Big Rock Brewery, located in Calgary, Alberta, just celebrated their 30th anniversary. In 1985 the brewery, founded by Ed McNally, started with it’s first three beers: Porter, Bitter and Traditional. Traditional is still popular today and can be found in liquor stores across Alberta as well as on tap at local pubs. As part of the 30th anniversary, Big Rock re-released the Porter and Bitter, along with the Traditional in a 6 pack variety pack. Naturally, I had to pick up the pack and give the Porter and Bitter a try and share my review with all of you!
Along with the 1985 Variety Pack, another mixed pack caught my eye: The Barnburner 12-pack case. This is a seasonal case that marks the end of summer with their fall harvest beers. It only made sense to me to write about all of these great beers in one big post of Big Rock beer! So without further ado, my reviews of one of my favourite beer brands!
Big Rock 1985 Variety Pack
Before I get down to the review of this pack, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BIG ROCK!
Big Rock beers have been in my fridge during all seasons for many years now. Even before the craft beer scene exploded, I was a fan of their Traditional Ale. It is the first beer that was not a light or lager that I fell in love with (yes, I admit, there was a time in my life where light beer was my kind of beer); and Traditional Ale is still one of my staple beers that I can continually count on! If you are just getting into drinking and experimenting with beers, try out the Traditional Ale; and if you are already a huge beer lover and have not had the opportunity to try it, I highly recommend it… either way, if you are a newbie or an old-hack, this beer will not disappoint! Along with the Traditional Ale (5%), the variety pack also includes the Porter (5%) and Bitter (5%) beer, both of which were discontinued in 1987 – probably too big of beers for their time.
A – pours clear, dark copper brown, with thick head that fades slowly
S – nuts, fruits, caramel, malts, sweetness
T – a lot like the smell, tastes of nuts, fruits, sweet caramel malts
M – smooth and creamy, milk carbonation
O – As I mentioned, this is one of the primary beers you can find in my fridge. When out at pubs or restaurants, if Traditional Ale is on tap, it’s coming to my table! A great brown ale!
Cocko’ The Rock Porter
A – the porter pours a dark brown colour that is very clear. It has large, puffy head that slowly receded into a thick line of beige head.
S – cold coffee, chocolate, caramels; some light notes of weedy, earthiness
T – milky coffee, bready malts, lingering weedy bitterness
M – light carbonation, heavy body, frothy, creamy, aftertaste of chocolate coffee
O – overall, what a great porter! The creaminess and smoothness of this beer are awesome; and even though it is a heavier beer, I could drink a few of these!
A – pours clear, yellow with a lot of frothy head that didn’t go away for a long time
S – herbal smells, citrus fruit peels
T – bitter is the name of this beer for a reason! I can’t imagine this beer coming out onto the market in 1985; now that the hops-invasion has come, it is probably more acceptable and appreciated. The flavours are of herbal, citrus hops with a balancing bready malt sweetness.
M – a bitter bite and bitter aftertaste, light carbonation, unexpectedly smooth
O – a decent bitter, yet smooth beer. Fits the market today with it’s strong bitter hops!
Big Rock Barn Burner Mixed Pack
The Barn Burner mixed pack comes with four beers (3 bottles of each): the Smoked Roggenbier (5.5%), Hibernation Ale (6%), Fowl Mouth ESB (5.5%), and the Dunkelweizen (5%). All of the beers are rich, autumn feeling beers that include fall fruits, spices, malts and flavours. Overall, all four of the beers were extremely drinkable and I would purchase the pack again. There is something about fall/winter beers that I love and this pack has it all!
A – pours clear, yellow straw colour, with little to no head
S – sweet caramel smells, some fruits, a bit bready and light smoke
T – I couldn’t taste the smoke, but really tastes breads and sweet fruits
M – fizzy, high carbonation, light bodied, smooth beer
O – I have never had smoked beer before and didn’t know what to expect, but I was anticipating a lot of smoke flavours. I could smell light smoke but couldn’t taste any. However, the beer was pleasant and was easy to drink.
A – pours clear, reddish brown, light puffy head that dissipates quickly into nearly zero head
S – autumn spices, autumn harvest fruits like apples and plums, caramels, sweetness
T – earthy autumn spices and fruits, caramel, sweet
M – this beer made me feel warm (could have been the 6%), smooth, sweet and caramely, rich flavours
O – my favourite of the mixed pack by far. The spices and autumn flavours balanced amazingly for me. I could drink this beer all fall and winter!
Foul Mouth ESB
A – pours clear, golden bronze with a light head that slowly fades into a frothy line of head
S – smells of citrus, weedy, leafy hops with slight sweet malts
T – bitter citrus and weedy hops with small breadiness
M – medium bodied, fizzy carbonation, lingering bitterness
O – overall not a bad beer; balance of bitterness and sweetness. My least favourite of the mixed pack, but a decent beer none-the-less
A – pours a clear, dark copper colour, with foamy head that recedes quickly into a thin line
S – smells of sweet caramel malts, yeast and slight spice and banana
T – similar to the smell, flavours are of rich caramel malts, breads, and light spicy banana notes
M – medium carbonation, creamy texture, slight stickiness making me feel slightly like I am drinking caramelized bananas
O – overall a well rounded dunkel, smooth and easy to drink
Interesting tid-bit about Big Rock:
In 1986, Molson and Labatt breweries went on strike in Alberta, making Big Rock beer the only beer available in Alberta for that summer! Even if Molson and Labatt beers were available, can you imagine a time when only three breweries were available?!
Other beer reviews I have done:
Have you tried any of these great Big Rock beers; and if so, what’s your review?!