So here’s a beer I reviewed after 3 weeks of being out of commission, when my palette was back to working … and back to bring you new reviews and tastes. Thankfully I had a few in reserve to post in between because I wouldn’t otherwise have trusted anything I tasted.
So what better way to re-christen my tastebuds than with a hearty double IPA aka “imperial” IPA … and after the miserable winter the Atlantic saw this past year, a good Nova Scotian beer that pushed from winter to summer, in one fell swoop, seemed perfect.
I’ve had a few of Garrison’s other products when I’ve been down East before but this is the first I’ve had in a bottle. As you’ll see, I was in for a real treat ….
Before I get started, I have to say that one of the things I love about a really good IPA, and especially one that has the courage to go unfiltered, is the rich colour that I have come to call “apricot jam” in some of my previous reviews. As the metaphor suggests, it really is that yummy and it consistently portends good taste.
Pour this beer and off the nose you get west coast hops in spades and the associated citrus you’d expect: grapefruit, orange, with a backbone of honeydew. Honeydew, you ask? It’s my way of connecting the citrus aromas produced by the hops with the palpable sweetness that comes with the malts. Honey and some definite caramel tantalize before you even taste a drop.
Off the tongue there is a lot of robustness right out of the gate: there is a lot going on. Citrus, sweetness, yeast, all of which are clearly pulled together by the 8% alcohol which does not hide. This is a strong beer and not for the faint of heart. The middle is perhaps the best part of the profile where the flavours separate into a long-lasting spectrum that keeps the tongue happy for a long time. A big part of this is the backbone of malts that are a bit surprising but totally delicious. It doesn’t have the pure character of a typical beer with high alcohol and strong malts (like a bock), but it has the wee edge of a toe moving in that direction. What makes it distinctly and hugely different than the leaning toe is the finish which is dry, earthy (read: grassy), and totally refreshing. For a double hopped beer, astringency of the tea-bag-sucking order is the pitfall, but I have to say, this one skirts it well though, admittedly, not perfectly. The result is a beer that plays a bit like symphony in three parts, lots of structure, lots to play, and lots to discern.
Truly, if you’re bona fide hop head – I mean, like you’ve drank our fraternity’s Kool-aid and you’re contemplating a hop bud as a tattoo – and you’re happier the more bitter they come, this is must-drink IPA. Indeed, the brewery claims this the hoppiest beer in the Atlantic. I can’t argue with that based on my own experience.
It strikes me that Haligonians who made this beer have taken taken the west-coast IPA and given it a nice and distinct east-coast robustness. And sorry Alexander Keith’s who brought the India Pale Ale to Canada and made a freakin mess of it in the process, but this is a real Halifax IPA, albeit with a bit of a twist. Truly this is a beer with a character and one you won’t quickly mistake. Not for everyone, to be sure, but those that like it will like it a whole lot.
Stats: Double IPA. 8% ABV, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Colour: Apricot-jam amber (unfiltered)
Mouth Feel: Medium-low carbonation with creamy middle and refreshingly dry aftertaste.
Pairing Notes: n/a