Every once in a while I discover a new beer and a new brewery… Sawdust’s Long Dark Voyage to Uranus was one of them. This time the “Beergonaut award” -if I had to have one- for best new beer would go to Radical Road Brewing Company’s Canny Man; a wee heavy matured in scotch Whisky barrels… Delicious.
I bought this beer at the LCBO on my way to Montreal. After cleaning my driveway from the 15 cm snowfall awaiting my arrival to St-Sauveur, Quebec, I sat by the fireplace, undressed it from its paper wrap, popped it open and indulged in what is going to be one of 2013’s most memorable new beer.
BRANDING: Branding is never part of my reviews but as a former graphic designer I have no choice but to take you on a branding journey across space time. I am not too sure if I like the chrome foil and glossy black hang-tag that perhaps, would have hung better alongside the price tag on a long board or a snow board but that’s me looking for something negative to say. Truth is this beer is worthy of winning a label competition. First off, it’s wrapped in a branded paper the way Liefmans does with some of their beers. Then, as you unwrap this sexy Gothic beauty, you find a flat black bottle wearing only a distressed / aged looking label that would certainly cost a fortune if sold at Anthropology –my wife loves this store.
LOOK: This is one sexy bitch of a beer. It pours a creamy darkish amber color with lively bubbles. The beer had decent head that didn’t retain much but I need to point out that I poured it a little too slow in a regular pint glass that I held quite slanted, so I imagine someone pouring it with less care would have had a generous amount of head.
SMELL: The first smell is that of caramel roasted malts, whisky, grapes, green apples and berries. As I inhaled the aromas, the complexity of the whisky smell extended to tobacco, leather and a nice smoky feel.
TASTE: Wow, you’ll either love it or hate it. From the first sip, I was knocked off my chair. I am part of those who enjoyed it a lot. What I enjoy the most is the fact that this beer doesn’t flirt with say, Innis and Gunn’s vanilla taste; which I love, it steers away from sweetness and delivers virile flavors like Whisky, leather, tobacco, wood and smoke. I hesitated to write the next line but what the heck, here goes… This beer is like an Innis and Gunns but with balls, a five 0’clock shadow and kick-ass attitude. It’s what happens when barrel aged beers become men. Every other barrel age beers are but teenagers behaving like men.
The alcohol taste might have been a tiny bit too present but then again, it answers to everything I wrote above –virile. There is no doubt about it that the brewers of this concoction have put together a beer that knocks every other beer of this type out of the water. Not too shabby for a first release, right on. The roasted malts continue to be present while the smoky feel and oak taste are consistent. Last but not least, the hair on your chest keeps growing as you drink it. Towards the middle, I was suspicious that I may have a hard time finishing it but then…
FINISH: …contrary to what I thought and despite the final alcohol kick, I was able to enjoy the last few sips. The sweetness and whisky taste helped out; you almost forget you’re drinking a beer. I’m not gonna lie to ya folks… I was a little tipsy when I finished it.
CONTEXT: As far as a strong beer goes; Dead on. As far as a barrel aged beer goes; Dead on. This, in my opinion, may very well be the best new beer out.
FEEL: Medium with good carbonation.
Pairing: Pairs well with steaks, grilled red meats, game, a good cigar.
Availability: All year round (I think).
Beer type: Extra Strong beer
Brewery: Radical Road Brewing Company
Country / Region: Toronto, ON
That’s it for today folks, tune in later tomorrow night for a couple of St-Ambroise gems…