Monday, February 25, 2013

Days 22-25 - The Final WinterBrewed Review!

While external circumstances have prevented me from posting for a couple days, I'm back on track and still plenty of beers ahead! Onto the final collection of beers from WinterBrewed and the final number drunk at the festival!

Beer #29 (#12 of WinterBrewed) - Beyond The Pale Oat Shot 9000 (served hot)

With temperatures dipping and my curiosity piqued, the idea of a hot beer was a bit foreboding at first, but an irresistible prospect. Served along cider and coffee, Oat Shot 9000 is an oatmeal stout with a decent alcohol rating of 8.4%, but the heat only served to weaken the brew and cut the taste down considerably. I spoke with the brewers at Beyond the Pale who advised that the beer wasn't served as they advised, with sugar and cinnamon and the resulting containers left the beer a bit watered down.

I'm going to give Oat Shot 9000 a pass on rating, and will head to Beyond The Pale soon to try it cold. However, hot beer was a surprisingly enjoyable experience. I've never been a proponent of warm beer, despite what some British "beer hipsters" would have you believe. (I say that from the safety of a coffee shop in Ottawa, as many of these "beer hipsters" drink their warm beers with plates of bangers & mash and are often violently ill-tempered soccer hooligans with names like Bangers and Mash.)

Hot beer is growing in popularity in Poland and Japan, and to be honest, with a strong coffee stout or perhaps a creamy porter heated with some cinnamon or other sugar and spices, hot beer could be a great substitute for hot cider on cold nights. Experimentation and results to come soon, this is something I have to try at home.

Beyond The Pale Oat Shot 9000
Beyond The Pale Brewing Co., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Alcohol Rating: 8.4%
Class: Oatmeal Stout
Rating: N/A
Quote: "Warm beer?!? You're lucky it's minus 20 outside or I'd have some derisive comment for sure! is good."

Beer #30 (#13 of WinterBrewed) - Hogsback The Full Monty Brown Ale

Named for the barebacked shenanigans of Prince Harry in Las Vegas a few months back, The Full Monty is certainly representative of brown ales, beers characterized by some nuttiness, caramel flavor and mild bitterness. The flavor certainly had butterscotch moments, something that my taste buds may be leaning towards in my slow Canadian evolution, but the flavors only floated around and gave way to a tiny bit of bitterness on the finish.

Further sips brought out a bit of sweet fruitiness from the beer, and oddly made me think of the International House of Pancakes. IHOP, of which I have yet to find on this side of the border, and yes, likely from lack of searching, offers sweet syrupy pancakes with a bit of a processed flavor. The Full Monty has an unidentifiable fruitiness, followed up by a weak bitterness, and a presence that is not very strong and doesn't linger. Uncomplicated, a little sweet, overall, not bad.

Hogsback The Full Monty Brown Ale
Hogsback Brewing Company, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Alcohol Rating: 5%
Class: Brown Ale
Rating: 5 out of 10
Quote: "Oh, Prince Harry, you crazy little scamp."

Beer #31 (#14 of WinterBrewed) - Ashton Brewing Company Harvest Brown Ale

Brown ales may not be my cup of tea, and this one seemed to have been brewed just wrong. Where Hogsback didn't quite push the boundaries, ABC went way too far. Harvest Brown has an unusual sweetness too it, much like tea with too much sugar, but with that unique fruit taste of brown ales. The bitterness which generally defines ales never found its way out and everything about this particular brown just seemed like an experiment gone wrong.

When the odd taste similar to artificial berry sweetener subsided, a butterscotch comes in heavy on the butter side and makes the entire beer a touch difficult to finish. The other tastes are there, and the beer was not like drinking a sugary-sweet soft drink. Harvest Brown might taste better warmed up, and this may be the beer for testing out a hot beer at home...but more likely, I won't be purchasing this one again.

Ashton Brewing Co. Harvest Brown Ale
The Old Mill at Ashton Brewpub, Ashton, Ontario, Canada
Alcohol Rating: 5.5%
Class: Brown Ale
Rating: 2 out of 10
Quote: "It's like a butterscotch candy mixed with cream of wheat. This is an old man in a beer cup."
Beer #32 (#15 of WinterBrewed - FINAL BEER! and my BEST OF THE FEST!) - Ashton Brewing Company Pub Coffee Porter

Fifteen beers in and I reached my proper limit on the day. ABC's Coffee Porter was actually drunk earlier in the day, but I couldn't help saving the best for last. ABC has been spectacularly hit or miss, and this is the hit that struck me after the disappointing brown ale and fairly decent vanilla stout. This porter was a coffee porter without an overwhelming coffee taste. In two fields of coffee porters and stouts, it seems that porters utilize the coffee flavor without it being the defining quality of a beer. This, in itself, is a tough challenge, as coffee is so strong and often what many stout and porter drinkers are looking for.

Pub Coffee Porter has a light mocha taste with the chocolate and coffee supporting the porter bitterness. It reminded me of Guinness without being too bitter, this one being a porter that went down surprisingly smooth. It is pleasant throughout, and didn't leave a foul aftertaste, instead turning out a delicate taste without being watery or underwhelming.

Don't drink this looking for a post-pasta espresso type beer. Drink this when you want something a touch heavier than regular beer or if you like Guinness but need a break from the bitters. Seek out the sweetness in this beer and it pops up as you drink in vanillas and caramels. I can see how many will decry my rating of this beer as it isn't the best example of a "coffee beer", but standing alone, it held up incredibly well.

Ashton Brewing Co. Pub Coffee Porter
The Old Mill at Ashton Brewpub, Ashton, Ontario, Canada
Alcohol Rating: 5%
Class: Coffee Porter
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Quote: "This is coffee for people who hate coffee. Which is everyone. Admit it. Coffee is terrible. (I love you, coffee. Please don't take this seriously. You know I would never betray you.) *finishes off Tim Horton's cup and types last of blog entry*"
So a huge Congratulations to Jessica Christenson Fox who guessed the exact number correctly. A Starbucks gift card will be heading your way shortly! Well done! Your regularly scheduled reviews return shortly, and from March 6-27, I'll be touring Southern California and reviewing the best beers the golden coast has to offer. Cheers!!!!

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