Friday Brew Review: Alexander Keith’s Dark Ale

There’s something to be said for taking advice of the locals.

Now, I’m not enough of a daredevil to suggest that indigenous peoples are always lookin’ out for the tourists. There’re more than a few cases of an innocuous wayfarer being purposefully misdirected by the natives. Hell, I can tell you from experience that if you get lost on the way to Mos Eisley, don’t ask any Jawas for help.  I hate to perpetuate stereotypes, but Threepio was right when he called them “Disgusting creatures!”

But for Pete’s sake, don’t be one of those turkeys who goes on an adventure and then searches for the stuff you have at home! That’s total bogwash! Why even leave the front door?

So if it’s your first time venturing into a land whose citizens seem trustworthy, follow their lead. Even those who’ve led mundane lives will be able to steer you towards the essentials. So park your pride and incredulity under your bottom lip, and simply go to where you’ve been told you can find the region’s best burgers, babes, and beers.

When Rome, do as the Romans (and when in Hell, do shots at the bar).

During my recent trek through the Canadian Maritimes, I posed a simple question to anyone who I thought might have the answer (for the most part, this meant winos and women of ill-repute): “What’s the best Canadian beer?”

Without failure, they’d size me up, pausing for an extra moment at my ostentatious hi-tops, and then say in a tone that belied the thought that I could be an honest-to-Vishnu beer-drinker, “You’re goin’ to want to drink Alexander Keith’s.”

Tonite, from the porch of a farmhouse in Nova Scotia, I’m drinkin’ Alexander Keith’s Dark Ale.

Full disclosure: before conferring with Nova Scotians and New Brunswickians, I’d never even heard of the brewery. But with a bit of cursory research, I was able to come up with the following tidbits of information:

– Founded in 1820
– Based out of Halifax
– Controlled by Labatt (which is now InBev property)
– Sold in the States (as of April 2011)

Hell, had I known that there was a brewery in Halifax, I would’ve taken the tour when I passed through…

In any case, let me tell you all about what happened when I wrazzled with a tall-boy of theDark Ale!

Pouring the ale into a standard drinkin’-glass, I scrutinized its appearance to the very best of my ability.  As far as I can tale, Dark Ale basically looks like Guinness, but with more of a mahogany hue cutting through when held up to the light. I think this may be attributable to the density of the beer, but more on that later. Additionally, Alexander Keith’s gloomy offering was topped off with a decent off-white head that dissipated sooner rather than later. It’s not a bad-lookin’ brew.

As far as bouquet is concerned, Dark Ale is the real deal. As I took a healthy whiff I was able to pick up on plenty of roasted notes, with a vapor trail of smokiness appearing at the very end. I may have detected some coffee effervescence, but my neurons could very well be misfiring due to the fact that I drank a pot of coffee today. In any case, this is a good smellin’ concoction!

Time to drank!

After giving Dark Ale access to my gullet, I was pretty disappointed. In terms of mouthfeel, this brew is incredibly light, sliding down my throat with the ease of a Corona. There is a light carbonation at work, which is nice but not quite enough to sell me on the texture at work. Moreover, there were some good flavors but they just didn’t pack enough of a punch. Coffee? Cocoa? Stout? I think they all came by the party but they didn’t stay long enough for me to feed them nachos and talk to them about Tebow goin’ to the Jets.

Maybe I’m biased, but when I think of dark beers, my expectations are that Bitterness and Heaviness will be doin’ all sorts of insane tag-team moves.

So what’re my conclusions about Alexander Keith’s Dark Ale? Well, without exaggeration, I’ve had more trouble poundin’ Pepsi-Colas than I had drinking this beer. So if you’re looking for a brew that’s goin’ to sit in your gut and make you rethink life decisions, this isn’t it. But if you want a standard-stout flavor to be presented in a Lite format, this might be a viable option.

I asked the locals for help, and I don’t begrudge them a bit. But next time I roll up to Nova Scotia, I’m going to have to find something a bit more formidable. Maybe I should explicitly explain that despite my ridiculous hi-tops and nerdy glasses and bowl haircut, I can drink me some beers.

The grade: B-