As some of my more regular readers may know, I am a passionate fan of Mill St. Brewery in Toronto, Ontario. Unfortunately, they were recently purchased by Labatt Breweries, which I hold significantly less enthusiasm for. It has yet to be seen whether or not this purchase will have serious ramifications on the quality and creativity of the Brewery, but I am certainly nervous that the purchase will degrade the product over time.
One of the main things that I love about Mill St. is that they are generally not shy about trying new things and being creative in their beer production. This is important to me in a Brewery, as I believe it is where true discovery comes from. I am interested in quality of beer-of course, but I am just as interested in discovering beer styles and methods that I have not tried before. My favourite Breweries tend to be those that produce new and original beers each season, rather than simply relying upon their stock-and-trade. Granted, Mill St. has a few beers that are excellent and they rely on heavily for their income (Cobblestone Stout, Organic, 100th Merridian, etc)-but they tend to try new things on a regular basis.
This Spring, they have released a Spring Pack which includes Big League IPA, a wheat beer called Don Valley Bench, and the enjoyable Madawaska Maple. For what it was-I enjoyed this pack, although not as much as I enjoyed their Winter Pack. I almost always turn toward the darker beers when expressing a preference-it has been more difficult for me to learn how to appreciate the lighter beers of spring and summer. However, all three of these beers had a relatively good balance in their hoppiness contrasted with their other flavours.
Out of the three, I enjoyed the Maple beer the most-the maple was extremely subtle, but it gave the beer a nice complexity of flavour that was light yet refreshing on the pallet. The Big League was a pleasant surprise for an IPA-it was quite hoppy, but not too hoppy to make it overwhelming. All I will really say about the Don Valley Bench is that it must be drank from a glass-do not drink this beer directly from the bottle. I was in a situation where the first Don Valley I had was directly from the bottle, and I was not impressed-in fact I really didn’t enjoy it that much. But, when I had the second, I poured it into the glass and was surprised at the difference. The head on this beer is very important, as it provides the creaminess that is essential for the beer to be appreciated. Overall, I enjoyed the pack, but it did not overwhelm me. I doubt I will pick up another-as I would rather spend my money on whatever my local Brewery (Royal City) has going on.