Our Top Ten Noteworthy Beers of 2016

We went through our Untappd ratings for 2016 to find our top ten new-to-us beers for the year.

This is our combined list, and we do have different preferences, so it took some negotiation. We both love darks and sours (as evidenced by our list), though beyond that Josh’s tastes are more likely to go toward barrel-aged brews and high ABV offerings, while Jessica’s preferences run more toward the sweeter and fruiter flavours.  Neither of us are particularly into hop-bombs, which is why they aren’t well represented here.

In no particular order

Home Sweet Home – 5 Paddles Brewing – This honey vanilla wheat ale is one of their standards, and it was a stand-out for us. Creamy and sweet caramel/honey taste, it reminded us of Werther’s candies. Very crisp for a wheat ale as well, despite the sweetness. Available regularly at the Whitby brewery.

5 Paddles Brewing

Collective Project: Gose – Collective Arts Brewing – We did a whole post on Gose, and this is a perfect example of the style: tangy, slightly salty, and very refreshing. It was their summer seasonal, but is still available at the brewery as of this writing, and had also been available in some grocery stores.

collective-gose

Dry-Hopped Tripel – Cameron’s Brewing – We got lucky enough to get this seasonal at the brewery, which was sweet, fruity, and not at all syrupy as some high ABV offerings tend to be (this one sits at 7.5%). They told us they were aiming for it to be a “white wine of beer”, and we thought that label fits – it even has a light grape flavour.

camerons

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace – Brooklyn Brewery – Our one non-Ontario pick, because it’s just that good. Rated highly by both of us, this saison was rich, creamy, dry, and lightly hoppy. An all-around good beer. We found this one at the LCBO, and there are still some available at certain locations.

Purgatory – Innocente Brewing Company – Don’t expect a usual cream ale, as this black “cream ale” was something a little more intriguing. Very roasted yet at the same time very smooth, with deep milk chocolate tones and a light body. We had this possible one-off at the brewery, and it doesn’t look like it’s still in production – let’s hope we’re wrong!

innocente-purgatory

Limberlost Farmhouse Ale – Sawdust City Brewing Co. – A tasty wild yeast farmhouse ale, tangy with a hint of sourness, like a lambic mixed with a saison. We’ve seen this one at a couple festivals, and we hope to see it appear again soon.

limberlost

Harry Porter – Great Lakes Brewery – This is a not a new beer, but strangely, though we’d had several of the take-offs (for example, Harry Porter and the Cherry Hoarder), we’d never had the original until recently. And… yes. Here’s a delicious porter. Smooth, dark, drinkable, rich, and delicious.

Beer 101 Pilsner – Niagara College Teaching Brewery – The NCTB has an entire line of style essentials, but the pilsner is easily the best. Malty, interesting, more robust than the colour lets on, just a little hoppy and super drinkable.

niagara-college

Russian Imperial Stout – Oast House – Josh loves his Russian Imperial Stouts so this was a no-brainer addition to his list – however, even Jessica found it the most drinkable R.I.S. she’d ever had. As rich and malty as it should be with coffee on the nose and grape on the tongue, it was also so smooth for a Russian Imperial. This was a seasonal offering in-brewery last winter, so perhaps it will be returning soon.

oast-imperial-russian-stout

Motley Cru (2016) – Bellwoods Brewery – Yes, we said this list wasn’t in order, but this was our unofficial top beer of the year. This two-year barrel-aged, funky & wild sour made with Gewurtztraminer grape juice was a big winner for both of us. Phenomenally well-balanced, blending the sweet and the sour, and bubbly on the tongue. We could definitely taste the Gewurztraminr. motley-cru

5 Paddles Brewing, Whitby

Whitby’s 5 Paddles Brewing has this brewery thing down. They’ve got a cohesive brand (paddles & canoes!), a cool place to hang out, and a really creative – and apparently constantly changing – beer list.

5 Paddles Brewing, Whitby, Ontario, Durham, Hoppily Ever After, craft beer
Apparently it’s Belgian Midnight Paddler season in their shop.

THE PLACE

With the reused/industrial chic style that’s very popular right now, blended with their paddle-heavy, canoe-friendly, wood-burned style, the 5 Paddles tasting room seemed like a really popular place to hang out (we can understand why). We dropped by at the Happy Hour on a weekday, and it was full of people who apparently just came from work.

5 Paddles Brewing, Whitby, Ontario, Durham, Hoppily Ever After, craft beer
It took a while to get a photo without lurking on someone’s conversation in the relatively small space.

THE BEER

The beer widely ranged in terms of tastes and flavours, but there was a definite Belgian influence on a few. We tried a bit of everything on offer, and here are our results:

  • Belgian Midnight Paddler – described as a “Royal Canadian Quad” it’s about halfway between an Imperial Stout and a Belgian Quad. It’s got the roastiness of a stout, and the sweet tanginess of a Belgian abbey ale. Rich with a chocolate-y flavour, and quite an alcoholic kick (it’s 10% ABV)
  • Minotaur in a Canoe on Fire – the winner for Josh, it’s part of “the Dark Knights of Durham” series (a collaboration with Manantler , Old Flame, and Brewer’s Pantry), and it’s an Imperial Coconut Baltic Porter. The coconut is strong (as is te alcohol, at 8.4% ABV), and the Baltic porter part means it’s also sweet. Josh describes it as boozy, yet somehow still light enough to drink in hot weather. Jessica found it a bit too sweet-strong for her tastes.
  • Italian Backyard – a basil-ale. It’s a rich yet light and refreshing ale with a green and herbal flavour. Unfortunately, neither of us could really discern the basil part of it per se, but both enjoyed this as a sessionable ale.
  • Home Sweet Home – Jessica’s winner, and one that’s apparently a regular on 5 Paddles’ taps. It’s a wheat ale, but unlike we’d tried –  honey malt and vanilla blend to make a caramelly taste reminiscent of a Werther’s Original.
  • Brother Ian’s Belgian 4 – A Belgian single, unfiltered, with a fruity lightness and a hint of sourness. A beer that both of us at Hoppily Ever After could agree on.

5 Paddles Brewing, Whitby, Ontario, Durham, Hoppily Ever After, craft beer

We just wish we lived a bit closer so we could explore their seasonal and one-offs throughout the year!

Wishlist: drop by for (or have someone pick up) some Halloween brews when that season comes along.

5 Paddles Brewing, Whitby, Ontario, Durham, Hoppily Ever After, craft beer

THE FOOD

There’s a cheese board, but that’s about it.

5 Paddles Brewing is a place you come for the beer!

THE EXTRAS 

In addition to their little bottle shop, currently full of Belgian Midnight Paddler bottles, they’ve got the usual glasses and t-shirts – AND, some neat wood-burned stuff like a lot of the decor in the brewery.

5 Paddles Brewing, Whitby, Ontario, Durham, Hoppily Ever After, craft beer

Visit date: June 22, 2016