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Hip hops

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Three India pale ales (IPAs) from one of Quebec’s most interesting mircobreweries.

IPA Anglaise, Brasserie Dunham ($3.99, 341 ml/12 oz.)
5.0% ABV.
Hazy tawny bronze with a frothy, off-white head, a mix of small and medium bubbles that are slow to disappear. The malty, hoppy nose shows some fruity esters. In the mouth, it’s very dry and so mildly effervescent it may surprise you. Smooth and malty on entry with dried apricot and citrus peel overtones that transition to faint butterscotch. Endless, intensely – though not harshly – hoppy finish. (Buy again? Sure.)

Imperial India, Brasserie Dunham ($3.99, 341 ml/12 oz.)
An imperial IPA. Dry-hopped with Amarillo (USA) and Nelson Sauvin (New Zealand). 8.6% ABV.
Hazy deep amber. A mostly fine-bubbled head slowly shrinks to a thin, persistent cap, leaving quite a bit of lace on the wall of the glass. Markedly estery nose of spice (cardamom), citrus (dried orange peel) and resin (spruce). A sip and it’s softly effervescent. Dry, rich and malty on the attack. Hints of papaya fruit leather and sweet spice fade as an intense, hoppy bitterness crescendos and lingers through the long, citrus-oiled finish. Not for the faint-hearted. (Buy again? When in the mood for an ale to contend with, yes.)

Black IPA, Brasserie Dunham ($3.99, 341 ml/12 oz.)
Centennial and Chinook hops, Harris Otter and crystal malts. 5.7% ABV.
Fine cappuccino-foam head and a stoutish nose of toasted grain, chocolate-covered raisins and espresso beans. Gently effervescent once again. Mildly flavoured and malty-sweet up front though the hops soon kick in, intensifying after you swallow, the bitterness lingering for minutes and eventually joined by a faint burnt Earl Gray tea note. Despite the dark colour − near black with a ruddy cast − more an IPA than a stout. Personality disorder aside, it’s a certifiably great sipper. (Buy again? Absolutely.)

I’ve long thought of myself as a hop lover but I’m not sure what to make of the recent trend at local microbreweries to produce super hoppy beers. While they definitely have character, they frequently taste unbalanced, out of whack, hops-dominated, bitter to a fault. Fortunately, that’s not the case here: all three IPAs have lots of malty sweetness and richness to counter the remarkably heavy hopping. That said, I still have a minor issue with them. Tastings aside, I usually don’t drink unless I’m eating and these beers’ full-bore bitterness is not food-friendly. What, other than a hunk of cheese, goes with them? Certainly not dishes that make you thirsty, for these are beers for sipping more than guzzling. Certainly not Indian or Mexican or other spicy food because the beers’ many positive qualities don’t include refreshment. Or maybe my palate’s not macho enough…

Written by carswell

March 28, 2014 at 20:42

Posted in Tasting notes

Tagged with ,

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