First Draught: local breweries commemorate the War of 1812 with some old-school beer


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For British soldiers stationed in Canada in the 19th century, money to buy a daily ration of beer was a designated part of their wages. This would have been, more or less, sufficient to buy six pints a day. To satisfy demand, breweries popped up to serve each garrison. Now, to celebrate the bicentennial of the War of 1812, two of Ontario’s craft breweries have created special offerings to replicate the beer of that era.

Black Creek Historical Brewery was the first to get on the LCBO’s shelves with the Rifleman’s Ration. This traditional brown ale mirrors the ingredients of the time by using only Ontario-grown malt and hops.

The brown ale pours very dark — almost black — in the glass. That colour association continues on the nose with an aroma of darkly-toasted bread that leads into a pleasant flavour of toffee and almost-burnt caramel. Like most dark British ales of the old school, malts dominate. Count on hops for only a tiny bit of bitter fortification.

Prince Edward County’s Barley Days Brewery will soon be joining the commemorative beer game with its Royal George Brown Ale. The bottle will feature a battle scene from the War of 1812 painted by Peter Rindlisbacher. The brewery’s web site announces that select LCBOs and pubs will be carrying this beer as of next week.

Downing six pints a day is probably not the best way to mark the anniversary, but a quiet word of thanks that we have an options other than American beer seems in order.

Black Creek Brewery’s Rifleman’s Ration Ale, $3.95. Available at the LCBO (#294272)

When David isn't busy drinking beer for his articles here, he writes about food and drink for Toronto's online publications including his own site, Food With Legs. For more of his thoughts on beer and life in general follow him on Twitter.

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