Square Nail Pale Ale - Publican House Brewery

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Square Nail Pale AleSquare Nail Pale Ale

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very good

50 Ratings
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Ratings: 50
Reviews: 25
rAvg: 3.77
pDev: 12.2%
Wants: 2
Gots: 4 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Publican House Brewery visit their website
Ontario, Canada

Style | ABV
American Pale Ale (APA) |  5.60% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: grub on 10-15-2008

Square Nail Pale Ale, a west coast style pale ale that finishes off with a gentle bitterness. At 5.6% alcohol it is a full flavoured ale brewed with Saskatchewan malted barley and Crystal malts along with several large additions of Cascade hops to give the beer an assertive bitterness and Aroma. It is named after the hundreds and hundreds of square nails that we found during the first phase of the building renovation. No doubt these nails were hand crafted by many of the local blacksmiths in Peterborough in the mid-1800's.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 50 | Reviews: 25
Reviews by slitherySOB:
Photo of slitherySOB
4.17/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pale amber in colour. Nice, thick head that slowly dissipates to a thin film. Very hoppy nose. Plenty of citrus, with some peaches and pear. Tastes delicious. Nice cracker maltiness, followed by a sour/bitter citrus. Plenty of orange. Medium/light carbonation. Nicely carbonated and highly drinkable. A great session ale.

More User Reviews:
Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.88/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Volo.

Poured into a nonic. Pale amber-golden, nice and bright, steady thin head, clouds of lacing. Nice lookin brew.

Nose is caramel, mild hops, a bit of orange or peach.

Solid APA, mild citrussy hop finish with a bit of grain. Caramel, peach, some other fruit notes, some grapefruit.

Medium-light bodied, really nice feel, good carbonation for a light zip at the finish.

Good APA - been happy with my recent experiences with new Ontario breweries and their pale ales, and this is no exception.

Photo of Sammy
3.89/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear C hop aroma. Citrus taste, understated carbonation like a cask ale. Grapefruit, like great IPA.Reinforcing his is the Mahogoney brown colour and the slightest crown of a head. Some dot lace. Good bitternss, an American IPA in older times. Medium mouthfeel.

Photo of DaveBar
3.8/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Purchased at the LCBO for around $2.50 for a 473ml can. Served at 4deg C in a draught glass

A- Opens well and pours a nice white head that lasts. Super dark gold.

S- Ok hops for a pale ale. Not dry hopped much at all

T- Good hops. Nice malt. Good balance. Not a bad beer

M- Dry yet creamy. Tart aftertaste

O- Pretty good IPA Will buy again

Food Pairing

This nice beer went well with...... Fish and chips.


Photo of Phyl21ca
3.16/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Can: Poured a light copper color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of light citrusy notes with grainy malt notes. Taste is also dominated by light citrusy notes with grainy malt bill and some light bitter finish. Body is about average with good carbonation. I thought the hops profile fell short for the style.

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.95/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Volo. Served in a pint glass.

A - Light amber with a nice yellow glow.

S - Slight citrus hops with some sweet malts balancing them out.

T - Some floral and citrus hops up front balanced by a sweet malt back. A nice hop kick for a pale ale. A bitter floral hop finish that lingers.

M - Light body, lightly carbonated.

D - A very good beer; one that I would definitely buy again.

Photo of ssmack
3.65/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Clear dark amber colour. One and a half inches of white head made up of large bubbles. Medium carbonation. Good lacing and retention.

Sweet, angelfood cake malty aroma with the tiniest hint of hops.

Complex taste. Caramel malt. Then herby bitter hops comes over the caramel and makes a cardboard taste that fades to a strong bitterness in the back of the mouth.

Medium feel with bite.

Good west coast IPA. Not true citrus hops. A generic bitterness. Weak aroma.

Photo of mrnobody
4.52/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

1.9 liter growler poured into a Duvel tulip. One of two growlers of this received from my 4 year old nieces for xmas!

A: Pours a clear bright orange with one finger of white head. Little retention but nice lacing.

S: A nice amount of Cascade hops, not overpowering but like sticking your nose in a bag of hop pellets.

T: Again, this is all about the hops. Sports an impressive bitterness and drinks more like an IPA than an APA.

M: This is the light side of medium, the carbonation is the perfect level.

D: The drinkability is fantastic. Ontario's best APA.

I just brewed an attempt to copy this beer, can't wait to see how it turns out.

Photo of patre_tim
3.14/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

A: Copper unfiltered with no bubbles, 2 fingers of off white creamy head resembling foam on the ocean, honey comb lacing.

S: Apples, peaches, fruity, tea, apple candy, light musty scent, malt, dough.

T: Sweet, very hoppy. Seems to be two hop editions evident. One is big and spicy but dull and bitter, not fruity, the other is fruity like peaches and apples.

M: Medium syrupy resinous body, little carbonation.

O: Not bad. Flavours are a little separate and slightly incongruent in my opinion, but it’s a nice brew. Drank in Uxbridge June 1st, 2014.

Photo of spinrsx
3.44/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

16oz Can from the Ottawa LCBO for $2.75

Appearance - Copper colour with an average size off-white coloured head. There is an average amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for around 3-4 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, hops, caramel

Taste & Mouth - There is an above average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, caraamel, and hops. There is also a slight apricot sweetness.

Overall - What the.. I got thrown off by the 'West Coast' text on the can. Nothing west coast about this one, just a regular english style pale ale.

Photo of liamt07
4.04/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Volo, served in a pint glass.

Poured gold with a finger of off-white head. Moderate lacing is left on the glass, but only a touch of head retention. Nose is fairly fresh and hoppy; some pine and more subdued citrus hops are employed quite nicely. Some light orange and clementine as well. Light breadiness/grain comes with the malt, but not a lot otherwise. Taste is relatively straight forward, yet well excuted. Nice pale malt base with similar hopping to the nose, a bit more pine and citrus also. Medium length finish, with a medium carbonation. Good drinkability and well done. One of the best pale ales from these parts.

Photo of grub
4.1/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

64oz growler purchased at the brewery oct 11/08 and sampled oct 12/08.

pours crystal clear deep reddish copper colour. the small dense whate head drops fast and leaves spotty lace behind.

aroma is good. toasted multi-grain bread. biscuit. bit of pine. touch of fruity esters. bit of alcohol. really like the light toasty component.

taste is good. medium bitterness level. toasted multi-grain bread. bit of biscuit. touch of pine. bit of orange rind. tangerine. light alcohol. touch of nutty character. just a hint of fruit, mostly in the citrusy hop component.

mouthfeel is good. just under medium carbonation level. medium body.

drinkability is great. very good balance. nice light nutty and toasty character that i liked. a solid apa that i'd happily drink on a regular basis.

Photo of soju6
4.08/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Served a nice copper color with a head that fades very slowly.

S: Mild citrus & malt aroma.

T: Nice light citrus taste with malt. Nice bitterness. A lot going on here.

F: Medium body. Well balanced. Smooth and goes down easy.

D: Ordered a second one without hesitation. Beer hits the spot. Not what I expected, well worth the stop. Best pale ale I have had while in Ontario.

Photo of Viggo
3.97/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to grub for bringing this growler back for Thanksgiving dinner!

Pours a clear dark orange/golden brown, thin white head forms, settles to a thin ring, drops a few lace spots, maybe looks a touch dark for an APA. Smell is very nice, pine and grapefruit, biscuits, caramel, lots of fruitiness, oranges and lemony citrus, very hoppy aroma, very nice. Taste is malty up front, caramel and biscuits, bready, pine and grapefruit hops, light bit of fruit, strawberries, pineapple, solid bitterness in the finish, very balanced. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation, very smooth and drinkable. A very nice pale ale especially coming from Ontario, I wish I could get this more often, very nice. Thanks Russ!

Photo of hopsolutely
4.17/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An excellent Ontario APA!

Purchased a growler en route to Mondial this year. Still remarkably fresh after two months in storage.

Attractive golden amber, with moderate white head. Pleasant light, "west coast" hoppy aroma with backbone of caramelized malts. Well balanced flavour with the sweetness of malts blending smoothly into pleasant hop bitterness. A delightful and lingering finish.

Have enjoyed this on tap at Volo before, but this summer was my first trip to the brewery. Well worth the visit. Would encourage them to expand production and distribute more widely across Ontario!

Photo of kevinlater
4.07/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

473ml can into nonic. canned on march 31, 2014. enjoyed on june 1, 2014

a: a crystal clear light orange or deep yellow kinda thing. 2 fingers of head. fantastic lacing. nice

s: wow, just a really strong punch of super sweet peaches and apples, with milder grapefruit and mango to follow. maybe even some strawberries? caramel and floral aromas in here as well. not your typical pale ale aroma but different is good, right? this smells wonderful

t: follows the nose exactly. peaches/nectarines up front, apples as well, maybe some apricots too, then some strong caramel malt. subdued grapefruit flavour and a prominent but not strong leafy-grapefruit-esque bitterness rounds it all out. delicious

m: light body, light-to-medium carbonation, slightly creamy

o: what a great beer, really impressed with this one. very pleasant aroma and taste

Photo of kwjd
4.15/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I have no idea why it took me this long to finally try this beer. It poured an orange colour with thin white head. Good head retention though. Smell has lots of hop aroma, seemed to be both citrus and mild pine. Taste had some oily bitterness. This was more of a showcase of hops than of malt, which is great for the style. Being a pale ale from Ontario, I was half expecting to be underwhelmed before ordering, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Photo of biegaman
3.95/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Little about Square Nail is pale - it has the brightness and fiery orange-amber complexion of a torch. Looking at it, you'd think it was part of the Olympic ceremonies. All its flashiness does little to affect clarity but the beer's head, now somewhat disintegrated, has left sheets of lacing so dense that the glass looks as though it were wrapped in toilet paper.

So many people are intimidated by hops. Why? Tell me what's so unpleasant about a beer that smells like fresh flowers and citrus fruits? Aren't those the cornerstones of every hand soap and potpourri company? And what's not to love about a bouquet like this one that combines those fresh notes with sweet, malty flavours of biscuit and toffee? Delightful!

What really turns most people off about hops is their bitterness. That I understand (don't agree with, mind you). But it's a common misconception amongst casual beer drinkers that hoppy beers are necessarily bitter - Square Nail turns that assumption on its head. This flavour is loaded with flower petal, peach, and marmalade flavour but has hardly an ounce of bitterness.

Indeed, this mouthfeel seems nowhere close to the brewery's stated 43 IBUs; the whole palate is far too awash in creamy caramel and crunchy nut brittle notes to notice any trace of pithiness in that grapefruit flavour or much of any resins in those hints of pine. Everyone has a different definition for "smooth" but, in my mind, this simultaneously zippy and biscuity beer is it.

It's a special thing when a brewer can offer so much hoppiness without elevating the intensity of the beer. Indeed, Square Nail is a solid and sessionable pale ale, one that showcases lemony, citric, and piny hops with more purpose than to merely highlight their potency. A wonderful recipe. Now that it's available in cans repeated purchases are a no brainer.

Photo of Ham-Nord
3.11/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Poured can into a tulip glass.

A: Nice caramel colour with a lingering head and some lacing on the sides of the glass.

S: Was expecting a lot more from the aroma on this one considering it was billed as a west coast pale ale. There was little to no hop aroma and I mostly noticed the maltiness.

T: There was a nice malt flavour with a bitter kick to this beer, but I could barely detect any hop flavours (and certainly no hop flavours from NW hops).

M: A little heavier than I was expecting for a pale ale, but the carbonation was spot on.

O: I was hoping I would like this brew, but was disappointed. I expected some hop flavour and hop aroma, but got neither. It was also much too bitter for a pale ale. It wasn't a bad beer, it just wasn't a west coast pale ale.

Photo of Electros
4.22/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Amber-gold. Little head after pouring in to a pint glass.

Smell - Citrus and hop notes.

T - The is a great beer, nice and fresh from a growler, this has hops! The taste is a beautiful blend of malt and hops that stays with you a while. A west-coast style PA, it lives up to the style.

M - Very light on the tongue, then the hops hit you!

O - I love this beer, and I get my growlers filled every time I am in Peterborough or get family to bring me down some when they are in town. The Publican House is brewing some stellar beers!

Photo of NV9
3.83/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a growler of this for a trip to weekend with a group of guys. It was a bit strong for what they were used to but I was very impressed.

Pours a light amber colour, good head with nice retention and lacing, very nice looking beer.

Hops evident immediately in the smell, some citrus aroma as well, but mostly dominated by the hops.

Taste is smooth at first followed by some hops, slight bitterness but nice clean finish.

Medium body with a little bit of carbonation.

Overall a very good beer that I will be going to again - looking forward to trying what else this brewery has to offer.

Photo of bobsy
4.4/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pint at Volo on the day of me becoming a citizen, so this beer proudly represents my home province of Ontario.

The beer arrives at the table with a radiant deep copper body, a patchy white head and nice lacing. Darker than I'd expect for a pale ale, but pretty good nonetheless. Wonderfully fresh leafy aroma with notes of citrus and pine resin. Enticing and a perfect way to banish the last vestiges of a long Canadian winter. The flavours are also very fresh and delicious - leafy, grapefruit, pine and then tea in the finish. Its somewhat balanced out by some biscuit malt lurking in the background. This beer actually reminds me a lot of the DFH 60 minute, which is a damn good comparison to make. Medium body with low carbonation seem perfectly matched to the flavours. Excellent drinkability... the sort of beer that doesn't last long.

I like this brewery and I love this beer. Publican House's Stonewall Stout was excellently made, and the Square Nail shows me taht they really know how to do their stuff up in Peterborough. I'd recommend trying whatever they have on tap, as I will be doing. This particular offering could well become a go to option if it keeps cropping up in Toronto. Please bottle it!

Photo of Coronaeus
3.65/5  rDev -3.2%

Not quite as "west coast" as the can proclaims, but pretty good for what it is. Date sticker on the bottom of the can is a nice little extra. This one was 8/18/2014 which is pretty impressive for something from the LCBO. Note: the ABV is 5.5% not the 5.6% listed in the description.

Photo of TerryW
4.3/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is my favorite offering from Peterborough's newest brewery. Its got character and is well made. Worth introducing to other folks.

Dark coppery hue with a moderate head and some lace. Aroma is nice and hoppy with grapefruit citrus, breadiness, and some fresh pine. Appetizing fresh nose.

Drinks just as nicely. Lots of interesting things in the glass. Grapefruit hops and fruit, breadiness, malt and pine. A well made and tasty beer with a firm and proper mouthfeel. Enjoyable across the board.

Photo of peensteen
2.93/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pale amber/golden colour, one finger of white head, some lace left behind. Smell is bready, citrus notes, graham cracker qualities, lots of malt mostly is what I get from this, light hoppy presence, mineral water like scents. Taste has a lot of mineral flavours, malt, some hop bitterness, some citrus, orange peel, faint alcoholic taste in the finish I found to be strange. Light-med carb, light-med body, decent feel. This one didn't do it for me, found to many flavours that didn't agree with my palate, I will try this again though just to see if another batch is better or if the boneshaker I had before this killed my palate because based on the reviews this seem like a solid brew.

Square Nail Pale Ale from Publican House Brewery
85 out of 100 based on 50 ratings.