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Friday, March 7, 2008

The Session #13: Organic Beers

A couple of months ago, I was sharing a conversation with fellow Canadian beer writer Stephen Beaumont over a couple of pints, and he suggested that I should think about joining the ‘Session’. The Session is a monthly occurrence that brings beer bloggers from all parts of the globe together to write about a chosen subject.

This month, Chris O’Brien from Beer Activist, has chosen ‘Organic Beers’ as the subject and I thought it would be a good time to join in on the fun.

Here in Toronto, everyone knows about Mill Streets Organic Lager. The small clear bottles (not for much longer), with a clean smooth taste, has been one of Mill Street’s bread and butter beers. Because they are so well known, I thought I would get my hands on another Organic product. But in doing some research, I discovered that the only organic beer in Ontario belongs to Mill Street. I remembered trying a sample of an organic beer from British Columbia at the Canadian Brewing Awards so I contacted the Pacific Western Brewery in Prince George, BC and got their Natureland Organic Amber and their Natureland Organic Lager.

Pacific Western was established in 1957 under the name Caribou Brewing. The brewery’s website claims that PWB is an innovative brewery with a long list of firsts in the industry such as: first canned beer in BC, first brewery operated beer store in BC, and first certified organic lager in Canada.

I started off with the lager. First brewed and certified in 1997, the lager pours a bright golden colour with a thick white foam head. The head didn’t want to leave, but I was anxious to get to the taste. I got a nice earthy aroma, fresh cut hay, cereal biscuity and a tiny hop presence. The smell brought back memories of allergy season back on the farm. The taste: nice and smooth, mild carbonation gave way to a clean mouthful and a small bittering effect in the follow through. Brewed with 100% two row malt, 100% organic hallertrau hops and pure spring water that is sourced through a certified organic process; the Natureland Organic Lager is a winner in my books.

Next up was the Natureland Organic Amber Ale, which was introduced to the public in 2005 and later went on to win a gold medal at the 2005 Brewing Industry International Awards – in the ‘International Ale’ competition. The ale is a light ruby colour with an even bigger white foam head than the lager. In the smell I picked up old leather, a musty cardboard smell which wasn’t what I was expecting. A small fruity yeast profile was picked up, but was faint compared to the leather smell. The taste was not what I was expecting either. Very thin, not much aftertaste, a hint of caramel malt and I touch of a fruit base, but I couldn’t pin it down.

So there you have it, my first foray into the Session. I hope that you enjoyed it. Check out Beer Activist for all session related posts on Organic Beers.

3 comments:

Black Dog said...

Hey Troy, saw a comment you had made on a post about McCarthy's I wrote a while back (last year actually).

Followed you here and just wanted to say its great stuff. I've added a link on my own site. I haven't done much there for a while but have decided to get it going again.

Pat

Troy Burtch said...

Hey Pat,
Thanks for your comments! I used to read your blog before your slip into hiding. It's good to hear that you'll be back. We'll have to get together for a pint someday.

Cheers
Troy

James said...

Hey Troy,

As I know there are more organic beers around Canada. Besides Mill Street you can find other organic stuffs from Lakes of Muskoka Cottage Brewery, Heritage Brewery, and Better Bitter Brewery in Ontario.

I just wish before the end of year all the breweries could pass the Canadian organic certification.

Cheers,

James

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