Rating → 81 points
Stats: (Golden) Pale Ale. 4.9% ABV. 40 IBUs. Toronto, Ontario.
Colour: Hazy, almost white gold
Mouth Feel: Medium carbonation — very crisp clean finish.
Price: $13.65 (6 pack)
Pairing Notes: Cadbury Easter Eggs (yes, I said it)
Mmm … and with all due respect to The Rascals, “I can’t imagine anything better than when we’re together — there ain’t a place I’d like to be …” than cruisin’ with this beer in hand.
Yes, it’s a Sunday afternoon, it’s spring, the sun is shining … and I’m cruising as I sample the newest from one of my favourite Toronto and Ontario breweries, Amsterdam Brewing.
You’d be forgiven if you glanced at the bottle and thought this was a biker beer with some Harley badge on the front — but a closer examination of the label reveals another bag of bones on another bi-pedal contraption. But instead of a two century throwback to the Velocipede they re-made famous on their Boneshaker IPA which is a fixture in my fridge, they’ve chosen one of the best conveyances of my childhood, the “cruiser.” Don’t let the skull in helmet throw you — this isn’t a Harley Davidson on the label: it’s a teenagers cruising bicycle, replete with bike helmet and bell. The only thing missing are streamers in the handlebar grips and a hockey card in the spokes and I can totally imagine the banana seat in the back.
The beer itself pours with next to no head. I’m not sure what the LCBO was thinking or experiencing when they wrote that it pours with “thick fluffy foam” … perhaps they shook the bottle first. There is decent carbonation in it which is key to this beer because, without it, this beer with the light malts and low ABV would undoubtedly taste ‘thin’ in the mouth. But with the carbonation tweaked to where it’s at, the mouthfeel is full and perfect. The citra hops are big off the nose and big in the mouth … tropical and citrus flavours abound as they should with this trendy hop. Lemon pith is pure but beyond that, I wouldn’t say there is a ton of other tropical notes going on. The pale malts provide a bit of sweetness and earth and round out the ‘spiciness’ of the beer, but really, there isn’t a lot more in the way of complexity to this than a good glass of ice tea. And, indeed, this would be a good substitute on a day when you’re craving a good (not sweet) ice tea. All in all, I’d say that with the crispness and refreshingness of the beer with the light malts which keep it ‘dry,’ this beer could be confused as a Belgian IPA (aka Belgo-American Pale Ale).
In my mind and on my palate, this is a juvenile version of the very adult Boneshaker IPA. Where Boneshaker is a heavy weight at 7.1% and 65 IBUs and rich in malts that balance the hops, “Cruiser” is a golden pale ale that is not even a cruiser weight, but more a featherweight 4.9% and 40 IBUs. The citra and sorachi ace hops give this a very crisp taste but the pale light malts play a quiet accompaniment … a bit like a lone snare drum beating in the background to a gravel voiced punk singer.
Metaphors aside, for those that like a crisp and bitter forward beer but found the Boneshaker to be too big, this beer is going to appeal and appeal to a lot. And at the 4.9% ABV, this is a beer that Amsterdam rightly claims to be an “all day pale ale” … an ale you can drink all day while you look across the room at your in-laws, before opening another beer and burying your fingers back in your smart phone (or so I could imagine). It’s a beer that defines what “sessionable” really means in a beer — highly drinkable, easy drinking, a beer you can drink for long sessions. And as the sun comes out on this Sunday afternoon and reinforces that spring is indeed in the air, there are few better ways to wash down those Cadbury eggs that may still be stuck in your teeth from Easter.
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