Thursday, February 22, 2018

Cream of the Craft: Twa Dogs and Riot bring an island IPA explosion with hoppy brews

May 17, 2017 by Patrick Newman, contributing writer

The India pale ale (IPA) has, until recently, been the go-to beer for many craft brewers and craft consumers. The Pacific Northwest has excelled at recreating this old British style, which has a strong focus on hops over malt. This is due in large part to the favourable growing conditions here for hops, not to mention newer hop varietals such as Amarillo, Azacca, Cascade, and Citra being developed along the west coast over the past few decades. The many different hops are responsible for all manner of flavours, such as blueberry, licorice, citrus, and pepper. Brewers have been going crazy with the limitless combinations, and the market has responded in kind. Here are two new and exciting entries to our island’s IPA marketplace. Beware the flavour!

Twa Dogs
Seas Between Us red IPA
7% ABV
650 ml bottle or 6 x 355 ml bottles

Twa Dogs is the brand name of the brewing half of Victoria Caledonian Brewery and Distillery (the other half makes a damn fine dram of whiskey). In operation for slightly over a year, Twa Dogs has been ramping up production from their facility out in Saanich and has several beers worth trying. Their newest seasonal is Seas Between Us, an IPA with a rich, red-amber colour and generous head when poured into a glass. It smells of cereal, malt, and toffee and has a beautiful combination of malt sweetness and hop bitterness, which blend together perfectly like yin and yang. The label and the story behind it got me thinking of friends living oceans away that I haven’t seen in years and that I dearly miss. Got a little misty-eyed. Lovely brew.

There’s plenty of good IPA options on the island (photo provided).

Junk Punch IPA
6% ABV
6 x 355 ml cans

Riot is causing a commotion just a little way up our beautiful island in Chemainus; after having tasted this, my first brew from their stock, it’s not hard to figure out why. Brewers can take years to perfect a complex and sophisticated IPA, but Riot has managed to do it in mere months. This smells incredible: scents of citrus, mango, and guava fruit hit you upon cracking the tab. Pour this into a sleeve or pint glass when you first try it and just inhale it for a minute or two. Smile, then take a nice healthy sip. This IPA is full of funky flavour up front; yum. My only gripe is a wee small metallic taste at the end of the finish that I wasn’t thrilled about, but that may be because this comes in a can; I would really like to try this on tap somewhere soon. It’s not quite a punch in the junk as the name suggests, but it’s punchy enough to please your palate.

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