Holiday Tasting Panel 1

THE MARITIMES – Craig Pinhey


Chalice Belgian Ale 6.5% ABV 29 IBU

I chose Chalice as one of my holiday selections because I enjoy strong, spicy ales on cold winter days, but not sweet, overly spicy or flavoured versions. This is one of the more authentic Belgian influenced strong blonde ales I’ve had in North America. It has a great label, too. 

Chalice pours with a white head that dissipates fairly quickly. It is deep gold and slightly hazy. It’s spicy on the nose, with cloves, which I expect from using an appropriate Belgian yeast. There’s also spice from a small addition of Grains of Paradise with a touch of fruitiness there as well.

The carbonation is fine, although head retention could be better. The body is medium and the palate is a combination of spice and biscuity malt. Chalice finishes refreshingly dry and clean, with balancing hop bitterness.   


Ol’ Fog Burner Barley Wine 11.3% ABV 100 IBU

Another holiday tradition is the release (and consumption) of Garrison’s legendary Ol’ Fog Burner. This potent brew is a perfect drink to warm up after coming in from the cold. They also make a one-year barrel aged version which is excellent, but I prefer the purity and dryness of the non barrel aged version.

It pours silky smooth, with a fine creamy head which disappears pretty fast. It looks gorgeous, glowing with orange/copper tones and the nose is super fruity, with citrus, as well as spice. Part of the fruitiness is fermentation related I expect, but it is also the hops (Cascade, Amarillo, Citra, El Dorado and Warrior) as well. 

It’s a delicious beer with great texture and balance, and plenty of toffee malt, ample bitterness to balance, and the aforementioned fruit and spice. It’s dangerously strong, but holds its alcohol well. It finishes appropriately dry, with initial bitterness, then a long, lingering maltiness.