Those who know me personally would tell you I am passionate about two things; Minecraft, and beer.
Truthfully, beer is my first great passion. I live in Northern Ontario, in a city known for bad drivers and it’s beer drinking culture.. In fact, we have the highest rate of auto insurance in all of Ontario because of our aggressive driving. Here, you expect to be cut off in traffic. Don’t expect to be let in– anywhere… especially in merging lanes. As an amazing testament in defining our culture is this phenomenon known as ‘Beer Store courtesy’.
As I said, you can expect to be cut off in traffic regularly. And no one will let you in… unless you are pulling out of the Beer Store. It’s an amazing thing to witness first hand. You could have a car full of crying children, and you will have to wait– but pick up a 2-4 and the world will literally stop for you so you call pull back into traffic.
That said, I am not your normal sort of Northern Ontario beer drinker. In fact, I detest the Beer Store and everything they represent. I’m not a beer snob. I’m more of a connoisseur. I wouldn’t dare pick up a case of beer because I can guarantee you I would be bored drinking 3-4 of the same beer in a row. I shop almost exclusively at the LCBO, because it’s the only place in Ontario you can find craft beers (read: variety). I’ve drank everything from beer made from Japanese rice beer to things made in the fires of the Netherworld.. If they stock it, I will buy it.
And that brings me to my first beer review… on a craft beer that only showed up this weekend.
Trafalgar Ales & Meads— based in Oakville Ontario has made a beer with pure maple syrup. At first, reading the label I was somewhat appalled at the idea. I’ve tried ‘flavoured’ beers before, and they were horrible. But Trafalgar has impressed me before. In fact they make my favourite beer– Smoky Oatmeal Stout. I would say Trafalgar Ale & Meads is the single most influential brewery in developing my taste for luxurious dark beers. And so I picked up a bottle, really not knowing what to expect.
A ‘bock‘, is a German term for a dark, malty, lightly hopped beer. They are strong (between 6.3 and 7.2 %), and so well balanced you can barely perceive the hops. They are my favourite style of dark beer. Trafalgar’s Maple Bock has an amazing spin on this style– coming in at 6.5%. You can’t miss it at the LCBO– the label is simple and has a hand crafted look. I personally think that’s key to the Trafalgar’s charm. The bottles are 650 ml, so you can expect to enjoy a few glass for just under $5.00
I will admit– I was worried at first the maple syrup would dominate the taste, forever ruining the beer. In fact I tipped the bottle side to side while examining it at the store, expecting the liquid to flow like thick syrup. I picked a porter glass (not traditionally for dark beers), expecting it to be rich and flavourful like Innis & Gun’s original oak aged beer. I think my choice was correct– it pours out like brown and ruby coloured cola, with very little head or lacing, but leaves a long-lasting, hair thin ring.
Maple Bock smells of sweet chocolate malt, and just the right overtones of maple syrup (something I never would have imagined in a beer before today). My first taste was delicious, rich, warming, and very well balanced. This was a beer meant to be savoured. I sipped at it over the course of an hour, my regret at not buying a second bottle growing with every passing minute.
The maple overtone reminded me a lot of my first impression of Sortilege, a maple whiskey only avaiable in Quebec. I had it a few years back at a New Years party and instantly fell in love. And I don’t normally like whiskey, so that’s saying a lot.
The beer had a strong flavour, but not pervasive– like the smell of maple syrup that teases your senses as you walk into a pancake house. I was worried initially that after a glass or two I would be sick of it– but much like a mead I found myself only wanting more. The last ounce of beer in my glass was the hardest to drink, because I knew it signaled the end of my experience.
I drank this beer alone, so I could give a clear unbiased review– but pairing it up with a meal I would highly suggest it be used to accompany roasted pork or as a complement (or replacement) for dessert.
This is an amazing beer, and without any real affinity for maple syrup I definitely plan to try this beer again. <3