From the January 2016 Brew Box, Bucky was intrigued by the Winter Ale - Barrel Aged Old Ale from the Collingwood Brewery of Ontario. 8.5% alcohol by volume in a brown 500 ml bottle, with no visible production or ‘best before' date. And why was Bucky intrigued? This is the first beer aged in wine (Pinot Noir) barrels that he has had the chance to try.
Winter Ale poured an attractive deep chestnut brown colour, with the most aggressive of pours yielding up only a very thin layer of short-lived tan coloured bubbles that left some very minor spotting down the glass. The aroma of this beer is a thing of beauty…fruity red wine with a touch of dark chocolate. The taste is equally wonderful at first, with rich, fruity red wine flavours followed by a touch of dark chocolate again. But wait…there's something else here. About 5-6 seconds after swallowing the beer, an herbal bitterness creeps up on the drinker and lingers as an aftertaste for far too long. The delayed impact bitterness just seems out of place and disconnected from the rest of the beer. Being a novice when it comes to beer aged in wine barrels, I don't know whether this is typical of the style, or unique to Collingwood's brew. Maybe someone out there can enlighten me? Winter Ale leans toward the medium side of light-medium bodied with an appropriately mellow carbonation and dry mouthfeel. If not for that disconnected bitterness this would be a wonderful beer. As it is, I'll have to classify this one as a beer with the potential to be something special…if that aftertaste can be seriously toned down or eliminated. On its appearance and aroma it still scores fairly well though.