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Rating
91.00
Price
$3.95/625 ml

Can we give a big brewer credit where credit is due? I hope so. Molson certainly is no microbrewer, but the great Canadian institution once made the sort of beer that would appeal to many of today's hipper-than-hip, bearded young craft-beer aficionados, the sort who tend to harbour an automatic disdain for any beverage produced in quantities large enough to be backed by a billboard advertising campaign.

Let's go back in time. The year was 1908, when Molson brewed a rich, malty pale ale that stands in contrast to the lean, populist lagers and golden ales of the modern era. Keith Armstrong, Molson Coors Canada's brewmaster, dipped into the company archives for a recipe that led to this laudable recreation.

There were lists of ingredients and measurements in the original formula, but Armstrong had to do some innovative tweaking as well as interpretation. For example, the hop varieties that prevailed more than a century ago were different, with less of the pine- and citrus-like aromatics of today's bittering agents. So, Armstrong sourced heirloom hops as well as a blend of four barley malts that would more closely replicate the variable combination available back in the day.

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Unfiltered, the 1908 Historic Pale Ale pours a cloudy orange-amber, with a foamy, remarkably persistent head. Medium-full-bodied, round and satisfyingly creamy, it suggests sweet stewed peach, caramel and doughy bread backed by respectable bitterness as well as cereal tones and subtle herbal and floral aromas.

You could serve this one cold, like Molson Export, if you like, or merely cool, as at a proper English pub. Available for the above price at Ontario LCBO and Beer Store outlets; various prices elsewhere around the country.

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