Thursday, November 26, 2009

Beers that make you go 'huh?'

"Overall, I would rate it a C+. OK, not great." - Lrrr, from Futurama
Beer: Heritage Premium Lager
Brewery: Heritage Brewing Ltd. (Ottawa)
Type: pale lager
Served in: stubby bottle

Sometimes, when you drink a beer that you know you'll never drink again, you can identify exactly what it is about it that rubbed you the wrong way. Other times, you can drink an entire beer, know you'll never purchase it again, and still not know why. From this point, reviewing the beer is like investigating a crime scene; you analyze the hell out of the situation, approaching the case from all possible angles, hoping to identify the culprit.

This is one of those cases.

(*Loud, scene-breaking noise from Law and Order)

One of my favourite sections in the LCBO is what I call the 'Island of Misfit Beers', that area near the back devoted to single bottles or cans that have been left behind. I always hate when people take one bottle from a 6 pack, claim they 'found it' all by its lonesome, and leave behind a 6pack with a missing beer. However, once the crime has been committed, like a vulture, I have no qualms with picking at the remaining carcass. This is great when you want to try a bottled beer, but don't want to commit to the whole 6 pack, should you not like it. The LCBO has been getting better at identifying these beers so it doesn't piss off the clerk, which is a big plus. This section is where I've picked up many a mediocre brew, including this one from Ottawa. Let's begin!

Hehe. Stubby.

Moving right along, Heritage pours a deep golden colour, and leaves one hell of a lot of head. Seriously, just look at it. This picture was taken a full 6 minutes after I poured it out, and it was still there. It finally collapsed after a few more minutes, but still left a thin layer and a bit of lacing. Big points for appearance.

The smell is where my relationship with this beer first goes off the rails. The dominant smell here, for me, is lemon, which is common for certain varieties of hops. However, lingering in the back is this weird skunkiness that I couldn't quite figure out. The bottle is dark, so it's not light pollution. Finally I identified it: maltiness that is either burnt or past its prime - not a good sign. Still, it's not altogether repulsive, but all is not well with this beer.

The taste is similar to the smell: a bit of maltiness up front that, again, tastes a bit off, followed by an overpowering, puckery lemon-pepper flavour that sticks with you for a while. Again, it's not unpleasant, but it's just not doing it for me. Something feels wrong with this beer, whether it's past its prime or what, I can't tell. I think there's a metallic taste to the finish, which is probably a result of unclean lines/vats at the brewery.

The mouthfeel is very carbonated. Holy crap, I've never burped this much in my life after having a beer. Even near the end, I'm still letting 'em rip. Leaves kind of chalky and dry taste in my mouth.

With so much potential after pouring this beer, the result was disappointing, which is surprising given the number of positive aspects of the brew. What Heritage Lager feels like is a beer that's just not quite there; it has some of the better characteristics of a flavourful lager, but they're not working together harmoniously. I might try this one again - maybe if I visit the brewery itself and try a fresh draught of it, I might like it - but at the end of the day, it's not something I'd pick up again, nor would I recommend it to others. Hopefully, Heritage can pull up its socks and figure out what's going on, because I hate to see an Ontario micro struggle for reasons that might be completely fixable. (Grade: C+)

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