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Barking Squirrel Lager | Hop City Brewing Co.

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132 Reviews
Barking Squirrel LagerBarking Squirrel Lager

Brewed by:
Hop City Brewing Co.
Ontario, Canada

Style: American Amber / Red Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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

Added by Viggo on 11-16-2009

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Reviews: 132 | Ratings: 570
Photo of emerge077
4.03/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks for this beer Jay!
Can is printed "F01212" whatever that means... hopefully not from January. Served in a large tapered mug.

Nicely bright amber color, huge head of foam that dwindles down to an ample skim, 5mm in width (metric, get it?). Lots of lacing all around the glass, great retention. For this style it looks great overall.

Earthy, nutty sweet malt character, touches of maple and ground nuts.

Clean taste, mild bittering hops and a distinctively nutty/bready specialty malt in there somewhere. Dry and crisp feel, nice light bitterness. Simple yet effective. Pretty much a flawless lager here, guess haters just gonna hate.

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Photo of NV9
3.55/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Nice looking beer, pours a light caramel colour with white foam that lasts.

Malty caramel colour, with hops present on the nose as well.

Grainy taste, some malt a bit of nut and hops on the finish.

The hops stay in the aftertaste, medium carbonation, pretty drinkable beer.

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Photo of BGDrock
3.23/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

From notes:

Appearance: light amber, caramel colour; big thick head that lasts; clear

Aroma: minimal, some sweet fruit (orange); hint of caramel

Taste & Mouthfeel: smooth with slight creaminess, not usual crispness of a lager; mild carbonation which is surprising; clean taste with hint of a bitter finish, like citrus peel; some caramel again; not overly sweet, but could see it getting overwhelming after a few; flavour lingers

Overall: more complex than the average lager, but lacking some hop balance and as a result gets tired

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Photo of Caudalie
2.91/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured in a ridel red wine magnum glass.

A: Deep amber, with rapidly fainting head

S: Pretty strange, slightly mettalic, with roasted malts/caramel.

T: Light, fresh, with light malts characters. Well done, but with the mettalic feel on the finish.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.08/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Can to pint glass.

A - Translucent medium orange/amber colour with a huge amount of fluffy off-white head.

S - Bready malts with a crisp hop biterness and s light floral/earthy aroma.

T - Bready malts with a s light caramel sweetness up front. A slight crisp hop bitterness is present along with a slight earthy/herbal flavour.

M - Light body with moderate carbonation.

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Photo of Groulxsome
3.3/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I'm getting a bit of a mixed message from this beer. Something about the brand ("hop city" would make me think more hoppy) and the colour make me want to think it's an IPA or APA, but the taste (which is a pretty good grain-heavey lager taste with a little extra bitter at the end) and the smell (which somewhat reminds me of the sour smell that surrounds big breweries; that 6-row barley smell) keep throwing me off. That being said, it's a nice, easy drinking beer which sits somewhere between an amber lager and a pale ale.

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Photo of hopsolutely
3.11/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Not as hoppy in the can version as I remember previous draught pints. Pours a bright, clear amber with decent head and mouthfeel. Malt-forward aroma is mirrored in a taste that centres on caramelized malts. A fundamentally sweet beer with minimally dry backbone...

Compares favourably to Rickards Red, but certainly not something at the level of other pseudo-"micro" brews...

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Photo of korguy123
3.3/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- Copper colored pour, finger width egg shell head with good lacing.

S- Caramel and toffee. Slight floral hops. Fairly one dimensional but very enjoyable.

T- Caramel with a slight hop. Light cereal.

M- Light bodied, slightly chewy.

O- Not bad amber, fairly bland but nice for a change.

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Photo of TheHammer
3.06/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Gave me two fingers of head that laced quite well but sadly didn't stick around for very long. Carbonation from the body looks a bit odd, like some bubbles are smaller then the others. Have almost a cherry oak colour to it.

Smell: Some grassy hops and a light caramel malt with a bit of a strange funk to it, almost like a sour fruit touch. Warming seems to bring the hops out more and more and minimize the other smells.

Taste: Not a lot really to say here, the hops make fair strong appearance in the background throughout the beer, which is fine save that I'd expect it more from a pale ale then a lager. Light caramel malt starts us out, as a nutty taste makes a brief appearance to be followed by a somewhat acidic note as the beer seems to give up and let the hops just ride it out. Does some good and some bad.

Mouthfeel: The prevalent hop note throughout the beer hurts it's transitioning. The carbonation is quite good, helping out the entire beer. The aftertaste is in a strange happy medium where I wouldn't want it gone, but it doesn't quite mesh with me as it currently stands.

Drinkability: It got down pretty fast, but it seems a bit too unrefined enough for an all night brew or an occasional drinker. It's not quite refreshing enough to be a summer drinker, but with a light meal this beer I think would excel.

Final Thoughts: It's alright, better then average but nothing to write home about. I guess if you were looking for a "Pale Lager" this would be a good example. I kinda like my amber lagers to be a bit more maltier like Creemore Springs.

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Photo of allergictomacros
3.68/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Clear amber with a decently thick head of foam.

S - Nose is tinny caramel, some grassy notes.

T - Light caramel and hint of toasty grain. Touch of alcohol and a lightly bitter finish.

M - Light with a bit of fizz. Smooth feel.

D - Pretty drinkable and well balanced. Good sessioning brew.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.45/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On Tap

Appearance – Clear copper colour with an average size fizzy off-white coloured head. There is an average amount of carbonation visible and there is some faint lacing. The head lasted for only a few minutes.

Smell - Malts, hops, caramel

Taste & Mouth - The beer has a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, caramel/toffee, and some light hops. As well I can pick up on a bit of citrus flavour. It ends with a malty slightly bitter aftertaste.

Overall – I've had this from a can and it seemed to be a little better on tap. Perhaps it was a little fresher than the can. It's a slightly above average beer that is a decent alternative to macros. It also might work well as a gateway to get other into craft.

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Photo of slitherySOB
2.98/5  rDev -14.1%
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.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
2.53/5  rDev -27.1%
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.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
3.06/5  rDev -11.8%
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.

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Photo of liamt07
3.23/5  rDev -6.9%
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.

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.79/5  rDev +9.2%
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+.

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Photo of Stocean1
3.58/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

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Photo of bryehn
3.97/5  rDev +14.4%
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.

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Photo of bylerteck
3.36/5  rDev -3.2%
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.

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Photo of SebD
3.45/5  rDev -0.6%
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.

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Photo of Roke87
3.29/5  rDev -5.2%
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.

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Photo of biegaman
3.58/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.38/5  rDev -2.6%
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...

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Photo of peensteen
3.06/5  rDev -11.8%
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.

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Photo of Sammy
3.26/5  rDev -6.1%
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.

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Barking Squirrel Lager from Hop City Brewing Co.
3.47 out of 5 based on 570 ratings.
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