First Draught: Wellington Brewery’s Arkell Best Bitter
By David Ort
Wellington's stylish new can (Image: David Ort)
Enjoying Wellington Brewery’s Arkell Best Bitter is a study in not judging a beer by its cover. With a double-barrel name like that and its deep amber colour, who would guess that this is a very drinkable light beer?
Bitter is just British for “pale ale;” a term that distinguishes this very popular class of beer from the even sweeter porters and stouts. Wellington’s example tends to the dark, deep-copper end of the range. It smells of toast with honey and sweet British desserts. The lightly-roasted malt flavour is supported by a hint of woodsy hops.
This beer was part of a trifecta of Ontario entries that swept the Bitter category at the recent U.S. Open Beer Championship. Butler’s Bitter from Niagara College and Neustadt’s Bitter joined Wellington’s on the podium. The gold for Butler’s Bitter was one of two that Niagara College won, and helped secure an impressive sixth place overall finish for the Teaching Brewery.
To match the contents, Wellington Brewery has also changed the actual image on the beer — for the tall can at least — from a somewhat stuffy design that featured the Duke of Wellington to a more stylish one with the Welly boot that borrows his name.
Frankly, I usually make a specific point of avoiding light beer because of how it tastes. The Arkell Best Bitter is the delicious, craft-brewed example that swims against that current. It’s both flavourful and refreshing, and it goes very well with a variety of hot-weather food.
Wellington Arkell Best Bitter, $2.60 for a 473 ml can. LCBO #257345
When David isn't busy drinking beer for his articles here, he writes about food and drink for Toronto's online publications including his own site, Food With Legs. For more of his thoughts on beer and life in general follow him on Twitter.