Taps, Niagara Falls, Canada. As one of the first breweries we visited, Taps in an important milestone in my beer tasting adventures.
During our honeymoon in Niagara Falls we found Taps brewery in a converted garage not far from the picturesque town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. At the time they had only a couple of beers, we bought a six-pack of the now retired “Premium Ale,” which was excellent. Fast forward a few years and we’re in the new and expanded Taps brew house and restaurant in downtown Niagara Falls, Canada.
OK so, Niagara Falls is a tourist destination that is painfully commercial, but I actually like it, where as I loathe other typical tourist traps like Times Square, Vegas, outlets, Whole Foods….you get the picture. But let me say this, walk a few blocks away from the lights of one of the world’s seven wonders into these feral Canadian neighborhoods and you’re surrounded by buildings that transported my overworking imagination to a post cold war forgotten East European outpost where the Kremlin has fallen and these old apartments reek of crime and desperation. A couple more blocks deeper into the strange concrete despair and there is Taps, like an oasis, except that it is actually among a smattering of ethnic restaurants, quaint boutique shops in a rather pretty little city. Whether we mean to or not, we usually take a stroll on the other-side of the tracks.
After the walk we were thirsty and decided to try every beer on the menu except for the Blackberry Wheat, so here goes. (The descriptions accompany the beers pictured in order from Right to Left.)
Niagara’s Best Light Lager. I liked it, but as you may have noticed, I like golden lagers. This features a highly appreciated low abv and is easy to drink, maybe too easy making this beer a venerable chugger. A brew you can safely crack at 10:15 a.m. on a hot Tuesday in July while out mowing the lawn and not feel too polluted to rake up the clippings.
Niagara’s Best Blonde Ale. Gold, again I love gold beers, light barley with a gentle refreshing citrus twist and like the previous brew this too is a chugger of the first rate.
Taps Sinister Sam’s Insane IPA. Piney hop flavor, which is a lovely hop avenue to visit now and again, not that I don’t adore those bold beautiful bitter citrus brews of other insanely hopped beers, but this amber India expressed an elegant balance of dry bitterness and floral flavors. At 6.5% it’s a hop high to be had a few times in the same session.
Taps Vanilla Wheat, if Cream Hefeweizen was an actual brewing style this beer would be the gold standard. Yeast, cream, touch of banana, hint of exotic bourbon vanilla, gentle cloves with just enough citrus all accessible on the tongue make this one delicious beer.
Taps Charlestown Lager. Simply put, another chugger, the craft version of a Labbatt, Molson, High Life or Coors (Original).
Taps Red Cream Ale. This is a fun beer, touch of caramel, little hop, generously carbonated, cream ale’s are just fun to drink. So far this flight is refreshing and solid.
Taps JD Barrel Aged Sour Mash Imperial Stout. OK so we paid a little extra for this one, but it was worth it. This sipping beer which when warmed a few degrees flourished, expressing the bourbon and caramel malt blend flawlessly. The high alcohol, with its thick head and sweetness is an ideal antidote to a cold day chopping fire wood in the Boreal forest just up the road in Ontario.
Taps Dark Ale, I feel this brew is close to a black IPA and very easy to drink. This is a nice non-stout introduction for those who shy away from dark beers.
After the flight we took to the patio with our favorites, Julie had Vanilla Wheat and I the Sinister Sam IPA. There are a few missing hours in the evening that I don’t fully recall, although we obviously made it back to the U.S. without incident.
So next time you’re taking in the sites of the wonderful Niagara Falls, be sure to take your passport, cross the bridge, leave all the wax museums and casinos and head towards Tap’s to get properly banged up.
I want to make mention of some local beer we try while unable to make it to the actual brewery. Today’s ode goes to a Wisconsin Brewery named, New Glarus, situated in the town of the same name. The Spotted Cow is a fun drinking, fruity and cloudy farmhouse ale. Sadly, it’s only available in Wisconsin, so the next time you’re passing through or need to make an emergency landing in Milwaukee, try this one. It’s a pleaser.