Saturday 13 December 2008

Beer of the Week - December 13 - Great Lakes Winter Ale

750 mL bottle
Price: $ 6.95
6.2% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content : 3
Made in: Ontario, Canada
By: Great Lakes Brewing Co. Inc.

Inspired by the long, cold and seemingly endless Canadian winter, our 6.2% alcohol Winter Ale is a true winter warmer. Handcrafted with specialty hops and malts, combined with generous amounts of cinnamon, honey, ginger and orange peel, this unique beer is brimming with flavour. Available only for a limited time.

Great Lakes Brewery is Toronto's oldest craft brewery, started in 1987. They are located in the Toronto area at 30 Queen Elizabeth Boulevard, just north of the Gardiner Expressway, between Royal York and Islington.

They are unique in that they firebrew their beers in small batches using an open fire copper brew house which was built in Germany in the early 1900s, instead of stainless steel kettles. The idea is that one of the properties of copper is that it is a tremendous nutrient for yeast, which helps its growth during the fermentation period. To watch a video where Vice President Peter Bulut explains the process, click here

In 2007, they started brewing seasonal ales, the Orange Peel Ale for summer, Pumpkin Ale for the fall , and Winter Ale for, well, the winter.

In the spirit of the season, they are helping to assist the Toronto Daily Bread Food Bank:

"Great Lakes is proud to partner with the Toronto Daily Bread Food Bank to help those in need. From December 1-22, only at our retail store, we'll donate a portion of the weight of your beer purchase in food. For example, buy a bottle of Winter Ale and we'll donate 1.5 lbs of food. The heavier your purchase, the more food we donate. It's as easy as that. Help us reach our goal of 2000 pounds! "

Now to the beer.

Great Lakes Winter Ale is an award winning brew having won the:
2008: Gold Medal, Canadian Brewing Awards, Honey/Maple Lager or Ale (Winter Ale)
2008: Gold Medal, Ontario Brewing Awards, Specialty Beer (Winter Ale)
2007: Silver Medal, Ontario Brewing Awards, Specialty/Flavoured Beer (Winter Ale)

I tried it and quite enjoyed it. As the picture shows, it pours a deep amber colour and holds a good head. It has a strong but wonderful spiciness to it. The cinnamon really came through nicely in this. This ale does have a higher alcohol content but not the bad kick that some higher alcohol have.

The last couple of weeks were my first foray in the world of spiced beer and, much to my delight, I am enjoying them and feel they work well in our cold winters. I plan to sample more and to pick up more of this to take the edge off on a cold winters night.

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