Day 18 – Black Oak Brewing Co – Neck of the Woods Vintage Ale

Day 18 - Black Oak Brewing Co - Neck of the Woods Vintage Ale

Well, today I had the opportunity to try some pretty good beer.  The Liquor Mart near my house was doing a tasting of the Westvleteren 12.  For those who are unfamiliar, Westvleteren 12 is considered by many to be some of the best beer in the world.  It is made by Trappist monks in Belgium and has been brewing beer since 1838.  They brew in incredibly small batches and they are VERY hard to get. They had to fix their roof in 2012 and so some actually made it over to Canada. Today I got to try one of those that had been aging since then.  But, that’s another story.

Today we have a beer coming to us from Black Oak Brewing Co. based in Etobicoke, Ontario.  It is a beer made especially for this advent calendar and is called “Neck of the Woods” and it is an Old Ale.

Black Oak Brewing was founded in 1999 in Oakville Ontario by Ken Woods, owner and president of the brewery.  In 2008 they made the move to Etobicoke and have been brewing there ever since.  Like most craft breweries, they really care about the beer they are making and are sticklers for quality.  They take extreme caution in the production of their beers and only use traditional brewing processes and quality, Canadian, ingredients.  As well, they make an effort to use environmentally friendly materials throughout the whole process.

Black Oak Brewing brews using a 20 hectolitre brew house.  They have four 40 hectolitre unitanks and two 40 hectolitre bright beer tanks in their 11,000sq/ft space. All of their brewing equipment is stainless steel and custom made in Canada. They have a strong team and produce a number of interesting sounding beers, from year-rounds, to seasonal, to special series of beers.  I’ll be interested in making a visit the next time I visit Toronto.

The beer we are drinking today is an Old Ale.  Really, it is an American Strong Ale, but this term is a catch all that refers to a number of different styles.  Based on some of the reading, I’m leaning towards this one being an old ale.  Old Ales range from dark amber to almost black in colour.  With soft aroma and varying levels of bitterness.  Dark fruits are common as are intense malt flavours and sharp alcohol notes. The brewer describes this beer as being “strong, yes smooth: a full-bodied ale. You’ll get lots of dark fruit and caramel notes too!”  It sounds pretty nice and I’m excited to give it a try.

Rating:  85/100

Appearance:  Dark amber, off white head that fades relatively quickly (stays long enough for a picture)
Smell: Salted caramel, dark fruit and alcohol are prominent with hints of roasted malt and chocolate
Taste:  Roasted malt, alcohol, raisins and black currants come through. Caramel is not noticeable in the flavor as much as it is on the nose.  Sharp bitterness on the front with a warm alcohol finish that lingers.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, good carbonation, sharp bitterness on front and warm lingering alcohol finish.
Pretty good indeed.  I’d be interested to see how it would age. There are some sharp notes that might balance out.  Overall I found this one to be quite a strong beer with a lot of different flavours going for it.
Do I like it: Yeah, I did.  Like I said above, it might be interesting to age one and see how it turns out. I thought it was nice as is and would be happy to drink it again. It makes me want to visit even more.


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