On Friday night, I opened a special “vintage” edition bottling of the Muskoka Brewery’s Legendary Muskoka Oddity beer. I wasn’t expecting much from the one year old ale, frankly, because to my experience spiced beers generally don’t age that well. Some conditioning is usually required to keep the ‘pop’ of the herbs and spices in check, true enough, but over the course of a full year, I’ve found that the tendency is for the flavourings to become overly muted and, well, just dull.
Not so the Oddity, for some reason. The juniper and orange peel notes were present and identifiable, and the floral aspect of the heather tips was still in harmony with the rest of the flavour and aroma notes. An experiment that might have been ill-advised – or so I thought – turned out to be a wholly remarkable success.
Pity, then, it may never be allowed to happen again.
On the phone this morning with Gary McMullen, co-founder and head of the brewery, I learned that the future of the Oddity is very much in doubt. There are no plans to make any this year and, he suggested, scant interest in doing it again next year. Seems there is a problem fitting it into the production schedule, and although McMullen didn’t say this, presumably also an issue with finding a place to sell it, since the LCBO tends to allocate only a specific number of product places to individual breweries. With the brewery’s new Detour and early arriving Summer Weiss, the squeeze is on the Oddity.
Which I think is simply a damn shame. Ontario breweries don’t do Belgian-inspired beers much, and when they do they seldom if ever do them this well. When it first appeared three years ago, I declared the Oddity to be the best Belgian-influenced ale yet brewed in this province, and I stand by that evaluation. Last year’s wasn’t quite a good out the gate, but as evidenced on Friday has aged quite well. (Curiously, a year-old version of that first edition did not mature as gracefully.) Down the road, this beer has the potential to becomes as legendary as it claims to be now.
Let us hope that the planning meetings McMullen noted are upcoming over the next few months will result in a stay of execution for this strong and compelling brew. For as much as Ontario now boasts a plethora of hoppy pale ales and IPAs and double IPAs, I do sometimes bemoan our relative lack of complex and non-bitter beers, like the Legendary Muskoka Oddity.
2 Replies to “Is it Last Call for Muskoka’s Legendary Oddity?”
I don’t particularly dig this beer–certainly not to the degree that you do–, but I did enjoy one this weekend. If it’s an issue of SKUs, I’d nominate Muskoka’s Cream Ale for the chopping block, personally. It seems the least noteworthy of Muskoka’s line-up. Although when I once made that suggestion to Gary McMullen, he didn’t take too kindly to the idea of scrapping his company’s first beer. Also, an OBA for Beer of the Year this year seems to suggest that I’m in the minority when it comes to my “meh” attitude toward the cream ale.
Stephen, I tried it out based on your reviews and was not disappointed.
Deservedly, a marked improvement from what they have been churning out
for the last few years. As you rightly said, it is a pity that not many Canadian brewers dabble in Belgium inspired beers, hope they take a cue from Muskoka. The market is top heavy with focus on IPA’s, saisons and wheat
beers. Brewers need to be more creative, I think I will give full marks to Bellwoods and Flying Monkeys when it comes to creativity.