Cameron’s Brewing has never really been what you might call an overly adventurous brewery. Yeah, they’ve put out some experimental one-offs for their monthly Cask Nights at the brewery and the odd special event, but their main efforts over the years have been focused on a line-up of four beers that are solid enough, but not exactly envelope-pushing.
Given that history, it made sense that some eyebrows were raised when it was announced last November that former Molson marketing executive Bill Coleman had joined Cameron’s as co-owner and president. Exciting or not, Cameron’s is still a well-respected craft brewery, and there was some concern that Coleman was a guy with big brewery ideas who was swooping in to take away the few interesting things that were happening at Cameron’s in favour of the bottom line.
Thankfully, though, that hasn’t seemed to be the case. If anything, it looks like Coleman might be encouraging the brewers to get more creative, assuming this new beer – a 7.4% ale aged in a Jack Daniel’s cask and released in a limited edition of 150 bottles – is any indication.
Out of the bottle, the beer instantly grabs some attention with its rich and slightly hazy chestnut-mahogany body capped with a moderate sized off-white head. On the nose, it’s big without being aggressive, with notes of whiskey, vanilla, wood, caramel malt and cocoa all nicely balanced. The flavour holds just what the aroma suggests – a well-integrated blend of mellow sippin’ whiskey and a strong and smooth malty ale – with a hint of sour wood and subtle hops in the finish.
My only real complaint is that the palate is a little light, and should the series continue, I’d be interested to see a fuller bodied beer being used in a future installment. But that’s a minor quibble over an otherwise fine brew that is hopefully a sign of more good and interesting things come from the brewery under Coleman’s watch.
Cameron’s Oak-Aged Series – American Whiskey Barrel is available now at the Cameron’s Brewery store in Oakville, priced at $12.95 per 750 ml bottle.