So that’s my paradoxical aphorism for the month of May, inspired by a company that, to look at the box and the bottles within, already has greatness written all over it. And I mean really impressive greatness. This is six pack of beer that had me going “Wow” before I even got in line with it at the LCBO to complete my purchase.
I love the name; I really love the name. When so much commercialization and production seems to happen for no other rhyme or reason than “to make money,” this is a beer that inspires me … inspires greatness in me. And I conjecture that if I and others aspire to be great, then we will certainly do much goodness in the process.
As such, this name is near perfect for a collective that is using beer as marketing tool to promote the “inspired talents of emerging and seasoned artists, musicians, photographers and filmmakers.” In short, artists who themselves have a rhyme and reason to what they’re doing. And there was certainly a rhyme and reason for why I made this purchase and it is a purchase that at once appealed to my social conscience and desire to support both my extended community, a craftsman, and responsible company. So, on the surface, they are as great as the Ottawa Valley’s own Beau’s Brewery for their vision and passion.
As you’ll see from the pictures above and below, each bottle has a unique label that is either lifted from the cover of an album, a piece of artwork, or some other graphical representation of an artist and their work. While not quite a fortune cookie, the diversity and surprise of each bottle has me hooked. The labels also have another important function and is how they integrate with Blippar, a social media app which I’ll discuss more at the end of this review.
Well, first off, they’re honest and purposeful that this isn’t an IPA: “It’s far more sessionable than your typical American IPA.” What’s the difference? Well, an American (still distinct from an “English”) pale ale has all the attributes of the very popular American (aka “Westcoast”) IPA, but has a little less of each of them. It’s “pale” because the malts play a smaller role than in the traditional dark/brown ales. However, while the hops are still key to a pale ale with pronounced “bitterness,” they aren’t as over-the-top as in an IPA. Similarly, the alcohol is typically slightly lower as well. All in all, this in theory will make a good pale ale very drinkable with a broader appeal than the more polarizing IPA. However, and having said all that, while they make no pretensions to being an IPA, if you love a good IPA, you’re still going to love this beer.
Stick your nose in the glass, and you’ll be hard pressed not to know what an American hop smells like. It’s characteristic fruitiness, almost tropicalness, prevails with strong notes of citrus, pine, and even tropical fruits like mango and pineapple. Rhyme & Reason fit this to a tee. The balanced flavours of this beer are a huge turn-on for me and you’re going to find few beers that make a better first impression. Each time I open a bottle of this beer, I’m consistently treated to that same surprise of flavours and my favourites in this beer are the peach and pink grapefruit that make you go “Wow – this beer tastes great.” I mean it: every time.
Where your extra pale ale is going to differ more significantly from an IPA is in both degree and in mouthfeel. There is good “weight” in the mouth, creaminess (excellent diacetyl), but with lower alcohol and lower bitterness units (IBUs), the beer is going to be ‘lighter’ by comparison. But let’s be clear, this is purely relative because a pale ale still has decent weight (compared to a Pils or lager). Having said that, the carbonation is lower and the beer will taste more ‘thin’ than many IPAs I’ve gone toe-to-toe with – which is a great thing for a beer seeking broader appeal.
My verdict on Rhyme and Reason is that they nailed it – I mean really nailed it … like this is the Nadia Comăneci of gymnastic dismounts.
I think it is really important to be clear that this isn’t an IPA – so if you’re expecting Boneshaker qualities, you’ll enjoy this but be disappointed. But if you think hop heads should give their hop heads a shake, and you prefer a beer that is bitter but ultimately more in balance, you’re going to love this … and love it a LOT. In terms of beers in its class, I think this compares very favourably with Flying Monkey’s “Hoptical Illusion” (an “Almost Pale Ale”) — but I’ll honestly say that this one is better.
So what about this whole arts part of the beer? Cool … very cool. First you need to download the Blippar app onto your phone (which I had to do). Blippar is a “Mobile augmented reality and image recognition platform enabling advertisers to reach consumers” using different image sources (from billboards, to magazines, to labels). Once you’ve downloaded, it works like a QR code might (but much prettier). You open the app and point your phone at the label and it ‘reads’ it and takes you to an artist page on Blippar that the Collective Arts has set up. In my test of the app, I was ushered to a page promoting Belle Starr, a recording artist from Toronto and an awesome music video of their rendition of Jolene. Pretty amazing stuff and I loved the music and I downloaded it as a result. However, the app was less successful (as in not successful) with the native-American looking label from Dan Springer.
In sum, I’m a hop head. Some days I love huge bitters and I’ll reach for a Boneshaker — but on any day, I’m happy and thrilled to reach for a bottle of Rhyme & Reason which has become a regular in my fridge for very good “reason.” Really, this is a great beer that is very very good.
Stats: Extra Pale Ale. 5.7% 55 IBUs. Burlington, Ontario.
Colour: Medium gold, unfiltered
Mouth Feel: Amazingly creamy, medium gravity, full in the mouth and very refreshing finish
Pairings: so many possibilities
© Dale Schierbeck 2014
Read more of my Beer Reviews here ….