Unless you live in a cave somewhere, you’ve probably already tried Railway City Brewing’s Dead Elephant IPA. It’s a perfectly solid little IPA that, for my money, ranks up there with Great Lakes Brewing’s Crazy Canuck among the best of the easier to drink Ontario IPAs. That is, for me, Muskoka’s Mad Tom IPA currently rules supreme when it comes to my go-to IPA, but when I’m looking to pick up a slightly easier to drink, hoppy Ontario beer, it’s a virtual toss up between a few cans of Crazy Canuck and Dead Elephant.
Which is to say: I dig their style.
Sadly, unless you live around St. Thomas, you likely haven’t been introduced to too much else that Railway City has to offer which, as it turns out, is a real shame.
In fact, it turns out that the little guys from the town that Jumbo made famous are making a couple other styles quite well, too. I managed to get my hands on a bottle of their Black Coal Stout as well as some of their Honey Elixir, and both were surprisingly good.
The Black Coal Stout, which I fortuitously received on International Stout Day, indicates directly on the label that it’s “for all the naughty boys and girls” and I’ve got to admit, there is something mean about this bad boy. It’s pitch black with a healthy dark brown head and from top to bottom it’s bold. There’s some subtle chocolate and sweetness in the aroma, but also charred wood, then the flavour is all kinds of coffee and dry-roast flavours. It hinges a little on being overbearing but somehow manages to finish fairly mildly–there’s no lingering aftertaste and it’s all well-balanced.
Truth be told, I was actually lucky enough to have been given two bottles and, while packing up my office to head home for the day, noticed that one of the bottles was slightly uncapped. Rather than risk a pants-ruining disaster, I opted instead to crack the beer at work. To insure that no one would rat me out for drinking at the office, I also poured a small sample for everyone a I work with (pretty smart, huh?). Anyway, it’s a testament to this beer’s quality that it satisfied not just me, but also a younger guy I work with, two middle-aged, self-described “non-beer” fans and 60+ year old women. No one had anything bad to say about Black Coal Stout. Certainly not bad for a stout this bold.
Unfortunately, unless you live near St. Thomas, you’re not too likely to get your hands on this stuff. If you are in the area, you can grab 500mL bottles at their retail space.
I was also pleasantly surprised by Railway City’s Honey Elixir. Released in celebration of their fourth anniversary back in April and made with honey from the area (locavore boner!), it’s got way more going for it than I had anticipated.
I wasn’t too sure what to expect with a “honey elixir” but it was really interesting. It poured a deep caramel copper colour with a decent head and minimal lacing. There’s definitely a little honey in the aroma, but I got more figs/currants and even a subtle nuttiness. The taste is immediately sweet. Currants are definitely here again, as is brown sugar. This is a very nice beer and it’s most redeeming quality for me was its sharp finish. Too many beers that attempt to be sweet or nutty finish with a cloyingly sweet finish and almost perfume-y mouth feel that I find to be a massive turnoff. The Honey Elixir though manages to finish with a crisp even slightly bitter hop finish–almost a grassiness. Perfect finish, for me.
I was really surprised by this beer. Sweeter beers tend to be fairly low on my list of favourites, but the Honey Elixir really nailed it for me. I was actually sad I only had 500mLs to drink, but thankfully, the folks at Railway City have seen fit to bring this one to the LCBO sometime soon in 750mL bottles.
I’ll certainly be picking up a couple.