05 August 2007

Big Rock Brewery Sampler Pack

While in Alberta, it only seemed fair to sample some of the local brews. Canadians make a point distinguishing their beer from what they consider its overly-watery American counterpart, and while they certainly have a point vis a vis Labatt's and Molson vs. Budweiser et al., I was curious to see if they'd kept pace with the substantial improvements in American beer brought by microbrews. So we settled on Big Rock Brewery (a local Alberta brewery), which offered a 15-pack sampler (of cans!) with a wheat beer, honey brown, English brown ale, light lager and an ale. And each can offers a helpful spinner with the full range of beer flavors (also including pale, Irish, and stout) with the given beer highlighted on the wheel. There's a rooster at the center.

Grasshopper (wheat)- "This beer doesn't have much taste," says JD. She's not all wrong, though I can see where they were going with the wheat beer - it's just not the distinctive wheat-y goodness of an Allagash (or even a Blue Moon), let alone the Belgians. Inoffensive, but doesn't bring much to the table.

Honey Brown - "Very smooth, pretty clean finish - fairly solid, middle-of-the-road lager. Nothing outstanding about it. It's got the hint of honey in there, yeah," says MKD. "Dark enough so you can *almost* chew on it. Actually pretty damn similar to [JW Dundee's] Honey Brown, but a little smoother." This assessment doesn't do much to recommend this beer to me, though that might have to do with my particular history with JW Dundee's Honey Brown. A sip generally confirms my wariness - Honey Brown and Newcastle have conspired to turn me well away from sweet brown ales.

Traditional Ale - Hoppy, flavorful and not too sweet. The can-spinner locates this as an "English Brown Ale" but that's a category too populated with overly-sweet brews (e.g., Newcastle Brown) to be a good guide. This is a good, medium-dark ale, not too dissimilar from Duck Rabbit Brewery's Brown Ale (to my mind, one of the best brown ales I've had), though without the hint of sweet and with a little more carbonation. And in a can, though it's also available in bottles.

Warthog (ale) - MKD ranks this as his second-favorite (behind the Traditional Ale), and it's a fine enough ale though without any particular distinction.

Jack Rabbit Light (lager) - "It's Miller," sayeth MKD, and that's pretty much the idea, I'm guessing. It could've been worse - he could've said Beast.

Below - the winner, can and pour.

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