SERIOUSLY GOOD CANADIAN ALES
My first blog of the year is for beer. No, I haven’t gone to the dark side! Beer is my second love and I taste almost everything through the LCBO and at specialty beer bars around the world.
The beer industry has seen the same kind of expansion of choice as in wine, with a similar resulting confusion. Marketing rules, of course, and the successful brands are the ones that pretend to be ‘different’ but which are ordinary and easy. Such as Keith’s or Rickard’s. The booming craft beer business in Canada is headed in the opposite direction – attempting originality, but often misfiring. A lot like chefs thinking they can bypassing basic skills and experience in their rush for stardom. The more local craft beers I drink, the more I appreciate the European classics. And some American upstarts such as Sierra Nevada.
St. Ambroise beers (from Quebec’s McAuslan brewery) are an exception. Founded in 1989, this brewery produces perfectly balanced beer with depth and personality, and I highly recommend you search LCBOs for their pair of Holiday packs. (Meant to put this out pre-Christmas but the power-out got in the way).
The ‘Vintage Ale’ pack offers a really interesting experience – three different years of the same beer. Toasty, sweet, nourishing, high alcohol – fireside sippers. Amazing depth of flavor. The ‘Holiday Taste’ pack is about variety, and all three offerings are outstanding. Tangy dry Pale Ale, strong, sweet Scotch Ale, and delicious, toasty Oastmeal Stout.
ST. AMBROISE Vintage Ale 3-Pack (2011, 2012, 2013) 66027 $17.95
ST. AMBROISE Holiday Taste 3-Pack (Pale Ale, Scotch Ale, Oatmeal Stout) 288787 $13.00