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Plowman's Ale - Grand River Brewing

Not Rated.
Plowman's AlePlowman's Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

51 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 51
Hads: 82
Avg: 3.72
pDev: 13.71%
Wants: 0
Gots: 4 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Grand River Brewing visit their website
Ontario, Canada

Style | ABV
American Amber / Red Ale |  4.70% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: crwills on 09-15-2007

This is a big, bold beer that is loaded with five types of hops but also backed up with a hearty grain that establishes balance and body. This deep copper coloured beer has beautiful spicy and a slight citrus hops note right from the start with a rounded malt finish accompanying the hop bitterness.

Immediately after pouring the beer, you will notice a full, rocky head form at the top of your glass that preserves all the flavour and allows the slow release of the hop focused aroma. As you drink and enjoy your beer you will notice the head take on a thick and rocky appearance as it creates some wonderful lacing down the side of your glass. All signs of a well made traditional style beer.
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Reviews: 51 | Hads: 82
Photo of Sammy
3.8/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lovely white head, with lace, on grapefruit coloured body. Aroma is good, with C-hop, malt and lager. Grapefruit hop takes over, hoppy pale, with acidic bite begging for food. Bold eh? for Ontario, very fresh thanks to Old Faithful's growler. Very drinkable and also surprisingly bitter. A good pale,
Once in a while, the hype is for real. One of the best Ontario brews I have had...you can look it up.Had it six months later, and creamy good, hoppy just not as outstanding as the first.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured a deep amber color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of dry caramel malt with subtle grainy flavor. Taste is dryer then I had anticipated with good caramel malt and dry finish. Hops are not overly distinct and ester are somewhat lacking. Body is about average with good carbonation. Not bad overall but I would say that this was below average for this brewer.

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Photo of superspak
3.78/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500 ml bottle into pint glass, bottled on 3/13/2015. Pours crystal clear deep orange/copper color with a 1 finger dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of caramel, toffee, toast, brown sugar, brown bread, light nuttiness, grapefruit, orange zest, light pine, herbal, grass, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt and moderate citrus/earthy hop notes; with solid strength. Taste of caramel, toffee, toast, brown sugar, brown bread, light nuttiness, grapefruit, orange zest, pine, herbal, grass, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Good amount of herbal/piney bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toffee, toast, brown bread, light nuttiness, grapefruit, orange zest, pine, and herbal/grassy earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice robustness and complexity of dark/bready malts and moderate citrus/earthy hop flavors; with a nice crisp malt/bitterness balance and no cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, fairly creamy/bready, and lightly sticky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with zero warming present after the finish as expected of 4.7%. Overall this is a very good amber ale. All around good complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt and moderate citrus/earthy hop flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. I definitely got some English yeast character from this, but the estery qualities were very well restrained. A nicely enjoyable offering.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.91/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Viggo for tossing me one of these at DLD. Bottle April 17th, 2009. Served in a RedHook pint glass.

A - Pours with a big three fingers of soapy orange-tinged foam that slowly dissipates and leaves tons of lacing. Orange-amber body with lots of single bubbles racing upwards. Good looking stuff!

S - I probably should have opened this earlier - it has a bit of that faded hop smell to it. A touch of soapy Cascade and citrus hops, and lots of caramel and biscuit malt character, with some berries and sweet fruits as well.

T - The taste is a little different from what I expected. It's more toffee/bread than caramel, and with even less hop character other than a some nice residual bitterness in the finish. Again, there is some strawberry and other light fruits.

M - Prickly but not burning carbonation, viscous, chewy, medium body. Not a ton of residual feel.

D - The 500ml bottle was pretty easy to drink, as the carbonation isn't bloaty and the ABV is pretty low. If you go in expecting this to be like Nugger Nectar you're going to be disappointed, but it's probably the best beer I've had from Grand River.

I suspect this would be an A- beer when fresh, but it's still pretty good.

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Photo of liamt07
3.73/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle form the LCBO, bottled on April 15, 2011. Into a pint glass.

Pours a ruby red, with maybe some amber highlights. Soapy and sticky white head, leaves a bunch of webbed lacing here. Nose is bready and malty, some earthiness. Very mild citrus/grapefruit too potentially? Taste has a bitter citrus bite with more bready and earthy like malts. Caramel notes too. Lingering bitterness from this but not substantial. Medium body and carbonation. A decent amber overall.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.63/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on May 19/11.
Poured in to Pint Glass

A - Medium amber colour; translucent. One finger of bubbly khaki coloured head.

S - Sweet caramel malts initially in the nose with a slight bitterness coming through from the hops that carries a slight floral smell.

T - A nice bitterness comes through at first with some floral notes. A significant caramel/toffee malt flavour rounds out the flavour profile and provides a good compliment to the bitterness with some sweetness as well.

M - Medium body; somewhat creamy and almost full bodied at times. Light carbonation.

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Photo of biegaman
3.9/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Plowman's Ale, befitting to its name, looks a quaintly rustic beer, a country brick tone that turns a bright Canadian maple leaf red when held into the light. Clarity is far less a concern than carbonation, which there is little evidence of. Some sign of life is observed on the surface, however, where a low-tide current washes over with sandy grains of off-white.

A delicious nutty-sweetness slides into your nostrils like a tired man does his recliner after a long day's work. And there it rests, quiet but contented. A spritz of grapefruit essence lingers like an old-lady perfume, lending the caramelized malts a refreshing candied fruit counterpart. The smell is far from substantial, but does a possess a certain charm.

Plowman's Ale has a flavour that cuts right to the chase: sweet, toffee-ish malts coated in a sticky, resinous goo. A grilled grapefruit/roasted orange peel flavour saturates the palate briefly in citrusy tang before quickly parting ways to soft and biscuity maltiness. It's an assertive taste, making the most of its generous, inherently pleasant hop bill.

Grand River makes nothing but ample yet sessionable beers. Still, this may be both the most ample and the most 'sessionable' (taking some liberty with the term) of all their offerings. It's the kind of beer you could finish in less sips than you have fingers on your hand and, while you'd be satisfied leaving it at that, another pint would be more satisfying.

Plowman's Ale is indeed a drink that would suit a plowman: it's a substantial, flavorful ale, abundant in both hops and malt, and tremendously quenching and far too easy to throw back. Although I bet it'd be extra gratifying after a hard day's work, it's been greatly enjoyable in a relaxing, quiet-evening setting. Is there a wrong time for a beer like this?

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Photo of Derek
4.43/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Fresh growler from the Brewery (first batch in June).

A: Copper-bronze, fluffy off-white head, good retention, great lace...

S: Grapefruit, grassy and slightly spicy hops; bready/biscuity malt with a little toffee.

T: Grapefruit, nectarine, grassy, hints of pine, toffee, bread, caramel, assertive bitterness.

M: Moderate body is creamy (great for its weight), modest carbonation, hop acidity.

D: Incredibly drinkable. I'd say this is one hell of an American Pale Ale, especially considering its weight!

I've had it a few times on draft since I tried the first batch (which was a little more hop-forward).

IMO, it's now a very well-balanced brew with some serious depth to the malt flavour and a pleasant fruityness from the yeast (making it a little more "British" than the original). Although I loved the hops in the first batch, the same score stands.

I even had a growler with the one-off centennial hopping (due to a brief supply shortage). It seemed to be the hoppiest since the first batch. Or maybe the fresh growler is just a little bolder than the draft? I expected more of a nectarine flavour from this replacement, but I think it's Warrior that has came through stronger. It seems to have a fresh hop spiciness as well (like that jalapeno spiciness from fresh, wet hops). Interesting, but I like the cascades.

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Photo of wordemupg
3.95/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into pint glass oct13 2009

A clear deep copper with a fair bit of bubbles. It pours a nice thick head that leaves nice lace and has good retention

S some citrus mild hops and a little caramel, it was a interesting mix

T again a little odd with orange and hops with some sweetness but I enjoyed it

M not too thin but not very thick either, not bad overall it has decent carbonation that helps its cause

D no issues here a well rounded ale

from wittaker in the CANBIF09 my first trade and a great way too try some beer I can't find here in Calgary

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Photo of Viggo
3.8/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Again thanks to KwaiLo for providing the growlers during brewday.

Pours a clear orange/red, thin white head, decent lacing, ring around the glass, sticks around. Smell is caramel, piney hops, citrus, very malty resinous middle, hoppy finish. Taste is similar, caramelized malts up front, pine, floral/citrus, bit of grapefruit, bready, very bitter finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation, very solid flavour. Bit unbalanced bitterness, from what I've head they had AA% problems with the hops on the first batch. Subsequent batches are a little more balanced. Thanks Scott!

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Photo of spinrsx
3.7/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml Bottle

Appearance – Clear copper colour with an average size fizzy beige coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation visible and there is a fairly good amount of lacing. The head lasted for around 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, tea, caramel/butterscotch

Taste & Mouth - The beer has an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, caramel/butterscotch, and some light hops. The is also a bit of a tea flavour going on. It ends with a malty caramel sweet aftertaste with a little bit of a lingering hop bitterness.

Overall – A very nice easy drinking beer with a pleasant sweet and malty taste. It's well crafted and I'd buy it again. I'd also be interested to try this one on tap/cask.

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Photo of tbeckett
3.91/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From notes.

A - Poured dark copper. Good strong carbonation. Half finger beige, creamy head. Bright. Great lace and solid retention.

S - Caramelly with bread and citrus.

T - Caramel is less with more citrus and light earth. Bread.

M - Fairly well carbonated and good medium body for the ABV. Bitterness is light to medium.

O/D - Very drinkable. Tankhouse-like. A very sessionable Grand River offering, like they always are.

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Photo of papat444
3.81/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Derek for getting me this beer.

Paired it with a homemade lunch, chicken sandwich & potato salad.

Poured from a 500ml. bottle, bottled on Apr. 22, 2009.

Appearance: Big thick white head with tanned tinges. Body looks like burnished copper but when held to the light it' very reddish in color.

Smell: Initial weird metallic aroma that gradually dissipates. Roasted smell and as it warms, i get a gentle hop presence.

Taste: A nice robust yet discreet taste. Some hops in the fore with a subdued dry bitter finish. There's also some tea and a type of herbal presence lurking in there. I'm also getting some earthy notes, maybe barley?

Mouthfeel: Just a tad too carbonated at first but not uncomfortable by any means and definitely eases as it warms. Nice full body with a smooth flavorful feel.

Drinkability: A nice low ABV with some good taste makes this one a pleasure to drink. Would gladly have another.

Overall: Thoroughly enjoyed this one. A discreet but very well made brew. First one from this brewery and i definitely want to try more of their beers. I actually also have their Curmudgeon IPA & Russian Gun so looking forward to trying them.

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Photo of peensteen
3.77/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep amber colour, slight white head, little touches of lace. Smell is malty, caramel notes, hop bitterness, citrus is there as well, grapefruit. Taste is of big chewy malt, toffee, good hop bitterness, slight citrus in the aftertaste. Medium to full mouthfeel, slightly oily at times, good carbonation on this one. Good brew and I liked this very much, solid as usual from Grand River.

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Photo of bobsy
3.5/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Golden pour with a mottled white head. Good retention and lace. Grand River beers tend to look good and this is no different. Good citrus aroma...grapefruit, tangerine, some biscuit. Sadly I found that the taste was a bit hollow, citrus, orange peel and biscuit were all present, but so was the odd hint of plastic, and it lacked some soul in the middle. A decent beer but not one I'd be inclined to order again. Decent body.

Its okay... I expect more from them, and I've got it, just not from the ploughmans.

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Photo of IronDjinn
3.53/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A tip of the hat to wfeddern for including this in CanBIF 5.

Pours out a deep transluscent ruddy amber, very appealing, capped by a tall spongy light beige head with good retention.

Uplifting floral notes at first on the nose, followed by mild toffee and nuts, and light grassy hops.

Nutty and earthy flavours up front that then seamlessly melds into spicy hops in the middle, then turns more herbal on the finish, leaving a lingering aftertaste of dandelion greens.

Thin on the mouthfeel, but with enough body and carbonation that it doesn't quite get watery.

An average amber ale, not offensive but also kinda blends into the background like a wallflower, it doesn't quite stand out from the crowd.

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Photo of grub
4.25/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle purchased at the brewery. sampled march 28/09.

pours crystal clear deep coppery orange, not quite red. a small dense patch of tan head forms, dropping slowly and leaving plenty of lace.

aroma is great. big chewy malt - biscuit, whole wheat bread, cracker - all lightly toasted. light orange peel and tangerine. hint of grapefruit. just a touch of alcohol. lightly sweet caramel and a touch of toffee.

taste is good. just over medium bitterness level. the first thing i notice is a mix of grapefruit, orange peel, and a touch of tangerine. this quickly gives way to the solid malty character that i got in the aroma. lightly toasted biscuit and whole wheat bread. alcohol feels a little higher here, but still not enough to overshadow the rest of the beer. touch of earthy character too.

mouthfeel is good. medium body. medium carbonation level.

drinkability is great. nicely balanced. great malt character matched perfectly against some light american hopping. and at under 5%, an excellent session beer too!

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Photo of SebD
3.7/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: It has a nice hazy golden/orange color to it. It has a nice off-white head that dies down somewhat fast and leaves little lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of sweet bready malts, caramel, some fruitiness, (apple juice almost) and faint earthy hops.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a some sweet bready malts, caramel, some nuttiness, slight fruitiness (citrus and apple) and an earthy bitterness.

Mouthfeel: It has a low carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with good flavors and aromas.

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Photo of pootz
3.85/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On Tap at the castle.

Tapped a deep clear amber color with a decent sticky off-white cap that lasts and laces the glass

Aromas of roast toffee, some carmel over dry hay and some citrus and ale-like fruity tones.

Up front a decent malt spine is balanced with pine-citrus hopping...mid palate the hopping gets bitter and dries up the drink leading to a clean dry bitter finish.

This is the bitter amber that Wellington never brewed.

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Photo of thehyperduck
4.08/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

500 mL bottle; packaged on August 24, 2011.

An aggressive pour produces a copper-brown coloured brew, topped with nearly three fingers of foamy, off-white head that gradually seeps away over a period of many minutes. Good retention, and tons of lacing on the sides of the glass. It has a pleasant aroma of bready malts, caramel sweetness and some citrusy hops. Reminds me of bergamot tea.

Not especially complex, but very tasty nonetheless. Bready malts, a bit nutty in character with some caramel sweetness as well. Good earthy, citrusy hop bitterness to balance this, once again very reminiscent of earl grey tea/bergamot; both floral and fruity. The earthy bitterness lingers on the palate in the aftertaste for a few seconds. Medium-bodied, with moderate carbonation levels that give the brew a solid bite. Creamy, maybe a little buttery/slippery on the tongue, and very smooth. Gets much tastier as it starts to warm.

This is the first beer I've tried from Grand River, and I found it highly enjoyable. Easily one of the better ambers available in Ontario, this is a very satisfying, balanced, and sessionable ale that I will surely pick up again some time. Recommended.

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Photo of allergictomacros
3.53/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a clear ruby red. Head is solid and substantial.

S - Floral and slightly citric hop. Big caramel maltiness.

T - Lightly fruity with a solid malt backbone. Hops are fairly aggressive with hints of citrus and pine. Hard bitter finish.

M - Slightly chewy. Moderate body.

D - Not bad. I wouldn't session this, but there's some solid flavours in here.

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Photo of hopsolutely
3.53/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A very malt-forward British-style red ale. Surprised to see it listed on this site as "American"? No hint of hops outside of the dry finish. and how much of that is a result of Grand River's hard water versus the personal taste of their brew master, I'm never sure...

Pours a beautiful, clear red with decent head and moderate lacing. Aroma is malt-forward with a metallic undertone. The taste has the sweetness of caramelized malts followed by some bittering complexity. Bottled several months ago, so that may also play a role.

Definitely a sessionable ale, although prefer it on draught and not as "American" as I'd personally choose.

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Photo of ONUMello
3.08/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a pint bottle dated 3/3/14 poured into a pint glass
A: Transparent light orange color with a generous 1+ finger head that lingers
S: Generic hops/malts and a metal aroma as well
T: Some pleasant hop/malt notes come through up front but that metallic note comes through big time on the finish and lasts a while... not so pleasant
M: Light-bodied, unremarkable
O: I think this was past its prime or a bad bottle. I really hate rating it this low given every review here is better. I'll try to find a fresher bottle or the brewery itself isn't so far away & I'll re-review

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.76/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've had this beer so many times before, I'm surprised I haven't reviewed it yet. This was one of my first craft beers that truly surprised be with its earthy bitterness; I'm interested to see how I feel about it now.

500mL picked up from the brewery, bottled January 25th. Looks like they've completely changed over their bottling artwork for all their regulars.

Poured into a Grand River conical pint glass. A striking amber hue, the pour leaving a foamy inch of head that displayed great retention. Lots of sticky lacing as well.

Nose is that distinctive, metallic tang seen in other Grand River brews (not much they can do about the water supply), with herbal hops, caramel and malt.

Earthy and flavorful, with a nice herbal/citrus hop finish. Malty, but not overly so. A nice sipper, full of flavor.

Medium bodied, creamy, nice pinprick carbonation.

A perennial favorite of mine from Grand River. A solid, flavorful red ale that displays a surprisingly diverse profile of earth, bread, herbal and bittering hop flavors. Best on tap, but bottled fresh from the brewery itself is always a treat as well.

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Photo of korguy123
3.7/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle into tulip.
Bottled March 15th, 2012

A- Clear dark amber with red hues. Finger width off white head. Lacing is spotty.

S- Toffee, caramel, sweet cookies, subtle floral hop.

T- Caramel, slight sour dough, toffee, coffee and bitter floral hops in the finish.

M- Medium bodied, slightly chewy, good carbonation.

O- Solid amber, really glad it's a super fresh bottle.

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Plowman's Ale from Grand River Brewing
84 out of 100 based on 51 ratings.