Such are the words found on the cap of Amsterdam’s “Boneshaker Unfiltered IPA.”
Great words to drink to … even better words to live by.
At 7.1% alcohol, a macabre skeleton riding a c.1865 “velocipede,” and with phrases like “over the top hops” and “copious quantities of hops” and “massive hops” … not to mention the name itself – well, you know you’re in for a beer that has one thing on its mind. Already you can see a purity of purpose and passion in their undertaking.
No, this beer isn’t made in Amsterdam nor is it Dutch – it’s made in the heart of Toronto.
Named after the mid-19th century velocipede which was colloquially known as the “boneshaker” because it was made entirely of wood, this beer is going to be quite the ride too. The floating and large pieces of insubstantial precipitate (you can see them in the picture above ↑) at first might suggest there is something off about the pour or that a frog crept into the vat before bottling and made it thick with primordial eggs (sorry for that image), but the beer is pure and true to its word: it is indeed “unfiltered.” I’d even go a step further and surmise that it is also fermented sur lies (in the bottle). But truly there is nothing to this ‘stuff’ (it’s actually the spent proteins from the fermentation) and the flavours make it well worth the visual ‘huh.’
So get on and take a ride … flip the cap and take a long smell from the neck of the bottle and you will immediately be grabbed by an unmistakable grapefruit aroma. This citrus confirms before you go any further that this is a big west-coast or American Indian pale ale (choose your moniker, it’s all the same).
The colour is perfect in my opinion in terms of what you ‘should’ see in an American IPA: dark almost burnt orange … a perfect amber. The head pours rather flat … but not too flat. You can pour this aggressively and you’re not going to get much foam. But what you do produce is tight and will provide a pure and lasting ring on the glass that follows your sips. The mouth feel is near perfect. A nice wow of tight carbonation at the start which disappears on the tongue at just the right time to allow you to taste the beer ….
… and oh what a taste it is. That said, if you’re afraid of skeletons and have a difficult to articulate anxiety that some fleshless creature is going to steal your prehistoric bike or, worse, drink your beer … or if you don’t like a massive, copious, over the top hoppiness, well this not the beer for you. Move away. Move carefully away and don’t show the bottle fear.
Yes, the hops are huge … but they’re damn near perfect. You get them at the start and the layers take you to the end leaving you with a perfectly bitter residual finish. A happy ending if ever there was one. In the mid-tastes, the grapefruit continues to work it’s magic; throw in a little lime and perhaps some pine and you have an uncomplicated trio that plays like virtuosos … and between the fall and rise of the hops on either end, there is a nice balance with the malts in the middle with good caramels and sugars that allow the citrus to unfold. The only knock against the beer and the taste is that same, too often present, pappery astringency that lays flat in the middle of the tongue at the very end. Yes, some will say this is simply the hops being hops … being bitter. I continue to argue, though, that it is the difference between a perfectly bitter lime peel with and without the white pith. Fix that, and I dare say this beer would score 100. Having said that, you’re going to taste very few and better IPAs. Bravo!
Stats: American IPA. 7.1% ABV. Toronto, Ontario
Colour: Dark amber.
Mouth Feel: Medium carbonation upfront, creamy and refreshing finish.
Pairing Notes: Braised beef short ribs.