The winter, though relatively mild so far in Toronto, has turned my fridge into a wasteland for low-to-moderate ABV beers. Most bottles read upwards of 7% alcohol (and one goes up to 18%), leaving me very few options for watching football all day and not have me be passed out in a bowl of chips by the end. Luckily a colleague from work is often in Peterborough and was kind enough to bring me a couple of cans from the Publican House brewery. The Publican House Square Nail Pale Ale should be familiar to anyone in Toronto that regularly visits barVolo or beerbistro – it’s a well made American pale ale that is a textbook example for how to balance malts and hops. But their House Ale was brand new to me and was perfect for an afternoon of sports, clocking in at a nice 4.8% ABV.
The problem with my choice was that the House Ale is a golden ale, a style not particularly suited to winter drinking. (Ed. note: The can says golden ale, their website says “German table beer,” which would make me think lager. Never a good sign when a brewery confuses ales and lagers.) It poured a pale straw colour and a good inch of fizzy white head, an impressive feat in a shaker pint glass. (A quick note on the glass: it was a wedding gift from my dear friend Maggie, who has converted me into a Packers fan, cheesehead and all. Sunday was a sad day and the photo brings back painful memories.) The aroma was heavy on cereal grains, but it also had a distinct element of starch, as if the beer was not fully fermented. The flavour could work for a lager or golden ale – wet grain, slightly grassy and a trace of bitterness in the finish. Very carbonated and thin, which is more akin to the lager side.
Not the greatest beer, but not the worst. A can of this would go a long way while watching a game of baseball, a harsh reminder that bigger beers are a natural fit in the season of ice and snow.
Recommended If You Like: Cheerios. Drinking while playing sports. Using the word “publican.” Slowly converting friends to craft beer.