When you really, really like beer, living in a city with its very own microbrewery is a daily kind of ‘pinch me’ phenomena. So when your local brews (yet another) award winning beer … yeah. It boggles the mind.
Like Gold, it is hard not to have had a pint of Yukon Red if you live in Whitehorse. (The stats show that the two flagship ales are enjoyed in similar amounts.)
Formerly called Arctic Red, the name did a quick Clark Kent switcheroo due to a trademark dispute with a big brewery down south. With revamped packaging and now also available in cans, this amber continues to rock some serious worlds … and podiums.
But before we go into awards and taste, let’s talk about the amber style.
Originally a branch of the pale ale family, it is variously known as amber ale, American amber, or even red ale, often depending on region.
Amber ale is a lot of things, which is to say it’s a beer with a lot of leeway. The style guidelines say it all: low or medium hop aroma; citrusy aroma or not; moderately low to moderately high in its maltiness; moderate to high hop flavour; moderate caramel flavour.
There is a lot of moderation in this beer, but certainly not to its detriment.
It’s probably best summed up by saying that the malt sweetness and hop bitterness are usually balanced and mutually supportive.
For some folk, this makes for a boring beer. For others, it’s a wonderfully balanced combination of hops and malt that results in a smooth, thirst-quenching yet rich treat.
And how’s that for a perfect segue into chatting about the much-decorated Yukon Red?
OK, tasting time.
A deep amber to bronze in colour with a creamy white head, this is one good-looking beer. The aroma is malty-sweet with a light, slightly spicy hop presence.
Flavourwise, there is a good balance between the warmth of the malt and the solid bitterness from the hops, but they are well behaved and take their turns: full, fruity –but not too sweet– malt first, and a delightful spicy (almost cinnamon-y) bitterness to finish.
We have found (and we actually agree on this one!) that it can taste pretty carbonated straight out of the bottle. Different people like different levels of carbonation, and we like to let this beer sit in the glass for a minute before drinking.
We also like to let the beer warm up almost to room temp, which adds a fullness to the mouth-feel that you may not get if you pull it straight from the cooler.
But temperature and carbonation are just personal preference, so experiment with both (and style of glass, etc.) and find out how you like it best. Straight from the can totally counts, BTW.
We think this is a stellar beer, and we are totally not alone: at the 2009 Canadian Brewing Awards, Yukon Red took home Beer of the Year, beating the pants off (just under) 300 other beers.
However, the top of the podium is old hat for Red at the CBAs (which are kind of a big deal). For the past four years straight Red has earned the gold medal in the amber ale category.
Four Years! First place! And it’s brewed right here in Whitehorse!
There have been many other kudos for Red throughout the years, and along with these awards and shout-outs, there comes some pretty cool trivia.
For example, Bob Baxter, co-owner of Yukon Brewing, told us that they recently discovered a store in Georgia (US) that sells a Yukon Red homebrew kit.
Ha! Georgia! How cool!
And how’s that for a perfect segue into where to find it?
Cans, bottles, growlers or on tap, you already know where to find this beer.
Please enjoy this article responsibly.