In the mood for something fall-like, Bucky picked up a bottle of Nickel Brook's Maple Porter in a 750 ml bottle. 6.0% alcohol with no visible ‘best before' or production date, and selling for $8.95 in the People's Republic of Ontario.
Maple Porter poured a very dark chestnut brown with 1” of tan coloured head that fled the scene in a hurry, leaving but a tiny bit of spotting to commemorate its brief existence. Its aroma was of dark roast coffee…without a hint of maple. Its taste was…nothing up front, something slightly sweet in the middle that I couldn't describe as maple syrup, and a strong dark roast coffee bitterness in the finish which lingers as an aftertaste. Maybe Nickel Brook isn't using refined maple syrup but the sap from which it is made??? A maple porter with no hint of maple is a disappointing thing. Add a relatively light body, thin mouthfeel and a gassy carbonation and the let-down is complete. Bucky will not be buying another one of these.
Rating: 6.20 / 10
Looking for a winter beer with a bit of heft to it, Bucky spied a bottle of Nickel Brook's Bolshevik Bastard Imperial Stout, 9.0% alcohol by volume in a 355 ml bottle. No visible production or ‘best before' date.
Bolshevik Bastard poured a very dark brown colour, verging on black with a thin crema coloured head. The head faded in short order to a collar and thin film which left some intermittent lacing down the glass. Its aroma was dominated by dark chocolate with undertones of dark-roast coffee. So far, so good. The taste opens with a mix of dark and milk chocolate, transitioning to a fairly strong black licorice, with a bitter dark-roast coffee finish. Bucky is not fond of black licorice, which alas lingers long as an aftertaste, together with a distinct burnt coffee bitterness. Bolshevik Bastard has a very smooth mouthfeel reinforced by an understated carbonation, and is medium to full bodied. Not a badly made beer by any stretch, but the black licorice and distinctly bitter aftertaste are just not to my particular taste. At the date of writing, selling in the People's Republic of Ontario for $10.95 per 4 pack.
Rating: 6.15 / 10
Not being terribly fond of Nickel Brook's Bolshevik Bastard Imperial Stout (on which this beer is based), Bucky gambled $13.95 of his hard-earned beer money on a 750 ml bottle of Nickel Brook's Kentucky Bastard Imperial Stout. This is essentially Bolshevik Bastard aged in Kentucky Bourbon barrels. 12.0% alcohol by volume and 70 IBU, with no visible production or best before date.
Kentucky Bastard pours like motor oil, a viscous opaque black with about ½” of crema coloured head that soon fades to a collar and thin film in the centre of the glass. The receding head left some respectable intermittent lacing down the glass as the beer level dropped. Its aroma was detectable from a foot away…a rich combination of dominant bourbon with undertones of dark European chocolate and molasses. A bit concerned that this beer would have the unbalanced bitterness of its base beer (the bottle does say 70 IBU after all), Bucky's first taste tells him that his $13.95 will not have been spent in vain. A boozy Bourbon dominates the taste, with lesser notes of dark chocolate and molasses, and only a very mild bitterness in the finish. I'm going out to pick up a few more bottles of this one! Delicious stuff. Either the barrel aging has mellowed this beer considerably, or the bourbon is essentially overpowering the 70 IBU. A pleasant, warming bourbon aftertaste lingers for a while. Full bodied with an almost non-existent carbonation, the beer has a rich, smooth and creamy mouthfeel. A 750 ml bottle is definitely for sharing.
Rating: 8.65 / 10
Having heard good reports, Bucky picked up a 473 ml can of Nickel Brook's Head Stock India Pale Ale in his local LCBO. 7.0% alcohol by volume with no obvious production or ‘best before' date, and a warning to “drink fresh, do not age” printed on the can.
Head Stock poured a slightly hazy but attractive apricot colour, with about 1.5” of orange-tinged off-white head that lasted for about 3 minutes before fading to a thin collar and film. Some sporadic lacing and spotting was left down the glass as the beer level dropped. The beer's aroma was a wonderful combination of pine, tangerine, mango and caramel. The taste was sweet caramel malt up front, quickly giving way to a mix of bitter lemon and pine, mellowed somewhat by sweet tangerine and mango, with a distinct piney bitterness in the lingering aftertaste. Definitely on the bitter side, but reasonably well balanced by the sweet caramel and tropical fruits. Head Stock had a dry mouthfeel, was light-medium bodied with a mellow carbonation. Selling for $2.95 per 473 ml can in the People's Republic of Ontario, and worth a try. I would certainly revisit this one.
Rating: 8.25 / 10
Ordered on draft in a pint glass from a local craft beer joint, Bucky sampled Naughty Neighbour American Style Pale Ale, from Nickel Brook Brewing Company. Glad to see that they have moved away from the garish ‘stars and stripes' packaging…for Bucky it conjured images of mass produced watery beer from south of the border and is the main reason he has avoided the beer until now. 4.9% alcohol by volume according to Nickel Brook's website.
The beer arrived a nearly opaque amber/gold colour, with a fluffy white head with good retention that left a near-continuous sheet of lacing down the far side of the glass. A t empting fruity aroma, with notes of orange, lemon and grapefruit. The taste is lemon zest, grapefruit, juicy orange and a bit of pineapple thrown into the mix for good measure, with a distinctly bitter finish that lingers on the palate, but does not overstay its welcome. Very full flavoured, but with little if any contribution from the malts. Naughty Neighbour leans toward the lighter side of light-medium bodied with a medium carbonation and crisp mouthfeel. Pleasantly surprised by this one and would certainly order another.
Rating: 8.08 / 10
Sampling the last of the ‘Bastard' series of beers from Nickel Brook, Bucky picked up a 750 ml bottle of Winey Bastard from the LCBO. A bit pricey at $14.95 per bottle, Winey Bastard was 9.3% alcohol by volume with no visible production or ‘best before' date. Winey Bastard is aged in Pinot Noir barrels, and this is the 2015 edition.
The beer poured an opaque very dark mahogany brown verging on black, and the colour was not impacted at all by backlighting. An aggressive pour into a goblet raised ½” of bubbly crema coloured head which lasted for about 4 minutes before fading to a thin cap and collar of foam. The retreating head left considerable lacing down the far side of the glass. Its aroma was all red wine and a bit on the tart side. Its taste was red wine up front in multiple stages…beginning with a rich, and then transitioning to a dry, then tart red wine. The red wine flavours were followed by dark chocolate and dark-roast coffee, with a mild burnt coffee bitterness in the finish which lingered as an aftertaste. Wonderful stuff. Winey Bastard had a well-suited low carbonation level, dry mouthfeel and leaned toward the full side of medium/full bodied. Glad I picked up a second bottle, but given the price I won't be filling up the fridge.