Phew, long enough title? So Pan-Ontario is actually a bottle from OCB Week, and I beer I drank at Session, but I got a bottle of it last time I was by Great Lakes. A blended beer organized and aged by Beau’s, to celebrate some of the finest brews in the province. So to be clear, this is not a collaborative brew, wherein a few brewers got together and made a recipe, this is five beers, made normally, then blended into a cocktail, and aged in a whiskey barrel. With me? Good. So what beers, you might ask? Good question. Beau’s provided Beaver River IPeh; Flying Monkeys their Smashbomb Atomic IPA; Grand River did their Curmudgeon IPA, Great Lakes hooked up their 25th Anniversary Porter, and Wellington their Imperial Russian Stout. Zowie. I like all those beers on their own, but can they be blended together well? Yes, yes they can.
From a 650ml Great Lakes Project X bomber, Pan-Ontario pours a dark, nearly opaque brown, bordering on black, but with vivid ruby red tones at the edges. About 1/2″ of loose head drops to a fairly dense foam film that stays through most of the glass, and leaves a surprising amount of lace. Aroma is immediately big sweet roasted malts, caramel and toffee, with hints of coffee. Some astringent yeasty esters with a nice dose of piney hops. Clear vanilla notes with a touch of boozy heat. Basically, everything you would expect from the mix of beers aged in oak. Taste is just phenomenal. Sweet and roasty, with a huge vanilla presence and a very big whiskey pop. Not as much smoke as you might expect given the porter and stout, though there are some hints of coffee in there. Surprisingly, the hops become much more subdued on the palate. There is definitely some clear tannic dryness on the finish, and some herbal and cedar-like notes from them, but big sweet caramel and toffee with a big booze heat are the forefront for sure. A touch of leather and tobacco, this beer just keeps opening up and showing more layers. A nice active carbonation keeps what I assume is at least a medium-heavy body well in check. It’s surprisingly easy-going, despite it’s higher abv (7%) and heat from the whiskey. This would be perfect as a dessert beer, but is another one of those beers that could pair very well with the right cut and preparation of a red meat. I’m visualizing (tastulizing?) some sort of Korean-style short ribs, sweet and rich, but maybe finished on a grill to caramelize them a bit. See where I’m going? Sweet, smokey, very rich and a little fatty. Get on it.
Cheers to all the breweries who took part; you did Ontario proud! And special cheers to the Beau’s brew for organizing, and also for expertly blending this incredible beer.
About The Breweries
Ranging from fairly old to somewhat new, these five breweries have been producing some of the many excellent beers we enjoy in Ontario. The five in this blend would certainly be found near the tops of many “favourites” lists, and I’ll be honest, combining them added another entry on my personal list.