International Wines/BeerTop Stories

Cottage Country invades the LCBO (we’re talking craft beer here)


By Brian Yeo

OK,  so calling it an invasion is a dramatic overstatement, but being a newbie beer scribe I feel that the best way to draw some notice to my side of the Wines in Niagara site is with attention grabbing headlines. Did it work?

I’ll admit the original title of this piece was going to be “Muskoka Beauties with Nice Racks” (and if you have seen the labels you know what I’m talking about) but I thought that one may have drawn the ire of my editor (Editor’s note: You are on your own here, brother), bring unwanted Google searchers, and generally reflect poorly on the maturity level of your humble writer.

So invasion it is! With that resolved let us move on to take a look at two new Spring Seasonals, from Muskoka based breweries, now lining the shelves of local LCBOs.

Muskoka Brewery, The Legendary Muskoka Spring Oddity (LCBO #290973, 8% abv, $9.95, 750 ml bottle)
 — Sometimes you are presented with a beer that despite having no preconceived notions about what it may be on initial tasting still has the ability to confound you. This happened with my first tasting of Muskoka’s new seasonal, The Legendary Spring Oddity, when I had it on tap at Beer Bistro.

My thoughts ranged from is it trying to be a Belgian inspired Tripel or a unique twist on a Gruit or possibly I wasn’t in the mood for an evaluative tasting and should just go find a hipster bar to quaff PBRs and debate post post-modern irony for a laugh.

As I headed out onto to King Street wondering aimlessly towards another unknown at the moment beer destination I started thinking of a piece I had recently read from Stephen Beaumont on Beer Styles and Why They Do/Don’t Matter.  I found myself somewhat frustrated as I realized it was an intellectual attempt, on my part, to pigeon-hole something into a predetermined category of styles rather than just embracing the hedonistic elements of a mighty fine beer. Plus, with a name like the Spring Oddity I should have just gotten the gag . . . darn you marketing people!

Aptly named, this quirky beer delivers a lot of character. The Oddity is a melange of sweet, spicy, grassy, earthy, bready, botanical, and citrus aromas and flavours delivering a plush mouthfeel and a delightful yin and yang finish of sweet and bitter with skilfully balanced alcohol.

During the past year, Muskoka has continued to build on successes both within their year round portfolio and their seasonals and the Oddity just may well be their strongest offering yet. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

* Recommended

10 PointLake of Bays Brewing, 10 Point IPA
 (LCBO 290643, 6% abv, $8.95, 750 ml bottle)
 — Following their winter seasonal release of the Mocha Porter, the Lake of Bays 10 Point IPA was a beer that I had high hopes for in seeing that this brewery continued to build on their success.

What Lake of Bays has given us is a reasonably pleasant take on a British styled IPA. 10 Point pours to rich amber colour with hints of brown, the head was light amber and quickly receded leaving little lacing.

Initially the nose comes across as very subdued and yields hints of damp leaves, black tea, lemon rind, light caramel and fresh cereal grains. The beer hits your mouth with a bit of pine resin and evolves through the middle to show toasted oats and slight caramel sweetness with a soft citrus finish and light bite from the hops. All in all, the beer is pleasant, well balanced, and with a lighter abv than most IPAs more approachable than some others.

beer_bottle_oranjeNew Release Alert:
 Word came through the Twitterverse this week that Amsterdam’s Oranje Weisse will be making a return appearance in The Beer Store and LCBOs starting next week. This was easily one of my favourites of last summer and can’t wait to have that one chilling in my fridge for when the temperatures start to rise.

Follow Brian on Twitter @beerlyBrian