Tag Archives: IPA

There’s no taste like home

Recently I received a wonderful gift in the mail, three new beers from Steamworks Brewing Company. It is like somehow the beer gods knew I was feeling quite homesick and bestowed these three offerings upon me – also pretty sure the new Sales and Marketing coordinator may have had her hand in there as well.
The treasures in my mailbox included two limited releases the White Angel IPA and Tropical Tart Ale as well as one seasonal release YVR ISA. timely selections in light of the fact Ontario is in the midst of a heat wave, a tropical heat wave, the temperature is rising, it isn’t surprising that she can, really can-can …. Oops off on a bit of a digression there perhaps the heat has gotten to my brain. Thankfully though my palate has been spared.

YVR India Session Ale is a lightly hopped 4.4% session beer that pours clear straw gold colour with lots of bright white head. Big citrus hop nose, good carbonation and lots of flavour packed into a very accessible beer. All citrus and tropical notes at the front followed by a subtle bitter finish. Light bodied and perfect for a patio pint. I really love session styles, especially in the crazy humid days we have been having. If you think IPA’s are a bit too much this brew is a great segue. As always beautiful bottle artwork.

Tropical Tart Ale is as advertised a 4.9% ale with tons of passionfruit flavour. This beer pours a hazy gold with lots of airy head on the initial pour. Like the YVR, the nose on this beer is all about the tropical fruit, reminds me of papaya, but also a little bit of that sourness that kind of puckers the back of your cheek. Effervescent and a little too easy to sip, light sours are really one of the best summer options out there in my humble opinion. There is also some yeastiness on the finish giving it a subtle hefe quality. A very pleasant surprise. If this beer makes it easy I will be picking up some more.

White Angel IPA is a 6.9% hybrid of IPA meets Hefeweizen. Pours hazy straw gold with lots of thick white head that leaves nice legs on the glass. Lots of carbonation. Spicy almost funky nose, all hefe, with the IPA character coming through after a couple of sips. Not as hop forward as I thought it may have been. At first, White Angel seems like a fairly light beer but the strength really begins to come through the more you sip. Of the three I sampled this one is not my favourite but it is an interesting blend of styles and the slightly higher ABV lets the big flavours -spice and hop- come together nicely.

Thanks Steamworks Brewery for a little taste of home!

Blogging and Drinking and Drinking and Blogging

Well it has been a ridiculously long time since my last post. Always ready with a myriad of excuses on why I do not have enough hours in the day to sit down and blog (a problem exclusive to me I believe) I have decided to crack a beer and blog while I drink it …no excuses!

TGIF, and TGIF it is a warm and sunny Friday. Ottawa has taught me (beaten into me) the need to seize every sun-filled moment and wring every last minute out of it because Mother Nature will soon take back what she has brought forth. So in honour of the sunshine I am drinking, literally right now as I type or at least between typing sentences.

Always a sucker for trying an odd beer flavour and basically ambivalent about Disco, Disco Soliel India Pale Ale brewed with kumquats, was an easy choice.


Disco Soleil, from the always fabulous Quebec Brasserie Dieu du Ciel, pours a cloudy, sediment filled, effervescent dark orange gold with airy white head. There is a big tropical fruit nose with floral hop notes as well. First few sips are full-bodied, strong with a bitterness that reminds me of citrus rind or grapefruit, and lots of hop.


As I continue drinking this beer becomes a bit more balanced; the malt character emerges from behind the initial bitterness and the hops are more subtle. The head settles down into some nice lacing around the glass and the nose pretty much dissipates. The strength of this beer imparts a nice warming feeling.


Final thoughts. I like this beer. To elaborate a bit, the citrus forward IPA’s are a favourite of mine given I am not the most hop happy beer geek at the pub there is something about the bold bitter fruit flavours that I really enjoy. Bolder IPA’s really seem benefit from a bigger ABV as well as some time to sit and breathe bringing the complexity of tastes to their full potential. Disco Soleil leaves me with a lingering bitter taste with just a bit of sweet toffee malt.


I doubt this brewery could make a bad beer if they tried…

New Brew Friday Southern Tier Imperial Compass


It is a warm and sunny September afternoon here in middle Canada. The mosquitos are mostly gone, the leaves are a myriad of beautiful colours and that makes it a perfect Friday for sipping some beers on the patio.

A recent trip to the LCBO was quite fruitful as I found not one but two Southern Tier brews nestled amongst the regular beer line-up. One was even new to me, which is the best case scenario for any true beer geek.

This new brew Friday is showcasing my find of the year, Southern Tier Imperial Compass a bottle conditioned sparkling ale brewed with rose hips and citrusy hops. As the description suggests this beer pours a bubbly deep gold with some bright white head and a big citrus hoppy nose. First few sips are sweet and hoppy with some yeast character and the slightest floral note. A big warming beer at 9% this one reminds me of a Belgian crossed with an IPA. Not too much to dislike about this beer, well balanced and easy to drink. As you continue drinking the flavours remain consistent and the head has impressive staying power. The finish leaves a nice lingering hop aftertaste.

I have yet to be disappointed by Southern Tier so no big surprise that I am a fan of this beer. If there is any critique it is some Southern Tier beers can be over the top, think Creme Brûlée, but Imperial Compass hits all the right points (bad pun Friday indeed). Have a great weekend!

Taking a Detour

Muskoka Detour IPA

I am from the West Coast, land of all things hoppy, hoppier and then triple hopped and dry hopped. Those crazy left coasters love their IPA’s so much that West Coat IPA became a style unto itself to accurately encompass the floral, citrus and resin full-frontal assault you would be subjected to when you raised a pint.

During my time in BC I was admittedly a slow convert to hop camp. I started off with a vocal distaste for beers I described as tasting like soap and/or perfume but as time went on and my taste buds wore down I began to appreciate these hoppy beers for what they were. In fact, in time I would say I even grew to like IPA’s (not love, like) proactively seeking out Pliny the Elder, smuggling Green Flash Double IPA and Deschutes Chain Breaker across the border, stocking my fridge with Dogfish Head 90minute and giving a fair shake to pretty much any local IPA making its way down the tap line.

But like all great love affairs this one was to burn bright and brief. Eventually I once again grew weary of beers whose name added descriptors like destroyer, wrecker, palooza, bomb, triple alongside the word hop. I like to call this phenomenon hop fatigue and it is an affliction common amongst beer geeks -perhaps it is merely a side effect of our neurotic need to jump on style band wagon after style band wagon but that is a post for another time. Needless to say I found myself taking a holiday from hops.

Then I moved East.

Here in the centre of our country the IPA’s are a little more, dare I say it, balanced. Cracking the top off an Ontario IPA does not de facto mean you will no longer be able to discern any taste in your second beer of the evening. I jest of course but sampling a few IPA’s from Ontario has reminded me that IPA’s and I can find a middle ground.

This takes me full circle, or back on the road after a detour if you will, to Detour IPA from Muskoka Brewery a subtly hopped not to strong India Pale Ale that allows you to taste some malts alongside the citrus and floral hops. A 4.3% ABV makes this a sessionable easy to drink while it still brings a fair amount of complex flavours to the table. Pouring a clear dark gold colour with lots of airy white head, Detour has a nice citrus/tropical fruit nose, light body, slightly sweet malt flavour and a bitter finish that is pretty subtle. Overall very clean to drink and I would say approachable like IPA’s are welcoming me back into the fold. It’s nice to be back.


Beers Across Canada Day 5


Still in northern Ontario. Seriously, I think the other provinces may have been out taking a leak when ‘they’ allocated land mass.

Anyway, saw some sights including a rack of Vancouver Canucks hats in a gas station in the middle of nowhere (no other hockey gear just the nucks stuff), saw a town sign boasting both a snowmobile and a four-wheeler, numerous moose crossing signs but no actual moose, and one beautiful stretch of scenery around Lake Superior, which is still ringed in ice.

For my Ontario beer selection, part two, I had a Mad Tom IPA from Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge, Ontario. This IPA pours cloudy orange with lots of bright white head, and a big citrusy nose. Mad Tom is a world away from the typical west coast IPA but this is not a bad thing in my book. Light bodied, citrus and slightly grapefruit in hop profile with a mildly bitter finish. Overall well-balanced with enough leanings towards the hop side of things to satisfy your inner hop head.

P.S. The server informed my this was the last bottle of this particular IPA but they did have Alexander Keith’s as well. Way too tired to open that can of worms after almost twelve hours on the road…

Ontario Craft Beer, As Advertised – Beer 6

Centennial IPA

Centennial IPA from Founders Brewing Co. (7.2%) American IPA.

Founders Brewing is one of those breweries I have been hankering to try for quite some time so needless to say it was a no-brainer to pick up their only beer in-stock at the LCBO (the stellar ratings from Beer Advocate and Rate Beer didn’t hurt either).

So did this IPA live up to my expectations? Yup, it sure did.

Centennial IPA pours a clear reddish-copper colour with just a little skim of white head. Big citrus and grapefruit hoppiness on the nose but also a rich caramel maltiness. A medium bodied slightly sticky beer that keeps the hops at the forefront, bringing out more resinous notes as you drink while retaining a nice balance between bitter and sweet rich malt. There is a bit of strength to this one too, which I find allows the hop character to shine without overwhelming the drinker. A strong bitter finish rounds this beer off.

Overall I quite enjoyed Centennial IPA and trying it makes me eager to sample more from the Founders line-up.

Ontario Craft Beer, As Advertised – Beer 4

Rye Pale Ale (RPA) from Cameron’s Brewing (6.6%) is an American IPA brewed with rye (duh).

RPA pours an orange gold colour with lots of sediment and some airy bright white head. Big citrus hops on the nose cut through with malt and a sweet yeasty aroma. A medium bodied IPA that has resiny and citrus hop flavours, which are well-balanced by an equal dose of sweet and spicy malt (think that pungent bite from rye bread). Strong and warming, a slightly sticky mouthfeel with a dry bitter finish. This beer was very impressive managing to bring big hops to the front while retaining an accessibility that does not make RPA the exclusive domain of hop heads.


Ale Smith: Someone who makes things out of malt

Inevitably there are some breweries that for some reason or another you just never end up trying their beers. I mean when you walk into a beer store there are literally thousands of options from hundreds of breweries and a seemingly endless parade of the next new thing so how can you ever hope to try them all?

For a beer geek this glut is fantastic but it also drastically increases your chances of bringing home a proverbial dud (Bud?). Thankfully our app-happy world has equipped me with more tools than Batman for honing in on the perfect choice. Basically if I see a whole lotta Untapped, Beer Advocate or RateBeer love for any particular brewery it sways my hand (the one that holds the VISA anyway) and I will take a chance on something untasted.

This was the case with Ale Smith Brewing Company, which according to their website is  “one of San Diego’s premier craft breweries” who “create award-winning, hand-forged ales that are anything but ordinary.” Not just self-aggrandizing, Ale Smith has an impressive amount of beer geek support for what they are brewing up so I used my trusty phone to assist me in picking out the highest rated Ale Smith beer I could find, which turned out to be their somewhat boringly named IPA (it’s just called IPA but hey they are Ale Smith not wordsmith).


Ale Smith IPA


Ale Smith IPA (7.25% ABV) pours a bright gold colour with lots of white head on the initial pour and nice lacing that lingers for quite some time. Very good clarity and carbonation; this beer looks very pretty in the glass. Lots of citrus hop on the nose and some tropical fruit notes. As you sip, resin/pine hop flavours come through. A very well-balanced IPA not hit you over the head hoppiness but more that enough to make sure you know what style you are drinking. Clean drinking, light bodied but with some alcohol kick that tapers off to a dry bitter finish. A remarkably drinkable IPA for both hop head and malt head alike.

Clearly the communal consensus was not off the mark on Ale Smith, way to go fellow beer geeks!

IPA is Dead and other BrewDog Affirmations

It is pretty hard to pass-up anything from BrewDog so I was pleasantly surprised to see a general increase in the re-stocking of some of their regular line-up as well as some new offerings in the local private liqour stores here in British Columbia.

In particular I was drawn to the brightly coloured four pack proclaiming IPA is Dead. Never one to shy away from a less than popular sentiment or from brewing up some crazy good beer, BrewDog has created a wonderous little tidbit for beer geeks and wannabe beer judges everywhere four beers brewed with the same ingredients except for the hop. Each beer contains a distinct hop variety, which just begs for a side by side by side by side comparison. So lets get to it…


BrewDog IPA is Dead


The four beers are Waimea, El Dorado, Goldings and Dana named after the single hop varietal used in each beer.


What these beers have in common…

Based on appearances alone you might have a hard time discerning hop from hop. All four pour a hazy orange gold colour with pretty good clarity and bright white head. Lots of head on the initial pour that dies off to a light skim and some lacing around the glass. Where it really starts to get fun is the nose as hops are all about the aromatics.

How they differ…

Waimea Grapefruit on the nose and a little bit of earthiness. As you drink the resin notes crop up and there is a bittered almost pungent finish. This one grew on me the more I drank it as I was a little unsure on the initial pour. #2

El Dorado Tropical fruits on the nose citrus and pineapple, slightly sweeter on the nose than its’ brethern. The sweetness carried through as you drink this one. I found El Dorado to be very well-balanced with the hop allowing the malt to have its’ place on your palate. #1

Goldings Reminds me the most of an American style IPA, a bit more floral than the first two beers. Overall the hop taste remains quite forward lingering for a long time on the nose and carrying through to the bittered finish. #3

Dana This beer seems to have a more complex hop profile (though only one hop is present) I feel like I am getting floral, citrus and some resin notes on the nose. As you drink I find this one malt forward with a dry bitter finish. Reminds me of a UK bitter. #4

*numbers indicate rankings based on me and the hubby’s taste preferences.

Single Hop IPA

New Brew Friday

It’s Friday once again and I hope this post finds everyone recovering nicely from their IPA day celebrations.

I marked this most sacred of beer geek holidays by finally breaking open my bottle of Sixty-One an IPA brewed with Syrah grape must.

Yup must, which at first glance does not really sound that appetizing but the all-knowing and all-seeing Wiki defines must (from the Latin vinum mustum, “young wine”) as freshly pressed juice that contains the skins, seeds, and stems of the fruit. Making must is the first step in wine making. Because of its high glucose content must is also used as a sweetener in a variety of cuisines. Unlike commercially sold grape juice, which is filtered and pasteurized, must is thick with particulate matter, opaque, and comes in various shades of brown and/or purple.


Dogfish Head Sixty-One


Dogfish Head Sixty-One 6.5%

Sixty-One pours a clear cranberry colour with just a light skim of white head and nice lacing. There is quite a lot of carbonation to this beer. Prominent grape juice nose with citrus hops. First couple sips, this beer seems like a typical Dogfish Head IPA (always a good thing) then you get a fruity sweetness on the finish. As you drink the Syrah character emerges more giving the IPA a bit of a spicy dark fruit flavour. The finish has a nice amount of bitter hoppiness.

Overall a very clean drinking beer that manages to marry characteristics from both the beer and the wine world. I like to think of this beer as bridging the gulf between beer drinkers and wine drinkers, a sort of olive branch saying hey, we’re not that different after all.

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