Review: Phillips Blue Buck Ale

Currently listening to: John K Samson - When I Write My Masters Thesis

Back many many years ago, I interviewed CBC Radio 3 host Grant Lawrence for the school's newspaper, and one of the questions I remember vividly asking him was "What's your favourite beer?" He jumped to that question immediately and giddily, it was Phillips' Blue Buck Ale. I never tried the beer.. that is.. until today. He's the reason why I'm listening to John K Samson at this very moment, and he's the reason why I'm reviewing Blue Buck today, as it's now available at local Liquormarts in Manitoba.

Blue Buck is an English-style Pale Ale, which is more of a hop and malty style pale ale than the traditional pilsner/lageresque pale ales we are accustomed to on the prairies. As Grant Lawrence tweeted yesterday: "fun fact: the mighty Blue Buck grazes exclusively on hops and barley."

So let's try it out.

Appearance: Before reviewing this beer, I was expecting more of a Canadian style pale ale or lager, a pale golden straw. Instead, it was a rich clear caramel amber ale with a good one and a half fingers thick of beige foam. Looks similar to some IPAs you can get in Manitoba, not a bad looking beer at all.

Aroma: Crack open the can and the first thing I noticed was a wave of citrusy floral hops. It can't be that bad compared to what I've heard from friends like Stephen, who only keeps a bottle in his fridge for "joke beer". As the beer settles in the glass, the floral hoppy aroma dies down a bit, it gives off a slightly roasted caramel malt aroma. For a beer of this amberness, it's quite roasty, which is strange. A bit of a barleyesque straw aroma is appearing ther as well.

Taste: The hops aren't as present as they were at the first whiff, it's a caramel malted ale with the roasted aroma I noticed now turning into a bit of a nutty brown ale in some ways. A bit of a bitter aftertaste present from the hops. Not much there other than that, but it's not bad.

Overall Thoughts: For a pale ale, it has a decent caramel maltiness to it with a mild nuttiness, though the hops fell short of what I was hoping for from the first whiff. Not as bad as people tell me about it, sure it's not something I would ever go out of my way to find, but it's sure better than a Keith's. I expected a corny/straw pale ale, and it turned out to be a bit caramelly nutty pale.. that ain't bad. Blue Buck has 5.0% ABV, comes in 355ml single cans at $2.69/can, which is pretty affordable for the size format.

Also check out my review of Phillips' Hoperation Tripel Cross Belgian IPA, which is also now available in Manitoba!


canali said...

fab beer isn't balance: not too light, not too heavy, yet sooo tasty....and sorry but there is no longer any traditional cdn pale ale or lager " Before reviewing this beer, I was expecting more of a Canadian style pale ale or lager, a pale golden straw'' the big breweries molson, labatts etc and their 'piss in a bottle' limited 'dumb as a stump' varieties are competing against the smaller and innovative craft breweries (esp there in the pnw) and thank god for that!

Lost Av8r said...

I'm just going to throw in my two cents and say, while I do enjoy a good hopped IPA pretty regularly, I go for Blue Buck on a regular basis too. It's easy drinking but has some flavour behind it.

Unknown said...

Better than Keith's? Somebody needs to be hit with golden shovel of enlightenment. At least Keith doesn't make you less of a retard by posting that you have to remove cap before drinking......