It has been a while since I did a National Six-Pack review. There are a couple of reasons. There are, relative to anywhere in the US or the UK say, quite a limited number of craft brews available to the Canadian consumer. And, in addition to that, there are a lot of them that I really would not review due to their somewhat banal pack mentality.
Wellington's Arkell stands out for one reason more than others - it is actually only 4%, which breaks the national obsession with beer that is exactly 5.0000%. The other day I was planting a whack of onion sets and I decided I needed a beer - and a light beer and one with flavour. If you are not buying some sort of Belgian white or can't accept the limitations of a lawnmower beer, this is about the only beer that fits the bill. The beer pours a nice whisky caramel amber with a fine white foamy rim. On nasular inspection, burnt caramel which carries on into the mouth. This is the weird bit. It is like there is a combination of black malt and - maybe Mt. Hood - rough hops over the apple-raisin malt. The result is somewhat brusque, a little sour and tangy and more blackened than smoked in the finish. But plenty of flavour and a lighter alcohol base.
Pretty good ratings from the BAers with only 3% saying nay. So worthy and thoughtful though I probably wish there was a similar beer with, say, a Goldings sort of profile rather than one this rough. But Arkell Best Bitter still joins its sibling Wellington's SPA in the Canadian hall of fame of sorts that is made up of the National Six-Pack posts.