Last weekend, we made our month-end trip to Sherbrooke Liquor Store. After gazing at all the wonderful beers from places around the world, we settled on Saskatoon — Paddock Hill to be precise. There isn’t a Paddock Hill in Saskatoon. In fact, I’m not sure that I’ve seen any hills on my trips there.

Paddock Hill is an English location that Steve Cavan chose as the name for his homebrew supply store and later microbrewery. It was where he’d ordered many of the supplies he’d needed when he was a hobby brewer. He was also, by the way, a lecturer in Classics and Philosophy at the University of Saskatchewan and a very good chess player.

It being nearly May, we were lingering in the maibock section of the cold room when I spotted the bright red box containing bottles of Paddock Hill’s version of the style. That’s when I decided to pick up a six-pack, along with the brewery’s other two lagers, Czech Mate and Black Cat and make the evening a Saskatoon lager tasting festival.

Although I’m not a great fan of maibock, I enjoyed Paddock Hill’s take on the style. The 7.3 per cent ABV beer poured a dark amber colour with a tan head. The malt notes dominated, although there was some hop bitterness. Medium-bodied, it finished clean and dry.

I looked forward to the Black Cat Lager, which I hadn’t tried before. It was a schwarzbier, a relatively hard-to-find style that I’m really beginning to enjoy. Opaque dark brown, with a tan head, it is lightly carbonated and light-to-medium bodied. The hops and malts were balanced nicely and there were slight coffee notes. It is 5.4 per cent ABV. Overall, it was a very refreshing drink.

Czech Mate is probably the best prairie pilsner around. I first tried it four or five years ago, and now, when I’m not in an ale mood, I’ll often pick up a six-pack. Light golden in colour, light in body, and effervescent, the saaz hops give it a crisp, refreshing mouth-feel. This is a really great summer beer.

I’m told that Steve Cavan no longer lectures in classics at the University of Saskatchewan, but that he is still playing a mean game of chess. And he certainly is brewing some of the best lagers east of Ontario.

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