Monday, December 03, 2007

BEERNADA - Wellington Iron Duke Strong Ale

Well, it's been longer than we hoped, but here's the second "official" Beernada column by Zach Aromyces. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Dr. Aromyces and do not represent the views of Johnada or our parent corporation, TimeWarnerNikeMolsonRBC Inc. Of course, if you want to offer free beer or merchandise because of what is said, then the views definitely represent our opinion.First of all, my sincerest apologies to all of you who have been waiting patiently for a second Beernada review. As Johnada explained, I had to undertake a courageous stand against the Esplanade Meat Market’s ostentatious list of Belgian beers by launching a Beerpeace strike against the Markt’s fawning of corporate Big Beer, ultimately resulting in my solo voyage in the Hoegaarden cooler down the St. Lawrence River. Alas, before reaching the open ocean, I was run ashore when my vessel sprang a leak after pounding into the side of a 1000-foot ( approximately 400 Canadian meters) Portuguese ship carrying 10,000 cases (approximately 120,000 Canadian bottles) of red Douro bound for Montreal. For those of you who don’t know, Beerpeace is modeled on Greenpeace. (N.B. as much as I condone the use of violence as a form of social dissent--or, actually, for any reason--Beernada and his associates are in no way associated with Greenpeace).

Before I launch into my review of Wellington Iron Duke, I need to clarify one important item. Johnada has not been entirely earnest with his “fair and balanced” approach to covering our competition for excelling at worthless activities. Although Johnada’s poor performance at darts is a disappointment to some, I will be the first to commend his form (though he could probably stand to put on 10 pounds of muscle). More preposterous is Johnada’s characterization of my absence at Jimmy’s karaoke as “too scared.” This is blatantly untrue and slanderous (no doubt, a shocking realization for most blog readers): I WAS IN THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER WHEN YOU WENT TO JIMMY’S!* Let’s try to maintain the high standards of honesty and factuality that this blog was founded on. To see how, read on.

Brewed in Guelph, Ontario at the Wellington County Brewery, Wellington Iron Duke Strong Ale is, as the name suggests, an ale. Beers can be classified into two broad categories depending on the type of yeast used in the fermentation process: lagers use yeasts that settle to the bottom during fermentation (bottom-fermenters), while ales use yeasts that rise to the top during fermentation (top-fermenters). Although the line between ales and lagers is blurring with modern brewing technologies, ales tend to be fruitier and lagers tend to be cleaner in taste. (I recommend double-checking all of Beernada’s facts with Charles Bamforth.)

The brawny, tawny Iron Duke pours like a proud admiral of the Wellington Army. It is dark, but not opaque, with amber highlights in a rich, clear tamarind-brown liquid matrix. (For the love of god, people, pour this beer into a goblet! – use a red wine glass if you don’t have a Duvel or Chimay goblet handy). It is lightly carbonated, letting the bitterness of the hops, the carbonized bitterness from roasted malts, and the delicate effervescence-like tickle from the mineral water frame the complex body. Partly as a result of the low carbonation, there is a dearth of foam that survives long after pouring. (There is actually a complex molecular explanation involving proteins and alcohol that better explains the foam phenomenon – check with Chuck B.) Most traditional British-style beers are lightly carbonated, so this seems in-line with the brewery’s apparent emphasis on styles from the homeland. Iron Duke weighs in at 6.5% alcohol by volume, a respectable but by no means beefy beverage. This ale’s aroma is best when it is warmed slightly (cellar temp is traditional, but I really prefer it at room temp), and it is surprisingly subtle. Do I detect the famed calcium-induced Bass Ale aroma of pear? I was expecting (perhaps wanting) there to be a pronounced raisin-like aroma, the signature fragrance of the noble Fuggles and East Kent Goldings hops that are characteristic of many British beers, but I can only detect a mild dried fruit flavours (raisins, prunes) in the middle and back of the mouth. Perhaps they opted for colonial hops instead. What this beer tastes like, to me, is a gourmet s’more doused in single malt scotch whiskey (perhaps one from Speyside) and set afire: graham cracker flavours stand out at the front of the mouth, followed by the warmth of alcohol that heralds in the rich, malty body (but not marshmallow-sweet…in fact, it is quite a dry beer), and ends with roasted, chocolaty notes. It is very slightly smoky and salty, plus there is a very subtle hint of ginger. This is a beer for a cold Ontario night in front of a dysfunctional fireplace that billows smoke into the entire apartment. I would know.

I would much rather save Iron Duke than Hoegaarden from the throes of the clientèle at the Esplanade. Luckily, I didn’t need to because they don’t carry it (…maybe they do, I was too blinded by the gigantic TV screen to read the menu). This is one of the best native Canadian beers I’ve had. I give it four Molsons, a new record! If there were a bigger emphasis on the noble hops aroma (and a slightly fruitier fermentation), this would be a contender for Beernada’s Beer Hall of Fame (not to be confused with Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame, though considering the BBHF’s popularity as a tourist destination, it would be easy to do). America, seek this beer out, even if it means canoeing into Canada.

Questions? Comments? Hatemail? Email Zach at

*While we highly encourage our employees to be active outside of Johnada, when a required event takes place and an employee has not been granted prior permission to be absent, all absences will be recorded as fear. It's in the handbook.


beaverboosh said...

How you transform the sensory tickle from tongue and palette to such prosaic discourse is mind numbing! You are surely destined to do for beer in Canada what Jilly and Oz did for wine in the UK!

beaverboosh said...

P.S. Thanks for the tip on the Hoegaarden cooler! Effin Belgiums eh! Would never have happened to a Warsteiner cooler!

Clarissa said...

Thanks for writing this. 2008

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