Niagara Oast House Brewers, NOTL

In Niagara-on-the-Lake, brewmaster Kevin Somerville, the co-ordinator of the brewery program at Niagara College, and partners, Mike Berlis and Cian MacNeil, have opened Niagara Oast House Brewers in a big red barn, the former Forum Gallery building near to the old town, at 2017 Niagara Stone Road.

The brewery has installed a brand-new 20 barrel (23.4 HL) brewhouse from Specific Mechanical of British Columbia, with 4 X 20 barrel fermenters and a bright beer tank.

The brewery will be offering some bottle conditioned beers in 750 mL bottles under cork and cage. They plan to grow a small amount of hops at the brewery, and to partner with other people to grow hops locally.

It’s been quite a transformation from my previous visit when it was all gypsum board and powdery white dust to its present state of a large bar in the tasting room and the spiffy new reception area. The upstairs function room overlooking a vineyard (surely you mean hop yard?) is still under construction.

Kevin Somerville brewing Barnraiser County Ale. Image: Caroline Hughey

“We are brewing more seasonals than there are seasons,” said Kevin Somerville.

Barnraiser Country Ale, 5 percent abv, has a polished golden colour, with fresh malt and a whiff of hops on the nose. On the palate, a refreshing hop bitterness is released from the grasp of succulent malt, with just a hint of grain. The finish is led by a refined hop bitterness neatly over-layed on a crisp malt base. Barnraiser is not a big bold beer but rather is of the type that grows on you with each successive mouthful. Moreish, which after all is what a beer should be all about.

The Saison, 6.4 percent abv, part of the Farmhouse Ale Collection, is brewed in the Belgian style. A milky white head of dense foam caps a hazy golden coloured beer. Zesty and spicy aromas rise distinctly from the glass. On the palate, this refreshingly crisp and fruity ale,  has a tickle of alcohol and a gentle nip of carbonation. The finish of this bottle conditioned beer happily delivers more of the same.

King Pilsner–Beer Twister in a Glass

In a clean and cold rinsed glass, and with no apparent off flavours or aromas, this King Pilsner produced this unusual phenomenon, a beer twister in a regular sleeve glass.

Utilizing a unique short fermentation period, which is followed by a long lagering period, King Pilsner at 5 percent abv, from the King Brewery, Nobleton, Ontario, Canada, steps out with a heady aroma of hops and underlying malt. Fairly full in the mouth with both malt and hops intertwined, there follows a balanced thrust of hop bitterness and malt in the flavourful finish. Made from distilled water that has been mineralized to replicate the waters of Pilsen, 100 percent true Pilsner malt, all Czech Saaz hops and a dedicated Czech yeast strain, King Pilsner delivers big time flavours after a full 60-day cycle of brewing, fermentation and aging.

Stout Day, Yesterday, Too Busy to Post Kind of Day!

Fuller’s Double Stout

As part of its Past Master’s Heritage Series, Fuller’s Double Stout, at a hearty 7.4 percent abv,  delivers a polished ebony beer with roast and traces of rich, dark chocolate in the nose.

On the palate, dark chocolate leads roast barley in a merry dance. The finish has sweetish chocolate, roast, as in lightly blackened toast, with the alcohol load overlayed by the other flavours, though a soft tingle of alcohol pops out late.

Brewed by Fuller, Smith and Turner of London, England, which was established in 1845.

Check out for more info on the brewing of this stout. Fuller’s Double Stout highlights Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate with 85% Cacao to perfection as an after dinner treat. 



Renaissance Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

The Renaissance Brewing Company of Marlborough, New Zealand, released its Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, hitting 4.9 percent abv, early enough for it to be included in stout day on the shores of Canada.

Showing a glassy ebony colour, it presents a dense mocha coloured head of foam.

The cocoa is so prominent in the nose that it pins back the ears of the roast and barley malt. On the palate, rich, dark chocolate leads the pack, relentlessly chased by roast flavours and bittering hops.

Certainly the cocoa nibs, added at three stages during the brewing process, revel in the forward position but roast and just enough hop bitterness seep through in the finish to give this stout balance and make it all to come neatly together.

Pairs well with chocolate-based desserts and straight forward dark chocolate as noted above, with the Fuller’s Double Stout!