Cask Days @ Great Lakes Project X

Written By: Mike Warner 

On Thursday, October 11th the monthly Project X party put on by the fine people at Great Lakes was turned into a special Cask Days celebration with breweries from around the GTA participating. In true Cask Days style, the six cask beers were being served outside the Great Lakes brewery despite the chilly weather. It was a great way for everyone at the event to get a little practice drinking in the cold before the big weekend arrives.

A cask from each of Amsterdam, Black Oak, House Ales and Nickel Brook were being served alongside two Great Lakes offerings. Black Oak brought a Lavender Pale Ale, which was their standard pale ale given a big floral oomph by the lavender. The result was not subtle, but neither was it unpleasant (but that probably depends on your lavender tolerance). The House Ales Back In The Day Bitter was the tamest of beers, a mild tasting ale with earthy English hops and a slight cereal grain character. Very light tasting compared to the other beers available.

A beer that worked very well was the Nickel Brook Bertwell 80/-, a Scottish style beer with wet-hopped with local Bertwell hops (a variety that may only found in Ontario). The earthy flavour of the fresh hops fit with the bready caramel flavours of the malt. The cask definitely helped to accentuate the subtle elements at play and the Bertwell 80/- had the nicest body of all the beers. In contrast, the Amsterdam Molasses Porter was done no favours by being served on cask. Every bit of the 8.5% ABV was felt and overshadowed the rest of the beer.

Great Lakes like to play around with different ingredients and their two casks were further proof of this. The Alipeno Ale, named obviously for the jalapeno pepper that is the featured ingredient in this spicy beer. The jalapeno flavour is backed by a nice caramel malt profile, which helps to add some balance. The beer is deceiving mild at first, but the heat builds up over time. A nice beer in small quantities. The real star from Great Lakes was the Pumpkin Ale with Bourbon Soaked Vanilla Beans. The bourbon and vanilla were subtle, but added a nice depth to the pumpkin spices. Being served on cask also seemed to tone down the spices, which was fine by me. A nice twist on the Pumpkin Ale.

Food for this Project X event was provided by Melt Grilled Cheese, featuring such creations as pulled pork, roasted vegetable, chicken burrito and the classic grilled cheese. The cheese inside miraculously stayed gooey and warm on the inside, the perfect thing for a chilly night. Between the food, good company and delicious cask beers, it was an excellent and got everyone excited for the Cask Days weekend.