I know I’ve had beer in Saskatchewan before … what I can’t say with any certainty is whether I’ve had a beer from Saskatchewan. So here’s another product of my impulse shopping at The Beer Store last month, a new beer I haven’t tasted before and from a new region.
I have to admit, this didn’t get off to a great start when, shortly after I purchased it, I opened a bottle and there was nothing. No sweet tendril or wisp of a tail … and no sound as I broke the vapor barrier. I probably did a little Vulcan eyebrow lift before pausing to pour it into a glass where it poured as flat and plainly as a dark apple juice. Not one to give up, I gave it a taste which confirmed it was flat – and disgusting – and I spit it out … and then poured the rest down the drain. In fairness to Paddock Brewing, every brewer can have a bad bottle, but when it is the first bottle I pull in preparation for a first taste of a beer I don’t know … well, it is an inopportune moment to make a first impression. However, if nothing else, it shows I have real limits to what I’ll drink too.
Part of the delay in reviewing this, then, was a hesitancy to open another bottle … because the first had really left a bad taste in my mouth. So bad that I was prepared to return the other 5 bottles to The Beer Store and be done with it. But I chilled another one – this one – and warranted I’d give it another try.
This time, the pour showed carbonation, but very very light. I think I could have danced a jig first and the beer wouldn’t have come out any frothier. So, bad first bottle or not, this is a minimally carbonated brew. The aromas off the glass (none out of the bottle) are of hops and a bit of pine. The colour is a bit like a hazy yellow/golden amber; not unpleasant, but rather light for an IPA but perhaps not entirely surprising for an IPA coming in at 5.4%.
The mouth feel is soft on the lips with a bit of creamy effervescence. When drank cold, the first taste is followed by a wateriness and very little in the way of taste; warm, it becomes a more interesting and medium-bodied beer. This is telling and I’ll come back to this. In terms of whatever flavours are there in the middle, they are mostly the malts with their grapefruit rind, a bit of pine, and some caramel … not unpleasant flavours, but they’re not in the right balance if you ask me. I’d say the hops and malts are actually fighting a bit, though it’s a bit like two old blind squirrels batting their tails at each other. You have to wait to the end for the bitters to emerge; but, even at that, this beer will still offend anyone who doesn’t like a bitter taste … and, it quite frankly will offend many who like do love bitters too. This is not beer for hop-heads (like me). If you read my last post on English red ale, or if you have drank this beer, you may be coming to the same conclusion that I did and which was emphasized for me by an understated and a slightly sour aftertaste which I’m sure comes from a specific and likely non-West-coast hop. Not entirely unpleasant, but not entirely pleasant either.
When you put it all together – the light carbonation and wateriness, the different hops, the emphasis on the malts, and the fact that the beer improved when slightly chilled vs. cold – the conclusion is that this is an English (India) Pale Ale, not an American Pale Ale.
So … if you like English Ales, you may want to check this out as a curiosity if nothing else – because coming from Saskatoon, this beer is a long way from home – but if you are of the new generation discovering and following in love with the American version of this, I’d give this a big miss. Personally, I think there is a reason why the west-coast IPA is sweeping the world and not the English India Pale Ale, but that’s just one man’s opinion..
Stats: English IPA. 5.4% ABV, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Colour: Warm amber
Mouth Feel: Low carbonation with a creamy finish.
Purchased: The Beer Store
Pairing Notes: Fish and Chips.