This is an oddity from Great Lakes Brewery that I had picked up several times at the LCBO and placed back on the shelf. As regular readers of this blog know, I am not a huge fan of fruit-flavoured beer to begin with, and furthermore there is just something about "orange peel ale" that screams "jailhouse hooch." In the crazier days of my youth, I knew a few people that had served time as "wards of the state" and they had all told stories about how orange peels is one of the main ingredients to making prison booze. Despite my reservations (or perhaps because of them), I finally bit the bullet and picked up a bottle to try. Would this prove to be a tasty, fruit-infused beverage, or a bottled nightmare designed to remind cultured ex-convicts about their days on the range? We would soon find out!
Further inspection of the bottle indicated this was "beer brewed with oranges" and has an ABV of 5.3%. The back of the bottle had this to say about the product:
In our quest to bring you the most flavourful and unique beers possible, we are proud to release this tasty summer ale. Handcrafted with five specialty malts and five varieties of hops, along with just a touch of honey, we added heaps of fresh oranges and peels into the boil. A little different, you say? We sure hope so. Orange Peel Ale balances the unique flavour of oranges with generous amounts of hops to achieve a slightly fruity and refreshing taste.
Unfortunately, that description sent further involuntary shivers down my spine as this sounded like a recipe for disaster. Brian seconded my reservations, and as we poured it into our glasses, we felt that black cloud of dread creep into the room. Brian raised his glass first and smelled the contents, declaring that it had no smell other than beer. There really was no indication of what this beer was made from, other than barley and hops. We both raised our cups and drank. Surprisingly, this was a refreshing beverage with a crisp taste and a slight citrus note on the finish. Brian exclaimed "this is good beer!" as I was at loss to come up with anything bad to say about the product. Different but decent, this is an excellent beer for a lazy summer barbecue or relaxing around the pool. Don't let visions of Cell Block H scare you away from giving it a try.