Saturday, August 1, 2009

Beering in Ontario: Niagara

When we last left our hero, I was hanging around in Buffalo at my grandmother's place. Beautiful large house in Williamsville, NY which also happens to be home to a couple of great beer spots and an AWESOME grocery store with killer craft beer selection. I randomly picked up a good session beer that rarely goes wrong, an Amber Lager (Great Lakes).
I already had this trip through Ontario set up as I knew that I would be OD'ing on estrogen in Buffalo for too long. My grandmother, mother, sister, two female cousins, my daughter, and of course the women at the daycare center. Had I stayed there the whole week, I would have been so amped up on estrogen that as soon as I got back to Houston I would get a testosterone rush resulting in my buying a gun, smoked a box of cigars, and hit Richmond St. for some hard drinking and strip clubbing. Probably ending the night getting arrested in my own house while yelling RACISM!

So to guard against such risks, I got the heck out of there for a couple days to hang out with an old college buddy in Canadia. On the drive up to the border, I saw the beautiful Niagara Falls. Good thing it was great scenery b/c I was at the damn border crossing for damn near an hour. By the time I got to the border, the guard gave me the THIRD DEGREE with the questions. "What are you doing here? Did you make a reservation, what hotel? Where did you go to college? Why did you rent a truck?" And he was some swole lookin' white dude that's probably training for the UFC. I admit I was a little shook. Dude just caught me flat footed.

So after crossing the border with all casinos and whatnot, I set the GPS for Niagara's Best Brewery and Pub.

This place had a good kind of minimalist decor with little beer baskets of their brew for purchase. And Growlers. It was a little quiet as it was only 11:45AM. I sat outside and instantly realized that I did not bring a warm enough outfit. The area in Niagara, ON was nice and touristy. Everything just seemed cleaner than western New York. Imagine that. Ok, 10 beer flight.

Light Premium Lager
From what I know about Canadian beer, they love their lagers. Lemony and sour nose. Hazy old gold tint. Taste has a light bread and a hint of citrus hops. Moderate carbonation and drinkability. Not the worst light beer I've had. 2 Stars.

Logger Premium Lager
Funky malty smell comes after you give it a cocaine snorting sniff. Clear color. Taste has some toast and a bit more hops than the Light. Moderate body. It's not as crisp as the menu says but it has some icky hoppy aftertaste. High 2 Star.

Blonde Premium Ale
They love that "Premium" don't they. Clear gold color. Similar nose to the logger. The taste has a spiciness to it along with a decent grassy hop and light toast. Always love a good blonde (and the beer ain't bad either). 3 Stars.

Cascade Premium White Ale
Here I am thinking this will have some good ol' cascade hops and yet I get a spicy banana nose. Old gold cloudy colour. Beer has some random spice. As I keep sipping it, the spice turns more into a strong coriander and LOTS of orange peel. A little heavy on the spices, but it works though. 3 Stars.

I got the Mussels. Dammit I love mussels. And these one' are pretty salty. I actually like my mussels with a touch of sweetness to it. Of course some frites to round it out.

Drummond Dark Ale
Brown color with malty cinnamon nose. Lots of brown caramel malt in the flavor with *gasp* a touch of water on the second sip. It gets plainer the more I drink it. It could be the mussels, but 2 Stars.

Portage Premium Pale Ale
Malty/hop nose after hovers over the beer after some swirling. Amber color with a low white head. Moderate hops and malt. Very balanced beer but I've had stronger Blonde Pale Ales. Of course that usually means this is the English style pale ale. I guess the Queen does still hold some sway over Canada. Low 3 Stars.

Daredevil Red
Malty nose. Light malt and bread flavor. It's kinda plain again. It's a little boring, but red ale are always boring to me. I just don't see what the fuss is about Red ales. Maybe I just need to do a Red Ale tasting next time I'm at the Saucer. Wait a minute, the next time I'm at the Saucer is for the party for my PE License. Screw that. It's all Belgians. 2 Star for the balanced beer.

Pilsner Lager
Yeah I saved the pilsner until now. Turns out folk are putting a lot of strength in their pilsners these days and I was going in order of increasing IBUs. Malty and hoppy nose. Dark gold color. Strong-moderate hops and chewy mouthfeel that works well for me. Goes down smooth with lingering hop aftertaste. 3 Star.

Oatmeal Stout
Chocolate nose. Deep brown color. It has a burnt flavor to it. Maybe like overly cooked grains. Good coffee notes but no sweetness. Not bad but again just a little soft on what I like in my stouts. The oats must be giving it the full body. Low 3 Stars.

Bitter Ale
Bread/bitter nose. Copper hue. Nice bitterness just barely balanced by the malt. Last sip is a pleasant toastiness reminiscent of my beloved American ambers. 3 Stars.

Overall, this was a nice experience. The waitress seemed to really know her beer and she informed me they only opened two weeks prior. That's just fantastic. I look forward to getting with them again whenever I'm up this way. Turns out I may be back in Toronto next year. So I would love to see how they've progressed. Holla.


Lew Bryson said...

Not to defend the Candian customs, but...last year, driving into Quebec, a white friend and I got frickin' grilled (do you own any firearms? Where do you keep them in your house? Is this the only name you use?), pulled over and detained for "passport check," and then sent on after half an hour. This year? Nothing, straight through. I think they just have a quota of harrassment.

Pub sounds kinda generic. Toronto, on the other hand, is FUN. Get to Granite brewpub, and settle in for beer at Cafe Volo and beerbistro. You'll love it.

The American Don said...

Thanks for reading the blog Lew. I didn't even think of it as a black thing, but a Post 9-11 Screw-American thing. I'm glad they didn't do me like that. I think they are normally checking to make sure you are sharp and quick with your responses. You start hemmin' and hawin' and you'll be put in the wrong line.

I'm still posting the Canada posts but I did make it to Volo and Beerbistro. Both were fantastic!