Monday, March 12, 2012

En Garde!

When I first heard the name of Mill Street Brew Pub's latest Ottawa offering, I jokingly asked, "Is the water for this beer taken from the Chaudière Falls?" The water from the Ottawa River is not always known for its cleanliness, and sometimes the water near the Chaudière Falls appears somewhat murky.

And then I saw the Mill Street Ambre de la Chaudière, and I thought hmm...

Ambre de la Chaudière
Façon Normandie
7% alc/vol
While they do use Ottawa water, they don't siphon it directly from the water that flows past the brew pub. And, according to Head Brewer, Adam Rader, the water in Ottawa is very good for brewing. Much better than the water they use at their Toronto brewery. Ours is softer. Take that, Toronto!

Ambre de la Chaudière is a Bière de Garde, a style of beer made in northern France, usually made in the winter or spring, and is designed to be kept year-round, often enjoyed over the summer. It is a beer that can be aged, hence its name, which essentially means "beer for keeping."

A Bière de Garde can be anywhere from pale straw to a rich copper. Mill Street's offering is more to the latter and is unfiltered, giving it a murky appearance. I found the colour to be a rich amber, like dried apricots, that almost seems to glow from within. The head is a rich cream colour.

The nose carries rich fruit, and I was reminded of the days when I fed my girls as infants, when they ate those jars of Gerber fruit. Most notably, I detected banana and pear. It was a rich, sweet smell that made me excited in anticipation of tasting it.

I wasn't disappointed.

The intense fruit carried onto the palate and was balanced with mild clove. This beer has a wonderfully full body and a most-satisfying finish. Surprisingly, the high alcohol level does not come out in the nose or in the mouth: Ambre de la Chaudière has clout without knocking you over the head. The alcohol level, no doubt, only helps this beer age.

Mill Street has a clear winner with its latest offering from its Ottawa brewery. Of the three beers it produces on site (the other two being the Portage Ale and the Valley Irish Red), the Ambre de la Chaudière is clearly my favourite.

Possibly, one of the top three beers of Mill Street's entire line.

You can pick some up to take home from the gift shop in the pub (where it's available in bottles, growlers, or kegs), or you can sit yourself down for a meal and enjoy it in the pub.

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