28 December 2017

2017 Polkies - Sours. Saisons/Farmhouse Ales, Belgian Styles and Gose'

I guess I should explain why I group these styles together.
  I don't know.
  I just do.
  With that out of the way, today we move on and will be talking about some of my most favourite beers from 2017 in the Sour, Saison/Farmhouse Ale, Belgian Style and Gose categories. There is some blurring of the lines with sours and farmhouse ales in my books but as always, I will fall back on their definition on Untappd to help me decide. As for Belgian styles, I have purposely omitted the originator examples from Belgium as I am only looking at my favourites from the Ontario Craft beer scene today.
  It's a great day for a beer no matter what so let's get going on today's lists!


1. 2017 11.05 - Nickel Brook Brewing/Sawdust City Brewing
  The annual release of the collaboration beer between birthday twins Ryan Morrow (Nickel Brook) and Sam Corbeil (Sawdust City) is eagerly awaited by beer lovers because they always come up with something new and delicious. This year was no different as this Imperial Fruit Sour with Soursop flew off the shelves and was greeted with great joy. An amazing beer all around and one I wish we could see again. From the review :
"Pouring a cloudy straw gold with a white head that fades quickly, it smells of lemon, sour and a touch of the Funk.  On the sip, smooth citrus body with a juicy orange, apricot, lemon and strawberry front.  It has a nice texture to it, sour and tart but so not showing that ABV. Dry and sour on the finish, lingering tropical and tart. Slow sipper warning because this one has an easy going crushability that could be dangerous."
  This is their birthday present to us and I can't wait to see what next year brings!

2. Yalla Yalla (Mosaic) - Half Hours on Earth

    The good folks at Half Hours on Earth continued their rapid rise to the top of the "most wanted" list in 2017 with amazing sour beers like the Yalla Yalla line. The ones I tried were all amazing and could almost be their own category. Topping my HoHE list is the Mosaic version but from my experience it could have been a half dozen others easily sitting here. From the review :
  "Pours a cloudy gold with a fluffy white head that fades. Smells of tart grapefruit, funky citrus. On the sip, sour and delicious with a big grapefruit, apricot, lemon and a funky tart citrus finish. Easy going and refreshing,  it belies that ABV."
  Worth a drive or order online, this brewery needs to be in your life.

3. Yalla Yalla (Vic Secret) - Half Hours on Earth
4. Passionfruit Sour - Rouge River Brewing
5. Razzy Star - Half Hours on Earth

Saisons/Farmhouse Ales

 1. The Thaw - Block 3 Brewing

  A stop I love to make whenever I can, Block 3 Brewing has consistently been putting out amazing farmhouse ales since the beginning. The Thaw was a big 6.8% but went down so smooth. An amazing beer that had me wishing I had more. From the review :
  "Pours a hazy orange gold with a thick white head that stays with you all the way though. Smells  of funky peach and white wine. On the sip, surprisingly smooth with a loaded funk that has an oak note before the delicious apricot and peach flavours. Hints of orange and lemon but make no mistake, it is the stone fruits that are the tart stars here. Dry on the finish with a lingering funky peach that makes you want another sip...and another...and another. It is super crushable despite the high ABV and it is a beauty right to the last drop."
  The great news is that Block 3 now delivers and you can order online. I know I will be looking for more great beer in 2018 from this St. Jacob's brewery.

2. 2016 Farmageddon - Bellwoods Brewery
  Toronto's Bellwoods Brewery is ranked near or at the top of so many people's favourite Ontario breweries because they just keep releasing amazing stuff without a break. It's not just their much sought after IPAs that caught my taste buds this year, everything they made seemed to become gold. This gift from a friend was a welcome sight as the summer dawned, the slow sipping 6.8%, the 2016 Farmageddon Barrel Aged Wild Farmhouse ale was superb. From the review :
"Pours a hazy gold with a white head that fades quickly to the surface. Smells funky with some fruity notes. On the sip, tart and slightly sour with  light cherry, Farmhouse funk, oaky spice and a dry, grape lemon backend."
  A few other Bellwoods releases will undoubtedly make their way into this year's Polkie Awards, they just keep making stuff that has me driving back to the big city whenever I can.

3. Ezra : Cider Barrel Aged Farmhouse Ale - Great Lakes Brewery
4. 2017 Motley Cru - Bellwoods Brewery
5. In the Beginning - Barncat Artisan Ales

Belgian Styles


1. St. Barbara's Tripel - New Limburg Brewing
  A fantastic tribute to Belgian beer from the good folks at New Limburg Brewing and their continued pursuit of that perfect pint. Always looking to grow and improve, they work hard to emulate and even someday surpass the originators of this style. St. Barbara's Tripel was a beautiful beer that I wish I had far more of in my fridge. From the review :
 "A 9.0 % slow sipper, it helps to bring focus to the day and engage my senses with its banana, yeasty spiced smell. On the sip, crisp Belgian style beauty with banana, clove, bubblegum, orange and a peppery coriander spiced backend. Warming alcohol on the finish it more spicy banana and orange lingering."
  A trip to this school house brewery should be in your 2018 road trip planner. It is an experience and the beer is worthy of its' heritage.

2. Tomorrow's - Merit Brewing

  The hometown love kicked off back in may as Merit Brewing opened their doors here in Hamilton and came out swinging with the Earl Grey Tripel they called Tomorrow's. It signalled the start of a great year of beer and even more promise for the future. From the review :
"Pours a hazy gold with a white head that lingers with some lacing. Smelling citrusy, orange,  lemon and floral. On the sip, big as it was last night but that ABV is so well balanced that it almost feels #crushable. Orange peel, apricot, lemon zest, floral and funky notes abound. The backend is dry and had more stone fruit and citrus with that Earl Grey making itself known and leaving you a bit of a spicy kick on the finish."
  We hope to see more people coming to Hamilton in 2018 and Merit is an absolute must stop when you come for a visit.

3. 2016 11.05 - Nickel Brook/ Sawdust City Brewing
4. Huronic Tripel - Side Launch Brewing
5. Rube Goldbeer - Henderson Brewing Company

Strong Golden Ales

1. Sour Goldie - Block 3 Brewing

  A gift from brewmaster Kevin from Block 3 Brewing, this 9.0% Barrel Aged Golden Ale called Sour Goldie was among the best beers I have poured into my glass this year. I was blown away and it  still resonates today, 7 months later just as amazing. From the review :
"Pours a hazy and deep orange with a white head that fades but clings to the surface in a wisp. Smells of funky orange citrus and stone fruit notes. On the sip, sweet jebus this is an elixir from the beer gods.  Tart and sour but with a balanced juicy citrus kick. Orange, brett funk, lemon, apricot and peach, in a dry wine like body that is somehow still super juicy.  The finish is dry and sour with lingering orange, lemon and apricot to go with the funky wine.  Seriously, I am stunned a little by what is in my glass right now."
  It behooves me to remind you that Block 3 has online ordering. make that a priority and then enjoy stuff like this whenever you want.

2. Aggressive Jazz Hands - Redline Brewhouse

I am a lucky guy to have friends who help get amazing beer into my hands. From Barrie comes the 8.3% Golden Strong Ale/Double IPA hybrid that was oh so good. Redline Brewhouse's Aggressive Jazz Hands was a beautifully made beer that transcended both styles and balanced so well. From the review :  

"Pours a cloudy, hazy gold with a thick, long lasting and delectable white head that laces the glass like a champ. Smells of tropical citrus, mostly pineapple and Belgian yeast. On the sip, loaded with big flavour right from the front. Citrus notes of orange, grapefruit and pineapple combine with that candied sugar, banana and slightly spiced backend to give you potentially one of my favourite beers this year. Sticky with some warmth on the finish, it lingers with pineapple, pine and a little spice. Beauty."

.   This isn't Redline's last appearance on my lists, they had a very, very good year.

3. Legendary Oddity - Muskoka Brewery 
4. Bonne Faim - Kensington Brewery
5. Tuque De Bruges - Tuque de Broue


1. Through the Quad - Block 3 Brewing

  Are you sensing a pattern here? Once again from the genius brewers at Block 3 Brewing comes a Belgian style category winner, this time the defending champion Through the Quad, a 10.0 % beauty slow sipper. It found its way into my glass on many occasions and I know it will again. From the review :
"Pours a deep amber with an off white head that fades. Smells of dark fruits, plums and raisins. On the sip, it has a smooth body with a dark and sweet maltiness containing cherry, plum, molasses, burnt sugar and figs. Warming but not overly boozy on the finish, it is the very embodiment of slow sipping."
  It's like Belgium came to live in St. Jacob's, maybe they have a tiny Monk stashed in the brewhouse...

2. Strongman - Railway City Brewing

  An outstanding Quad that caught me by surprise at a beer festival and then found a home in my cellar for a few months before I gave in to temptation and just had to have it again. Strongman Belgian Quad from Railway City Brewing was a delightful gift and one that gave me great joy. from the review :
"Pours a deep amber with a light tan head that lingers on the surface before disappearing.  Smells of dark fruit, cherries mostly and sweet malt. On the sip, smooth and warming alcohol with a molasses, candied sugar and dark fruits like plum, raisin and cherry in the body. It's a serious slow sipper with loads of flavour. Heavy and bold with a sticky backend that lingers fruity and sweet."
  It may have been my toughest decision, this was a fine damn beer.

3. 30th Anniversary Barrel Aged Belgian Style Quad - Great Lakes Brewery
4. St. Arnoldus Quad - New Limburg Brewing
5. Quads & Rockers - Beau's All Natural Brewing


1. Duplicitious - Nickel Brook Brewing


  Maybe it was the dry hopping with citra or the play of citrus and salt but Duplicitous from Nickel Brook Brewing was an absolute must this summer as the humidity went up and the sunshine kept us in the pool and Grotto for hours on end. From the review :
 "Pours a cloudy straw colour with a fluffy white head that fades but lingers on the surface. Smells of lemon orange and some funk. On the sip, sour citrus notes of lemon, orange and grapefruit with a salty kick and a slight peppery spice on the finish. Sticky on the backend with more citrus and spice lingering. Refreshing and different with a real delightful punch of bright citrus."
  As part of the Summer 4 pack, it completed a quartet of great summer beer. Funk Labs is bringing us some amazing things!

2. Blood Orange Gose w/Lactose & Vanilla - Bellwoods Brewery

  A category I couldn't have imagined a year ago has come to the fore through a lot of excellent releases and this Blood Orange Gose from Bellwoods Brewery is right up there with the best of them. Brewed with lactose and vanilla, it was a gift from some beer pals that was drank while floating around the pool in early July. I can still taste it now...From the review :
  "Pours a cloudy peach colour with a white head that fades quickly. Smelling a vanilla citrus and salt scent. On the sip, smooth texture but tart kick with blood orange, lemon sour, big vanilla and a salted dry citrus backend.  Tart and lingering citrus and vanilla on the finish."
  Easily the beer style that surprised me the most this year and this one was so unique that I cannot forget it.

3. Between Us - Merit Brewing
4. Gose - Collective Arts Brewing
5. Ceres Cucumber Lime Gose - Nickel Brook Brewing

  There you have it folks, another 6 categories that contain some of my very favourite beers from 2017. Come back tomorrow for the Darkness of Stouts and Porters.



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