As a Canadian trying to find new beer to enjoy, it’s all too easy to focus on the import section of the beer store. As it stands, most of my favorite products come from either Europe or the U.S. Occasionally I feel as though there should be more local brews on my favorite beer list. To that end, I often have to remind myself to try beer made by my fellow Canadians. To that end, I recently picked up a six pack of Brewmaster’s Choice Brown Ale.
I was surprised to learn Roughneck Brewing was located in a nearby small farming town. Roughneck Brewing was established in Calmar, Alberta in 2007 by former oil worker Terry Cameron. Cameron, a long time home brewer was tired of oil work and decided it was time to try something new. And with their original line-up of Pipeline Lager and Driller Ale (which I never had the opportunity to try) Cameron got his new business up and running.
In the fall of 2010, Cameron decided it was time to abandon the original line-up, canning line and all, and produce something more in line with Alberta’s craft brewing scene. Today Roughneck Brewing produces a brown ale and an IPA, both under the “Brewmaster’s Choice” label. Today you can find their beer in liquor stores all over central and southern Alberta. Brewmaster’s Choice is on shelves as far east as Cold Lake and as far south as Calgary.
Pouring my first glass, Brewmaster’s Choice Brown gives me a deep ruby colored ale. Head is tan, fluffy, and fairly lasting. Brewmaster’s choice is malty and slightly yeasty up front. Malt is supported by caramel and brown sugar. Center is very noticeable in its presence of brown sugar. Beneath the brown sugar is something that reminds me of dark fruit. Unfortunately I’m not getting any hop presence in the aroma. This ale’s aroma would benefit from the notes of damp earth and peppercorns provided by English hops.
Brewmaster’s choice is medium bodied and malty sweet up front. Fortunately, flavor doesn’t entirely follow the nose. On the tongue sweetness is more caramelized dark fruit with undertones of molasses. Finish is dry, almost astringent. Again there’s no appreciable hop presence in the palate.
All in all, Brewmaster’s Choice Brown Ale deserves a 6.6 out of 10. I can’t fault this beer for being a bad tasting brew. It just falls short on what it could be. It’s sweet without the noticeable hop presence to balance the sweetness. Unfortunately, it lacks the complexity and depth other examples of the style have.