Cranky Beer Blog - Phillips Blue Buck

Cody reviews the 'Buck! I'm quite interested to see what he has to say! - Jonny

Review By: Cranky Beer Blog

Currently listening to: John K Samson - When I Write My Masters Thesis

Back many many years ago, I interviewed CBC Radio 3 host Grant Lawrence for the school's newspaper, and one of the questions I remember vividly asking him was "What's your favourite beer?" He jumped to that question immediately and giddily, it was Phillips' Blue Buck Ale. I never tried the beer.. that is.. until today. He's the reason why I'm listening to John K Samson at this very moment, and he's the reason why I'm reviewing Blue Buck today, as it's now available at local Liquormarts in Manitoba.

Blue Buck is an English-style Pale Ale, which is more of a hop and malty style pale ale than the traditional pilsner/lageresque pale ales we are accustomed to on the prairies. As Grant Lawrence tweeted yesterday: "fun fact: the mighty Blue Buck grazes exclusively on hops and barley."

So let's try it out.

Appearance: Before reviewing this beer, I was expecting more of a Canadian style pale ale or lager, a pale golden straw. Instead, it was a rich clear caramel amber ale with a good one and a half fingers thick of beige foam. Looks similar to some IPAs you can get in Manitoba, not a bad looking beer at all.

Aroma: Crack open the can and the first thing I noticed was a wave of citrusy floral hops. It can't be that bad compared to what I've heard from friends like Stephen, who only keeps a bottle in his fridge for "joke beer". As the beer settles in the glass, the floral hoppy aroma dies down a bit, it gives off a slightly roasted caramel malt aroma. For a beer of this amberness, it's quite roasty, which is strange. A bit of a barleyesque straw aroma is appearing ther as well.

Taste: The hops aren't as present as they were at the first whiff, it's a caramel malted ale with the roasted aroma I noticed now turning into a bit of a nutty brown ale in some ways. A bit of a bitter aftertaste present from the hops. Not much there other than that, but it's not bad.

Overall Thoughts: For a pale ale, it has a decent caramel maltiness to it with a mild nuttiness, though the hops fell short of what I was hoping for from the first whiff. Not as bad as people tell me about it, sure it's not something I would ever go out of my way to find, but it's sure better than a Keith's. I expected a corny/straw pale ale, and it turned out to be a bit caramelly nutty pale.. that ain't bad. Blue Buck has 5.0% ABV, comes in 355ml single cans at $2.69/can, which is pretty affordable for the size format.

Also check out my review of Phillips' Hoperation Tripel Cross Belgian IPA, which is also now available in Manitoba!