One of our favourite watering holes is The Woolwich Arrow Pub, or The Wooly, as frequenters call it. One of our favourite nights to go to The Wooly is wing night – every Tuesday!
So on a cold wintery night, we walked down to The Wooly in search of (what we consider to be) the best wings around, and a cold pint. Or two.
The Wooly’s beer menu isn’t huge, but it includes local brews (Guelph area), beer from Ontario, Quebec and other beer-loving locales across Canada. This Tuesday, it had beer from the top two highest ranked Original 10 breweries on tap, according to a people’s choice competition taking place now from the Ontario Beverage Network (OBN).
To be considered an “Original 10”, the brewery has to have been “…founded between 1985 to 1995… and does not include breweries no longer in operation or now owned by Big Beer….”.
Number one on the OBN list is Great Lakes Brewery (est. 1987, Brampton), and second is Wellington Brewery (est. 1985, Guelph). Owen had Great Lakes Lake Effect IPA. I had an old faithful: Wellington SPA.
What Owen says about Lake Effect (on the right): From now on, I will always look for this beer at The Wooly. Served ice cold, it’s appealing even on the coldest winter night. With its high carbonation, I can only imagine how it will be on a steamy summer day. Lake Effect has a HUGE citrus taste, tangy mouth feel, hardly any bitter after taste and just the right amount of weight — not too heavy, and not too light. The cloudy yellow-gold colour is fascinating — looks great and tastes great. I give it a Six Pack rating!
What Angi says about Wellington SPA (on the left): Aaaaah, I love Wellington SPA. I hadn’t had it in years, but it’s like I’ve found an old friend. It’s one of Wellington’s oldies but goodies. And one of its most popular. Not surprising. It’s delish! It’s weighty, smooth, creamy, with just a hint of bitterness, and if you really pay attention, you can taste something like roasted marshmallow, which I think is girly-talk for what might be roasted malt. It’s just how I remember it. And perfect with The Wooly’s medium-sauced wings! I give it a Six Pack too!
What the breweries say:
Great Lakes Brewery: “The weather channel describes Lake Effect snow as a “mass of sufficiently cold air moving over a body of water creating an unstable temperature profile in the atmosphere.” Who cares. This beer, however, has nothing to do with that drivel. It was inspired by a summer spent drinking heaps of IPAs on a stoop on Elmwood Ave. in Buffalo, NY.” (Not very helpful tasting notes, but fun, like the beer.)
Wellington Brewery: “Our most popular beer is a refreshingly smooth pale ale that is deep gold in colour and notably full of flavour. With a balance of malt and hops that is patterned after traditional British pale ales, S.P.A. has an aroma of caramel and toasted grain followed by a delicate hop aftertaste.”
Today is last day of holidays before we rise in the dark tomorrow morning, and head into the office. Gone will be the days of eating and eating and eating, and drinking beer at 2pm just ’cause we can. These holidays have been filled with many a brew. And today isn’t any different.
Granville Island Brewing Lions Winter Ale was today’s mid-afternoon selection. Their site says it’s “…the ultimate winter comfort brew perfect with…other winter comfort foods”. We paired it with homemade bread, beer cheese, ham, and grainy mustard.
Angi says: On the nose, this is too vanilla-y, it smells too much like candy. But on the tongue, it’s a different story. I really like this robust flavoured ale. Paired with our savoury snack, it was a great way to spend our last afternoon of winter vacation.
Owen says: This beer reminds me of the need to read labels, so you’re not bowled over by any brew’s uniqueness. For example, the chocolate-vanilla one-two punch of the winter ale is like a hi-test version of Tim’s Ice Cap. It’s almost like dessert. That said, for me it worked well with everything but the grainy mustard.
A note from the Guelph Beer Blog: Yes, yes, Granville Island Brewery isn’t in Guelph. We know that. A reminder that the beer we drink and review doesn’t necessarily have to be brewed in the Guelph area, just consumed in the Guelph area. Cheers!
Interested in getting some of that beer cheese we ate? Once again, our favourite market came through. Market Fresh has a wide selection of cheeses, and this one, with its hint of beer, was delish.
What the brewery says:
“Winter is coming—and you’re going to like it. With complex layers of vanilla, cocoa, and caramel, our Lions Winter Ale gives you plenty to get warm and cozy with. This brew is nicely balanced so the sweeter flavours don’t overwhelm. You could call it the ultimate winter comfort brew, perfect with cream-based soups and other winter comfort foods.”
‘Twas three nights after Christmas, and all through the house, not a snack could be found, no chips, no pretzels, no nuts. No nothing.
And I wanted a beer. I wanted the Radical Road Brewing Company’s Slingshot that was sitting in the fridge. We bought it at the LCBO a few days earlier, and now that all the mimosas and Manhattan’s and cabernet sauvignon had been consumed, I wanted a beer, a refreshing beer. I wanted to kick back, eat a bag of chips and drink beer.
So off to Market Fresh (my favourite market) …and what to my wondering eyes did appear? Potato chips flavoured with Guinness Stout Beer! Oh yes, beer flavoured chips. They’re a thing.
This California Common lager was everything I’d hoped for: crisp, easy-drinking, with a hoppy finish. It was absolutely perfect with the Guinness thick cut potato chips. The chips were rich and creamy, just like a Guinness (I think they were $3.99/bag), and coupled with this lager, they were just right.
The lager, with its mild fruitiness, cut the richness of the stout-flavoured chips. I think Slingshot would be equally as excellent with other rich dishes: a big juicy burger and gruyere cheese, maybe pulled pork poutine, or a beef and potato stew. Or with whatever you want to eat. Try it with friends. Or by yourself. Or while on holiday. Or not.
It’s the holidays! Eat, drink beer and be merry!
P.S. to be honest, I’d never heard of a California Common before. So, according to the interwebs, it’s a “unique 100% American style lager, usually brewed with a special strain of lager yeast that works better at warmer temps”. Drinking beer can be so educational!
I know Hockley for their location, not their beer. Growing up in Creemore, and now living in Guelph, Hockley Valley sits pretty much right in the middle.
So on a recent cold Saturday night, upon opening the fridge, I found a can of Hockley Amber. (Writing for a beer blog, our beer selection is never the same; you can be guaranteed to always find beer surprises in the fridge.) Kicking back, I had high hopes for this brew.
I expected it to be what I know Hockley Valley to be: imposing and bold, a beer to be reckoned with. However, it looks more robust than it tastes. It’s more of an easy-drinking beer, and lacks a certain kick. If I closed my eyes, I could just be drinking some traditional on-tap pub beer.
It poured flat, and that was a strong indication of what was to come. Its foretaste is lively but then it quickly dissipates, leaving little to no aftertaste, despite initial strong hints of gingerbread and caramel on the nose.
I searched the Hockley Brewery site to see what they had to say about their beer, you know, just in case I was missing something. What first greeted me was an ad slogan that knocked me back to what I imagine the days of Mad Men were about: the first beer description listed was for their Hockley Dark, described as “a brunette with the body of a blonde”. Nothin’ like maintaining that good ole boys beer-drinking stereotype.
Hockley, you’re surrounded by rolling hills and magnificent vistas. You’ve got more inspiration than most breweries. I know you’ve got it in you to kick it up a notch. And while you’re at it, go back and ditch the “throw back to the 50’s-style” review.
HARBINGER AMERICAN PALE ALE
Descendants Beer & Beverage Co.
You know those times when beer tastes really good? I mean, really good, so good you can’t remember a beer ever tasting that good?
That was my beer at Guelph’s The Albion Hotel on a recent Wednesday night this past summer, for its weekly $5 burger and $5 beer special.
It was hot, one of those summer nights where the air sticks to you. One of those summer nights that calls for a beer on one of many of Guelph’s patios.
I’d heard of Descendants brewery in Kitchener but hadn’t yet had the opportunity to enjoy one of their brews.
Nicholas, our waiter, rattled off the beer choices; I stopped him when he said Harbinger APA (even though it wasn’t one of the $5 features).
“APA? The A stands for American, right? Does that mean it tastes like Miller Lite or Old Milwaukee?” I questioned, laughing at my own (stupid) joke.
I like a hoppy beer. But sometimes a hoppy beer lingers just a bit too much and on this hot summer evening I wanted something refreshing and thirst-quenching. Harbinger did not disappoint. I love this beer! It’s got some body, some fruity, citrus flavours that I expected, but what I didn’t expect was the easy-drinking-ness of this APA. It surprises, and I like a beer that surprises. It has a cool label too – one that is reminiscent of a Netflix series – and I’m a sucker for labels (as you’ll get to learn).
Perhaps it was the setting: The Albion patio.
Perhaps it was the burger: $5 burgers every Wednesday.
Perhaps it was the light amber colour of the APA.
Perhaps it was the waiter: Nicholas, and his joking, “your glass is empty – we gotta do something about that” attitude.
Perhaps it was all of it put together for the perfect beer-drinking recipe. The Albion’s top floor patio offers the perfect beer drinking and people watching spot. Overlooking the corners of Macdonell and Norfolk Street, it has got to be one of my favourite patio locations in the city.
The $5 burgers on Wednesday doesn’t hurt either.
Here’s what Descendents says about Harbinger:
Harbinger has a lot of fruitiness on the nose, many people citing mango, citrus, or passion fruit when they smell Harbinger’s aroma. The malty sweetness is subtle but carries through the entire swallow from start to finish. The malt character is accentuated by both earthy and fruity hop flavour. The finish is clean and mild. There is a slight lingering hop flavour on the tongue. The mouth feel is medium bodied. The colour is a nice shade of amber, with the foam being off-white with nice lacing on the glass. This is an APA created with the intention of being slightly untraditional. With a more focused “malty foundation” than most APAs it also has layered earthy and fruity hops. It is at once drinkable, interesting and thirst quenching.