Continuing with my lager exploration, I’ve circled back to one that I first tried soon after it was introduced, one that I drank on location at the original Mill Street Brewery in Toronto’s “Distillery District.” The brewery first started production in 2002 and was one of Toronto’s first craft brewers and deserves recognition for being at the forefront of the movement to make beer once again an art rather than just a beverage consumed by the blue-collar men. It also deserves recognition as Ontario’s first certified organic beer.
One of the first and most eminent of their creations is their organic lager which, at 4.2%, has more backbone than you’d expect. While the beer pours with a very active and ample head, the carbonation is on the lower end and, once the head dissipates, you’ll be left with a beer on the flatter end of the scale. The waters are a cool bright gold with just a hint of haze and it is not uncommon to find a bit of sediment in the bottom of the bottle from the residual yeasts. If you didn’t know better, I’d wager you think you had a glass of apple juice in front of you.
True to many lagers, the yeast is prevalent, not just in the bottom of the glass, which is owing to the distinct fermentation method associated with lagers. Up front, the beer is mostly grassy, yeast, and sweetness on the tongue, a sweetness that pulls in some apple fruitiness in the middle and ends with a refreshing, off-sour aftertaste. All in all, if don’t like the smell of beer, this is one that isn’t going to offend many drinkers with its rather thin aroma. Obviously at 4.2% the beer lacks some gravity and it does have a thinness to it, for certain. Having said that, I’d expect it to taste much thinner than it does, so good work by the malts and hops and which is why I say this beer has some surprising backbone to it – so I don’t think it would be fair to say the beer is watery.
I will say that it’s far from being my favourite lager out there – my vote still goes to Beau’s Lugtread Lager – but Mill Street’s is not going to offend many people. It would be a great beer at baseball game … or with friends after a baseball game with nachos and wings. Because of the low alcohol and refreshing flavour, I’d say this is a quaffing beer, not a sipping beer, and decent enough when the hot rays of summer strike us again.
Stats: Lager. 4.2% Toronto, Ontario.
Colour: Medium gold, unfiltered
Mouth Feel: Light flavour, low gravity, ultimately thin and light in the mouth with refreshing finish.
Purchased: LCBO (and available at many other distributors)