Prince Edward County is, in many respects, a home away from home, for Jess and I. Indeed, it is a place that is home to our hearts. If you’ve followed us and our story in these pages, you know that it is where we were engaged and where, last year, almost to the day, that we were married. So it seemed appropriate that “The County” (as it is known to those who know it and are from it), a place so rich in meaning and belonging, should expand from the its base of wine to include some wonderful new craft start ups … and that is equally appropriate that we return here to restart our reviews after a busy and very full summer which saw us take some time off from blogging.
Parsons Brewing is a new company which has at its heart family and community. It is meaningfully expressed in one of their flagship brews, “GRANDPA MIGUEL’S COFFEE STOUT” which is a “smooth stout topped off with Samantha’s father’s organic coffee grown on the sloped coastline of volcanic Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Deep notes of toasty chocolate from dark malt grown in Patagonia, Chile and an uncompromising coffee punch balanced by the citrus and herbal aromas.” The Central American roots of ‘Sam’ — the ‘front man’ for the business and the brewer’s wife — is also well represented in the “Mexican and Southern Comfort” fare served at the brewery as well as the architecture and styling of the brewery: “the farm brewery encompasses two 150yr old heritage lumber buildings that were disassembled, moved and repurposed as our bottle shop and tap room.” All to say, the beer is awesome and the brewery is a warm treasure that feels like ‘family’ … a place of heart and love and craft.
Out of the gate and at launch — we were there only a few weeks after it opened — the brewery started with a long long list of brews and taps which are smartly built of a handful of brews which anchor different versions. One of these is its “Mousetrap,” a rye ale which is reviewed below.
from the Brewer: “A complex beer with the punchy profile of Rye malt balanced by the rich almost nutty flavour of Maris Otter. Throw in heavy-handed late hops additions and you have a beer that challenges every taste bud on your palate. ”
How Did We Rate It?
Stats: Rye Pale Ale ♦ 6.6% ABV; 45 IBUs ♦ Prince Edward County, Ontario.
Colour: Dark amber; Unfiltered
Mouth Feel: low/light carbonation; slightly creamy
Location/Price: Purchased at brewery ♦ $6.10 ♦ 650mL bottle
Pairings: Ribs; pulled pork; something with some sweetness but which would like some earthy bitterness (). ♦ Spicy chicken wings, dry ribs, jerk chicken, spicy peanuts, bread pudding()
New craft breweries are popping up all over the place, including in Prince Edward County (PEC), a wine producing region of Ontario we love very much. As seems to be our tradition the last couple of years, we closed our annual trip to PEC this year with a trip to a new local brewery. This year, we stopped in to visit Parsons Brewing Company and enjoyed our visit very much. The young man pouring beer in the taproom was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the beer and we sampled quite a few delicious ones inside this renovated old barn, full of reclaimed wood and character.
The Mousetrap Rye Pale Ale was one of the beers we tasted, enjoyed and brought home. This beer pours very pretty – dark golden amber like honey, very slightly reddish. There is not a lot of head on this beer but the small ring of foam hung around for the whole tasting.
The nose of this rye ale is earthy, woody and malty/caramel, very slight yeast scent. I can smell a hint of bitterness tickling my nostrils.
On first taste my impression is a really balanced beer with some nice malty, nutty character, full bodied but very drinkable. First taste is smooth with light carbonation and some warming in the mouth – it feels so good. The malts are really nice – just the right amount to bring slight caramel and a little, but not too much sweetness, a bit nutty and it works so well with the rye bitterness that makes up the 45 IBU. It is full bodied and full flavoured but not a highly complex beer – and I think quite easy to pair with most anything nice and salty, spicy or sweet. I’m thinking salty dry ribs or some bread pudding or even vanilla ice cream. The aftertaste leaves a bit of nice residual bitterness that hangs around in the back of the throat – not a shy beer at all.
I wouldn’t necessarily choose this beer to sip on its own and I think really begs to be had with food. With the right meal, I think it is a great beer and maybe my ratings would have been higher. Even a bowl of spicy peanuts would do the trick! ;o)
I like this rye pale ale a lot – though not as much as BTP’s Rye Guy which just really stands out in its class though I agree with Dale that the mouthfeel on this one is better. Looking forward to next year’s visit!
First Taste (10) = 8
Appearance (5) = 5
Aftertaste (15) = 13
Aroma (10) = 7.5
Mouthfeel (10) = 10
Overall: (10): = 8
51.5/60 = 86%
This is definitely a beer that ‘takes me back’ — and really, food/drink should inspire and transport us as much as it does bring simple pleasure. This beer has been in our fridge since Victoria Day … it’s mates have long been drank and enjoyed. But we saved this one for review.
It pours a beautiful, brown-amber with just a hint of opaqueness which tells me that its not filtered, but it doesn’t say “mud.” Pour it as hard as you want, I don’t think you can get this to foam up and/or over. There are ample bubbles, but, I think, the hop profile would explain something of why this doesn’t get all foamy (with medium IBUs) and leaves a very comfortable mouthfeel that just makes you want to guzzle it. Similarly, the lacing on the glass doesn’t stick … it falls back into the glass as the beer washes back after a sip. Fundamentally, this is “malt”-centred beer which has surprisingly present hop notes which balance out the sweetness of the rye.
The flavour is, not surprisingly, a rye dominated profile … and as a lover of great and good rye-PAs, this is a very good one with all the tell-tale markers you’d expect and want to see. There is a bit of sour bread (read: rye bread sour dough); there is earthiness mixed with metal (read: iron from the rye); there is sweetness from the toasted malts; and there is definitely caramel and nuttiness as well.
All in all, it is an incredibly balanced beer which is likely the softest (not overly astringent as some RyePAs go) and best mouth-feeling RyePA I’ve had. Indeed, my standard when it comes to the style is Beyond the Pale’s “Rye Guy” (previously reviewed by me here) and one of my go-to beers … but this one, hmm, this one I think I like better because, in large degree, the mouthfeel is damn near perfect. Ultimately, “balance” is the word I keep coming back to with each sip. It just coats the mouth with the sweet nutty malts at the start, gets soft, then warm as the rye comes through, and then ‘burns’ a bit as it finishes. Quite the journey in a sip … and one I will continue to enjoy for awhile … while looking forward to ‘next year’ as we make Parsons one of the key stops on our yearly pilgrimage back to The County.
First Taste (10) = 9
Appearance (5) = 4.75
Aftertaste (15) = 13.75
Aroma (10) = 8.25
Mouthfeel (10) = 9.75
Overall: (10): = 9.25
54.75/60 = 91%
Overall: 88.5 points
We both very much enjoyed this beer and all the beers from Parsons. As I say, a visit to the brewery is likely to be one of the first stops in coming years as we journey back to The County each spring. It’s that good and worth it … and Mousetrap is a winning goal. Perhaps a better ‘fall’ or winter beer than summer drink, it nevertheless is a very sessionable and refreshing brew which will appeal to a lot of beer drinkers, not just hop heads and not just pale ale drinkers either. That said, Dale definitely loved this one more than Jess — which does mean she didn’t love it, but we’re going to score this one a “Him.” Either way, if you’re in the area, definitely seek it out as it isn’t in the LCBO yet … and if you do, let us know what you think too.