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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Canadian Brew

I'm not a gourmet and I don't pretend to have the training or talent to properly describe the taste of things. I just go with what I like and hope I convey a little of it to you.

The Canadians love their beer. Molson's and Labatt's are the top two labels and statistically they tell me Labatt's sells more in Canada, but in the area I was in, Molson seemed to have the edge. Molson and Coors joined forces. Molson Canadian and Coors Light are somewhat ubiquitous in the Belleville/Trenton Ontario area. Of the two, Canadian, is the better. Coors Light is as tasteless as watered down kool-aid.

Molson also owns Rickards. Rickards is prety good, the Honey Brown Ale and the Red are tasty and usually available most places. OK, enough of the big guys, let's visit some places where you can get some real beer.

First on our tour today is a little brewery about 25 miles northwest of Belleville near Campbellford.

Church Key Brewing is in an old Church, seemingly out in the middle of nowhere.

These are pictures of the exterior. The church was built in 1878. Sometime in the late 90's, it was abandoned and in 2000, John Graham turned it into a microbrewery.

Here are the two fermentation vats inside the brewery. The other is Ryan, en employee, and he is kegging some Holy Smoke

A picture of John I stole off the web. I met John on one of my several trips to his Brewery. He is a big affable man who is dedicated to his craft and interestingly, to doing it as "green" as possible.

Here are the Beers I've tasted:

Holy Smoke Scotch Ale: This is an unbelievably smooth and refreshing dark ale. It leaves you with a hint of smokiness that goes so well with ribs or steaks. Undoubtedly, it is my favorite Church-Key Brew.

North Umberland Ale: This ale is also really refreshing. It has a bright crisp citrusy finish and great with Fish and chicken. My second favorite CK Beer.

West Coast Pale Ale: This Pale Ale is loaded with hops! Lovers of bitter ales will really like this one. I like it, but It is on the bitter side.

Cranberry Maple Wheat: It's a seasonal brew, mostly in the spring when the sap is running. It is has a sweet maple taste and finishes just a little tart from the cranberries.

Lactese Falcon: To be honest, it must take a real special pallet to enjoy this stuff or even finish a bottle. My friends and I called it Yak-tese Falcon because much more than a sip and we were ready! It tastes somewhere between sour milk, bad cheese and dirty feet.

Our next destination takes us in the other direction. Again, it's about a half hour ride, but this time, we are headed south into Prince Edward County to Barley Days Brewery.

As you can see, this is a bit larger operation.

Here's my take on the two that I tried:

Harvest Gold Pale Ale: Good Crisp and refreshing. Medium hops give it just the right bitterness. A good Pale Ale.

Wind and Sail Dark Ale: This is a really good dark ale. The roasted barley taste really comes through. One of my favorites and my favorite of the Barley Days offerings.

The Kingston Brewing Company is a great old brew pub in downtown Kingston, about an hour east of Belleville.

This is a picture of the bar in side. I tried two of the pub's offerings.

First was their Dragon's Breath Real Ale: It was drawn from an old fashioned beer engine and it instantly became my all time favorite ale. Nutty, malty, goodness in a glass!

The other was a cream ale (I forget the name). It was smooth and creamy as most nitrogen conditioned brews usually are, but this had a slightly crisp flavor that made it really refreshing!

The last brewery on our tour is Cameron's in Oakville , about 20 miles south east of Toronto. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to take any pictures as my camera was packed away, but I did sample their Auburn Ale. This was also an instant favorite. Refreshing with a nice clean bite on the finish. Worth finding and trying!

There you have it, those are the microbreweries that I visited. In talking to my Canadian Friends, they seemed to indicate that they really don't have the wealth of micro and small breweries we enjoy here in the US. What they lack in quantity, they certainly don't lose in quality.

Time to head for Engine House #9!!



Kim Thompson said...


What an excellent tour! I love Canadian brew--always have. I really liked some of the different kinds you described--worth a try.

You should send a link of your post to your Canadian friends!


Stephanie Frieze said...

Thank you for the Canadian brew tour, VW. The pictures are great and the descriptions interesting. I will pass this on to my husband.

JosephMcG said...

Thank you VW: I enjoyed travelling with you

VW said...

Thank you all. I wish I was more adequate in my taste descriptions. If I ever go back, I hope to see a few more. The wife and I are heading for the Oregon coast for our ten year anniversary next month. I hope to try something new down there.