One of the first local breweries to show me great beer was the Black Oak Brewery located in Etobicoke Ontario, just outside of Toronto. Black Oak is a true small batch brewer focused on quality beer, local support, and passion. If you frequent many of Toronto’s beer bars you can often find Ken Woods, owner and founder, running around with kegs in both hands making sure that all his patrons have ample supply of beer!
Black Oak brews all of their beers using reverse osmosis water, allowing the brewer to completely control the mineral content of the water to best reflect the beer which is being created. This is the type of attention to detail you can expect from thisbrewery. My favorite thing about Black Oak is how Ken came to become a brewer. Ken studied business and became a Certified Management Account working in Finance. But in 1999, after years of working as an accountant, he realized that he just loves beer way too much not to turn that passion into his livelihood.
Ken dropped business and started the Black Oak Brewery in order to realize his true dreams. Thank you Ken for your beer, and for your inspiration!
The first Black Oak beer I ever tried, which is still the one I look for the most, was the Black Oak Nut Brown Ale. Nut Browns have for a very long time been among my favorite beer styles. They offer such a great range of savory and sweet flavors in perfect harmony; Black Oak’s version provides exactly that!
The Nut Brown Ale is available at both Beer Stores and LCBO across southwestern Ontario in 6 packs on 341ml bottles at 5% abv. It pours a deep brown with a light golden shine piercing through it, but it is very dark, close to brick. It lifts a short tan to brown head capping a very alluring beer, but eventually fading.
The nose is rich in malt, nuts, dark caramel and roast. There is also a whiff of dry coffee which seems like it will come back later to add a needed bitterness to restrain the sweet nuts. One of the nicest aspects of the nut brown is that it is not trying to trick you; when you drink it, it is very straight forward. It comes at you with caramel malt, sweet and creamy nuts, dry roast, and finishing with a crisp and dry coffee note. The sweet malts play across your tongue, while you really get a nutty and earthy flavor in your cheeks and across the top of your mouth.
There is a light hop that helps quench at the end of the beer, but really what stands out by then is now crisp and clean this beer really is. It tastes like quality, and it feels amazing. It’s not heavy, but it is full. But it also dances on your palate without making too much of a fuss. It is still among my favorite beers, and is incredible in the summer by the barbeque.