Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Alexander Keith's Nova Scotia Style Lager, Pale Ale, and Brown Ale

Alexander Keith's is a Canadian quasi-craft brewery that was acquired by the Anheuser Busch-InBev machine fairly recently. Now the world's biggest brewery conglomerate wants to start making their beers for American audiences. Having tried three of their authentic Canadian brews which were mediocre, I totally understand AB-InBev thinking these beers would appeal to American drinkers.

I was contacted recently by one of their representatives who offered to send me these three beers in exchange for participating in a "virtual tasting with the brewer" on their Facebook page. I did film and tried to make the video centered around that experience, but it just didn't work out. So I wound up having to review three already-poured, half-drunk beers back-to-back-to-back.
Alexander Keith's Nova Scotia Style Lager

   AROMA 4/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 4/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
Chad9976 (630) - Albany, USA - JUN 7, 2011
I poured a 12oz bottle into an official Alexander Keith’s IPA glass.

Appearance: Amber to dark gold with plenty of carbonation bubbles. Forms a bright white, sudsy head which evaporates and leaves no lacing.

Smell: European cheap canned beer smell or Canadian canned "ice" lager smell. Similar to wet rubber gloves. Very grainy and sour. Supposedly this beer is adjunct-free, so how does it smell so damn cheap?

Taste: Like so many other cheap macro lagers. Although this beer is literally brewed by Anheuser Busch, if it tasted like Budweiser it’d be an improvement for sure. All cheap, dirty grain all the time. Rubber gloves as well, plus some generic sour flavors. Not skunky to be sure, which is sad because that tells me this beer is meant to taste this way. It’s basically repacked Molson Ice. Yuck.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, thin, water, wet. Quite gassy.

Drinkability: Between the bad taste and the bubbly body, this is not as sluggable as it should be. Drinking it on a hot summer’s not it wasn’t even refreshing. The 5.4% ABV seems a little high.

Overall, it’s just another lame macro lager from a lame macro brewery that sold out to the world’s lamest macro brewery.

Grade: 3/10

Alexander Keith's Nova Scotia Style Pale Ale

   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 4/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
Chad9976 (630) - Albany, USA - JUN 7, 2011
I poured a 12oz bottle into an official Alexander Keith’s Red Amber Ale glass.

Appearance: Dark amber/gold with massive carbonation present. This looks like a lager, not a pale ale. Forms a small, white, soapy head which dissipates and leaves next to no lacing.

Smell: Virtually odorless. Somewhat lager-like with a cheap grain smell. The faintest hint of citrus, but nothing else.

Taste: Looks like a lager and tastes like a lager. Crisp, effervescent body with cheap grain flavor. No adjuncts present, but not much of anything else, either. The faintest trace of citrus and flowers, but only if you really pay attention. The weakest, mildest pale ale I’ve ever had.

Mouthfeel: Thin, crispy, watery, bubbly.

Drinkability: While not as gassy as a macro lager, it’s pretty close. Watery, bland palate makes it go down easily. 5.4% ABV seems high for this beer. It’s a pale ale lite.

Overall, probably the worst pale ale I’ve ever had - not so much due to any repulsiveness - but due to an extreme lack of quality and genuine flavor.

Grade: 3/10

Alexander Keith's Nova Scotia Style Brown Ale

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (630) - Albany, USA - JUN 7, 2011
I poured a 12oz bottle into an official Alexander Keith’s Irish stout glass.

Appearance: Dark maroon with some transparency. Forms a small, white, soapy head which mostly dissipates and leaves minor lacing. No carbonation present.

Smell: The first AK beer to actually have genuine aroma. Very sweet like soda with maple syrup and caramel being the most prominent.

Taste: By far the most robust beer in the Alexander Keith’s lineup, although that’s not saying a lot. Yes this beer is very flavorful, but it’s because it tastes more like a soda than a beer. Massive maple syrup, caramel and toffee flavors here. Taste noticeable artificial as if high fructose corn syrup or aspartame or some other chemical was responsible for the syrupy flavors rather than anything truly organic.

It’s plenty flavorful and the sweetness is enjoyable - if you’ve got a sweet tooth. I usually love sweet beers, but this was a little obnoxious. It becomes cloyingly sweet halfway through, which is a shame since a more authentic brown ale palate lurks beneath the candy-like taste here.

Mouthfeel: Thin, tepid, somewhat soft but not watery per se.

Drinkability: While not exactly the kind of beer you’d want to chug, this beer does go down quite smooth. The sweetness never lightens up, though, so it’s just as lively on the tongue at the end as it is as at the beginning. The 5.4% ABV seems a tad high, but I don’t think this is truly a session beer despite the style.

Overall, an above average beer, but an amazing beer coming from Alexander Keith’s. If they would turn down the sweetness and concentrate on genuine brown ale style they’d have a winner instead of an also-ran.

Grade: 6/10

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