Sunday was barbeque day with our family friends. They have two daughters as well. When the families get together, the girls disappear and the parents enjoy some conversation. It’s become a tradition to bring different beers every time we do this, and this time I brought a bunch, five of which we sampled.
The best of the bunch was Red Racer India Session Ale by Central City Brewing. It has the character and taste of an IPA but is very light and refreshing. At only 4.0 % alcohol, it’s definitely a beer you can have a few of out on the patio without feeling the effects, but doesn’t sacrifice taste. It doesn’t taste diluted, just lighter. Really enjoyed this one. I give this one 4.75 bbq sausages out of 5.
The second best was Big Mouth Pale Ale by Hop City. Like Red Racer, this was really refreshing. It was much more a pale ale and didn’t have the hoppiness of Red Racer. I think my palate has been altered by the IPAs I’m constantly drinking, and I found Big Mouth slightly lacking in character. There was a hint of hops, but it didn’t have the strong taste of Red Racer. I give this one 4.5 cedar planked salmon out of 5.
Pompous Ass English Pale Ale by Great Lakes Brewery came in third. This one is only ranked lower than Red Racer and Big Mouth because I do prefer IPAs in general, but this was a really palatable pub ale that would be super welcome if I was at a bar. I found it really enjoyable, even though it was outside my usual zone, and I gave it 4.25 “time, gentlemen!” out of 5, but measuring it as an English Pale Ale, I think I would go 4.5. It really was good.
I don’t recommend Old Tomorrow Canadian Pale Ale. Again, this is coming from a guy who regularly drinks IPAs. It wasn’t a bad beer, it just wasn’t memorable. Were I at a bar, and this was on tap, I might consider it, but only if my usual choices were unavailable and there were no IPAs to try (or Steamwhistle or Mill St beers available). That’s damning with faint praise, but I didn’t find much to praise it for. I give this one 3 near misses in horseshoes out of 5.
Finally, another non-recommendation – Wellington Special Pale Ale from Wellington Brewery. I wanted to like this one because it comes from Guelph, near my old stomping grounds of Kitchener-Waterloo. There actually was nothing special about this pale ale. The word that came to mind as we were trying it was “industrial.” It tastes like something brewed by Molson or Labatts, and that is not a compliment coming from me. It’s light enough that putting some lime into it and drinking it cold makes it palatable if not enjoyable. I give it 2.75 sex in a canoes out of 5.
There you go. I will definitely be buying Red Racer ISA in the future, and will have to put it up against Muskoka Detour and Amsterdam Cruzer to find my preferred session IPA, but I think Red Racer has an edge because it is so light without losing any of the IPA character. If you dig IPAs but want something you can enjoy by the pool or while you are at the BBQ, I think Red Racer ISA is an almost certain hit.