Stats: Wheat Beer. 5.3% ABV. Collingwood, Ontario.
Size: 473mL can
Colour: Muted, unfiltered straw blonde
Mouth Feel: Medium carbonation with a spicy but dry finish.
Pairing Notes: Grilled Chicken
→ 87 points
Third up on the “CAN”-do count-down is a wheat ale from the small Georgian Bay community of Collingwood known more for its spas and shopping and ‘mountain’ vista than anything … but also increasingly becoming known for its emerging distilling industry and now craft brew making as well.
I have to say say, I’m intrigued — greatly intrigued — at the relief map and compass coordinates festooned all over the can. It’s an unusual and quite attractive package, that’s for sure.
Pour the beer, and Bavarian sunshine flows into the glass … appropriate for a wheat beer brewed in the German style — which if you recall from recent posts on wheat ales (see Orange Weisse) means that this uses malted wheat as the principle ingredient. So yes, this is probably a beer those avoiding gluten should shun. If, however, you’re like me and love gluten, well, dive in and enjoy these flavourful malts. However, given its German influence, it may surprise this has Belgian resemblance. This is surprising because the Belgians are often spiced (e.g. coriander; anise; clove; orange peel) whereas the German’s don’t. Nevertheless, this beer is spicy off the nose and even more in the mouth where the clove and mace round out the middle tastes. Bookending these flavours — which are well profiled on the can — are certainly some upfront citrus on one side and an ending where the malts, in nice balance with the hops, bring a touch of sweetness in the form of banana.
The beer certainly pours with ample head, but it disappears relatively quickly and drains off the sides of the glass like the waters of carwash off a windshield. Still, the bitters are there and in the right quantity for the style.
How does a brewery only a year old pull off such a remarkable and refined beer? Well, one of the secrets lies in the fact that this is not really a ‘new’ beer; though Side Launch has only been around since 2013, they in fact ‘merged’ or absorbed a previous Collingwood brewery called Denison’s and, in doing so, chose to maintain their well-regarded weissbier which they rebranded and relaunched as their own. The result is a beer with a lot of history and not surprisingly a lot of flavour. All in all, this is very tasty, not overly crazy example of a wheat ale that should have a huge cross appeal for its balance: sweet but dry, flavourful yet subtle. Well-worth a visit especially if wheat ales are your ‘thing.’ I’ll definitely be revisiting this when the warm weather re-arrives next year.