So, hopefully you all read my post on The Brewer’s Plate, happening next Wednesday, April 6th, in support of Not Far From the Tree. Over the next few days I’m going to post reviews about beers by some of the brewers who will be taking part in this year’s event. It’s going to be an awesome time, with a massive list of beers, and a veritable who’s-who of food in Toronto. It would be worth the cost of the ticket just to take part in the evening, but as it benefits an excellent charity, Not Far From the Tree, it is basically your responsibility to be there. If the cost is just out of your range, do make sure you take a moment to check out Not Far From the Tree to learn a bit more about their remarkable charity, and see how you might like to get involved. Hint: If you like gardening, but don’t have much soil of your own, they can help.
Now just a little more preamble before we get to the actual beer. Black Oak Brewing is one of the top Breweries in Toronto. Known for their incredible Saison, and their hugely popular Ten Bitter Years (they also make an amazing porter, stout and nut brown ale), Pale Ale would be their “flagship” brand. I drink it regularly, and for good reason. It is probably the best Pale Ale in Canada, with only St Ambroise Blonde to contend with. I’m told that at events, the St Ambroise folks always swing by for a drink of Black Oak. So they keep good company. Both beers are Pale Ales in the English style, not US hop fests, but beers that have a notable hop presence, balanced with a solid malt base. They are hugely drinkable, and go well with many styles of food, after hard work in the garden, or pulled from a snow-bank where they’ve been chilling while you were on the slopes. Not naturally designed with dessert in mind, these beers are drinkable pretty well any other time of the day (I’m counting breakfast). Despite my adoration of this beer, I’m going to go ahead and actually give it a once-over. I regularly suggest people get this beer, now I’m going to prove why.
From a brown 341ml bottle with no freshness date (though I did get it from the brewery), the beer pours a lovely golden yellow, with about 1/2″ of head that drops to a thin film which leaves a little lace behind. Aroma is a foundation of proofing bread dough, very sweet and grainy, with a touch of yeast. Big hops float over the maltiness, very English in approach, dry leafy hops, hints of tea, a bit of resin. Not your American Citra-fest type Pale Ale. Taste is just magnificent. The hops are right there upfront, dry and mineraly, again with an herbal quality that hints at tea. Malts sit underneath, supporting the hops, sweet and grainy again, though with the herbal hop there is something almost toast-like in the combination. Finish is clean dry hops, pretty quick, and leaving you wanting another sip. Probably one of the most sessionable beers in the province, if not the country, I hate buying it in six-packs because I always seem to run out much sooner than I’d anticipated. Seriously, buy twelve. Maybe twenty four. You won’t be sorry.
Definitely one of the best, if not the best Pale in Canada. Cheers to Ken, Adrian and the whole crew at Black Oak! And remember, if you want to have a taste of this, paired with some of the best food in the city, get your ticket to The Brewer’s Plate, next Wednesday, April 6th