I've had the Golden Lion's so-called flagship brew -- Lion's Pride -- several times before. They describe it as A dark brown British styled ale with a rich malty flavour and distinctive hop aroma. I would rate that an accurate description, as Lion's Pride is quite delicious and satisfying. So I decided to give the Bishop's Best a go.
Wow. The description on the bottle reads This copper coloured gem is sure to please those in search of the 'Bitter side' of life. Forget the description...it's an explosion of infinite hoppy bitterness. Don't get angry...get Bitter. It is indeed one of the most bitter beers I've had. Fortunately, it is not bitter to the point of being sour, but if you prefer things on the sweet malty side, this one will pucker your lips and bring oniony tears to your eyes.
I'm "bi" (in that I like both hoppy and malty beers), so I shed no tears over this one. In fact, a wide grin eclipsed my face at the first sip. The color is a nice clear and dark coppery brown, and it has a slightly loose head that nevertheless leaves a gorgeous creamy lace on the glass. The aroma and flavour are rich and really hit home for fans of bitters. It's almost too much -- by the time I finished it, I was in need of a cool glass of water to counter the astringent feeling that deep bitters leave when consumed on their own without accompanying nibbles (or water).
A visit to the brewery's Web site was puzzling. Apparently, the Golden Lion pub -- situated in the heart of Lennoxville, a college town -- was voted "Canada's number one student pub" by CBC's Monday Report with Rick Mercer. That's great if you're 20 years old and primarily concerned with quantity of beer and proximity of booze-filled friends and potentials scores. A quick tour of the site reveals a preference for sophamoric sloganizing, with tags like NICEST JUGS IN TOWN, and 24 HOURS IN A DAY, 24 BEERS IN A CASE -- COINCIDENCE?, and BEAUTY LIES IN THE HANDS OF THE BEERHOLDER scattered throughout. Their mascot is a cartoon lion who looks and acts like a frat boy.
Had I seen the Web site first I might have passed on the beer. It doesn't exactly shout "quality assured!" But who am I to judge? I certainly was drawn to that scene when I was in uni, but at the time I probably wouldn't have cared if the beer was skillfully crafted or just rolled off the back of a truck from Molson -- as long as it was cheap and plentiful. A further look into the history of the pub, however, seems to indicate it was founded with old-school intentions, but has evolved into its present form because of its proximity to the university and all those supposedly impoverished students (who always seem to have a rather generous beer budget).
No worries. The brewing certainly hasn't suffered. In fact, it's seems to have excelled. As for the pub, I'll give it a miss, unless I happen to be in Lennoxville on a mid-week afternoon or during the summer when most students are back on the farm bailing hay to make cash to pay for their next few semesters of