Just a quick review today. Spring migration in upstate New York has been picking up this week and I’ve been doing more birding than boozing lately. As it probably should be.

Even though I saw my first wood-warbler of the year this week (a nice “yellow” Palm Warbler), we’re still in early April and there’s been plenty of chilly and overcast weather here, so I don’t feel so bad about sneaking in a review of a nice porter – even if it is a beer I enjoy more in the fall and winter.

Stranger Than Fiction comes to us from Collective Arts Brewing of Hamilton, Ontario, and features what appears to be a portrait of a Eurasian Eagle-Owl on its can art, painted with a boldly textured vibrancy by Waterloo artist Jeff Dillon. I’m not sure if the name of the beer is a comment on the appearance of Bubo bubo in Canada but the image is striking in any case.

Stranger Than Fiction fills the glass with lovely dark mahogany, capped with a rich, foamy head. This beer offers the expected roasted coffee aromas one expects in a porter, along with nice touches of toasted walnuts and cocoa powder. Stranger than Fiction’s light but creamy texture delivers touches of sweet caramel to start, roasted malt, molasses, and a tantalizing touch of cola that seems to hint at clove, followed by a robust bitterness in the dry and smoky finish.

Good birding and happy drinking!

Collective Arts Brewing: Stranger Than Fiction

Three out of five feathers (Good).

Written by Tristan Lowery
Tristan Lowery’s busy homebrewing schedule took a hit in 2010 when he discovered birding and found that scanning the waterfowl at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on a frigid midwinter morning could be just as much fun as standing over a steaming mash tun in a sweltering Queens apartment in August. While his growing commitment to birding has undeniably diminished his brewing output of ales - fine and otherwise - Tristan finds that birding still affords him plenty of excuses to at least keep drinking beer, especially when celebrating life birds, lamenting unsuccessful chases, and capping off an exhausting Big Day or Christmas Bird Count. After leaving behind a hectic cooking career in New York City’s fine-dining scene, Tristan moved inland to the New York's Capital District, where the relative abundance of Pileated Woodpeckers almost makes up for the fact that he’s only seen a single Sanderling in Albany County ever. When he isn’t birding his local patches in urban Albany, Tristan works in energy regulation for the State of New York.