Here’s a beer I picked up awhile back as well when, as I previously mentioned, I went in search of St-Ambroise Citrouille (Pumpkin Ale). I have long been a huge fan of the McAuslan brewery – their oatmeal stout is top notch and their Apricot Wheat Ale is one of those beers that is a staple in my fridge, especially in the summer, so expect a review of it when the snows disappear.
So when I saw at BroueHaHa that they’d made an “India Pale Ale,” I jumped at it (note: this is a rotating beer available at the SAQ in Quebec but not available in Ontario). On the surface of things, you might assume this is a brew that compares well with Flying Monkey’s Smashbomb Atomic — they pour very similarly, are both IPAs, have similar complexions and are both “strong beers,” this one topping out at a very nice 6.2%. However, all that said, these are two very tasting beers.
If you want to know the difference that comes with different hops and malts, this is proof. Indeed, in the case of these IPAs, it’s all about the hops — so briliantly and artistically foretold by St-Ambroise’s hop-centred label. Smashbomb is a pure west coast, American-styled IPA. However, McAuslan’s is very much it’s own with respect to tastes. That strong in your face citrus aroma one associates with the west coast hops is diminished here, even though it does have one American in it. Upon first sip, the taste is again different with a strong, deeply grassy and nutty flavour flying right to the back of the tongue. There is an herbal essence to it, and I don’t mean the shampoo here. The mid-taste is a very earthy bitterness with more emphasis on the earthiness than the bitterness – again, different than west coast IPA. Yet as startling as the first taste, the lingering aftertaste it what sells me: soft melons (honeydew?), green apples even, and very reminiscent of a new world sauvignon blanc. There is also some grapefruit, or rather grapefruit peel, at the end that rounds out the bitterness that flows through. Very interesting.
Overall this is a well-balanced beer with a very nice mouth feel – but given the malts and hops used in this, the flavours are distinct and will likely leaving you loving it or leaving it. There is no imitation in this beer, so I’ll give them high marks for courage and originality, but I don’t think this is going to come together for as many as, say, their Apricot Wheat Ale. And while I’m no expert on this, I’d say this is more an English-styled IPA rather than the American IPA which is sweeping the beer world right now. It is interesting because of the two hops used, one is English (Golding) and the other American (Williamette). If nothing else, with the Munich malts, this is definitely more European in flavour than most of the IPAs I’ve tasted of late.
Anyway, once you’ve enjoyed the originality of this beer, I recommend pairing it with food (ok, most beer pairs well with a food or two – beer drinkers just need an excuse). My recommendation: beef plus carbs as in a top sirloin burger or spaghetti Bolognese.
Stats: IPA. 6.2% ABV. Montreal, Quebec.
Mouth Feel: Medium carbonation but none visible; decent head with creaminess.