25 December 2016

2016 Polkie Awards - Lagers

When contemplating my favourite beers from the last year, I must admit there are times when it seems to be all Porters, stouts and IPAs. But there is always a place in my heart and fridge for the well made and humble, yet often daring styles that can come from the simple lager. A straight up beer is not something I indulge in often, but with the variety and quality that I have found, it makes it fun to be able to share my favourite 3 picks for the 2016 Polkies in a few categories.
 Lagers make their appearance today, Ales have been pushed to tomorrow, there were just too many for one day. I know, what a wonderful world I live in when my problems are that I had too many great beers this year. See you back here tomorrow for the top fermenting lovelies.

This bottom fermenting style of beer is the most popular on the planet. Long the only kind of beer I drank, I didn't know they could be made so flavourful and with such impact on the senses.

1. Muddy York Brewing Gaslight Helles
My visits to Muddy York are truly some of my favourite moments from the last year and now that Mrs. Polk loves their beer, its even better. This 5.2 % Lager brought me joy when I had it in early April with its caramel, cereal and malt sweetness followed by a light bitterness. Eminently crushable yet a delightful sipper too. It has become a must buy whenever we go to the brewery and one you should get into your glass.

2. Muskoka Brewery Craft Lager - A lovely crisp and clean lager that often is found in their various Survival Packs as well as in singles. Hints of lemon, grassy notes and sweet malt with a slight bitter on the finish.

3. Hockley Valley Brewing Classic Lager - A new label this year for the Classic lager but the same clean grain, sweet corn, grassy and lingering bitterness means it's one to enjoy with anyone.

4. Cameron's Brewing Captain's Log Lager
5. Old Flame Brewing Vienna Lager
6. Sawdust City Brewing Little Norway
7. Amsterdam Brewing 3 Speed
8. Elora Brewing 3 Fields
9. Nickel Brook Brewing Lux Lager
10. Beau's All Natural Brewing Vienna Lager

Dark Lagers/Swarzbier
For most of us, these two styles are one in the same. Dark roasty malts in a lager that are less aggressive than a porter or stout, which are ales. More carbonated generally and a bigger feel than a standard lager.

1. Silversmith Brewing The Black Lager
One of the first stops I made early in January, Silversmith Brewing in Virgil blew me away with this dark, roasty lager. Dark chocolate, coffee and a hint of dark fruit make this a contender to be in the top ten of the year. A repeat visit to this beautiful brewery to get more is a must.

2. Rainhard Brewing Dancing with the Devil - Big in the ABV at 8 %, this Swarzbier brought real balanced dark chocolate, coffee and a crisp hopped up finish to my life in March. Smooth and balanced, not a hint of that booziness in this one.
My first experience with Rainhard and I was an immediate fan.

3. Spindrift Brewing Abyss (Nova Scotia) - A gift from the east, this 4.2 % crushable beer drank bigger than it's ABV. Dark chocolate, nutty, coffee and a hoppy presence on the backend. It's only shortcoming is distance...Something I will fix when we hit the coast this summer.

4. Beau's All Natural Brewing Dark Helmut
5. Hop City Brewing 8th Sin
6. Cameron's Brewing Black Forest
7. Side Launch Brewing Dark
8. Grand River Brewing Enigma
9. Waterloo Brewing Dark
10. Brooklyn Brewing Insulated (USA)

Traditional brewed in winter for consumption in spring, these strong, usually dark beers are a favorite of mine for their slow sipping smoothness.

1.  Silversmith Brewing Chubocka
It was by luck and happenstance that I stumbled upon the last bottle of this rich, bready caramel and toffee beauty. I had stopped in for more of The Black Lager and couldn't resist a new beer. Creamy, smooth and a toasted malt dream. Big at 6.3 % but not boozy at all. Hope to see it again someday, I'd buy many, many more.

2. Cameron's Brewing Deviator Doppelbock 2012 Single Bourbon Barrel - Released late in the year, this classic Doppelbock was taken to new heights when aged for 4 years in a bourbon barrel. Dark and rich, with plum, raisin, molasses and an oaky bourbon note to bring it all together.

3. Northwinds Brewery Nighthawk Bock - From cottage country and a wonderful brew house that makes outstanding food, a 6.5 % Bock to warm the insides. Chocolate, plums, nuts and a lingering cocoa and coffee with a warming backend.

4. Ayinger Celebrator (German)
5. Lake of Bays Midnight Bock
6. Schloss Eggenberg Samichlaus Classic (Austria)
7. Cameron's Brewing Deviator Doppelbock Oak Aged
8. Tree Brewing Captivator

India Pale Lagers
A relatively new style to me this year, the IPL is a hopped up lager that brings the best of both worlds to my glass.

1. Redline Brewhouse Kollision Hoppy Lager
A trip north resulted in meeting new friends and sharing beers. This is a very crushable 5.3 %, 35 IBU hazy grapefruit, pineapple and pine kicker of a beer. Toasted malt body for a balanced and juicy beer. Glad to have more of this in the fridge right now.

2. Cameron's Brewing 12 Mile IPL
Available in the Summer Brewmaster's Selection Pack, this 5.2 % crusher was a mainstay in the fridge for me. Balanced malt body with lemon, grapefruit and a dry but clean bitter finish. Every fans dream is to see this as a single next summer.

3. Amsterdam Brewing Pale Rider IPL - Another mix pack available beer that has Hop heads clamouring for a single release, this fall release was a very refreshing, 4.2 % crushable treat with orange, grapefruit and a toasty body that smooths out that bitterness just right.

4. Spindrift Brewing IPL (Nova Scotia)
5. Yuengling Brewery IPL (USA)

Whatever your drinking today, I hope you are enjoying it with your friends and family. May your Christmas be merry and the memories you make all joyous.
Happiness is found when we share our love and beer with those around us.
Raise your glass and your standards,
One beer at a time!

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