There are very few guarantees in life, especially for those who drink as much beer as we do, but I guarantee you a trip to the Niagara College Teaching Brewery will expose your taste buds to at least one beer you’ve never had before. It may be a beer you never want to have again, but it will definitely be a new experience. Such was my experience with Michael’s Spices. Before I get to the beer itself, I searched for the meaning in the name. Why you ask? Because I actually thought the board of beers said “Michael Stipe” but it turns out it did not say that… So then is it a pun or a play on “Mike” and “allspice”? There is certainly allspice in this beer. Was the brewer a fan of really obscure Dr. Who characters? Or maybe was his name was Michael and he added an intimidating amount of spice to this brew. We’ll never ever know.
The beer pours clear gold with little carbonation – though growlers are always flatter than fresh brews on draught. Very powerful nose on this beer – smells like Christmas, which I believe is made up of cloves, allspice, nutmeg (maybe) and Holiday Cheer (definitely). Sweet and spicy on the tongue before an assault of sweetness at the back of the palate and a lingering bitterness – liquorice? I’ve had something similarly candied from the college, Rudolph’s Red nose I believe was the name, but it was less complex than ol’ Spices here. For me, this complexity is too much. I have a hard time saying that because I love beers that push the envelope; like my fellow brahs, the beer I am going to buy or order is the one that I’ve never heard of or tasted before. I know what a pale lager tastes like. I didn’t know what Michael’s Spices tastes like. Now that I do know, I will say its it’s not my favorite College brew. I do like the winter-esque notes, but it goes overboard and lacks an evenness or warmth. Nevertheless, I’ll be back at the College buying whatever weird beer I misread on the on-tap board next time I’m in the area.