Barking Squirrel Lager - Hop City Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Barking Squirrel LagerBarking Squirrel Lager

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BA SCORE
82
good

121 Reviews
THE BROS
85
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 121
Hads: 518
rAvg: 3.59
pDev: 13.37%
Wants: 13
Gots: 89 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Hop City Brewing Co. visit their website
Ontario, Canada

Style | ABV
American Amber / Red Lager |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Viggo on 11-16-2009

Barking Squirrel is a 5% ABV amber lager with a distinct rich burnt orange colour and subtle noble hop aroma. Its medium body, pleasant hop bitterness and caramel malt sweetness makes it smooth and drinkable with a slight hop aftertaste.

24 IBU
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 121 | Hads: 518
Photo of slitherySOB
2.98/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Finally, a new beer. Though the 'attitude' said on the can is lacking in the beer itself.

Pours a copper/amber colour, with a huge amount of foam. No matter how delicately I poured, the foam kept coming. Don't know if it's the beer itself, or my pouring it incorrectly. After the beer settles, I'm left with close to a three finger foamy head that refused to die. Smell is.... Well, I've had blander. Toffee, caramel, bit of grass and citrus. Some roasted breads as well. Tastes a little more caramel than scent. Toffee is light. Some citrus tones, and a dry taste after swallow. Mouthfeel is a little thin. It doesn't feel watered down, but... weak. Overall, I'd say it makes a decent session beer. (700 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
2.53/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Can: Poured a clear golden lager with a medium size foamy head with OK retention and light lacing. Aroma of light adjunct notes and overly sweet malt is not the most interesting. Taste is also more adjunct base then I had anticipated with not much other characteristics showing off and not much hops presence. Definitely not one I will drink again though I seems to be off compared to previous ratings. (402 characters)

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
3.06/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a clear bronze color with a tiny whispy head that musters up just a bit of lace. The aroma is a light mix of toasty malts and some hop grass. A slight tartness is noticeable. Mostly caramel malts make up the taste. Some fruity notes and a very subdued hop presence round it out. The mothfeel is medium to light bodied. Sweetness and some tart (yeast?) flavors make up the shortlived finish.

Overall this is an OK amber lager. A bit anemic in the hop department and there's a slight off flavor. (500 characters)

Photo of liamt07
3.23/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Can from the LCBO, 473ml into a pint glass. Canned on date of H2411 - August 24, 2011.

Pours a clear copper with a finger or so of white head, modest density to it. Light lace and retention. Aroma of grassy hops, and lightly sweet malts, some bready and grainy notes. A touch of caramel. Taste follows the same route, lightly grassy hops initially with some sweet, caramelly and toasty breadiness. Malts are the main feature here. Some grainy notes, maybe a bit of adjunct flavour. A bit of alcohol in the finish which isn't entirely pleasant. Slightly lighter than medium mouthfeel, with a medium high carbonation. A moderate amber lager, and nothing too impressive. Could pass as a pizza beer, but I'll take a Great Lakes Red Leaf over this any time. (753 characters)

Photo of thehyperduck
3.79/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Tallboy can from the LCBO, the first time I've seen this at my local. A bunch of OCB ambers that were previously unavailable here have been popping up recently...

Pours a bright, clear reddish amber colour, atop which is seated a finger of creamy, off-white head. Now that's what I like to see from this style. Good head retention even though this was probably served too cold; webs of lacing stick to the sides as it slowly dies down over a period of many minutes. The aroma is well-balanced, with some nutty, biscuity malt sweetness and earthy hops. Pretty eager to try this one.

The taste is enjoyable, but my expectations may have been set a bit high after sniffing it. There is plenty of caramel and brown sugar sweetness to be sure, alongside some light fruitiness and the grainy, nutty malt background. The lemon and earthy hop bitterness is mostly hidden until the finish, but adds some needed balance thereafter. Medium-light bodied, with minimal carbonation for a very smooth and creamy mouthfeel. I'd love to try this stuff on tap.

Not exceptional, in that I think I still like Creemore a bit more, but a very enjoyable amber nonetheless. Certainly much better than Keith's/Rickard's Reds. There aren't a lot of ambers that I consider worth repeat purchases, but this one made the list. Tasty stuff, and I'll definitely keep an eye out for more of this brewer's concoctions.

[Updated Feb. 24 2014]

Another can, this time compared with a few other amber lagers (Creemore Springs, Sleeman Honey Brown and Faxe Amber). This is a very respectable amber, with a tasty toasted malt backbone and mild hop presence. Decently balanced and highly drinkable; Barking Squirrel is one of the better widely-available ambers available in Canada in my opinion. Nothing spectacular; just a nice, sessionable ale.

Final Grade: 3.79, a B+. (1,838 characters)

Photo of Stocean1
3.58/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a two finger fluffy head from a can with lots of lacing and decent retantion. Clear amber colour.

Smell is caramel malt with some nuttiness and hops.

Taste follows the nose with some pepper, biscuit and floral notes.

Mouthfeel is great, nice balance, some bitterness,creamy, medium body with lots of carbonation.

Overall, if this brew was not a faux craft I think it would receive better treatment in its reviews from us beer snobs. (443 characters)

Photo of bryehn
3.97/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Now available in cans! Poured into a pilsener glass.

Pours an amber-copper colour with lots of visible carbonation and a medium-sized, foamy tan coloured head that leaves some spotty lacing and settles as a collared film.

Smells of toasted caramel malts with a floral hop quality. Fresh grains, alcohol, raisin and tree nuts also come through.

The taste is crisp and mostly dry with a subtle nutty quality, a bread-like tone and a hint of chocolate. The finish is solidly bitter with a slight woody note.

The mouthfeel is creamy with a yeat-like quality on the tongue. Has a nice pop of carbonation even at the bottom of the glass. Dry aftertaste with a raisin-like fruity tone to it.

Interesting take on the style that has the nutty and fruity elements of a brown ale and a nice bitterness. Both drinkable and very satisfying. Will certainly revisit and seek out other beers from this brewery. (899 characters)

Photo of tbeckett
3.36/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Black Bear in Ottawa. From notes.

A - Poured a medium to dark copper. Film of white head with medium carbonation. Bright. No lace or retention.

S - Slight earth/citrus hop. Sweet malt and gentle caramel. Good balance.

T - Sweet malt throughout with a gentle earth and citrus hop note. Bready, earthy, and sweet caramel.

M - Good carbonation, medium body, sweet finish.

O/D - I've had this a few times before and I remember the hop profile being a little more pronounced. Good for a 'faux craft beer' but lacking in alot of areas that could boost it to a very solid, readily available beer. Very drinkable. (624 characters)

Photo of SebD
3.45/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tried on tap at Hardrock 42 in Sudbury.

Appearance: It has a nice golden/amber colour to it. It has a nice white head that dies down moderatly and has some lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitly give out hints of grainy and bready malts, with some grassy hops and some caramel.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a sweet caramely taste with grainy malts and a slight bitterness from the hops.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a thin body.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with decent flavours and aromas. (544 characters)

Photo of Roke87
3.29/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at Mein Street in north west London.

Appearance- A deep amber coloured lager, poured into a barking squirrel pint glass with a two finger nice fluffy white head that quickly dissipates to a thin ring, leaving very nice lacing throughout the glass till finish.

Smell- Was mainly dominated by grainy malts and fruity citrus. Coming from a brewery called hop city I would have expected this beer to be a lot stronger on the hops, but they were barely anywhere in the initial smell.

Taste- Was right along the same lines as the smell, lots of grainy malts and grapefruit flavours right away, followed by a slight hop presence in the finish.

Mouthfeel- A smooth and crisp lager that is easy drinking with a light-medium body with good carbonation.

Overall- All in all was a decent lager but didn’t really meet my expectations especially the fact that they call themselves “Hop City” Although the hops are there, It’s just not as strong of a hop presence as I would have liked. (994 characters)

Photo of biegaman
3.58/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at 99 Sudbury, in Toronto.

Barking Squirrel is coloured more like a fox; it is a relatively deep toned beer steeped in a heavy red-amber dye. Clarity and shine are both appreciated, despite the darker shade. Its foamy head looks like a toasted (if not torched) marshmallow.

Aroma and taste mirror one another, both driven by an abundant maltiness, the latter being kicked up by a strong carbonation. Toasted biscuits and lucid caramelization greet the palate upon entering the mouth, but they are both abruptly shown the door by a reserved bitterness. (Still, the toffee sweetness makes a reappearance in the finish.)

If you look at the ratings for amber lagers, you'll notice a direct correlation between how hoppy the beer is and how highly it's rated. Without meaning to endorse that trend, Barking Squirrel does fall squarely in the middle of both hoppiness and overall impression packs. While nil in the aroma or taste, bittering hops can at least be sensed...

And that's a welcomed feature for me. And it's also one of the things that set's this beer apart from, say, Rickard's Red or Sleeman Honey Brown, two beers which it resembles. The other distinguishing element is the total lack of adjunct and the pure, clean, unadulterated maltiness that registers as tasty and palpably (but judiciously) sweet.

I wouldn't go out of my way to find Barking Squirrel - or really any lager comparable to it - but I have to concede that if more commercial establishments (i.e., chain pubs or sports bars) offered this on-tap I'd likely order a lot more beer on my nights out. And I also bet that with a little more exposure, Barking Squirrel would teach and persuade mainstream drinkers to also be a little more discerning with their beer choices. (1,757 characters)

Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.38/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Snooty Fox in Hamilton.

Poured a pale amber-golden hue. About a half inch of foamy white head, decent lacing and retention.

Nose is caramel, slightly off hops, malt.

Not bad, certainly drinkable. A decent blend of malt and caramel, with a fruity hop finish. Not exactly the flavor I was looking for, but it did alright. Thin, a touch watery, but with average carbonation to prevent the beer from feeling syrupy.

I could certainly have a few of these in an evening, although there wasn't much going for it that I haven't seen in other Ontario red lagers (Creemore, for example). Wasn't bad, but by the end I was enviously eyeing my brother's Hoegaarden bucket. Next time... (691 characters)

Photo of peensteen
3.06/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a nice deep gold colour with a little white head that lasted through the whole beer. The smell was nothing special slight hop sent with some malt aroma coming through. Quite refreshing and creamy though not great. Thin mouthfeel is very light but better than most mass marketed lagers. I would have this again but only if there wasn't anything else I would want. (368 characters)

Photo of Sammy
3.26/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed on-tap at Shauey's, near the airport. Served way too cold, but fresh, the brewers are former homebrewers with a sugardaddy grant from Moosewood, who will of course help to distribute them. The smell is mildly cheesy. Pours dark yellow, with an eighth inch of white foam and lace lines own my glass. Average mouthfeel(though above average carbonation), this is in the style of a helles lager, though not the best interprestation. Good drinkability. (455 characters)

Photo of kwjd
2.94/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Was at Duke of Kent in Toronto and I saw they had this beer so I decided to try it out. It was an amber-orange colour with a nice white head that stuck around. A little bit of lacing. No issues in the look department.

Everything else is where it fell apart. The smell was a little bit sweet, with the faintest hint of floral hops. Taste has the sweet malt without too much going for it. Pleasant, just not anything exciting. A bit too overcarbonated for my liking, which made me tired of drinking it by the end of the glass. (525 characters)

Photo of pootz
2.8/5  rDev -22%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap: Puts a clear amber lager in the glass with a 2 finger sticky cap...modest retention. Weak lacing.

Light malty aroma with some sweetness, non descript hopping with slight apple tones.

Taste has the malt dominate the front side with a blend of pale and caramel maltiness which then gets balanced off with some fruit and hop bittering. Clean sharp finish but caramel malt predominates killing any hope the hops had to dry out the finish.

Hard mineral mouth feel (hard water?) - malty caramel fruity character...all that's left to say is; "what is this"? If it is a lager or 'lale' there is so many tastes here out of place (fruity esters in lager?). If it's an amber lager it is passable but uninspired. It sure is not a bock or any style of standard lager I'm familiar with....possibly a weak steam beer or weak Creemore clone... Needs work. (852 characters)

Photo of Long813
3.15/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From: Pub Italia

G: Pint glass

A: Clear amber body presented with very little white head. Not much lacing or retention to speak of due to the pour.

S: Aromas were weak even in the bar setting. Hints of caramel and roasted malts.

T: Stronger than the aromas, but still leaves a lot to be imagined. Hints of roasted malts, caramel, some biscuit. Nothing is to strong, which makes this a great macro transition, but nothing else.

M: Light bodied, crisp and refreshing. Leaves a slight malty aftertaste.

D: I was expecting better. Not a bad beer, but it comes off as a macro beer focusing on 'drinkability' over flavour. (625 characters)

Photo of cratez
3.6/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Draught at The Black Shire in London, Ontario. Tap handle is a piece of work, with a squirrel chomping on a hop cone above the Hop City banner. Everything from the coasters to the intricate, branded glassware suggests that a lot of money has gone into this beer (à la Moosehead). Let's see if it lives up to the hype.

Taps a reddish amber orange with brown hues and a solid cap of frothy, cream-coloured head. Big globs of lacing on the glass. Smell is floral, grassy hops, fresh cereal grains, and bready malt. Taste is grainy, sweet caramel malt, husky wheat flavours, and a subtle hop bitterness. Tiny citric bite. Hops are probably Tettnang or Saaz, or both. More bread and cereal flavours in the aftertaste, very lager-like. Mouthfeel is smooth and medium bodied with a lightly parched finish. For an amber/vienna, this is comparable to Creemore and Sam Adams but not as well-hopped as Brooklyn Lager. While Barking Squirrel isn't ground breaking, it's still a respectable drinker. A good start for this brewer. (1,018 characters)

Photo of bobsy
3.51/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Drank around four pints of this at the launch party. Good times!

Pours a radiant amber with nice orange highlights and a large creamy white head. Decent retention, and nice streaks of lace round out an excellent appearance. Things stumble a little at the aroma, which strikes me as this beer's weakest point, as it seems a little muddled and muted to me. Toasted malts dominate, with caramel coming a close second, while evident floral hopping adds a bit of complexity. Unfortunately there's also the fleeting hint of metal, and I don't think the separate elements gel as well as they could.

Thankfully things are back on track with the flavour, which emphasises the toasted malts and supports them with an underlying biscuit and light caramel base. Floral hopping provides a mild, but pleasing, bite in the finish. Yes, there could be more bitterness, but I think that would detract from the sessionability of this beer. Pretty decent all round flavour. I can't remember who mentioned it, but I agree that its a little like St. Andre's Vienna Lager, with slightly less malt and slightly more hops. The medium carbonation and body is par for the style and made this very drinkable. Those pints went down too easy!

Its obvious that a lot of marketing money has been thrown at this brewery, and it will be interesting to see how aggressively they pursue the craft market. It will also be interesting to see how our local microbreweries will respond if these guys start to eat into the craft lager market. It would be neat to see some of them branch out into different styles and try to differentiate themselves more. Hop City is quasi-independent of Moosehead, just as Creemore are of Molson, and I can see a lot of parallels between the flagship brands. Both are clean easy drinking lagers that would be acceptable to craft and non-craft drinkers alike. Does this mean I'll start drinking Barking Squirrel all the time? No, I'll stick with the fuller-flavoured offerings I prefer, but this will be an excellent choice when the selection is sparse, as it gives the usual macro suspects a whuppin'. (2,098 characters)

Photo of ludachris
3.63/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap @ The Snooty Fox

Pours a clear and deep rusty orange with a two finger cream coloured head that retains nicely and leaves some nice, sticky lace.

Sweet smell of toasted malts, biscuit, light citrus and a nice dose of floral hops. Nothing overly complex but still left me eager to taste it.

Toasted malts, caramel and biscuit are followed by a quick dash of citrus and a good floral hop finish to balance it all out.

Medium bodied, smooth and nicely balanced. Like Viggo said, a bit more hops would be appreciated, but nonetheless a tasty beer.

Being an affiliate of Moosehead Brewery, I was surprised at how good this beer was. I could see this being pretty close to Creemore for me and wouldn't mind switching the two up every once in awhile. Overall, nothing spectacular, but sure worth a try. (807 characters)

Photo of Viggo
3.51/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Mooseheads foray into the craft beer market. "Craft beer with attitude." Poochy is here. On tap at Volo.

Pours a clear amber, orange highlights, thick white head forms, slowly settles to a thin ring, some lacing on the glass, looks nice.

Smell is solid, very malty, some biscuit, light floral, caramel sweetness, toast, not as clean as most lagers, and I'm not sure if they were going for a vienna or not.

Taste is similar, solid malty base, biscuit and some toast, lightly bready, some floral hopping, simple but nicely made, balanced finish, I would dig a some more hopping.

Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with medium carbonation. A pretty decent entry into the craft market for Moosehead. Could be more "craft" but I was relatively happy with the quality of this one. (787 characters)

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Barking Squirrel Lager from Hop City Brewing Co.
82 out of 100 based on 121 ratings.