wpid-img_20150121_203224.jpgI have a love/hate relationship with fruity beers. On the one hand, I enjoy a good lambic beer and I enjoy tart beers. On the other hand, fruit is a polarizing flavour. I already had a can of Railway City‘s Dead Elephant Ale in my basket at the Summerhill LCBO when I spotted a forlorn looking gift pack that included a can of Dead Elephant Ale, a can of Cranberry Festive Lager, a can of Black Coal Stout and a branded Railway City Dead Elephant Ale glass. Two seasonal brews I had not tried with the value add of a pint glass to add to my obsessive collection for only $13.65 at the LCBO (product now discontinued) – score. Back in my dépanneur beer buying days in Montreal, many early beer choices were heavily influenced by the addition of swag, and I’m not shy to admit it. I’m that person who buys t-shirts and glasses at every brewery I visit.

I only wish I had come across the Cranberry Festive Lager when I was still writing the 8 Beers of Chanukah series, as it would have been a bit more appropriate than an early February post. The tartness of cranberries actually works pretty well in a fruit beer, as it produces a nice mouth feel with a good amount of alcohol at 5.5% ABV.

But does it work for St. Thomas’s Railway City? They’ve brewed this beer using Ontario Bala cherries and local ginger, and this beverage is typically available from November-January.

Appearance: Copper and golden colour with a reddish/apricot tinge. Thin head that fades fast.

Aroma: Very strong cranberry aroma. Pleasant – this is not a glass of Ocean Spray. That’s a good thing.

Taste: Bitter palate with a lingering sweet finish – perhaps a hint of biscuit in the malt profile?

Aftertaste: Sweet cranberry aftertaste at the back of the throat, not tart like I was expecting.

Overall: Pretty refreshing, I could easily finish a second one. This would definitely improve a Christmas turkey dinner – I hope one pops up on my holiday table next year.

Shawna O'Flaherty

Shawna is a 30-something Montreal native transplanted to Toronto in 2010. Wine loving, beer sniffing and rum swilling come naturally to her, and she is also a certified Irish whiskey taster. She has hosted beer and cheese pairing events in the past.

Shawna has visited vineyards in 6 countries on 3 continents, and has a knack for finding the hoppiest beers around.

She can be found drinking alka-seltzer and coconut water in the morning.

Email: shawna@torontoboozehound.com