Business in the Front and Party in the Back
Stats: IPA. 75.8% ABV. 49 IBUs. Ottawa, Ontario.
Size: half-growler (or full-growler also available)
Colour: Dark gold, unfiltered, brewed on lees
Mouth Feel: Low-Medium, very natural carbonation; refreshing, clean, dry finish
Purchased: from the Brewery
Price: $7 (plus $3 bottle deposit)
Pairing Notes: n/a
→ 86 points
It seems only fitting that I break my blog-silence since Ben’s passing with a review that he initiated. While I’m still very sad, I think he’d approve of me slowly getting back to something else that I love and which fulfills in many ways.
A few weekends ago before he passed away, by an uncomfortable mix of fortune and misfortune, I found myself in Ottawa’s trendy Wellington Village parked right in front of this small little brewery. The contradiction was that my trip was to visit Loam, a local clay studio, and an artist there who I sought out in my quest to commission a special piece that would capture Ben’s paw prints in clay … before it was too late. As the rain started to come down, I couldn’t help but think that there was a pull in the universe to bring me to this brewery and finally try its wares, available only on tap at some local establishments … or directly from the brewer.
Over the past few years, I’ve given a lot of attention and deserved praise to Beau’s, one of my favourite breweries which is also local to Ottawa. However, Ottawa is indeed becoming fertile ground for many new craft breweries so even though Beau’s continues to rock the region with its innovations, I thought I should spread my wings.
So Anne waited with Ben while I quickly dashed into, surveyed the possibilities, and made two purchases. Each was a half-growler; a “growler” is a half-gallon, so a half-growler is just under a litre, or two pints. The first that I’ll showcase with this post is their Belgian IPA called “The Mullet.” I’ll admit that I was drawn to the beer both by the style and by the name; and if you’ve seen pictures from the “Big Lebowlski” fund-raising night earlier this summer on Twitter, you’ll understand the attraction (but I digress).
What’s a “Belgian IPA” you ask? Well, it’s an example of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. Even though the Belgians are kick-ass brewers and leaders in their own right, there is a growing movement there to embrace the American IPA as a desired style … a style which the Belgians are singling out for the extra hoppiness and bitterness. Ultimately, like any great artist and leader, however, they aren’t just imitating: they’re borrowing and inventing and bringing to the style their own strengths and personality. So you’ll find Belgian yeasts being employed with often European malts and matched with American hops to produce a flavourful IPA that has a crisp and clean finish. So for those who like the idea of an IPA but think American hop-heads have taken a good thing and gone too far, the Belgian IPA may be your cup of tea.
How does this criss-crossing of the Atlantic work, then, when Beyond the Pale brings the Belgian style to Canada? The answer is: “Wow — I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to review this brewery!”
This liquid dark gold, unfiltered (slightly cloudy) beer pours with little to no head. Interesting, to say the least. You’d look at it and think it was flat until you took a sip and found a beautiful bottle-fermented micro carbonation which tingles but doesn’t get in the way. If you hate beer that fills you up, this is one you’ll love!
Off the nose, there are good tropical hops on display — take a sip and, with all due reference to the tag that labels the beer, it’s a big party upfront. The flavours? A bit mingled but read that as complex. Definitely some tropical fruit and I would say some banana (just a hint) to finish. Very very tasty. The beer moves very well from the front of the tongue through the middle where my only knock is that the specific-gravity here gives a bit of a thinness — however, the knock I give is slight because the beer doesn’t dwell here long before moving to the ending where true to the style, the ending is crisp and very very dry. Yes, some astringency there, but given the style, I think appropriate.
All in all, this is a beer I am already coveting and thinking I need to get more. However, it may also be a limited release (to be confirmed), so if you’re intrigued, act now.
Sorry, I guess this is an Ottawa-specific post, but if this first taste in any indication, this a brewery that has some serious chops and is worth a serious taste or two … or three. Find a designated driver and have some fun.