The Oldman River flows from the heights of the Rockies along the prairie, reaching across the land to touch the Bow and send its waters across the continent. Oldman River Brewing takes its cue from these waters and sends its reach even farther. Oldman brews only a handful of carefully selected craft beers centered around the idea of delivering an experience each time a crown is knocked off a bottle. Nestled in Lundbreck, Alberta, near the Crowsnest Pass, their taproom offers up their beers and a basic menu with unerring consistency. Saint Joe’s Abbey Style follows the style of the amber ale but makes a few unique changes. St. Joe’s has a richer combination of aged fruit and spice that develops with an earthy hop. The flavour has some evolution during the taste, rather than a flatter doughy arrival. Serves well at 8°C and can handle about a year in the cellar.
Pours a deep, dark amber colour with a prominent head of off-white foam that slowly recedes, leaving lacing and a thin layer across the top.
Up front is a strong whiff of doughy malt and cereal grain. A combination of muddled spices – cinnamon and nutmeg – rides alongside an impression of aged apples and pears. An earthy and leafy green hoppiness hides in the back corner.
Saint Joe arrives on the palette with the grainy caramel malt classic to an amber ale but quickly evolves past the basic profile into a subtle array of flavours. The dried fruit telegraphed by the scent shows up rich and smooth on the tongue, combining with spice that is all the better for being indistinct, adding character without striking too sharp a note. The body is mid-weight, feeling smooth in the mouth and substantial without being cloying or syrupy. The sip finishes off dry.
This ale is rich with a hint of sweetness and deserves something sumptuous to pair up – a smoked turkey breast with seared tubers and carrots smothered in tangy gravy makes for a perfect feast.