Conductor's Craft Ale | Junction Craft Brewing

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Conductor's Craft AleConductor's Craft Ale

Brewed by:
Junction Craft Brewing
Ontario, Canada

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Conductor’s Craft Ale fits broadly into the pale ale category, though we think of it more as a hybrid of traditional British, German, and American brewing techniques used to arrive at a hop complexity that constantly changes in the glass as it warms up and a drinker drinks more. With Conductor’s we wanted to tip our hats to ‘pioneer’ craft beers like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Anchor Liberty Ale, but at the same time the beer had to be balanced and drinkable to allow a drinker to enjoy more than one.

We used 5 different malts from Germany, France, Britain and Canada to give Conductor’s a biscuity, toasted, caramel base, and a combination of 5 different hops from Germany, the Czech Republic and the Pacific Northwest of the USA. To finish the beer we designed and built in-house a ‘hopback’ mechanism that infuses the hop aromas into the beer in line from the kettle as the beer goes into the fermenter. We use whole leaf hops of Cascade and spicy German Tetnanger in the hopback to provide a unique and intense hop aroma that is familiar but uniquely presented.

Sometimes a lot of thought goes into making something simple and enjoyable. The way we look at it, we do the thinking so you can relax and enjoy the drinking.

Added by Sammy on 09-25-2011

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Reviews: 24 | Ratings: 83
Photo of ahhscarynoises
1.81/5  rDev -47.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.25

Honestly this was the second worst beer I've ever tasted. Did not expect it to be so terrible tasting. I found it incredibly bitter and I couldn't finish it. The smell and everything else was decent and so I was pretty excited about it. Maybe it was expired or something? It seems to have gotten pretty good reviews but I personally found it way too bitter

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Photo of BeerBateo
2.29/5  rDev -34%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

See: Looks good in my mug. I love the long lasting suds and their white sand color. Beautiful lacing around the majority of the glass. A 1/4 inch border with a nice healthy film seems to want to stay, so i'll try not to drink it away.

Hear: This beer screams, "drink me already, will ya?" I reply, "no, I have to smell you first".

Smell: Kinda sharp... burns my eyes. 'Yikes', I think. I whiff again and with 2 creams and 1 1/2 sugar. Now I'm getting Coffee Crisp chocolate bar. My fave.

Taste: Oh man... Should have quit while this beer was (or should i say "had") a head. So bitter from the start. "Ealghhchxsh!" Honestly, I don't even want to drink any more of it. I will, though, because it still looks so good. ..."mmmgff"...It tastes like the floor of my attic (and the only reason I know how that tastes, is because i tripped on something up there and did a lip stand). Actually, .."chplag", this beer reminds me of the stuff my Mom used to put on my fingernails to keep me from biting them when I was 13. That is exactly what this is like! ...Ok, I just burped...thanks God, for not letting it be worse. Hey, ..its better. My burp is better than the beer, itself. Interesting...

Feel: Don't even ask me what my mouth feels like, right now.

Blanket: Yes please, so I can cover it up.

AKA: Better Burp

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Photo of Jeffo
2.88/5  rDev -17%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Got this one at the LCBO. Cool looking can for sure.

From a 16oz can into a snifter

APPEARANCE: Pours a one finger, slightly looser, off-white head with decent retention. Burnt orange in color, clear, with lower levels of carbonation. Head fades to a thin film. Only a ring remains until the end leaving dots of lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Pale malts, caramel notes, some light citrus aromas, but slightly mute, unfortunately.

TASTE: Better than the nose. Pale malts, some caramel sweetness up front, then some hop bitterness at the swallow. Light caramel, bread notes and decent floral hops linger on the palate. Good bitterness as well, despite the lower IBU.

PALATE: Medium body and medium levels of carbonation. Semi-creamy on the palate, goes down fine and finishes dry on the palate.

OVERALL: Okay. Better than some of the generic pale ales on the market, but still nothing really worth writing home about. It had enough character to make me want to finish the can, but not enough to make me want to go back.

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Photo of TerryW
3.08/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Great looking beer. Clear amber with a good head that settles to a heavy film and leaves really good lace.

After that, straight average. Mild caramel nose. Nicely bitter to drink, some caramel, but not tons going on otherwise. Bitterness from hops lingers, quite dry ultimately. But some odd taste note to it as well. An uneventful brew.

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Photo of Rukeli76
3.11/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

473ml can I picked up from the brewery. This beer is everywhere in the 'hood nowadays.

Nice pale ale colour. One-inch head.

Nothing particularly dominant or distinctive in the aroma.

I get that they're trying to do a bit of everything with this beer (5 malts! 5 hops! It's American! It's British! It's German!), but I'd be lying if I said I tasted much of anything besides a sort-of burnt-tasting roasty malt that doesn't belong in an APA. It's just not that good.

Decent carbonation.

I desperately want to like this one, but just don't see the point of all the care and gimmickry the guys at Junction have put into it.

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Photo of woosterbill
3.23/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On-tap at Beerbistro in Toronto.

A: Crystal clear pale copper body under a finger of ultrafine tan head. Great retention, lots of delicate lace. Excellent.

S: Buttery and biscuity. Diacetyl and malt are both prominent, with vaguely herbal hops in the distant background. I suppose it's an ok aroma for an English-style Pale Ale, but it certainly isn't what I was expecting based on the description.

T: Better here, with the German hops giving some nice spicy, leafy notes up front before the buttered toast flavor of the malt can take over. Bittersweet finish with some lingering herbal hoppiness. Not my favorite take on the style, but drinkable enough.

M: Lively, frothy light-to-medium body. Insubstantial to a fault.

O: It's not a bad beer by any stretch, but it's certainly no better than average overall. 3 it is.


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Photo of Sammy
3.31/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap at the Burger Bar. A little cheezy aroma. one-quarter of an inch of retained head. Lacy. More hop taste as it warms. Decent and drinkable, IBu tastes in the 50-60 Ipa range from use of a melange of 5 hops.Serviceable amber ale.Average mouthfeel.
I had this on tap several weeks later at the Hole in the Wall and it was better. Still the aroma..

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Photo of SSS
3.32/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A-Clear dark orange with a white head that dissipates quickly
S- basic sweet malty aroma on the nose
M-Medium high carbonation
T-A slight notch above the standard
O-An enjoyable standard brew. There is a hop variety that is used that I am not a fan of. After a primary buzz with a solid beer, this might fill the void but not much more.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.38/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

473ml Can from the Ottawa LCBO for $2.50

Appearance - Clear amber/copper colour with a small size fizzy beige coloured head. There is a high amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for around 2-3 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, caramel/toffee, hops

Taste & Mouth - There is an above average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, caramel/toffee and hops. There are some very faint grapefruit, grass, and some metallic notes. It ends with a malty/buttery aftertaste with some lingering astringent hop bite.

Overall - More english in style than american. An okay beer but nothing excting by any means. I feel there are already more than enough beers that taste along the same lines as this one available to me locally.

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Photo of hopsolutely
3.41/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Purchased a bottle at the brewery despite not having been blown away after trying it at a couple of different draught taps...

Bottle pours a beautiful amber colour with an impressive white head that has good retention and resultant lacing - a good looking beer. Aroma is very grain-forward, with barely a hint of hops. The flavour is likewise focused on malted barley, albeit with a hint of hibiscus and pine that at least indicate hops have been used. Ends with a surprisingly decent bitterness that lingers...

Not the "hop bomb" APA for which I'd hoped, but a well balanced brew that might act as a decent gateway beer to get those with unadventurous palates into the world of craft brewing.

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

I had been hoping to get to the brewery for this one and was surprised to see this show up in the LCBO.

Opening the tallboy can made a real foamy mess. I got it into the tumbler but lost some of the head and aroma.

A nice toffee amber colour with a one inch head of large bubbles. Some bubbles stuck on the side of the glass too. Good lacing with retention.

A sweet bready malt aroma with lemon citrus but not bitter.

I expected a strong malt taste but was disappointed. The hops dominated with a tart broccoli taste. Grassy, piney and grapefruit hops were all rolled together. The malt was present with rye bread with a touch of toffee.

A medium feel but it seemed a bit flat.

A well balanced ale that was much more in the British tradition than American. A second step into the world of craft beer after the entry level. A beginner's ale.

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Photo of jrenihan
3.48/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Orangey amber in colour, with a small but solid white head. Very good retention.

Smell is biscuity and caramel malt with some earthy hop scents.

Taste is similar. Biscuity malt, bready. Earthy, grassy hop flavours are prominent and result in a mild bitterness.

Chewy, medium bodied. Highly carbonated- too much. I found it rather irritating. Would probably go down much better on cask.

Overall, decent beer, but nothing special. I wouldn't have called this an Amber, maybe an APA, though it strikes me as rather British in flavour.

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Photo of patre_tim
3.5/5  rDev +0.9%

A: Copper with a light haze, no carbonation, 4 fingers of light beige head, leaving a lacing of a woven like pattern.

S: Honey comb, light fruity orange, caramel, little red pepper.

T: Light honey quality, a dry tea like quality, little metallic finish on the first sip. Didn't get it afterwards though.

M: Medium light body with little carbonation. Relatively drying and tannic.

O: Not a bad brew. Bought and drank in Ontario, Aug 26th 2014.

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Photo of biegaman
3.66/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Turns out that using 10 ingredients from more than 6 countries will make a beer more elaborate in taste and smell, but not so much in appearance. Clear, flat, and golden toffee in colour, Conductor's Craft Ale looks familiar and rather customary for that very broad range of beers that fall anywhere between pilsner and stout.

Rather disorientingly, the taste plays out like a series of flash cards, each with a different image, displayed for only a split second, one rapidly popping up after the next. Not only does the flavour switch from malty to hoppy on the turn of a dime, but those elements vary themselves...

The hoppiness shuffles between resinous pine, spring flowers, grassy leaves, grapefruit gum, and bitter herbal spice. As for the malts, they are simultaneously bready, toasty, caramel or toffee-laced, and a bit nutty. All these flavours and textures replay in a continuous but jumbled manner like a CD that repeats on the random setting. It's a good track list!

For all the intricacy I've just attributed to it, however, Conductor's Craft Ale is actually a very simple beer. In fact, ironically enough, some craft drinkers may find it too plain for their tastes. This is partly because of the shared and understated nature of the flavours, and also because the beer is just so thoughtlessly, carelessly easy to drink.

Its brewers aren't just whistling dixie: Conductor's Craft Ale really does offer a bit of everything. The beer's profile goes back and forth between malty and hoppy flavours like the valve gears of a steam locomotive. Like those rods and linkages, this "motion" is alternate but equal, a reciprocating and rhythmic dance. Next Junction offering that comes in, I'm hopping on!

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Photo of Digimaika2
3.69/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

(3.75) A: Deep copper with two fingers worth of creamy eggshell white head. Good retention and faint lacing.

(3.5) S: Barley, floral qualities, light citrus, toffee, and slight honey. Barley is the most dominant aroma with a nice compliment of floral and citrus.

(3.75) T: Identical to aroma with barley and floral qualities upfront and a subdued caramel-toffee undertone. Also detecting some subtle spices, in fact subtle is a great way to describe all the flavours here. Moderate bitterness with more of placid malt sweetness. Well balanced, easy drinking, with a clean and fresh taste.

(3.75) M: Medium bodied with a moderate carbonation. Slight gritty texture with a pleasant oily sheen.

(3.75) D: This is a very good and easy-drinking ale. Certainly not a hop-bomb, but for what it is (more of a British styled ale) it's quite good.

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Photo of DenisKolkin
3.71/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

473ml tallboy can picked from LCBO for $2.85 CDN. Served cold into a pint glass. Grabbed a can of this as it was one of the few craft brew cans I hadn't yet tried and was looking for something clean and crisp and hoped I picked something good out.

Appearance - Clear copper / red color with a nice 2 finger creamy off-white head. The frothy cap lasts a long while essentially until the bottom of the glass. Some effervescent bubbles are present and a sparkling line of lacing is left behind.

Smell - Fairly big but yet restrained hop presence with some solid malts too. Has a citrusy, grapefruit and lemon undertone and subdued caramel aromas. While not earth shattering it is fragrant, full of pleasant aromas and not overdone.

Taste - Big bitter flavor up front transitions to a piney / spruce flavor with earthy undertone and throughout this process some sweet caramel will come and cut through the astringency of of the hops. Bitter aftertaste as well, but again done well in moderation.

Mouthfeel - Smooth and creamy, medium carbonation and quite refreshing.

Overall - Really impressed one of the best one's I've had from this area and a definite repurchase.

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Photo of BuckyBeerBeaver
3.71/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Junction Craft Brewing has designed, built and installed a custom brewing system at 90 Cawthra Avenue in Toronto, Ontario. Its signature brew is Conductor’s Craft Ale (“CCA”), a hybrid ale utilizing British, German and American brewing techniques, and this beer is the latest subject of a Bucky review.

CCA is made with 5 different malts from Germany, France, Britain and Canada and a combination of 5 different hops from Germany, the Czech Republic and the Pacific Northwest of the USA. To finish the beer Junction Craft designed and built in-house a ‘hopback’ mechanism that infuses the hop aromas into the beer in line from the kettle as the beer goes into the fermenter. Bucky sampled CCA in a 473 ml can with a ‘best before’ date that was illegible because it was printed black on dark blue. The beer was 5.3% alcohol by volume.

CCA poured a clear dark orange colour with about 1” of orange tinged off-white head and very little visible carbonation. The head lasted for several minutes before fading to a thin ring and patchy film of foam, which left a surprising amount of attractive lacing down the top half of the glass. Its aroma was of light caramel malts, grapefruit and maybe a touch of pine. The beer’s taste was sweet caramel malts up front, almost immediately overwhelmed by a grapefruit and lemon hop bitterness which lingered long as an aftertaste. There is also a flash of fruitiness to the beer’s flavour that I can’t pin down. CCA was a medium bodied beer, with an appropriate level of carbonation and a creamy mouthful for as long as the head endures. Overall, a brew superior to any mass produced North American beer, my only real complaint being that its bitterness lingers well after the beer is gone. Selling for $2.85 per 473 ml can in Ontario.

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Photo of timiskin
3.73/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Deep amber with a firm, if small, head. Reasonable retention.

S: Grassy hops with faint hints of citrus.

T: Hop forward but not overpowering. Complex flavour. Fades to a mellow, refreshing finish.

Very enjoyable, very sessionable ale. My second beer from Junction and both very enjoyable. Looking forward to trying more from this brewery.

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Photo of papat444
3.75/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Best before July 2016.

I liked this one, good have been a bit hoppier but had a nice overall overripe fruit (like peaches i think?). Nice murky copper body.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.91/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Can: Poured an amber color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of light citrus hoppy notes with some light caramelized malt notes. Taste is also dominated by citrus hoppy notes with some well-balanced dry Noble hops backed with a solid caramelized malt profile with limited residual sugar. Body is about average for style with good carbonation. I must admit I didn’t have high expectation but was pleasantly surprised by this mix of West Coast and Noble hops.

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Photo of thehyperduck
3.94/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Tallboy can from the LCBO; no freshness info given. It's great to see more and more of these upstart breweries canning their stuff and getting it on to store shelves, especially shelves as far away as Sarnia. I'm all for more selection, but I have a feeling the relative abundance of these APAs is going to result in a few of them getting squeezed off the shelves within a year or so. Served well-chilled, and poured into a pint glass.

Pours an attractive amber-orange colour, slightly foggy and topped with just over one finger's worth of dense, creamy head with an off-white 'smoker's living room' tinge to it. It sticks around for more than a few minutes, leaving behind a respectable swath of lacing on the sides of the glass, and a thin, foamy film at the surface. The aroma is enticing, with hints of buttered biscuits alongside leafy, earthy hop notes and a faint wisp of bergamot orange. Maybe a little more English than American, but good stuff either way.

And it appears that I have not been misled - this is just a well-crafted ale any way you slice it. The malt backbone offers more of the bready, biscuity, somewhat buttery notes that I could pick up on the nose, with a solid dose of toffee sweetness. This is countered adeptly by the hop bill, which is just as varied as the long description from the website implies - some nice herbal, spicy dryness from the European hops, as well as some citrusy, earthy bitterness that seems to derive from the Pacific NW strains. Finishes with a mixture of earthy bitterness and toffee sweetness, neither of which linger on the palate for long. On the light side of medium-bodied, with gentle carbonation that provides a modest bite. Very easy to throw back quickly, but it tastes well enough that I'm not inclined to speed through the glass like that.

Final Grade: 3.94, an impressive B+. Junction's Conductor's Craft Ale comes in an unassuming package, but I still feel it's one of the better pale ales available in Ontario right now. It's a deftly-balanced brew, with the malty sweetness and earthy hop dryness countering each other in a nearly flawless manner, resulting in a highly sessionable, enjoyable pint of ale. More English than American-style in my opinion, but that's all semantics. For a style that rarely leaves me wide-eyed and amazed, this one has at least managed to raise an eyebrow, and there's little doubt in my mind that I'll return to it in the future.

[Updated Jan. 3 2014]

I picked up another can, this time comparing it side-by-side with Crazy Canuck, Naughty Neighbour and St. Ambroise Pale Ale in a Canadian APA showdown with four of my favourites (can dated 'best before' Apr. 2014). I see no need to change this one's score - this is still one of my favourite Ontario-made pale ales, with a bolder malt backbone than most OCB competitors to counter the wide variety of agreeable hop flavours. Give this one a shot if you're looking for a potentially sessionable, reasonably-priced pale ale - it may not blow you away, but it still makes for a great glass.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.97/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

473ml can purchased as a single from the LCBO booth at the Toronto Royal Winter Fair.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1" tan head over the slightly cloudy coppery amber brew. Head deflates slowly, with sporadic lace. Aroma is lightly of biscuits and citrus.

Taste begins with light to moderate sweetness, a peek of citrus in the middle, and moderately botter through the close. Mouthfeel is smooth, and drinkability is good. Comes together well.

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Photo of Catzopoke
3.99/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hops up front with a malt/caramel finish. I love this beer. The colour is a beautiful bunt orange and it hits the perfect spot of having great complex flavours that you will enjoy as it changes with the temperature. The hops are not over powering to the point where they kill any other flavour. Excellent beer. Congrats Conductor!

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Photo of jaz58
4.04/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

First beer enjoyed by this craft brewer. Served in a clear pint glass.

Wonderful malty nose with hints of salty butterscotch and a touch of caramel.

Once sipped, I expected a sweet tone based on the nose yet the ale is nice and dry, not overly hopped.A good balance of hops with a gentle bitters finish.

Golden orange and clear in the glass.

Blonde foamy head.

I see this as an excellent summer quaifer and it would be perfect with a burger or sausage on a bun.

Good effort.

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Conductor's Craft Ale from Junction Craft Brewing
3.47 out of 5 based on 83 ratings.
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