Before I give all the gory details of the GIB tasting, a quick update on the IPA project;
Beer is in the cold room, dry hopping like mad. Goes to the filter today, and on to bottling. Should have cans and growlers for my local friends tomorrow. Tasted the unfiltered, flat version yesterday, and it’s pretty close to where I wanted it. Next project is going to be an all grain Imperial Porter with cold press coffee and vanilla beans….yum!
OK, on to the GIB Brockton IPA tasting.
I will admit, I am a little late to the party in regards to the Brockton IPA. I’ve heard the radio spots, had it recommended to me, but still hadn’t taken the plunge. My initial impression was that it’s still a bit “too English” to be considered a “west coast” IPA. I am probably a bit biased coming from the Hop Head capitol of the world, San Diego. Literally, the West Coast IPA was born there 10+ years ago,* with the Blind Pig IPA from Vinny Cilurzo (Currently @ Russian River Brewing), which begat Pliny the Elder and the world of Double IPA’s. But I digress.
*I’m sure there are differing opinions on this, as some would consider Sierra Nevada to be the first, but for me Blind Pig was the first of the ‘hop monster’ IPA’s, tons of big cirtusy hops, IBU’s , etc.
After spending considerable time with Vern Lambourne, the brewmaster for GIB, I got a better insight into the Brockton IPA. My first thought was that the finishing gravity was higher than the IPA’s I am used to, but Vern corrected my impression. The English character of the Brockton is from using an English yeast strain, most similar to a Fullers yeast. The English yeast produces far more fruity esters than the “California” ale yeast which many of the US brewers use for thier IPA’s. While the finishing gravity is as low or lower than many of the US West Coast styles, the difference in the yeast gives the impression of a sweeter, maltier product.
In our extended conversation, Vern also explained the ‘purpose’ of the Brockton, which is basically to be a ‘gateway’ IPA. The feeling was that to do a super aggressive IPA would not go over well with the average BC beer drinker, which I agree with. The Canadian beer drinker, for the most part, is a few years behind the curve regarding super hoppy beers. While the big hoppy IPA has been a staple in the States for 10 years or more, the style is just beginning to catch on here north of the border. Vern intimated that this could be a jumping off point for special release beers in the future, maybe even a Double IPA*.
*Please Vern, please!
From the Brockton IPA, I moved on to Vern’s Special Bitter on Cask. Wow! As I told Vern (and anyone else who would listen to my ramblings) the bitter tasted more like a West Coast IPA than the West Coast IPA. With a more distinct hop aroma, a more grapefruit/citrus character, and a more tart dry finish the bitter REALLY jumped out for me. Vern gave me the rundown on it’s construction, which includes lots of Amarillo* hops in the kettle and in the cask. That was the citrusy hop flavor I have come to expect/lust after!
*Not one of Vern’s preferred hops, but I begged him to give Amarillo a 2nd chance!
As you can probably tell, I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with Vern and Walt, the Sales Director for GIB. Both gentlemen were incredibly informative, friendly and all around good guys. Vern even invited me to come sit in on a brew day next week!
After the bitter, I cleansed my palate with a Belgian Style Wit. I was immediately impressed with the fruity/funky aroma that signifies a good wit. Nice pour, with a lightly cloudy pale yellow color. Good mouthfeel, you instanly picked up the coriander/spice notes along with a mild citrus bite, which I’ll assume comes from using bitter orange peel in the boil. A very nice wit, perfect for a warm summer day, or anytime for that matter.
After I allowed Vern to disengage and chat with other folks, I made my around the taproom and chatted up the wonderful folks for the Vancouver chapter of CamRA*. (Campaign for Real Ale for the unitiated). They filled me in on all the great happenings here in the GVA, where to go, who has special events, and all the info a beer geek like me needs. I definitely look forward to meeting more of the CamRA folks in the near future.
*Yes Lundy, I’m going to join this week!
I did taste the Maple Cream Ale as well, but to be fair, I think either the keg was oxidized or perhaps the draft lines need to be flushed. I got a bit of a tinny/metallic taste, and could not really give a fair impression of the flavor. I do look forward to tasting it again.
All in all, it was a fantastic evening filled with lots of comraderie and new friendships in the local beer community. I thought GIB put on a great event, and I look forward to the next one. A brewmasters dinner, perhaps?
Andy the Beerman