Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment. Cheers! - Bethany

Monday, June 15, 2015

'Hoppy' Craft Beer Week, everyone!

It's Ontario Craft Beer week! Not that you really need an excuse to try out the wide range of hoppy beverages made by passionate local brewmeisters, but this is a good one.

We've had a good year so far when it comes to beer. I signed Hubby up for the Savvy HipHops beer-of-the-month club last Christmas (aren't I a good wife?) Every month since the early weeks of snow-bound January, we've been treated to brews from all over the province: ales and IPAs, porters and stouts, gruits and saisons, and one-offs done with everything from peppermint to cocoa nibs. It's been a bonus learning experience for me, and an eye-opener to styles I never thought I'd enjoy.

So far the big winner has been Heroine of Niagara, a wheat ale done by Five Paddles Brewing that's been aged in spent wine barrels. Wisps of merlot come through on the nose, with a palate that's smoky-sweet and a bit tart on the finish. I kept saying "oh.my.GAWD" with every sip.

(By the way, I don't know enough about beer to write credible tasting notes, so if you want to read better ones, check out what the Savvy Brew Crew has to say. And if you're as clueless as I am when it comes to words like sessionable or IBU, the Beer Advocate has an extensive glossary of terms.)

Here are some of my other faves:

Five Paddles Brewing 
Home Sweet Home Pale Ale - Wheat beer made with honey and vanilla malt
Baby Belge - Belgian-style pale ale that's crisp and refreshing
Brother Ian's Belgian 8 - Strong, dark beer with sweetness and spice

Beyond the Pale (Ottawa)
Rye Guy - West Coast-style India Pale Ale that is nicely balanced between light and heavy
The Darkness - Dark chocolate and coffee aplenty in this oatmeal stout

Beau's All Natural Brewing Company (Ottawa)
Tom Green Beer - Milk stout featuring malted chocolate and coffee
Burnt Rock - Vanilla porter with a bit of a hoppy finish
Bog Water - Gruit (old-fashioned way of making beer with wild herbs, before hops became popular) Spicy, bitter, finishing sweet, kinda reminds me of Coca-Cola.

Refined Fool (Sarnia)
Noble Oaf - Rye saison with fruity citrus flavours and pleasant weight

Strathroy Brewing Company (Strathroy)
Lockstock Ale / Independence Pale Ale - Both of these reminded me of the orange peel-coriander of white beers. Light, flavourful and crisp, they go down (a little too) easy.
Smokin' Cannon Stout - Modeled after traditional Irish stout, this is all roasted coffee bean, caramel and peppercorn. (I like Monique Ippolito's suggestion of pouring it over ice cream!!)

Stay tuned ... there's another six months' worth of beer to be tried!

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