Tom Rowell is a craft beer enthusiast who lives in Ottawa. He blogs at The Microbrew Times, profiling craft beers from Ottawa and elsewhere.
Tooth and Nail Brewing Company is one of Ottawa’s newer breweries, but one of the best serving up delicious brews since September from their delightful Hintonburg pub/taproom. In an ever expanding craft beer scene (there seem to be new breweries being announced on a monthly basis) it’s great to see Tooth and Nail thriving. Fortunately they are extremely adventurous so there are a lot of different options for all palates. These are but 4 examples of their extensive collection, and judging by what I sampled the other styles have great potential!
Tenacity Pale Ale
Tenacity is a classic British style pale ale and one of Tooth and Nail’s flagship brews. It pours a nice malty, golden colour definitely darker than your average pale ale, but that’s what they were going for. On the nose it’s quite malty, not overly strong smelling but with a definite caramel hint. Tenacity is quite forward on the hops but then smoothes out nicely into a surprisingly refreshing finish. It comes across quite a bit hoppier than you would expect for a pale ale, approaching IPA territory but those hops are balanced with a fairly sweet and caramel-like malt. Fans of the hoppy IPA’s that are common among craft brewers would not be disappointed by Tenacity but beer drinkers who are wary of the bitterness of IPA’s won’t be turned off either. Tooth and Nail have struck a great balance here with a fine example of what an old-style British Pale Ale should be.
Fortitude Oatmeal Stout
Oatmeal Stout is an up and coming beer style. First popularized among craft brewers by Montreal’s St. Ambroise brewery, it has been replicated by a number of different brewers, including Tooth and Nail with another one of their mainstays. Fortitude is a thinner example of oatmeal stout that has very strong coffee and creamy notes. On the nose you really notice that coffee flavour which sets the beer up for a sharp and acidic tongue. Once you get past that it smoothes out into a malty and creamy flavour as a sip progresses. The consistency is much closer to a traditional Irish stout than a heavier oatmeal stout so beer drinkers who are a bit wary of the heaviness will really enjoy Fortitude. However Stout connoisseurs may find themselves a little underwhelmed. It’s not as balanced as Tenacity but still a very tasty beer, especially if enjoyed on a patio or balcony on a sunny day.
Rabble Rouser IPA
IPA’s can be one of the most polarizing beer styles among craft beer fans. Some craft beer enthusiasts love the potential complexities that hoppy IPA’s can provide, but other are put off by the bitterness. Fortunately, Tooth and Nail have really hit the nail on the head with Rabble Rouser. It pours a yellow straw colour, a little more reminiscent of a Vienna lager than a pale ale. On the nose you get a strong whiff of the hops that make their presence felt in the aftertaste. The tongue is more malty than a lot of other IPA’s which help balance out the hoppy and citrussy finish that IPA’s are known for. It’s also a beer that really brings out the quality of the water. Not to say that it’s watery, but you can tell that the water they use to brew has a high mineral content adding an interesting complexity to Rabble Rouser that you don’t get in a lot of other beers. I also applaud Tooth and Nail for not getting too enthusiastic with the hops as there is a tendency in craft brewing to go over the top with hops which can overwhelm the beer. Rabble Rouser an extremely well balanced IPA that shouldn’t intimidate new entrants to the craft beer scene, although at 6.8% you should handle with care as it’s much easier to drink than the strength would make you think.
Discretion – Biere de Table
Discretion feels more like a beer cocktail like a Radler than a traditional beer, but it sure is refreshing on a sunny day! This won’t surprise anyone who has it on draught or pours it into a glass as it’s quite pink in colour! It’s also quite sweet on the nose with a nice whiff of berries and fruits. When you take a sip you will instantly note that it is light, only 3.5%, with little to no hops or malt flavour of note. What you do get is the sweetness of the berries and fruits with a good amount of carbonation. Once you get past that you notice the mineral water flavour on the aftertaste due to the lightness of the beer that doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for complexities. Fans of radlers and coolers would really like this, but enthusiasts of hops and malt may be let down. On a hot, sunny day it is an excellent thirst quencher as it is so easy-drinking and sessionable. Enjoy at your own discretion.
Tooth and Nail Brewing Company is at 3 Irving Avenue. Check out their website for hours and other info.