I flew home last night after a few days in Montreal. Mostly a family trip, so minimal beer opportunities. Although I did partake in a couple new things on which I will report in upcoming posts. For now, though, I want to take the unusual moment to discuss the beer I had in the Montreal airport lounge while awaiting my flight.
In a VERY odd departure for me, I ordered a beer that could not in any way be considered craft. Often in airports if I can’t find a decent beer option, I will switch to wine or abstain, as I can’t bring myself to drink a pint of something cold, yellow and lifeless (especially at airport prices). However, last night I ordered a pint of Molson Export.
Why, you might ask? Well, because I haven’t had one in decades, probably, and in a pique of fancy was intrigued by the fact it is a big boy ale, rather than their usual lagers. I wasn’t expecting too much going in, but it is important to treat all beer fairly and on their terms. Export approximates some kind of golden ale, so I aimed to judge it on that basis – as something straightforward but offering a slight switch from pale lager.
It pours a bright light gold building a soft, thin white head that fades away quickly. Darker than standard lagers, its appearance reminds me of Kokanee. The aroma has grainy malt, a touch of corn sweetness and a honey accent. It smells rounder than most corporate lagers, if that description can be considered at all helpful.
The first sip is sweet with a slightly harsh grain partner. There is detectable light fruit esters, some metallic edges and a soft pilsner malt quality. The middle is fairly thin, but the finish resurrects the fruit and that honey note again. I actually think I can detect a bashful hop flavour – rounded and floral. Bitterness is quite low but does offer a bit of balance on the linger.
So, what do we have here? The base beer reminds me of Kokanee, but there is a soft fruitiness and a more rounded palate to the beer that mark it as an ale. Very clean, as I might expect from Molson, but the subtle ale yeast influences are clearly noticeable. Not particularly interesting, but not as thin as corporate lager. The fruity esters seem to give the body a bit a staying ability – long enough to remind you that you just had a beer.
A small part of me wondered if Export was still an ale. I come away convinced it is (although it may go through a short cold lager). It is not all malt, nor is it particularly noteworthy on any front. But neither can I say it was unpleasant either. It gives me more than Canadian, Coors or Bud. Which says something, anyway.
Of course, once I had finished my tasting notes I did find my attention wandered away from the beer. I didn’t really notice the rest of the glass as I watched the television news of the slow motion train wreck that is Rob Ford’s mayoralty. Maybe that is what speaks the loudest about this beer. It was intriguing for a minute or two, but simply couldn’t hold my attention through an entire glass.