For their 1000th batch Calgary’s own Village Brewery decided to mark Father’s Day 2015 with a well hopped West Coast IPA. Named in reference to a past seasonal the Father, Grandfather is 7.2% ABV and boasts a sweltering 75 IBU’s. Eighteen different hop additions of Galena, Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, and Simcoe hops were used during the brewing process of the limited run of 1500 bottles. Grandfather was released in collaboration with the Calgary Prostate Cancer Centre’s Man Van which offer on the spot prostate cancer screening. The hop additions should impart upon grandfather a sizable amount of tropical and lush fruit notes, heavy pine resin and a heavy grapefruit influence.
Pouring out a bright golden orange with a light stream of carbonation and finger of sticky, dense head. Pure white lacing coats the glass as I sip. The aroma is lush, tropical and dank with heavy resin notes, light floral and spice notes. Heavy grapefruit and crisp citrus accompanies a myriad of tropical fruits; pineapple, mango, pear, stonefruit, cantaloupe. Taking in the first sip a moderate toasted sweet malt with light caramel notes and a bit of a bready flavour hits in the middle. The tropical fruits are lush, moderately sweet and juicy. Lush and fresh squeezed grapefruit juice hits towards the finish with a cascade of pine and resin smacking the palate. The finish is heavy with grapefruit astringency, dry bitter hops that linger into the aftertaste but are buffered by the sweet, tropical fruits. A good balance between the sweet and the bitter components adds more to the beer than just great flavour.
Alberta’s newest craft brewery is Two Sergeants Brewing Inc. located in Fort Saskatchewan 20km north east of Edmonton. Bangalore Torpedo IPA is their first beer to hit off license shelves in Alberta and is billed as a 5.7% IPA with an explosive 100 IBU’s. Bangalore Torpedo gets its namesake from the incendiary device used to destroy mines and munitions left over after the Boer War. During WW2 the Bangalore Torpedo was used to weaken German defenses during the beach assaults on D-Day.
Bangalore Torpedo pours a rather dark amber tinted orange with a modest off white head with tons of sticky lacing that coats the glass. The aroma is rather moderate and reserved for a 100 IBU IPA touted as being “hopsplosive”. Light caramel and grassy notes with accents of citrus fruit and pine needle. After my first sip it is evident quickly that during the brewing process the majority of hops were added to the boil early. This left the brew with a more moderate aroma and heavy, lingering bitterness. Light sweet caramel malts up front with citrus fruits, floral and grassy notes. Heavy, pungent grapefruit notes blend with poignant pine resin notes. Dry and astringent finish with heavy bitterness and a sticky, full body mouthfeel. The bitterness lingers on infinitely and doesn’t seem to subside. Overall a very strong first beer with a hell of a punch.
Every year the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co of Chico, California collaborates with 12 breweries and their fans for a mixture of brews collectively known as Beer Camp. In 2014 the stand out was a brew made with San Diego’s Ballast Point and so has been resurrected as a spring seasonal in 2015. The Hoppy Lager is a strong Blonde lager with a heavy hop twist. Brewed to a heavy 7.0% ABV and an agreeable 55 IBU’s the Hoppy Lager is the perfect early spring brew. In addition to a lager yeast the hop manifest includes Palisade and El Dorado as bittering hops and Citra and Equinox as finishing hops.
Pouring out a bright, clear golden hay colour the body has a solid stream of carbonation and is capped by a dense cap of pure white head. The aroma is fresh and heavily accented with citrus hop notes. Light floral and spicy hops add a nice dimension to the hop profile. Impossibly light caramel and crisp bread malts have a touch of honey sweetness akin to the blonde style. Crisp lemon and grapefruit notes and a mild acidic crunch towards the finish. Overall the bitterness is moderate and mostly negated by the cascade of finishing hop flavours. Light floral and perfumey notes blend with zesty lemon and grapefruit notes. A pinch of pine resin on the aftertaste with moderate astringency and a heavy lager esque mouthfeel. A nice brew overall with a bit of a unique take on the style. My only wish is that we Albertans could get our hands on Sierra Nevada’s products.
Stone Brewing Co.’s newest IPA varietal is the aptly named Delicious IPA an 80 IBU brew with 7.7% ABV that is brewed with Lemondrop and El Dorado Hops. Delicious IPA is crafter as an ode to the citrus based IPA with the bottle description as follows: “This one was all about packing as much unique and, you guessed it, delicious flavor into a glass as humanly possible, regardless of oomph or octane. This intensely citrusy, beautifully bitter beer is worthy of the simple-yet-lordly title of Stone Delicious IPA. Lemondrop and El Dorado hops combine to bring on a magnificent lemon candy-like flavor that’s balanced by hop spice. It’s unlike anything we’ve tasted in nearly two decades of IPA experimentation, and another lupulin-laced creation we’re excited to introduce to hopheads everywhere.”
Delicious IPA pours out a bright golden in the body with a huge head of off white. The aroma is heavily laden with zesty citrus aroma including tons of lemon rind and orange notes. Smells of bitter grapefruit aromatics with huge pine resin notes wafting through honey sweetness and and mild caramel malts. Resinous throughout with tons of citrus fruit hop notes that accompany lighter pine needles and sticky grapefruit notes. Mild pineapple and papaya fruit notes blend well with honey and caramel sweetness. Well balanced with light astringency and mild malts the hops enter the forefront. Punishing bitterness with tangy citrus zest notes that build up towards the finish with heavy acidity and hop bitterness. Overall, Delicious IPA is an ode to the citrus hop effect and is crafted perfectly.
One of the most respected and revered American style IPA’s is Sculpin a 7% brew from San Diego, California’s Ballast Point Brewery. Ballast Point originally started as San Diego’s Home Brew Mart and grew to become one of the United State’s craft brewing vanguards. More recently Ballast Point has brewed special editions of Sculpin with Grapefruit and Habanero pepper additions.
Pouring out a bright cascade of golden orange with a creamy froth of yellow tinged head Sculpin looks like an IPA from the get go with tons of sticky resin lacing. The aroma is distinctly emphasised with citrus fruits including lemon, orange, grapefruit etc. Lighter floral and spicy hop aromas are noticeable but dulled by the citrus heavy notes. Light caramel malts with honey sweetness and a plethora of fruity hop notes. Citrus notes and lighter tropical fruits fill the mid palate with notes of pineapple, mango and papaya. The finish is characteristic of the San Diego style with a resin predominance that leaves a sticky, astringent aftertaste of pine needles and bitter grapefruit. A bitter finish overall but mostly a fruity beer with glorious citrus and tropical notes. Sculpin is a great example of the San Diego IPA style and is a classic beer in general.
Brewed in the Leaside Village area in Toronto, Ontario the Amsterdam Brewery has been redefining craft beer in Ontario since 1986. The first Amsterdam beer to leave the province and land in Alberta is the Boneshaker Unfiltered IPA. Brewed Amarillo hops with a 90 minute continuous hopping to 65 IBU’s and a heavy 7.1% ABV, Boneshaker is for hop fans only.
Pouring out a bright golden orange with a big bounty of white head Boneshaker has the generally IPA esque appearance despite a lack of haze or cloudiness. The nose has a big dose of pine and gooey resinous citrus aromas. A mild malty nose with hints of caramel and toasted breads the aroma is hop dominated. The first sip has full on resinous hop sweetness with grapefruit and zesty flavours. Toasted malts and bready notes blend well and help balance the flavour out but are lost quickly with big hops. The finish isn’t all that bitter for me but lingers quite well with a sharp and tangy grapefruit along with a moderate smack of resinous hops. A good beer overall if I can say so.
Price: $17/ 6 pack
Half Pints is Manitoba’s best and single true craft brewery known for their incredible seasonal and special releases. One of the rare seasonal beers to make it from the Winnipeg brewery to Alberta beer shelves is the summer brew Hoppen Heimer. Hoppen Heimer is stylistically defined as a wheat ale but I think it may be best described as a wheat IPA. Single hopped with Topaz to 73 IBU’s and brewed to a very sessionable 4.8% ABV Hoppen Heimer is guaranteed to be a unique beer.
Hoppen Heimer pours a bright clear gold with a thick soapy off white head atop. A small spritzy stream of bubbles as well as tons of soapy lacing rings coat the glass evident of the fresh hops. The first sniff out of the tall weizen glass has a bursting citrus and resinous aroma as well as a milder but present hefe style yeast. Notes of banana, orange rind and a pinch of coriander are all noted in the nose. A great big bursting hop flavour in the mid palate with orange and lemon zest flavours as well as crisp wheat and estery notes. A bit of banana and bubblegum blend well with the big hops. The finish is bitter and lingers on a bit relentlessly with an astringent dryness. The balance is a bit out of whack but the flavour profile is exciting and heaped full of hops and full bitterness.
Evil Twin is a Danish/American gypsy brewery known for its extreme and obscure craft brews. Although brewed at several locations and distributed from Brooklyn Evil Twin is a Danish brewery at heart. I have previously written several blog articles and beer reviews on this blog on Evil Twin beers. Falco is a 7% ABV India Pale Ale brewed in the style of an American IPA.
Falco pours a bright gold with a subtle highlight of orange in the body. A gigantic white head with a ton of big soaplike bubbles clings to the glass leaving a ton of big lacing rings. A few slowly cascading bubbles stream towards the finger of head atop the glowing body. A first small whiff and I notice a mild grapefruit and freshly squeezed citrus fruit aroma. Mild toasted and grainy malts blend rather well with the citrus fruits and a hint of light pine needle. Mild and sweet flavour with a hint of honey, caramel malts, toasted cereals and a whole lot of citrus fruits. Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and lemon zest. The finish although moderately bittered is not as intense nor as lingering as I would have hoped. Mild astringent and puckering aftertaste subsides in a few seconds. Falco is a truly well brewed and complex IPA despite its bitterness shortcoming.
As a spinoff of the wildly successful Single Hop IPA’s series that Mikkeller has been brewing for the past several years the Single Hop Science series is brewed with solely new strains of hops. Cross breeding and artificial breeding of hops has become very popular as of late in part due to massive interest in the beer geek community and home brew community. Belma is a strain of hops artificially bred with high alpha acid content of 12.1% and a mild Cascade like flavour. Single Hop Science Belma is a 6.5% IPA brewed for Mikkeller at De Proufbrouwerij in Belgium.
Belma pours a bright orange colour with a massive foamy white head and a hazy body despite not having any sediment present. The aroma is pronouncedly fruity with big floral pineapple and a hint of strawberry. A fairly basic cereal and grain malt aroma pervades the fruity hop aromas. Although the flavour had a prominent fruity flavour with mild malts and a floral hop note the taste has a general herbal spice with mild sweet fruits taking the back seat. The finish has a lingering hop spice with a bit of zesty grapefruit eventually making its way through to the palate. This beer in general is a very average IPA that lacks a bitter and resinous feel but on its own the fruitiness is a unique flavour profile. I look forward to more beers in this series as well as more beers brewed with Belma hops.
I am finally getting around to posting reviews and blog articles on my May and June European Beer Vacation so this may be the first in a torrent of Belgian and Scandinavian beer articles. But during a 3 day stay in the Swedish capital of Stockholm and finally managing to find the government owned alcohol store known as Systembolaget I picked up a can of American IPA for Colorado. SKA Brewing Hoperandi is a beer I have seen many times on blogs, youtube reviews as well as on ratebeer and the like so choosing it instead of 100 SEK ($18 CAD) Swedish craft brews was an easy choice. For ony 29 SEK I purchased this little green can of hop elixir I had wanted to try for so long. SKA brewing is located in Durango, Colorado a distant town in SW Colorado closer to SantaFe and Albuquerque than Denver. At 6.8% ABV and 65 IBU’s this should be a hop rocket in a can. Later that evening after lettign Hoperandi cool a bit in my hostel fridge I set out to a bench overlooking the Baltic near my hostel on Skeppsholmen, Stockholm’s smallest island.
Unfortunately due to my rather bohemian style of travel I lacked a glass to pour this into and drank straight from the can. An aroma of solid citrus hop with a rather intense spicy hop note and resins. SKA Hoperandi smells like a freshly squeezed grapefruit mixed with sticky pine needles and resin with a bit of freshly cut grass atop. The first swill for the can has a mild sweet caramel malt with light toasted flavours and pervading citrus hop flavours in the mid-palate. A zingy tang of bitterness on the finish with definite grapefruit zest and a hot sticky resinous aftertaste. The hops linger well into the aftertaste with big floral grapefruit flavours. This although a surprisingly monotone beer has a rather nice drinkability and on a warm spring night in Stockholm it was most definitely a great beer experience.
Although this beer wasn’t Swedish I would soon visit a few of Stockholm’s legendary watering holes for some tasty treats.
Price: 29 SEK ($5 CAD)