The test is in the taste
Five Free Press staffers snapped the caps off these 15 craft beers. Thumbs up or down?
Barbara Taylor
Street cred: Worked briefly as livein bartender, Griffin Tavern, Trafalgar Square, London U.K. Usual order: Rickard’s Red

Joe Belanger
Street cred: A single-malt scotch drinker who regularly slums in beer parlours. Usual order: Brava Lager or Stella Artois

Dale Carruthers
Street cred: Not very adventurous. If I can’t say it, I’m not drinking it. Usual order: Heineken (bottle)

Craig Glover
Street cred: Known by first name on most London patios and at the bar rails in the off-season. Usual order: Rickard’s White

Dale Stolk
Street cred: Years of experience on both sides of the bar. Usual order: Stella Artois

Beer and brewery
RED LEAF, GREAT LAKES BREWERY, TORONTO Appearance: Clear, amber-red Aroma: Light, pleasant First sip: Smooth and flavourful Finish: Touch of bitter flavour grows as brew consumed, expected and appreciated in a red. Perfect with my pizza. OVERALL: Thumbs up LUG-TREAD LAGERED ALE, BEAU’S ALL NATURAL BREWING COMPANY, VANKLEEK HILL, ONTARIO. Appearance: Clear, golden, good head. Aroma: Very pleasant, hops and malts, light. First Sip: Slightly bitter, crisp, clean. Finish: Slight lingering bitterness. Very refreshing. OVERALL: Thumbs up. KING PILSNER, KING BREWERY. Appearance: Bright gold and clear. Looks like something I’d drink. Aroma: Strong malt smell. Not a fan of strong smells. First Sip : Sightly bitter. Finish: Not very refreshing. Definitely tastes like an imported beer. OVERALL: Thumbs down HEADSTOCK, NICKEL BROOK BREWERY Appearance: Cloudy with a rich amber colour. Aroma: Hoppy with a hint of bitterness. First Sip: Bitter with a strong hop flavour. Finish: Finishes sweeter than it starts, with the hop flavour lingering. OVERALL: Thumbs up. SMASHBOMB ATOMIC IPA, FLYING MONKEYS CRAFT BREWERY, BARRIE Appearance: Little cloudy, darkish Aroma: A little hoppy, a little grapefruit rind First Sip: A little bitter Finish: Lingering OVERALL: Undecided

Beer and brewery
MAD TOM IPA, MUSKOKA BREWERY, BRACEBRIDGE Appearance: cloudy Aroma: vibrant aroma First Sip: bitter aftertaste, strong (6.4% alcohol) Finish: Apparently inspired by Muskoka Mad Tom. Only question: Was Tom mad before or after consumption? OVERALL: Thumbs down STEAM WHISTLE PILSNER, STEAM WHISTLE BREWING, TORONTO Appearance: Clear, golden, light head. Aroma: Sweet, malt. First Sip: Sweet, light citrus, not complicated. Finish: Pleasant, slight hint of bitterness. OVERALL: Thumbs up. PALE PILSNER, OLD CREDIT BREWING CO. LTD. Appearance: Clear, looks promising Aroma: Faint smell of hops. First Sip: Refreshing taste, goes down easy and quenches thirst. Finish: Great summer beer. Ideal for sipping on a patio. OVERALL: Thumbs up. FIRST DRAFT CAMPUS LAGER, THE NIAGARA COLLEGE TEACHING BREWERY Appearance: Clear with a nice, golden hue. Aroma: Slightly sweet with a pleasant hoppy aroma. First Sip: Refreshingly sweet with a mild hops flavour. Very nice. Finish: Starts sweet, finishes sweet. No lingering flavour, just how I like it. OVERALL: Big thumbs up for this student-made brew. PALE ALE, LAKE OF BAYS BREWING COMPANY, BAYSVILLE Appearance: Clear, nice amber Aroma: Sweet malt, not strong First Sip: Good taste Finish: Clean OVERALL: Thumbs up

Beer and brewery
BABBLING BROOKE’S ROOT BEER, NICKEL BROOK BREWERY, BURLINGTON Appearance: Dark, murky Aroma: Strong medicinal First Sip: Nasty, sweet and sour licorice taste Finish: Strong licorice aftertaste, grimy residue at bottle bottom, unpleasant OVERALL: Thumbs down (But teens rooted for it.) CRAZY CANUCK PALE ALE, GREAT LAKES BREWERY, TORONTO Appearance: Cloudy, light amber, thick head. Aroma: Hoppy, citrus overtones, and bread. First Sip: Floral, citrus, refreshing but bitter. Big flavour. Finish: Pleasant, lingering bitterness. OVERALL: Thumbs up. HONEY ELIXIR, WOODWORTH AND EDWARDS. Appearance: Resembles root beer. Oh-oh, dark beers frighten me. Aroma: You can actually smell the honey. First Sip: Was that beer? Finish: Not what I’m looking for in a beer. OVERALL: Thumbs down. DEAD ELEPHANT IPA BY RAILWAY CITY BREWING CO. Appearance: Clear with a light copper colouring. Aroma: Hoppy with a hint of citrus, mildly bitter to the smell. First Sip: Bitter off the top, with the hint of citrus hitting the tongue. Finish: Bitter to the end, with the citrus fading. Pleasant throughout. OVERALL: Thumbs up. WELLINGTON S•P•A,WELLINGTON COUNTY BREWERY, GUELPH Appearance: Clear, dark amber Aroma: Not overly strong First Sip: Robust flavour Finish: Pleasant OVERALL: Thumbs up

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