Collingwood Brewery: Fireside Extra Special Bitter, A Toasty Review

Fireside Extra Special Bitter – The Brewery

Collingwood Brewery is a relative newcomer to the craft beer scene, opening its doors in picturesque Collingwood, Ontario in May of 2014. Since their initial launch of their flagship brew Downhill Pale Ale, Collingwood Brewery has become a serious player in Ontario craft brewing: their beers are served in several Ontarian restaurants and pubs and widely available in Ontario liquor stores. They’ve expanded their brew selection from the lonely Downhill Pale Ale to a three-beer repertoire that thankfully includes Fireside Extra Special Bitter, which won Silver in the English Pale Ale/Bitter category at the 2015 Canadian Brewing Awards. I’m a big fan of IPA’s but I only have limited experience with Bitters. Here’s what I thought …

Fireside Extra Special Bitter – First Sip

Much like Muskoka Brewery’s Unfiltered Cream Ale, Fireside Extra Special Bitter’s only superior in the English Pale Ale/Bitter category of the 2014 Canadian Brewing Awards, this bitter has a complex taste. Fireside’s incredibly low level of carbonation shows off its almost gritty mouthfeel. The flatness of the beer may surprise those used to more highly carbonated brews, so consider yourselves warned. But, those looking for a watery English pub-style ale need look no further. Other people who reviewed this beer talk about its caramel notes, which it definitely has. In my opinion, though, Fireside’s dominant flavour is walnuts with a malty caramel aftertaste.

Fireside Extra Special Bitter – Last Sip

Woe betide anyone who drinks this beer from the can. Fireside’s extra special quality should be enjoyed the way it would be in an English pub–although I don’t imagine it’d ever be on tap at an English pub–, from a pint glass. Its incredibly low carbonation level shows from its lacing, evident when you finish it. And, although most of us love ice-cold beer, I suggest letting this one warm up a bit. Its ideal temperature sits somewhere between 6 and 10º C, giving you another reason to pour Fireside Extra Special Bitter into a pint glass before enjoying it. A final cautionary plea before you start slugging these back: each one of these tall cans is 5.8% ABV so don’t be fooled by Fireside’s watery texture. One or two are usually plenty.


Fireside Extra Special Bitter – Other Comments

Being a fan of more heavily carbonated beers, I have to say I felt a bit out of my element during this review. When I opened the can and saw nary a bubble of foam I initially thought that the can had depressurized in the store. It’s important to try new things, though, and I’m happy I did. I’ve never had a flat, warm beer I liked more.

Michael Bedford
Michael Bedford
Under intense scrutiny by the Temporal Authorities, I was coerced into actualizing my capsule in this causality loop. Through no fault of my own, I am marooned on this dangerous yet lovely level-four civilization. Stranded here, I have spent most of my time learning what I can of the social norms and oddities of the Terran species, including how to properly use the term "Hipster" and how to perform a "perfect pour." Under the assumed name of "Michael Bedford," I have completed BA's with specialized honours in both theatre studies and philosophy, and am currently saving up for enough galactic credits to buy a new--or suitably used--temporal contextualizer ... for a friend.