Mill Street's Seasonal Sampler has our cold-weather favourites

Christmas comes early with the release of Mill Street's Seasonal Sampler. (Supplied)

Christmas comes early with the release of Mill Street's Seasonal Sampler. (Supplied)

Jordan St. John, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:11 AM ET

It’s easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm for whatever brand spanking new craft brewery comes off the line. In Canada at the moment, I believe we’re probably averaging something like one a week.

Many of these are so small their distribution is currently limited to Doug, who lives down the street. On those dark days when Doug isn’t returning his empties, it’s important to remember that ambition can pay off.

Take Mill Street, for example. It’s hard to believe they’re only 11 years old. Over the last couple of years, Mill Street has expanded their distribution from Ontario to basically include all of Canada. They’ve added a second brewpub in Ottawa and a Beer Hall in Ontario. They’ve introduced new brands like the Lemon Tea Beer and Cobblestone Stout. They’ve introduced distilled Bierschnaps, a beverage powerful enough to make any rational person quake in terror.

For all that, some of the most successful beer they make never gets outside of the brewpub, let alone the province. This is why the forthcoming Seasonal Sampler pack from Mill Street is a real treat. While three of the six beers included in the pack (Organic Lager, Tankhouse Ale and Cobblestone Stout) are part of the regular line-up, the remaining three are cold weather favourites for local patrons of the Distillery District in Toronto.

The Weizenbock, for instance is a dark wheat beer that weighs in at 7.5%. The hefeweizen yeast that Mill Street is using contributes an aroma of banana and bubblegum that seems out of place when you look at the colour of the beer but fits right in with the dark malt as you gently get used to the idea.

The Vanilla Porter has been on tap at the brewpub for about four years and the fact that it’s now in cans has been met with a great deal of enthusiasm. The focus here is definitely the vanilla flavour which, in combination with the texture, makes the experience of drinking it not unlike slipping into a velour smoking jacket.

Mostly, though, the reason you should buy this sample pack is that it contains one of the best new Canadian beers of the year. Mill Street’s Distillery Ale is a product of their new Beer Hall. It’s a copper-coloured English Old Ale, which is like a smaller version of a Barley Wine. It has English floor malt and English hops and it comes in an English dimpled mug if you order it at the bar. It has just enough oak to give it some body and vanilla. It isn’t hip. It isn’t trendy. It settles for being excellent in an understated way. It is, according to brewmaster Joel Manning, “the kind of beer you make after doing this for 25 years.”

Jordan St.John writes about beer at saintjohnswort.ca. He fears the Bierschnaps.


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