It has become very very difficult indeed, to keep up with the growth and expansion of breweries in Ontario. But one brewery that didn’t slip between the ever widening cracks in my attention was Cowbell Brewing Co, the soon-to-be-opened farm brewery in Blyth Ontario, that aims to be a fully carbon-neutral brewery. Even if I wasn’t friends with Stephen Rich who will be brewing with them, the buzz around this project has been hard to miss. They are distributing their Absent Landlord Kolsch, and recently sent out cans of their Doc Perdue’s Bobcat West Coast Red Ale (in the type of box that has become ubiquitous with hip beer releases of late: generally padded with wood shavings and branded with a logo, except this one is apparently locally-made with reclaimed wood, keeping in step with their mandate). I confess to having consumed the first of the two cans greedily and with no intention of review. It was just damn tasty and I wanted it. So without further delay, let’s see what’s inside this lovely can.
From a 473ml tallboy can, Doc Perdue’s Bobcat pours a brilliantly clear dark copper with chestnut shades in the centre. A dense off-white head drops to a thick layer that might harken to an Aran sweater — or that might just be the fanciful imaginings of a suggestible mind. The aroma is simultaneously very hoppy, and yet balanced. Like, the first thing you get is a big shot of the hops, but you immediately notice the lovely malts too. Hops are juicy and fruity, with oranges and mangoes, with a little evergreen for that West Coast pedigree. Malts are mostly toasty and sweet, but not too caramelly, and —I hate making guesses like this in public but— perhaps there isn’t as much crystal malts as a lot of breweries would use in a similar brew? Not sure, but either way, it’s an enticing aroma to be sure. Taste is not as aggressive as the nose hints at, though it is still a big layered beer. Hops aren’t as juicy, though still show bright citrus and a bit of mango. There is more evergreen or pine tastes now, and there is a nice herbal quality to the hopping. Again, the malts are not hiding here, or just playing a supporting role. Just a little sweet, with plenty of toast and late-season wheat fields. Finish is dry and bitter with the hops, leaving a lingering pine and black tea astringency. Medium – body (to use a descriptor system I learned watching Somm and I like a lot), with a fine but very active carbonation. The weight gives a good foundation for all the interplay between the hops and the malts. A really lovely beer that shows great complexity, but remains approachable for all but the most cold-yellow-beer-loving drinker.
Buy Doc Perdue’s Bobcat
At the LCBO (#493247) and great beer bars around Ontario.
Drink This With
I’m thinking some type of savoury pie. There is clearly enough hops to keep up with a good spicy dish, but I kind of want to play more with the malts, and as well, let the hops work against the richness of a good flaky crust. It could just be your classic beef or pork pie, but if you could get something a little more complex, maybe even something spicy, wait! Maybe the answer is a Jamaican patty. Especially a nice fresh one (not from the 7/11). Savoury and spicy, with a rich flaky crust. It could be heaven. Your go-to’s for hop-loving cheeses are going to work well here: nice sharp cheddar, ideally with some funk. But try it with a rich gouda and see if you can pull more of the malts out of the beer that way.
About Cowbell Brewing
Dreams are Bigger in Blyth. As we continue to expand into LCBO locations, restaurants and pubs across Ontario, we are humbled by the call for ‘More Cowbell!’ The Cowbell Farm in Blyth is under construction and our dream to have North America’s First Carbon Neutral Brewery is becoming an exciting reality. We are also proud of our Greener Pastures Community Fund – just one of the ways we are saying thank you for being part of the journey.
Come see us in Blyth. Opening Summer 2017!