One of the benefits in the surge in craft brewing, is the impact it is having on the big guys. Yes, we get crap like Shocktop, but we also get killer brands like Goose Island, Elysian, and even Ballast Point getting bought and having much wider distribution, with (arguably) no decrease in quality (and in some cases, an increase due to access to funds). Also, big brewers are starting to produce brands that lean towards the crafty side of the scale. Brands that enjoy near-universal hatred from the uber-beer-geeks like Alexander Keiths earn grudging admissions of acceptance from some for their single-hop series. And it is in that vein that Sleeman has brought out Railside Session Ale. Apparently there is some back story about hops falling off of rail cars on their way to the brewery back in the day, and growing along the rail line. This seems just to be a romantic bit of marketing (hops are propagated through rhizomes cut from their roots, and for the sake of producing usable plants, only the female plants are gown, so there are no seeds to be dropped and grow). Regardless, if this means another beer that isn’t offensive and widely available when you find yourself in a big-beer bar, it’s all good.
From a tall boy can, Railside Session Ale pours a brilliantly clear golden yellow. About 1″ of head drops pretty quickly. Aroma is malty, with a grassy, slightly herbal hop. Taste is actually not as sweet as I was expecting. There is a touch of grainy malt, but a notable clean hop bitterness dominates. It’s not a particularly hoppy or bitter beer, but the balance definitely tilts towards the bitter side of the scale. If there was a bit of a fruity thing from the yeast, this would basically drink like an English golden ale. Still, it’s a pretty solid simple beer. It’s not going to have geeks fawning, but if I got handed one at a party or a bar, I would happily drink it.
If you dig this beer, and want to get paid to tour Canada and big it up, Sleeman is currently running a contest to pick two people to help them introduce Railside Session Ale to the country. Check it out here: http://sleeman.ca/railsidetour
Buy Railside Session Ale
Drink It With
I’m going to use it in my batter for fish and chips, and drink it with that, and I think you should too.
About Sleeman Breweries Limited
Sleeman Breweries Ltd. is the third largest brewing company nation-‐wide. The company has supplemented its core Sleeman brands, which are available in every province, with a family of exceptional regional brands. These include Okanagan Spring in British Columbia and Unibroue in Quebec as well as Old Milwaukee and Pabst Blue Ribbon. In 2006, Sleeman Breweries Limited was acquired by Sapporo Holdings Limited of Japan. The company markets and/or distributes world class imported products such as Guinness & Harp and is supported by 1,000 employees.