This year is Great Lake Brewery’s 30th anniversary and this remarkable and blue-chip craft brewer is commemorating the event with a year-long celebration of new, special beers. We both love GLB and one or more of their beers is a constant fixture in our fridge (esp. two previously reviewed by Dale Lake Effect and their Pumpkin which is one of Dale’s favourites) — it’s a trusted Ontario craft brewer and their 30 years of success is indicative of the fact they were a pioneer in this field who has stood the test of time and developed a large, loyal following. We are all in for joining any fan club. Jess has been mentioning Octopus Wants to Fight to Dale since she first heard about it on Twitter and saw the hilarious can design – so we finally stopped by the LCBO to taste a trending treat and offer our own review.
from the Brewer: “Our pet octopus is a bit of a jerk. He’s that guy who has a couple then either tells you how much he loves you or threatens to fight you. So we brewed this IPA, with 8 varieties of hops and 8 types of malt. We targeted 88 IBU and 8.8% to appease him. Sadly, when he found out that we’d fabricated all of the above info, it only made him more volatile. We are starting to realize that Octopus was a poor choice for a pet.”
We really wanted to get a big bold fermentation profile out of this beer to develop a unique balance focused on the yeast-hop interaction and bio-modification. We use a “Brett-like” yeast to get that unique dimension.
How Did We Rate It?
Stats: American Pale Ale ♦ 6.2% ABV; 88 IBUs ♦ Toronto, Ontario.
Colour: Dark gold; Unfiltered.
Mouth Feel: medium carbonation; light/soft in the mouth.
Location/Price: $3.25 ♦ 473ml can
Pairings: Greek souvlaki and dolmades (). ♦ Milder foods – nachos, beer can chicken, club sandwich, porkchops, fish & chips (that’s for you, Octo) ()
The can really is awesome and makes me smile every time I see Octo with his 4 boxing gloves, bandages on his head and his angry eyes staring at me. As the can says, this pet octopus is a bit of a jerk and after a couple of beers, even worse. I see him taking me in, challenging me to review this beer, if I dare…. Let’s see if what’s inside the can wants to fight or be friends…?
I’m not really sure what the truth is because the GLB states that they brewed with 8 types of hops and 8 types of malts and aimed for 88 IBU and 8.8% alcohol….but Octo found out that all this info was “fabricated” … so aside from the 88IBUs listed in the stats and the 6.2% actual alcohol volume, I don’t know if the rest is true or not!
The beer pours with a nice tight head of tiny bubbles and is a pretty straw colour, unfliltered. A 1mm ring of foam remained on the top of the beer throughout my tasting. The aroma is fairly light with citrus (grapefruit) notes and otherwise the malts (8 types??) in this brew bring through gentle but sweet yeasty-bread and toasted grain notes and the hops (8 types??) bring bitters that can be perceived by the nose with a bit of fresh grassiness almost a tiny bit like a beer brewed with some fresh hops. My mouth is watering in anticipation….
The mouthfeel is quite light – both because the carbonation is so soft (perfect in my opinion), and because the beer itself is light and doesn’t hang around long on the palate. I almost said it was watery, but I think ‘light’ is a better description because there isn’t any flavour missing and I believe this is probably by design.
The first sip is a touch underwhelming – at 88 IBUs (and with its name) I was expecting a bit more punch. But the flavours are very nice and expertly balanced. The same citrus notes and grassy freshness comes through but the malts and yeast are less prominent in the mouth than they were on the nose. It washes down easily and doesn’t hang around very long – light, mild on the malts and the bitter grapefruit sticks around a little bit – the aftertaste is relatively short.
This beer isn’t particularly remarkable (it’s not “OMG you have to try this….”) but it is a very enjoyable, balanced and easy-to-drink IPA which I would certainly buy again and keep around the house – it really is appropriate any day, on its own and probably with most food. Even though this is a ‘strong beer’, it is quite sessionable and the 88 IBU rating shouldn’t scare you away if you generally wouldn’t choose something higher on the bitter scale. I would say that if it stays in production, Octo will be ideal on a summer Saturday afternoon on the deck or patio.
First Taste (10) = 8
Appearance (5) = 5
Aftertaste (15) = 13
Aroma (10) = 9
Mouthfeel (10) = 9
Overall: (10): = 8.5
52.5/60 = 87.5%
If it wasn’t abundantly clear from the pages of this blog, I’m self-declared dog person. That said, I’m an open-minded guy, so if someone wants a pet octopus and thinks it a good idea, well, who am I to argue, especially if he’s a patron of the beer-arts. Tentacles aside, the inspiration for this beer is a whole lot of crazy 8’s — a big boy of beer, no matter how you cut it. So let’s take a dance around the ring with this cephalopod and see what comes off the bottom.
The beer pours a slightly murky dark gold and produces ample head which ebbs almost as quickly as it emerged, leaving just a skim of lace over the surface of the beer which remained through most of the session. The lack of filtration, it should be noted, produces a lot of flavour, which I’ll come to next. The nose is all westcoast and all IPA. There is no bread on this ocean dweller — but there is lots of fruit and by fruit, I mean big big grapefruit. There is some floral/evergreen to go with a bit of a walk through a pine forest. The beer is fresh and wants you to drink it. On the tongue, the aroma profiles come alive with immediate bitter grapefruit — and this is a beer which is not shameful about being bitter. The malts are there to round things out, but there is hardly any sweetness or caramel, just a mosaic — remember the alleged 8 varieties of hops? one is “mosaic” — which makes for a complex and difficult to pin down flavour profile. And while I’m a big lover of west-coast IPAs, many can become a bit oh-hum, “Oh, that flavour again.” This is clearly different — yet familiar. The grapefruit we know well; but there is something more going on. Persimmon? Mango? Definitely a bit of spice/pepperiness in there which comes with the medium-big carbonation — yes, there is a bit of burn on the tongue, my only knock of this beer. The mouthfeel, however, is balanced with some soft diacetyl characteristics and a bit of soapiness which, in this case, works perfectly to create balance in the mouth.
All in all, this is very nice beer, but it ain’t for the faint of heart any more than boxing an angry octopus would be. Most American IPAs are, by their nature, imbalanced … yet even taking all this into consideration, accepting it is what it is, this is a balanced APA with a heck of lot going on … and heck of a lot to draw you back for the whole summer.
So, happy birthday and 30th anniversary to Great Lakes Brewery and thanks for this birthday gift to us all.
First Taste (10) = 9
Appearance (5) = 4.5
Aftertaste (15) = 14.25
Aroma (10) = 9
Mouthfeel (10) = 8
Overall: (10): = 9.25
54/60 = 90%
Overall: 88.75 points
We both really enjoyed the beer and can definitely see ourselves swimming with this grabby-beer all summer. That said, Dale definitely gravitated to this one more than Jess finding the flavour profile to be a bit more remarkable and stand-outish than her. Yes, the 88 IBUs will surprise you in that you’ll be surprised there are that many — but you won’t mistake this beer for anything other than bitter, so for you hop heads out there that love a good westie, this is an outstanding one, a little different and something you should make an effort to take a dance with … under the sea, in an octopus’ garden, in the shade.