Rating → 79 points
Stats: American IPA. 6.7% ABV. 65 IBUs. Vankleek Hill, Ontario.
Size: 600mL bottle
Colour: Dark gold
Mouth Feel: Medium-low carbonation. Crisp with some bit and bitterness from beginning to end, but with a silky smooth finish.
Price: $24 (for Mix Pack)
Pairings: Hot Italian Sausage
So this is the final review in my sampling of the Best of Beau’s 2014 mix pack (see Winter Brewed and St Luke’s Verse for the other two reviews … and see Burnt Rock previously reviewed last year). And I have to say, with this sampler, Beau’s has truly put forward a four magnificent feet — and if you haven’t tasted the ‘best of Beau’s’ previously, this should impress. Therefore, before we get into the review itself, a super thumbs up and buying the mix pack.
I have to say, I’ve been waiting while for Beau’s to tackle this style … one of my favourites. So right from the get go, this was like grabbing a beer and going cliff diving. Either this was going to be exhilarating and memorable or we were going to be dashed on the rocks below.
The American IPA is a style which you’ll either love or hate. If you’re a hop head, however, this is what you live for: this a staple in your fridge, an aperitif on the way the really bad ass DIPAs and imperial stouts out there. In opening an APA, you should expect to taste something that is hop forward and hop ending … the hops should grab you right out of the bottle, right with the flip of the cap, and you should smell the citrus (not the yeast or malts). Carbonation will be immediate and it will feel like you’re having a straight blade razor shave your tongue … it will leave you feeling clean and close, to say the least. And like any good shave, at least in the movies, you’re going to get your wet cheeks slapped and with that you’re going to taste the hops immediately. Tangerine peel for sure, just like Beau’s says … and I mean a tangerine peel with all the pith and probably some extra. “Pithy” would probably be a good adjective for this particular beer. In a typical APA, the malts will typically arrive at this point and assume their supporting role, though some malts jump in front (which I think is a mistake in the style) — their sweetness will normally round things out and balance the intensity by adding some depth via their caramel notes. In this case, the malts are pretty near hidden which isn’t a surprise given the medium gold of the beer. What I get in the middle instead is dryness and pine … and without much sugar, I’d say the tropical fruits which might be there just don’t really emerge. If there is fruitiness in there, I’d say it is an under-ripe green mango. The ending of an APA should definitely be bitter but with usually a balanced ending — and if done well, in my opinion, the astringency should be minimal. In this case, your tongue gets a good spanking on top of its already smooth cheeks and then gets a velvety kiss as the diacetyls finish beautifully.
This a beer that drinks more bitter than the 65 IBUs would suggest — which reinforces how much the malts are underplayed here. I like it, a lot, but I do question whether it’s entirely true to the style: the presence of the malts should be bigger. But with that very smooth ending, the beer is actually very sessionable and impressive.
What is odd about this beer and which is true of the other beers in the pack I sample is the precipitate. If you hold it up the light, you’ll see the beer actually dresses up very well. In some ways, it looks filtered because it isn’t milky or cloudy … but it’s not clear and instead is laden with residual yeast that floats throughout. I’m used to this in a lot of Quebec beers, especially those that are fermented on lees — none of this changes anything other than the aesthetics, but I don’t have any memory of Beau’s beers doing this before. Is this a new trend for the brewery — because all three of the beers reviewed had pronounced lees in them? Not sure, but it’s sure to freak out some beer drinkers who are looking at this in their glass and thinking something is off. My advice to Beau’s is to educate their consumers as to what is in their glass and — and this is important — and to pour the bottom of the bottle slowly so as to at least minimize the amount of lees that flow into the glass. Take a close-up view in the picture below to see what I mean ….
Overall, this is a very good American IPA and in fairness to Beau’s I think they’ve more or less done what they set out to do and have created a hop-dominated IPA. However, with a reasonable malt backbone, it probably misses the mark for the “American” style. That’s not to say it’s not tasty, though, because it is. It’s very drinkable and very enjoyable … and I think the best IPA Beau’s has created thus far.
However, while the beer scores well in most elements and is a solid A- I’m going to knock it down in the overall assessment on the basis of value for money. This is a hard penalty for me to enforce because I love this company and their “value” to our community. Still, at $6 a bottle (when divided across the mix pack), you’re paying about 30% more for a good beer.
Mission accomplished? No, I think Beau’s still has more work to do on IPA front….
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