I much prefer the latter. It pours a very nice gold colour with a slight floral scent. An excellent mix of hops bitterness and a tasty ginger bite. (I would recommend gently tilting the bottle a couple of times before pouring to distribute the ginger settled at the bottom.) My only critique is that you don't get a nice, clean finish – the ginger tingle lingers on your tongue. However, it's not unpleasant and makes you want the next sip.
Alley Kat Aprikat
Hometown beer heroes Alley Kat have been a mainstay in Edmonton's microbrew scene for many years – in fact, they were Edmonton's first microbrewery. Besides their year-round brews, Alley Kat also make some really nice limited edition beers throughout the year. Aprikat is their wheat beer, with a delicious and crisp fruity taste. While not as refreshing as their grapefruit ale, Aprikat is very tasty.
Pumphouse Blueberry Ale
Although some manly men will scoff at fruity beer or describe it as cloying, Pumphouse Blueberry is wonderful. Summer is not complete without at least one six-pack of it in the fridge. It's a very nice, crisp blonde ale with a terrific blueberry flavour that never gets too sweet. Perfect for your next barbecue.
Big Rock McNally's Extra
Although I don't drink a lot of Big Rock beer these days in favour of more esoteric choices, I'm sometimes reminded of what a great brewery they are, despite some lame duck seasonals. McNally's is a strong red ale with a rich, dark, caramel flavour and some fruity undertones. At 7% it also is reminiscent of Scotch (or Innis & Gunn), with a nice boozy finish. My wife and I liked it enough to make it one of our official wedding beers in 2012.
Grizzly Paw Grumpy Bear Honey Wheat
There are many good reasons to go to Canmore, and one of them is the Grizzly Paw Brewing Company and their popular restaurant. I'm not crazy about all of their beers, but their Grumpy Bear Honey Wheat and Rutting Elk Red are very good.
Cannery Naramata Nut Brown Ale
Another great brown ale that's very easy to drink. Nice dark colour with a slight toffee scent. It has a rich taste that includes molasses, chocolate and roasted nuts. Goes well with a burger or maybe a roast beef Sunday dinner.
Mill Street Belgian Wit
Mill Street's other beers don't impress me that much; their Tankhouse Ale is quite good, but has too much of a bitter finish for my liking. However, their Belgian Wit is very nice – crisp, light, with a fruity coriander aroma and a zesty, orange peel taste.