It took me a while to let my thoughts settle on this year’s Ottawa Winter Brewfest. I’m far from an apologist in the craft beer community, but I am the kind of guy who likes to look for the good in everything. That said, it was very difficult for me to find anything good to say about the 2016 Ottawa Winter Brewfest. Here are my five main reasons why this festival failed miserably:
Several fantastic brews come to mind when we think of imperial stouts made here in Ontario. We've got Beau's and their Matt's Sleepy Time, Bolshevik Bastard from Nickel Brook, and of course Wellington's Russian Imperial Stout. All great stouts, all readily available at any LCBO with a decent craft beer selection (readily available during stout season, of course.)
Now, let's get sidetracked for a moment here... Way back when the Ottawa Beer Club had its first meeting, our host - one Nick Kutlik - decided to go big or go home and kicked off our monthly meetings by introducing us to the Russian Imperial Stout style (paired with some awesome sausages and cheeses.) His choices? The previously mentioned Wellington's Russian Imperial Stout, and today's feature: Grand River Brewing's Russian Gun Imperial Stout. In celebration of nearly five years of us doing this Ottawa Beer Club thing, I decided that it was only fitting that we do a throwback to one of our first beers as a club (I know, throwbacks are for Thursdays... but can we just pretend that they're a Tuesday thing, just this once?)
Just behind Stouts and Barley Wines comes a close contender for my favorite beer style: Brown Ales. While we have a few mainstays that are readily available at plenty of LCBOs, such as Amsterdam's Downtown Brown and Neustadt's 10W30 (both of which are just great representations of the style,) I'm always on the lookout for new Brown Ales to try. My local LCBO (#624 - Innes & Tenth Line location) always carries an amazing stock of new brews to try. And this past week was no different when I walked in and was recommended to try today's beer, Left Field Brewery's Eephus.
@greatlakesbeer tap takeover @brosbeerbistro Who doesn't want to crush some delicious beers on a Thursday! 3 flight choices? I've got performance anxiety.
So last night we hit up @brothersbeerbistro for a few tasties. Brothers has really been bringing it with their tap and bottle lists lately, and last night was no exception! Great selection from some of Ontario's best breweries, such as @indiealehouse, @burdockonbloor, and @sawdustcitybeer. And if I can be real for a second, the Rare flight is probably the best deal in the house. I got to sample some of Indie's work with Brett, alongside @muskokabrewery's Hazed and Confused (sick name, by the way!) and @amsterdambeer's Vinifera (my fave of the night... such an interesting brew!) And of course, hanging out with Nathan at @rndbeer was also a great time! -James #ontariocraftbeer #craftbeer
@bloodbrothersbrewing - Love Trip. One of the boys in the club brought this back for me from Toronto over the weekend. Massive pine up front, smelling like freshly raked pine needles, with a sticky sap-like quality on the tongue. Mildly floral and earthy. Subtle hints of fruit. Pleasantly creamy mouthfeel, with a light lingering bitterness. Overall, this is well crafted and quite delicious. This was my first beer from Blood Brothers, and honestly, you can colour me impressed. It was thoroughly enjoyable. #craftbeer #ontariocraftbeer #ipa #lovetrip
Finally got a chance to check out @brasserieetiennebrule in Embrun. Great line up! Here's Backdraft, their Black IPA, brewed with Nelson Sauvin. Nice bitterness blended with a pleasant roasted malt characteristic. Awesome spot, and only a half hour out of town. Definitely worth a visit! #ontariocraftbeer #craftbeer #ipa #blackipa
As always, @collectivebrew kills it with their labeling! The can for "Radio the Mothership Imperial IPA" is sick! The artist featured on this is Joshua Roman, I can't wait to check out some of his other work. And the beer? Super smooth and juicy for an IIPA. Nice tropical fruit notes balanced with a nice amount of bitterness. There's a nice malt sweetness on the backend, too. Nothing too overpowering, and you can tell this is well crafted. Ideally, I would want a little more "pop" in an IIPA - where the flavour profile just jumps out and slaps you in the face, y'know? - but this is coming up on a month old... so it may have lost some of that initial boldness one would usually get. Either way, this is still fantastic and I'm glad I picked up a second to enjoy later this week! #ontariocraftbeer #imperial #ipa #iipa #craftbeer
When I see friends checking in awesome beer on @Untappd without me. #untappd #craftbeer #Logan #limo #SadWolverine
@dominioncity are makers of very good beer, and this #fidelis is no exception. Tons of fresh and floral hops. Clean finish that keeps you going back to the grumbler. #lovethisbeer #treatyourself #mustdrinkcraftbeer
Have you had this! I mean, I've always liked this beer but Holy Schnikees! This batch of @amsterdambeer Fracture is incredible. Fresh and floral. Delicious tropical fruit notes with tons of citrus put the hops front and center in this Brew. Balanced bitterness makes this beer a f*ing champ. #mustdrinkthis #howgoodisthis #beerner #ianismyhero
Stein Club @jackslansdowne enjoying a hoppy lineup from @amsterdambeer Get down here and grab your flight. Great service, great beer, good times. #boneshaker #fracture
Hey Ottawa! @amsterdambeer tap takeover @brothersbeerbistro #demonhost #XXdoubletempest If you're not here, you should be.
"Iceberg, IIPA aux Pêches" by Microbrasserie Le BockAle, out of Drummondville, Québec. I've been hearing a lot of good things about these folks, so I jumped on the opportunity to pick up one of their offerings during a recent trip to Broue Ha Ha in Gatineau. Let's just say this did not disappoint! Huge ester notes coupled with peach and tropical fruit. Juicy. Low bitterness, with just enough of a drying effect to keep you coming back for more. Peppery. Pleasant malt backbone. Well balanced. I can definitely see why people are talking about this brewery! I can't wait to try more of their offerings! Anyone have any recommendations of what else to try from them? @le_bockale #iipa #iceberg #craftbeer #quebeccraftbeer
Sometimes you just gotta pop open some @nickelbrookbrewing #KentuckyBastard and share with friends. Cheers to a beautiful February afternoon fellow beer lovers! #craftbeer #bba #russianimperialstout
Sometimes... when it's 8am and you're packaging beer... you end up having to drink some. Because... Oops! Overfill! Here's a little top-shot of @dominioncity's Sunsplit IPA. Incredibly juicy with a huge burst of tropical fruit citrus goodness. #crushable #613beer #craftbeer #sunsplit #ipa
Happy New Year! Here's a snap of @dominioncity's Lost Train Oatmeal Stout to ring in 2017! Ottawa Beer Club wishes you all the best this coming year! Cheers! #craftbeer #stout #oatmeal #ottawa #losttrain
An eight hour study session means I've earned a treat! Enter @brasseursdt Obscur Désir, and incredibly rich imperial stout. So thick and creamy. Loads of chocolate and coffee. Warming. Delicious. Oh man... I can drink this all day, everyday. #quebeccraftbeer #craftbeer #imperial #stout
As I sat here studying the thrilling North American Industry Classification System for my Marketing Foundations class, a very strong urge to crack open a beer washed over me. So I decided to go with a beer considerably more exciting than what I am studying: a chocolate chipotle stout called The Mayan by The Ilkley Brewery Co. from the U.K. This 6.5% stout delivers exactly what it says: tons of chocolate (milk, dark, and even some mocha) gives way to a lingering mild pepper heat. Under all that there's some nice roasted coffee, smoke, and dark fruit sweetness. There's some nice complexity to this that balances out quite well. Overall, I'm quite pleased with this LCBO find. Hopefully Ontario will see more from this brewery in the future! #craftbeer #stout #chipotle #themayan #studybreak
@millstreetbrew's West Coast IPA: a huge citrus slam - hints of orange peel, mango and lemon - grassy - mildly piney and earthy - juicy - light lingering bitter aftertaste. This is probably the cloudiest IPA I've come across in the province. As beautiful as it is delicious. #craftbeer #ontariocraftbeer #westcoastipa #ipa
Starting of an #OBC meeting right! Massive charcuterie board pored with The Alchemist's Heady Topper! #craftbeer #charcuterie #nomnomnom
@beausallnatural Ten Year Anniversary at the brewery today! Why aren't you here?! Tonnes of awesome beer to try! #craftbeer
Time for a vertical of @bierestambroise Stout Impériale Russe! 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. So much Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout goodness! #quebeccraftbeer #stout