I’ll Have a Light and a Dark

The Ace Hill Light pictured on the left is the latest release from the Toronto-based Ace Hill Brewery, which has its beers produced at Brunswick Bierworks in east Toronto. Although I forgot to take a picture of the poured beer, it has a notably pale colour, a la American adjunct style of the 1960s-2000s. This can be Mexican too, as stated on the label, as both are grain adjunct, light-tasting styles.

Indeed the label indicates wheat and flaked corn are used with the malt to produce a 4% abv beer.

The Mexican reference may point as well to the light lemony tang in the beer. I don’t think there is a citrus addition (not sure), it’s probably from the hops blend.

Ace Hill always had stylish packaging and imagery but this new can outdoes anything that came before, it must be the most attractive in Canada and maybe anywhere. The company has been astute to identify a market few small breweries exploit: craft light.

How is it craft? Well, it is produced in small amounts clearly, it may be unpasteurized (not sure again at time of writing), and it actually has a full flavour. Nothing bland about it, but the tang of adjunct is there of course, that’s the style.

It should rock a few patio tables and beach coolers this summer, I have no doubt.

It’s not my preferred style, but from a business standpoint it’s a great idea and potentially has a large market. It’s a much better beer too than any of the macro brewery efforts at a light.

The Czechvar Dark pictured has a really good Dunkel flavour, but repeated tastings in the last couple of years confirm the brewery is going for a light palate. If they ramped up the taste – same taste but just more – it would be a world classic brown lager, but it’s dialled down too much.

The best way to drink it is almost shelf temperature, as this makes the taste stronger. The yeast taste comes out more too, one I find hard to describe, but you know it when you taste it. Almost yogurt-like, maybe, or buttermilk.

Anyway most Dunkel styles, certainly those I’ve tried in North America, don’t really get close to the “original”. This one, via a Czech city, does, and it’s good to investigate for that reason alone.

The LCBO brings it in real fast too, it’s just a couple of months from packaging and the super-freshness shows.

Come to think of it, consumed iced it would make a great summer beer too. It’s traditional Mitteleuropa bottle and labeling don’t encourage the idea – more Black Sea resort under greyish skies – but it would be perfect for that.


2 thoughts on “I’ll Have a Light and a Dark”

  1. Great write-up Gary! Czechvar B:Dark is definitely one of my favourites and always try to have it in the beer fridge. I was glad to see it in the LCBO as I thought it was a seasonal listing, but I still see it at my local. I also let it warm up a bit to enjoy. Cheers!

    • Thanks Scott, much appreciated. It has a certain authentic taste, hard to describe but you can see what I mean I know. If they ramped up the taste it would come through better when cold, but if let to warm and de-fizz a bit you get the full experience almost, especially when very fresh as it is now at LCBO.

      Tell us about your plans in Cambridge, it looks very interesting! Wishing all best.


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