Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Beer O'Clock: HogsBack Vintage Lager

I don't know why I stopped drinking lagers a few years ago. I really need to be less of a beer snob if I'm to continue reviewing beer. After all, I'm not doing it just for myself.

I'm doing it for you.

If you've been following my weekly beer review (oh, and by the way, you'll notice that I've added a title to my reviews: Beer O'Clock. I'm hoping that it will make it easier to find reviews down the road), you'll know that I have a big preference for stouts and IPAs. I find that dark beer has lots more flavour and I just love a great, hoppy ale.

But you don't have to always go to a stout or IPA to find flavour and hops.

Take it from HogsBack Brewery.

HogsBack is the product of four Ottawa-area beer lovers—Jerry Demetriadis, Paige Cutland, Frank Costello, and Mark Richardson—who, after consulting with like-minded individuals in the craft-brewing world, produced their first beer in 2010. Along with their flagship beer, Vintage Lager, the four have also produced a couple of seasonals with more to come.

I first tried HogsBack's beer at the Taste of Barrhaven event earlier this spring in my community. The brewery was there with other local breweries, such as Kichesippi, Broadhead, and Beau's.

I enjoy all of these brewers, but for that evening, the only brewery I that I stopped at and then returned to—twice—was HogsBack. I enjoyed the lager that they had on tap. And now, many LCBO locations throughout the province have it available for you. So now you can enjoy it too.
Here are my notes:
HogsBack Vintage Lager
HogsBack Brewing Company
Ottawa, Ontario
LCBO: $2.60, 473 ml can; 5.2% ABV
When I think of lagers that I used to drink, I think of Pilsners, like Labatt's Blue, or Molson Canadian. And because I'd rather be hanged, drawn, and quartered than drink a product by either Labatt or Molson, I've avoided lagers.

(Okay, that's strong language. But I promised myself, years ago, that I'd never put a Molson Canadian or Labatt Blue to my lips again. Some day, I'll tell you why.)

HogsBack Vintage Lager uses Munich, Vienna, and two-row barley malt with Saaz hops to make this European-styled lager.

This beer has a beautiful, deep gold hue. On top of HogsBack's luscious colour (literally) stands a white, foamy head. The foam doesn't last long, but clings to the sides of the glass for most of the way down the glass.

On the nose, I picked up light hops and traces of the German yeast. And on the palate, there were mild hops and just a faint hint of honey. The finish was long and left me with thoughts of fresh bread.

This is a nice, full-bodied lager with a clean taste. I could see myself sitting on a downtown patio, eating nachos and washing them down with some Vintage Lager. I remember that as I wandered around during the Taste of Barrhaven fund raiser, sampling food from around our community, this lager went well with the lamb sliders.

HogsBack Vintage Lager is a crowd pleaser. I'm sure it will do very well for itself and will become a mainstay of the Ottawa craft-brewing community. And because it is now widely available in Ontario, it will reach a much broader range of beer connoisseurs.