This Autumn, I have been rather busy with school, being the assistant brewer at Silversmith Brewing, and doing some writing with and for Jamie Drummond. I have also been (attempting) to run a weekly Beer Club at Niagara College for both the students of the program and anyone else interested in general. I have even tricked some wine students and professors to come out on occasion. I have been meaning to get some more content out for the reader’s of GFR, and I will be using this down time from school to do my best to recount all of the beers from this Autumn, and to rate and describe them for any other curious beer souls to seek out.
This column will kick off this with the first meeting’s beers. This meeting was our “Evening with AleSmith”, and as such was a diverse offering of the beers in their product line.
So, let’s kick this off with a beer style that hails from the same land as Mr. Drummond: a Scotch Ale.
AleSmith’s Wee Heavy
These strong ales originating from Scotland are historically malt forward, as back in the day hops were rather expensive to get into the country in any significant volume. Malt forward is certainly what is happening with AleSmith’s Wee Heavy. This beer pours out a nice, midnight dark chestnut, with a great bit of tan-ish head. The aroma is chock of chocolates, caramels, malts and vaguely fruity parts. There are wisp like bits of smoke as well mingling in with these more robust scents. Moving on to the main event, this beer almost feels as if you’re chewing on a delightful caramel malt, semi-sweet candy, with a chorus of dark, ripe stone fruits supporting the overall flavor, and hiding in the wings are those wispy bits of smoke. Smooth as silk, and almost no sign of hot boozy-ness (it is 10% ABV), this is pratically “crushable” (as the kids are wont to call it these days). This beer is certainly within the top of the class for the style and affordable to boot (~$12 USD for me). I would rate this as 4 and half apples out of 5 . Perhaps it would be a taste of home for certain other contributors to GFR?
AleSmith’s Speedway Stout
This is a pretty big stout even in the category, coming in at 12% ABV. This hits the glass dark as the darkest voids hidden within the universe, and births a swirling galaxy of pearly off-white head. Aromas are super injected with some heavy coffee, which for me was quite delightful, as well as thick bitter sweet chocolate, vanilla, molasses, and toffee. Like the Wee Heavy, this beer also has some fruity notes going about their way among the heavy hitters. When you put this in your mouth, it is unexpectedly smooth and balanced between all the flavors. Coffee and toffee are big factors here, and fades into a long dark chocolate, vanilla and stone fruit finish. While balanced, it does not stop this beer from being huge at the same time. It almost seems larger than life. Or at least the glass. You won’t even notice how warm and happy it will make you, since the alcohol is barely noticeable, if at all. Considered to be (easily) within the group of best beers in the world. Perhaps it was knowing this going into my experiences with it made me expect magic and fireworks made of unicorns, but I felt it could do more. I guess that’s the point of their special releases are for though, the last one had tons of Vietnamese coffee beans and lactose (used in milk stouts) and sounds totally lovely. Like the above, I give this beer a 4 and a half out of 5 apples .
AleSmith’s X Extra Pale Ale
Let’s do some X, eh? This is AleSmith’s attempt to make an Extra Pale Ale (or American Pale Ale if you’d like), and comes through with a very nice sessionable offering. This pours out a crisp, cracker like yellow/white, with a fluffy white head. The aromas that come to play are a host of citrus tropical, woodsy pine, and perhaps a hint of sweet sweet dankness? When drank, the flavors bursting forth are an initial rush of crackery toffee notes, that get lapped up by a wave bitter citrus fruits. And the beer finishes pretty dry, so it is quite refreshing. At 5.5% ABV this works well for having such a finish. Overall, this is a very solid example of that extra bit of hoppy pale ale. I give this beer a 4 out of 5 apples .
AleSmith’s YuleSmith Summer IPA
A Double IPA, made only in the Summer months, the YuleSmith Summer aims to feature signature American hops. This beer pours out a golden, almost nascently orange, with a tidy and crisp white head. Scents of tangelo, lemon zest and red grapefruit nearly leap off the beer, then get countered by some herbal, earthy, resinous notes. Upon imbibing, pines and grasses were the first I encountered, followed by juicy citrus grapefruit and tropical fruits. The sweet, malty bready character of the beer begins to come forth and eventually flows into a piney bitterness, that sweeps the palate dry. The bitterness overall is crisp and non-abrasive, perhaps a perfect counterbalance to the sweetness of the malt. Further, for what alcohol there is, 8.5% ABV, it is blown away by the crisp hop character of this beer. This beer is quite simply an excellent example of a Double IPA, or just a beer in general. I give this a 4 and a half (leaning towards 5) out of 5 apples .
And thus, was this week one of a long, Autumnal beer journey for myself and my fellow craft beer explorers. The second set will be coming soon.
Cheers, and Happy New Years!
Jared Lewinski is obsessed with beer. As such, he has uprooted his life in New Jersey to attend the Brewmastery and Brewery Operations Management program at Niagara College, a program that has, for the past three years, been producing top-tier brewers for Canada and beyond. As a child of the American Craft Movement, Jared has big opinions and a love for big beers. His hope is to bring an outsider’s perspective to a fascinating and tumultuous time for Canadian and Ontario made craft beer, and the culture that it represents…and is looking forward to the start of next semester!