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

Cameron’s Brewing – Ontario Brewery Tours

Cameron’s Brewing has been in business since 1997, which makes them one of the oldest players on the Ontario craft beer scene. They’ve had the time to hone their craft to create some really solid brews, and now they’re undertaking a branding revitalization. 

Ambear, Cameron's Brewing, Hoppily Ever After
New brand on the Ambear Red Ale

THE PLACE

Cameron’s Brewing is a classic brewery, tucked into a business park in Oakville, Ontario. It has a simple front end, with just enough space for tasting and purchasing, and then a back-end busy with the operations of beer creation.

Brewery, Hoppily Ever After
Some of the older style, externally insulated tanks

THE BEER

The $10 tour included a whole raft of samples. Here’s our take on what we tried:

  • Cosmic Cream Ale – Clean and creamy. This is the original Cameron’s Cream Ale, with an updated name and brand for the 21st Century.
  • Ambear Red Ale – Red & roasted, some toffee notes. Another rebrand, this is a slightly modified version of their Auburn Ale.
  • Dark 266 – A sweet and roasted dark lager. Smooth and rich, with a hint of bitterness that tastes more like raw cocoa.

Cameron's Beer, Hoppily Ever After

  • Resurrection Roggenbier – With the banana bread flavour that’s customary in Roggenbiers, which use malted rye in place of some of the wheat. Reminiscent of Hefeweizens in that sense. This one is sweeter than the Roggenbiers we’ve tried, and a little peppery. Very sessionable.
  • Dry-Hopped Tripel – Sweet like a Belgian tripel, but lighter and not at all syrupy. Definitely a fruity taste, we were envisioning grape. The Cameron’s guys told us the aim was to be a “white wine of beer”, and that makes a lot of sense to us.  And doesn’t taste like a 7.5%!
  • Rye Pale Ale (RPA) – A rich hopped brew with a little white pepper undernote. Smoother than a lot of hop-forward brews, but still too hoppy for Jessica’s tastes – Josh quite enjoyed it.

Growlers at Cameron's, Hoppily Ever After

THE TOUR

Cameron’s tours are Saturdays at 1, 2, and 3pm. For $10, you get the tour and the tasting. On the tour, you get the story of beer creation, and in particular Cameron’s style of doing it. You’ll also see all their equipment and packaging, from old to new.

Cameron's Brewing, Hoppily Ever After
Original branding on the boxes

They also showed off their towers of the new cans, and different rooms throught the brewery like the barrel-aging room.

Barrels at Cameron's, Hoppily Ever After
Doppelbock being aged in Bourbon barrels

THE EXTRAS

There’s a  tiny shop with a few items – namely this Beer Geek shirt and some beer brittle candy.

Beer Geek, Hoppily Ever After

And as we’ve mentioned throughout, Cameron’s Brewing just went through a rebrand. We think the cans give a very hip and updated look to this old stalwart brewery, but you can hear even more about it from our friends at Hamilton Small Fries.

Cameron's cans, Hoppily Ever After
The new look

If you want to check out Cameron’s – and a few of their friends – further, they’re having a Cask Night on April 1, 2016.

AprilCaskNight

Our Visit Date: March 19, 2016