Hop heads like hop bombs. Obviously. It also should be obvious that this post will be about beer.
Let me backtrack a bit. This wine blog mentions beer in its subtitle, but (gasp!) there have been no beer reviews so far. Except for the one remote mention of an ale in an ale based mead. So, this was a long time coming.
I love strongly flavoured beer, especially IPAs. That makes me a hop head, or close to. I’ll take it, especially if it comes with hop bombs, beer that explodes with hops and bitterness flavours. And that is how a new breed of IPAs come across.
Although sources differ on the time frame of the India Pale Ale beer style origin — ranging from the 1600s to 1800s — they agree on the reason: extra hops were added to help preserve pale ale beer to last longer, which added extra flavour. Going one step deeper, pale ales get their name from their lighter hue, which results from paler malts used in their brewing. Higher alcohol levels of IPAs also helped preserve the brew.
Without any further delay, here are the three Canadian IPAs chosen for today. Short intros first.
Boneshaker India Pale Ale, by Toronto’s Amsterdam Brewing Company, self-identifies as unfiltered, with 80 IBUs (International Bitterness Units) and 7.1% ABV (alcohol by volume).
Red Racer IPA by Central City Brewers + Distillers from Surrey, British Columbia, also has 80 IBUs, but slightly less alcohol at 6.5% ABV.
Smashbomb Atomic IPA by Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery from Barrie, Ontario, weighs in at 72 IBUs and 6% ABV.
And now the reviews. All three were similar in their copper hue, with Boneshaker the darkest and Smashbomb Atomic the lightest shade, and Red Racer the most translucent.
Nuanced differences showed in side by side comparison. In terms of aromas, citrus was omnipresent, with grapefruit notes for Red Racer, and lemony ones for Smashbomb Atomic. Boneshaker and Red Racer came across as more malty, with caramel and honeyed notes respectively. Bitterness was bursting out of Boneshaker, being more subdued for Red Racer, and coming from behind but still strong (despite its somewhat lower IBUs) for Smashbomb Atomic.
Each was a well balanced brew considering the variances in aromas, tastes, IBUs, and alcohol levels. For those of you who are true hop heads and interested in the malts and hops used, go to the beer links above to find out more.
What was the food pairing chosen for these Canadian beers? Poutine! It was a gourmet version with hand cut potatoes, fried in sundried tomato infused sunflower oil, local cheese curds, and home-made Hunter’s Gravy. All beers paired well, with Red Racer and Smashbomb Atomic showing a more pronounced affinity. Through the grapevine (don’t ask:-), I heard that Boneshaker pairs well with hamburgers, but would expect that the others are not far behind.