Wellington Special Pale Ale ("SPA") is another brew from the Wellington Brewery in Guelph, Ontario and is 4.5% alcohol by volume. SPA pours a reddish copper colour with a thin, off-white head. The head is very short lived, though, leaving just a trace of foam and because it disappears so quickly obviously no lacing down the glass. The aroma is faint with a slight roasted malt as the beer begins to warm a bit. The mouth feel is a bit thin and watery, but all that being said, it is a pleasant enough brew. The roasted malt is the first taste that comes forward, and SPA finishes with just a hint of bitterness. Overall, the balance of malt and hops is very good, with the taste compensating for the shortcomings in the aroma and mouth feel.
According to the Company's website, SPA has won several awards from 1990 through 2008, including the following:
The Toronto Beer and Food Show 1990 - Silver Medal (Bottled Light Ales)
The International Beer, Wine, and Food Show 1992 - Bronze Medal (Draught Ale)
The Great Canadian Beer Festival 1996 - Bronze Medal (English Ale)
Canadian International Beer Championships 2007 - Bronze (Bitter & English Pale Ale)
Wellington Brewery was founded in the spring of 1985 by Philip Gosling to produce English-style ales for the Ontario market. These ales are cask conditioned and naturally carbonated. The newest addition to the Wellington Brewery product line is a Silver Wheat Ale ("SWA") to celebrate the brewery's 25th anniversary. SWA is produced using malted wheat and German noble hops, and is 4.0% alcohol by volume.
When poured, SWA has more the yellow colour of a cider than a beer. A thin, white head disappears quickly and leaves some lace spots on the glass. The aroma is nice and has a hint of lemon, more noticeable in the can after pouring than in the beer itself. Its taste is quite mild and relatively plain, again with a barely detectable hint of citrus but no bitter finish. Feels a bit thin in the mouth.
Overall, this is a decent ale that would go down well in the summer time, but there's nothing here to really distinguish it from the crowd.
According to the breweries web site, SWA won Silver at the Canadian Brewing Awards 2010 in the Wheat Beer – North American category.
Over the Victoria Day long weekend in 2011, we toured the Wellington Brewery located at 950 Woodlawn Road West in Guelph, Ontario. It was more of a tasting than a tour really, since the company's production facility is quite small. The Iron Duke House where the tasting occurred is a bit Spartan with just a pool table and a bar, but our hostess was friendly and in the end it's mainly about the beer and the company. The tasting included 4 ounce samples of the following brews:
County Dark Ale
Special Pale Ale
Arkell Best Bitter
Imperial Russian Stout
The Silver Wheat Ale and Iron Duke Strong Ale were not on offer that day. We will be posting our reviews of each of these on the "Beer Reviews" page over time. The short version...there's not a weak product among them. At the end of the tasting you also get a pint of your favourite Wellinton beer and a plastic Wellinton Brewery mug to take home (while supplies last). While the mug is a nice touch, be sure not to drink your end of tour pint from it...mine had a strong smell of plastic which was not condusive to enjoying a good beer.
Starting Saturday May 28th 2011, the brewery begins regular Saturday tours from 1:00-4:00 pm every Saturday throughout the summer. Tours are $5 per person, and while no reservations are required, groups of 10 or more people should call ahead. Wellington also holds private group tours by appointment for groups of 10 to 50 people. Group tours are $10 per person and are booked over a 2 hour time period. The tour of the brewery operation itself is pretty quick, with the balance of the 2 hours giving you time to enjoy your free samples in the lounge. For group tours the Brewery usually requires a couple of weeks notice and a $50 deposit at time of booking.
Overall, a worthwhile experience on a Saturday afternoon. The Iron Duke House could use a bit of sprucing up though...and some bar stools!