The IPA or India Pale Ale is often seen as the flagship for many breweries. There’s almost a competition for who can make the hoppiest beer or the most citrusy brew. The one that come to mind right away is Sawdust City Lone Pine IPA. I can always recall the nice dry hops that is in the beer. Now here’s the thing about West Coast IPAs that’s different from a regular IPA. A West Coast IPA has a different approach to hops. By that I mean they shove as much hops into the beer as they can. Some may love this as they crave more and more zip. Some like a more subdued flavour. To the latter I suggest going for a nice Pale Ale.
Pale Ale beers are still a bit hoppy but there are more intricate flavours that accompany the lead vocalist. These are for the folks who like new things to try while still having an idea of what they are in for. Most breweries will have their own Pale Ale, especially if they haven’t made an IPA yet. I tried out a few Pale Ales this week just to have a friendly reminder why these beers are so approachable and fun.
First I had a beer call Pale Ale Project by Beyond the Pale Brewery An interesting full flavoured but light feeling beer. Not too hoppy but more flavourful than a lager or cream ale. Smelled much more hoppy that it tasted, which is sometimes nice.
Next I had Tuque Dorée by Tuque de Broue .A very light pale ale. Almost no hops present but not quite as sweet as a lager or pilsner. Very crushable and won’t hurt your head at the end of the night but rather, keep it warm. While is did not feature any wild flavours, the beer was pleasant and is a pretty normal beer. I’d have to say it’s an average Pale Ale, maybe something to have at the start of your night as a warm up.
As I’m writing this, I am enjoying the ever delicious Canuck Pale Ale from one of the Ontario Craft Brewery Royal family, Great Lakes Brewery Pours like liquid gold into your frosted glass. A sweet malts come right at the start of the sip. A clean hops resides in the back seat which allows for big gulps of the Canadian delicacy. Sitting at 5.2% this one doesn’t put the pedal to the metal, but rather sits in cruise and lets you enjoy all of its flavours.
Now to compare those brews to some of the IPA’s I have had recently. First up is another member of Ontario Craft Elite: Mad Tom IPA by Muskoka Brewery The first time I had this beer I couldn’t even finish the bottle. It was one of the first craft beers I had ever had and wanted to dive into the deep end right away. Oh boy the hops kicked my butt. For some reason I haven’t had it since, or don’t really remember having it, so I decided for this week’s post that I would revisit this hoppy, strong beer. Well much to my surprise and chagrin this beer is amazing. It’s like a pine tree grew in an apple orchard and made best friends with its fruity comrades. The crisp sweetness that remind me of a granny smith is melted together with fresh sharp hops. Understandable for an 19 year old me to think this beer was way too much to gulp down.
I also dived into Muskoka Brewery’s Detour Session IPA. What makes a session IPA different is they involve much more citrus and lower the alc % significantly. These are the beers made for patio seasons, or for having more than one. Detour has a much faster flavour to it. What I mean by that is the flavour kind of comes and goes quickly, but leaves you wanting more. A nice change from lingering hops and spices.
So when you want to go out for a pint and your faced with the decision of IPA or Pale Ale I’d recommend starting with the Pale Ale, if you fancy that, stick with it, if you find yourself wanting a bit more of the pint tree in your mouth, go for that IPA. I’d only warn you about double IPAs. That is some major league hops right there.
A couple of other beers I had this week:
Riverhead Brewing Company – Dunkel
This is a beer for beers and I love it. Great classic taste with a hint did extra flavour to keep things interesting. No worries of getting tired of this refreshing taste. Malty enough to steer it was from anything hop related but beyond the darkness to call it a light beer. A nice place to be for a cool pint on a warm winter/spring day. Not going to lie, wish this one would be a mainstay but after talking to the Brewers, they would need to buy more tanks to keep Brewing this one. Aged 8 weeks takes up some much needed space to brew the rest of their lineup. Maybe one day!
Stone City Ales – Coconaught
Smells of black liquorice and whiskey. Blows you away with the flavour of dark chocolate and coconut, but mostly a coffee and whiskey flavour resides throughout. A beer that makes itself known and holds its stance from smell to aftertaste. Makes you very well aware of its 9.5abv. This beer beat me up in a delicious way.
Trigger Alert. Mill Street Brewery was once a independent brewery, which they are now owned by the likes that make Labatt Blue. I will preface that I enjoy their beers, and their more limited releases have sometimes been very good. Many other beer bloggers have shunned the brewery, and thats fine, more beer for me.
I decided to try out a couple that I used to consider some of my favourite beers. Mill Street Organic Lager and 100th Meridian Amber Lager. So. They aren’t awful. You don’t have to over-exaggerate that the beers are simple. However I was surprised by what my memory of 100th Meridian is very different than what the one I’m drinking tastes like right now. Compared to the organic lager, there’s a hint of extra spice and I have to remember that yes these are lagers and they are meant to be simple and refreshing. There isn’t a gross lingering aftertaste and I’m not feeling full after having one. So as far as beer goes, it’s better than a bud.