So what do I do when back from a beer hunt? Go beer shopping I guess. Barley Days Brewing on the west side of Picton is the resurrection of the former Glenora Springs brewery to the east side of Picton which had an unfortunate track record of unintended lambics noted here and here a year and a half ago. Well, on the way home we drove by the countryside brewery and the associated pub but when I saw a fresh six of their dark ale at the LCBO today I thought it was time to try it again given the new facility and, I am pretty sure, new management.
I am very glad I did. The beer pours an attractive chestnut ale under a rich fine tan head, cool in the 40s F, this dark ale has plenty of nutty grainy goodness along with a core of dry cocoa. While it has whisps of date and coffee, it lacks that dark raisin sweetness that you find in a lot of darks but that sets it a bit apart from other good Ontario dark ales like 10W30 by Neustadt and Stone Hammer Dark Ale by F+M. There is also a nice twiggy earthiness from the hopping that is very well balanced and reminds me a little of Ithaca's brown, though lacking its lime tang, a jug of which I shared with Gary last weekend. Certainly superior to Hockley Dark, though a side by side of the four Ontarians would make for a worthy inquiry. And while it is still a Canadian government issue 5% beer, it would make a very good session ale.
So, well done Barley Days. I will try this again and likely next time as draft at the Kingston Brew Pub where I saw it was on tap the other night. And note the very specific local branding including the artwork of Manly MacDonald (1889-1971). If Ontario suffers one thing compared to our southern neighbours it is specific pride in actual local history. Growing up in Nova Scotia where every child and every corner is deeply soaked in the real if nasty and difficult past and, then, later living in PEI where history is actively suppressed in favour of #*&$^ Anne of Green Gables, a Victorian propaganda piece the successful infusion of which any totalitarian Ministry of Truth would admire, it is great to see the specifics of the beer attached to the specifics of the locality where it is made.