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Crossing the Bridge to Good Beer

Black Bridge 001Imagine my surprise a couple weeks back to be scanning the shelves of my favourite beer store (you all know who that is) only to stumble across a little cluster of cans from Black Bridge Brewing. Those of you with stronger memories will recall that Black Bridge is the new brewery in Swift Current, Saskatchewan who literally opened their doors a few weeks ago.

My surprise was to find how quickly this beer had found its way into Alberta. I had expected that for the first year (or more) they would focus on establishing themselves in their home province and I either would have to take a side trip to Speedy Creek (does anyone ever take a side trip to Swift Current??) or bribe friends/relatives to get me some.

But lo and behold, there it was! A six-pack of their Centennial Rye Ale and a four-pack of the Milk Stout. I picked up one of each and happily carted them home. Below I offer a shortened review of both for your edification.

Starting with the milk stout (which is the one I drank first – no other reason than that). It pours deep black with a fairly thin dark tan head, but one that is quite dense and consistent. The aroma is rich chocolate, dark fruit and touches of roast but rather subdued on that front. I also get some molasses and brown sugar. Smells sweet and (if this is even possible) silky.

The front taste is quietly sweet, with a chocolate and dark sugar character. Some rich dark fruit accents. The middle adds a bit of drier bite, partly astringent, partly sour.  A rounded lactic sweetness begins to build as well; nothing too noticeably, just a background note. The roast is present but chooses to hang around upstage, not making too much noise. The finish is relatively sweet with a slight roasty linger to add balance.

It proves itself to be an interesting, full bodied stout. I find the middle is a bit confusing, but it doesn’t detract too much and otherwise it offers some nice flavours. A little tweaking and this could be a wonder of a beer.

A couple days later I cracked open the Centennial Rye Ale, which is exactly as it sounds, a rye ale with Centennial hops. It is medium gold, bright,  and creating a thin layer of white head, leaving some decent lacing. The aroma wafts up with a light citrusy fruit with an accent of sharp graininess. Some honey and a bit of pine accent add complexity.

Honey and fruit start the sblack bridge milk stoutipping followed by a sharp, spicy malt flavour coming from, I suspect, the rye. The middle offers a citrus-woody blend of flavours, making it both summery refreshing and autumn-like earthy. The finish builds a piney hop character. The hop is not about bitter but more hop flavour and linger. The bitterness seems fairly subdued, sub-30 IBU, but the hop flavour is quite noticeable and fresh.

I am quite drawn to this beer. It is fresh, spicy and sharp. The combo of citrus and sharp graininess is quite appealing and creates a refreshing, full flavoured beer. It is quite the original concoction, not much like anything else on the market around here.

An extremely encouraging start from an extremely young brewery. Feel free to cross that bridge anytime.

1 comment to Crossing the Bridge to Good Beer

  • Bill Dehaan

    I am mildly curious about the MilkStout especially being a Canadian product …I have been sipping some rather obscure beers of late and have focused on chocolate … One other Canadian outfit – the Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery from Barrie Ontario put out a limited seasonal special a couple of years ago backed by the Bare Naked Ladies labeled Imperial Chocolate Stout …… Incredible … Of late I have been sipping on a malt beverage from Tadcaster North Yorks U.K. by Samuel Smith’s Brewery …Organic Chocolatd Stout is another noteworthy world class effort in my opinion … I wish I had the descriptive tongue you posess to pen a critique … Would love to hear your thoughts if either of these have crossed your palate … If not, the latter is available at least in Edmonton and comes more than highly recommended by an enthusiast without those critiquing skills … Cheerz and Merry Christmas to you and yours..

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