Niagara Oast House, one of the new breweries in Niagara-on-the-Lake, opened in middle of November and their beers have been in demand ever since. I was lucky to get a bottle of the Barnraiser via trade with someone who was visiting the brewery, which was handy because the beers aren’t traveling to Toronto all that often. There was no information available about what to expect from the beer – a 5% Country Ale – so all I could do was open it up and hope for the best.
The Barnriaser poured a dark golden/light orange with a half inch of tight head the quickly receded and left some lacing on the glass. The nose is very fruity, with lots of peach and some berry qualities. A white peach flavour jumps out, but surprisingly little overt hoppiness. There is a little buttery taste as well, but this surprisingly disappears after a minute or two. A slightly grainy and toasted character from the malts, though the malts do not jump to the fore. It dries out in the finish with a touch of spiciness in the yeast. Soft carbonation and a little thin in the body, but the sort of beer that one would expect to be great on cask.
This is definitely a pale ale that owes a lot to the British tradition. It’s a juicy, fruity pale ale but not in the assertively hoppy way many of us expect from North American pale ales. My first couple of sips left me quizzical and unsure, but the Barnraiser slowly grew on me as it warmed up to cellar temperature. It doesn’t really have a comparable pale ale in Ontario, which is an important factor as the market for ales gets increasingly crowded. The Barnraiser won’t be a unanimous crowd pleaser, but I recommend not to be swayed by your initial impressions. Give the beer some time to work away on your palate. A nice start from the Niagara Oast House brewery.