I love the concept of the taster packs sold by Canadian craft brewers. We get to sample several of the brewery's beers without having to hunt up individual cans or bottles. So accordingly, I just picked up a Taster 4 Pack from Cameron's Brewing Company. It contains their Cream Ale, Auburn Ale, Lager and Dark 266. The 'packaged on' date stamped on the box read Jun 29 2011.
Cameron's Brewing Company is a craft brewery located in Oakville, Ontario. Founded in 1997, it produces the four beers referred to above, which are only sold in the province of Ontario. Apparently the Dark 266 is only available in the Toronto area in limited distribution. Cameron's is known for selling its beer in 9 packs as opposed to the conventional 6 pack, and for its use of all natural ingredients.
I decided to start with Cameron's Cream Ale ("CCA"), their flagship brand, which is 5.0% alcohol by volume and came in a 341 ml bottle. CCA poured a clear golden yellow colour, and took on a beautiful golden hue when held up to the light. Pouring produced a very thin, fizzy white head which disappeared inside two minutes, leaving a collar which produced some minimal lacing down the glass. The aroma was subdued but interesting...sweet malts, apple and a bit of hops. Carbonation level was moderate and the beer was medium bodied with a bit of a creamy feel to it. The taste began with the sweet malts and transitioned to a slightly bitter, apple flavoured finish. The bitter/apple aftertaste didn't linger too long. A decent beer overall, but if I was in the mood for a cream ale this offering just isn't in the same league as say Muskoka's Cream Ale.
According to the company's web site, CCA was a gold medal winner at the Canadian Brewing Awards.
Cameron's Auburn Ale ("CAA") is the second brew that I tried from their Taster 4 Pack. It is 5.0% alcohol by volume and came in a 341 ml bottle. Same date code as previous.
CAA poured a very clear copper/amber colour, with a minimal head that dissipated rapidly and resolved itself into a thin film within two minutes. There was no lacing or spotting down the glass. The aroma was primarily lemon and sweet malts, with what I can best describe as a faint tea smell lurking in the background. CAA was moderately light bodied with a corresponding mouthfeel and an average level of carbonation. The taste began with a malt sweetness, followed by a tea flavour that seemed out of place, and finishing with a strong lemon sourness and a hop bitterness. While the taste finished dry, the sour/bitter aftertaste lingered too long for my personal taste. With all the awards that CAA has won, I was disappointed in this beer. According to Cameron's web site, CAA has been awarded Gold Medals at the Canadian Brewing Awards, Best of Category at the Canadian Brewing Awards 2006, was a Trillium Trophy Winner at The Toronto Festival of Beer, a Silver Medal Winner at The Great Canadian Brewing Festival and also won a Silver Medal at The Toronto Wine & Cheese Show. Quite a pedigree, but the finish and lingering aftertaste will keep me away.
Beer number three sampled from Cameron's four pack was its Lager, which was 5.0% alcohol by volume and came in a 341 ml bottle.
Cameron's Lager ("CL") poured a clear golden yellow colour, with a minimal white head that dissipated rapidly and settled back into a thin collar. Some minor lacing was evident towards the bottom of the glass. The aroma was a combination of a noticeable lemon citrus with a more subtle malt sweetness. A distinct lemon flavour comes through in the tasting and CL finishes with a hoppy bitterness, the malt sweetness being relegated to the background. Carbonation was appropriately modest and the mouthfeel was smooth enough, though perhaps a bit on the thin side. A bitter/citrus aftertaste lingered...not a point in its favour for someone like myself who prefers a beer with a clean finish. In summary, a decent but unspectacular effort from the folks at Cameron's.
According to the company's website, CL has won the following awards:
Bronze Medal Winner at the World Beer Cup
Gold Medal Winner at the Canadian Brewing Awards 2003
Best Lager at The Ontario Brewing Awards 2006
I saved Cameron's Dark 266 ("266") for last in the company's Taster 4 Pack, and tried it in a 341 ml bottle. 266 is 4.5% alcohol by volume and made using imported German hops and British dark malts. Apparently this beer was originally brewed as a one-off draught beer, but demand was strong enough that it has been added to Cameron's regular line-up.
266 poured a dark brown/ruby colour that reminded me of the colour of Coke, with the ruby becoming much more noticeable when held up to the light. An aggressive pour produced a 1 centimetre, short lived, tan coloured head that resolved itself into a collar and thin film. Oddly enough, the collar and film left some spotting down the top half of the glass, with significant lacing down the bottom half. The aroma was mild and dominated by the roasted malts, while the taste began with the dark malts and transitioned to a distinct hoppy bitterness. There was a bitter/smoky aftertaste to the beer, but nothing so strong or long lived as to be offensive. Carbonation was modest, which I found completely appropriate to this type of beer, and 266 was light to medium bodied. Overall, 266 was my favourite of the 4 beers in Cameron's Taster Pack, but there is really nothing distinctive here that would boost it to the next level.
According to Cameron's website, 266 has won the following awards:
Gold medal winner in the 2005 Canadian Brewing Awards
Best New Beer Brewed in the GTA at the Golden Tap Awards
Having tried some pretty ordinary beers from Cameron's over the years, Bucky grudgingly picked up a bomber of their White Oat Savant Brown Ale (“WOS”) from his local liquor store. No visible production or ‘best before' date, 4.8% alcohol by volume.
WOS poured a very attractive clear ruby/brown colour, topped by about 1” of soapy beige froth with decent staying power. As the froth receded, it left some respectable lacing down the glass. Its aroma was of toasted malts and oats with a touch of dark chocolate and toffee. The taste began sweet; caramel malt with a hint of brown sugar or molasses, followed by baker's chocolate, and ending with a mild earthy bitterness. A full class above the Cameron's beers that I have sampled to date. The oats gave the beer a smooth, almost silky mouthfeel, which was complemented by its fairly mellow carbonation. Light to medium bodied. Selling for $5.95 per 650 ml bottle, which sadly, is not all that bad price in the People's Republic of Ontario.
Rating: 7.90 / 10
From the February Brew Box came a 650 ml bottle of Deviator Dopplebock, one of Cameron's Oak Aged series of beers. 8.6% alcohol by volume with no visible production or ‘best before' date. This version of Cameron's Doppelbock has been aged for 6 months in Kentucky bourbon barrels.
Doppelbock poured a very dark brown colour with a bit of burgundy visible when backlit, topped by 2” of tan coloured head that departed with some haste, leaving behind just enough of a presence to deposit some intermittent lacing and spotting down the glass. Its aroma was of vanilla, dark chocolate and bourbon…promising stuff. The taste followed the nose exactly; dark chocolate, vanilla and bourbon with very little hop presence or bitterness. Medium bodied with a light carbonation and smooth mouthfeel, this is a very nice sippin' beer. An enjoyable brew, my only suggestion being that Doppelbock could have benefitted from some additional time in the barrel.
Rating: 8.17 / 10
Cameron's Brewing Company is a craft brewery located at 1165 Invicta Drive in Oakville, Ontario. Founded in 1997, it produces four beers which are sold only in the province of Ontario; a Cream Ale, Auburn Ale, Lager and its Dark 266. Apparently the Dark 266 is only available in the Toronto area in limited distribution. Cameron's is known for selling its beer in 9 packs as opposed to the conventional 6 pack, and for its use of all natural ingredients.
We toured their facility on a Saturday afternoon in August 2011, and while the company offers tours from 12pm to 5pm on Saturdays, it currently offers tours from Monday through Friday as well. Due to safety concerns they cannot run tours during bottling runs, so it is best to call in advance (905-849-8282) to be sure you're not disappointed. Cost of the tour is $5 and includes samples of each of Cameron's four brews plus a full bottle of your favourite afterwards. The tour plus sampling lasts about 40-45 minutes.
The tour began with the samples, and having recently tried Cameron's Cream and Auburn Ales in their Sampler 4 pack, I found the difference between 'company store' and 'LCBO sold' product to be fairly dramatic. The aromas and tastes in the company store beers were much more pronounced than in the LCBO product, even though the LCBO bought beer was only 6 weeks old. According to the Company, its beers have a shelf life of 6 months and the packaging date is printed on the box. The moral of this story is...if you like Cameron's beers and don't live too far from Oakville, you may be better off buying them directly from the company store.
Cameron's facility is relatively modest in size and doesn't take long to see. Our tour guide was friendly and knowledgeable about the operation, and the only negative comment that I have is about the unpleasant smell coming from the back of their operation...likely from the filtered by-products of the brewing process that the company gives to local farmers for use as animal feed. It smelled like the by-products had been sitting in the non-air conditioned loading dock area a bit too long...apparently cows aren't all that fussy about what they eat.
Overall though, an enjoyable tour and certainly worth the $5 price.