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Brewery List

Highlander Brew Company


Highlander Brew Co. is located in South River, Ontario, in the Almaguin Highlands from which Highlander takes its name. The brewery is on the Northern edge of Algonquin Park, making Highlander one of the most northerly craft breweries in Ontario. Highlander began operations in 2009 when Brewmaster Brian Wilson made the brewery's first beer, a traditional Scottish Ale. Highlander has since expanded its line to four products with the addition of Twisted Spruce, Blacksmith Smoked Porter and Lion Grass Ale.

For his first foray into Highlander's beers, Bucky selected their Twisted Spruce Ale ("TSA") in a brown 650 ml bottle. TWA was 6.0% alcohol by volume with a 'best before' date of March 15, 2014.

Twisted Spruce poured a clear, attractive golden colour with visible carbonation bubbles, and it took an aggressive pour to raise 1" of fluffy white head. The head lasted for about 3 minutes before fading to a thin collar and patchy film of foam, leaving behind some modest lacing and spotting. Its aroma was quite tame...sweet caramel malts with just a hint of spruce. Thankfully the taste was more pronounced, starting with the sweet bready malts before giving way to a distinct spruce flavor, and finishing with a mild bitterness which lingered for several seconds. After reading several reviews of this beer complaining about the lack of any spruce element to the beer, I was pleasantly surprised. Twisted Spruce had a relatively soft carbonation, was medium bodied and had a crisp mouth feel.

In summary, TSA is a pleasant enough beer and not 'overly unique' so as to turn off the mainstream beer drinker. Selling for $4.75 per 650 ml bottle TSA is worth a try if you're looking for something a bit different.

Rating 7.33/10

Thanks to J.S. for bringing this one back from his brewery tour of Northern Ontario. Bucky sampled a 650 ml bottle of Blacksmith Smoked Porter from the Highlander Brew Co. of South River Ontario. 6.5% alcohol by volume with a ‘best before' date of January 23, 2016.

Highlander poured a very dark cola brown verging on black, with some lighter brown and ruby highlights visible when backlit. An aggressive pour was required to raise about 1” of tan coloured head which faded to a collar and film in about 4 minutes. The retreating head left some intermittent lacing and spotting down the glass. Blacksmith's aroma was an all-malt production…bitter sweet cocoa with a touch of dark-roast coffee, but no discernable presence of smoke. Its taste was quite mild, with dark chocolate and a bit of malt sweetness up front, followed by a touch of dark-roast coffee and a very subtle hint of smoke, with a modestly bitter finish. Tasty stuff, but I have to admit that I was expecting a bit more from the smoke given the beer's name. Perhaps intended by Highlander as an entry-level smoked beer? Blacksmith is medium bodied with a smooth mouthfeel and has the modest carbonation typical of a porter. A respectable beer and well suited to those looking for an inoffensive introduction to the world of smoked porters.

Rating: 7.75 / 10

Beer Name Rating
Blacksmith Smoked Porter 7.75
Twisted Spruce 7.33






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