I was lucky enough to get to stay in Niagara on the Lake this week. For those who don’t know, Niagara on the Lake is a little city in southern Ontario famous as being both the home of The Shaw Festival and the original capital city of Upper Canada. This out-of-the-way town, originally named Newark, is also home to numerous estate vineyards and some of the finest craft breweries in Ontario. As far as I’m concerned, no trip to Niagara on the Lake could be complete without a stop at Niagara Oast House Brewers to fill up my growler(s) with some of their tasty brews. Niagara Oast House Brewers only came onto the craft brewing scene recently. Barn Raiser’s earthy taste, though, makes it seem like the product of an old family recipe.
Barn Raiser’s low carbonation level brings out its excellent balance between malt and hops, and I have to remind myself not to slug it back in huge gulps. This ale is too smooth to be considered an India Pale Ale and by virtue of its being brewed in Canada it doesn’t qualify as an American Pale Ale. This ale is definitely bitter enough to require an adjective though. This Country Ale leaves you wanting more so it’s a good idea to pair it with salty foods, like brine chicken or some well-garnished oysters.
Barn Raiser Country Ale is tough to top for drinkability. It goes without saying that you should decant this beer, especially if you bought a growler of it! Its fruity flavour is too good to be properly appreciated when chugged out of a tall boy or 750 mL bottle. Although I generally prefer to drink my beer cold, I could see drinking this one at room temperature. Sometimes letting a beer go warm can be a good way to bring out its flavour, and Barn Raiser Country Ale has nothing to hide.
This is another craft beer that suffers from distribution problems. Currently it’s only available for purchase at the brewery and at area restaurants. There are rumours that Barn Raiser Country Ale could be hitting the LCBO‘s shelves soon, though, so keep your Ontarian fingers crossed.