Spring is here, and so is orange-peel beer. It’s no lie: Great Lakes Brewery in Etobicoke created Orange Peel Ale because every other fruit has been used by one brewer or another, brewery VP Peter Bulut Jr., says of the drink that advances their recent Winter Ale concept, which was brewed with navel orange peels and honey.
"We wanted fruit. It’s after the long winter, people stop drinking for a while because of new year’s, they’ve been hibernating, and then it’s spring — poof — people start coming out, things come out of the ground, business picks up and it’s a great time for the release of a beer."
And what a beer they’ve released.
Peel has naval, dried-and-candied, and mandarin peels, plus actual mandarin oranges dumped into the brew kettle during the boil.
But it’s not just an orange and more orange beer. The peels combine with five hops (perle, cascade, fuggles, golding and saaz), to give it a lot of bitterness balanced with a slightly higher alcohol per volume percentage (5.3), honey and five malts.
The floral aroma of saaz combined with citrusy peel is a lovely starting point. It is orange-copper in colour. As it warms, the taste of peel comes through, reminding me more and more of Orangina or Lucozade, addictive orange drinks in the U.K. and Ireland that aren’t sickeningly sweet like the orange pop we drink here.
But Peel’s carbonation is acceptable, not popping on your tongue like soda, nor is it flat, and ends with some peel aftertaste.
This beer is available at the LCBO in 650-ml bottles for $4.95, and at the Great Lakes retail store (30 Queen Elizabeth Blvd.; Royal York and Gardiner).
Look for the tap handle with the spongy, plastic orange currently at the following pubs around Toronto: C’est What, Victory Café, Volo Caffé, Smokeless Joe’s and Ronnie’s Local 069.