Sometimes beers sort of gather in the stash with no reason for being together other than being the odds and ends of a number of beer runs. In this collection we have three Ontario lagers, one from the states and one from China so really not much of a theme so much as a need to check them out. This may lead to the reminder that "lager" is more of a technique than a style. So in this review we shall look for themes, sifting for clues.
- Organic Lager: from Mill Street Brewery in Toronto, Ontario. I picked up a six of this given my delight in my recent trip to their brewpub not to mention Gary's earlier review. Except it is not really a six. These are 222 ml or 7.5 oz bottles of 4.2% beer. Under my high school calculation whereby all beer came in 12 oz bottles of 5% strength ale that makes for about 58% of a six pack for 9.25 CND at the LCBO. This is arbitrary - and admittedly fairly pathetic - but at the same time has to be considered. The beer is bright straw with a lacing full white head. On the nose, there is some sub-burlappy spice which is nice for a lager. In the mouth, the ale from the front of the mouth is both grassy and dry from the hops as well as creamy from the malt and yeast. The malt is both grainy and with a decent autumn apple fruitiness. Wonderful balance all in all. But is this worth close to twice what you might pay for other beer? Maybe not if the 24% thumbs down of the BAers is any indication.
- Lift Lock Lager: bought from Church-key Brewing of Campbellford, Ontario. Another really nice beer from one of my favorite small breweries that challenges my reluctance to involve myself with lager. The beer is again straw, perhaps one half notch lighter than the previous brew with white foam and rim. On the nose there is orange juice, sweet and tangy. The fist sip is full of creaminess. A treat of a beer, rich and round, not overly hoppy or sharp - yet unflabby - with that underlying quiet oranginess. Soft and fresh water moreish. Quite a bright cheery restrained beer made with a very careful hand that should go nowhere near the flavour killing ice bucket. If there was one more seam of flavour, maybe the slightest nod to licorice, say, I might think I had something by Brooklyn Brewing. Sadly, only three beer wags are all that have visited the BA to leave a review.
- Pearl River Zhu Jiang Beer: by the Guangzhou Zhujiang Brewery Co. bought at the SAQ in Aylmer, Quebec. I am quite surprised. I thought this was going to be either industrial gak or just macro-pap. But it is a malty take on a dutch-style lager. Pale gold under lace-leaving white foam. The malt is full of pear juice with maybe a nod to peach, the hops are steely but very restrained amongst a bit of graininess. Two BAers point fingers at corn and rice adjuncts - which may well be there - but for a basic golden lager I am far from offended. A far better beer than the great majority of the beer that is consumed in North America.
- Neustadt Lager: From Neustadt Springs Brewery, Ontario. The beer pours dark burnished gold with a white rim. In the nose there is sweet and a husky rusticity. This must have rye in it. The brewer says it is brewed in the Belgian country style, fuller and lacking the harshness of a pilsner. All true but there has to be rye here unless he's doing it with the hops. Husky spicy whiskyishness with maybe even a chocolate note. Cliff-like immediacy to the dry finish. I like and I respect. All sensible BAers are pleased.
- Sankaty Light Lager: I fear this one was in the stash too long as I did not realize it was only 3.8%. It pours a loverly lightly reddened amber with white lace but a lot of clouding particulate. In the mouth very soft water smooth with a nice clear deft touch of orange rind hops over round and sweet malt. The finish is dry. An extraordinarily pleasant and well bodied sub-4% beer. Apparently contract brewed by the good folk at Mercury of Ipswich Mass., like Scrimshaw Pale Ale...which also had suspended particulate now that I look back at that note. Also the drying astringency that builds over the course of the glass. Hmm, a theme? A habit? I am reasonably happy with this one as are the BAers.