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What’s in Hamilton’s beer fridge? (March 2019)

Ontario’s craft beer scene is exploding, and Hamilton has been playing a big part in that. While Collective Arts was the major player up until 2017, a few other breweries have opened up shop making the Hamilton brewery tour an extensive one. No matter what your taste preferences are, there’s a locally brewed beer that’s right for you.

Here’s what’s in Hamilton’s beer fridge this month.

Collective Arts Brewing

Surround Sound V2
Double IPA w/ Simcoe & Amarillo Hops, 8.2%
Collective launched their flagship, rotating hop double IPA Surround Sound last September. In the same vein as their also excellent double IPAs Radio the Mothership and IPA No 5, the first edition of Surround Sound was a tropical and dank brew which hid the booze well. This season’s version features Simcoe and Amarillo hops, giving it tasty aromas and flavours of stone fruit, melon, and pineapple. However, it’s lacking the piney bitterness from V1, which for a hop head like me is a bit of a bummer. But for newcomers to boozy double IPAs, this is a delicious, tropical, and approachable beer — can’t wait for V3!

Pineapple Tepache Berliner
Berliner Weisse, 5%
Continuing their streak of tropical Berliners comes this Pineapple Tepache edition. Tepache is a popular drink in Mexico made with pineapple, cinnamon, and demerara sugar and it works very well in sour ale form. While I’m left wondering what a straight up pineapple Berliner would taste like instead, I’m glad that Collective went exotic on this one. I look forward to the tropical sour ales they release in the warmer months!

 

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IPA No 8
Double IPA w/ Simcoe, Moutere & Columbus Hops, 8%
While we await the release of IPA No 9 — a Double Dry Hopped Brut IPA with Azacca and Citra hops — we can continue to acquaint ourselves with the most recent beer in this stellar numbered series of IPAs. The second double IPA after the legendary IPA No 5, the eighth release balances sweet stone fruit and citrus with dank and bitter pine. If you need a boozy double IPA to keep you warm for the rest of the winter, Collective has you covered with this and Surround Sound!

Fruit Sour
Dry Hopped Sour w/ Peach, Passionfruit & Raspberry, 5.5%
Collective has teased a new dry hopped sour simply known as Fruit Sour. It will feature peach, passionfruit, and raspberry for what I’m sure will be a deliciously tropical and sour brew. As of now “releasing in March” is the most we know, but if you’ve had their amazing Raspberry Dry Hopped Sour you know that this is going to be a banger! It also gives you another reason to visit the brewery for a flight.

Fairweather Brewing

Late Lunch
Fruited Sour IPA, 7.8%
Fairweather has already built quite a reputation for itself in the Ontario craft beer scene since opening in 2017. Their IPAs and sours easily rank with the best in the province, and with Late Lunch the brewers are just showing off at this point. Brewed with pineapple, lemon, ginger, vanilla, and lactose, I was worried that this many additions would be overkill. Why did I doubt you Fairweather? This is one of the best sours they’ve made; it has a creamy, vanilla-lactose sweetness that reminds me of a milkshake IPA. The pineapple and subtle ginger pair beautifully with the citrusy hops. Do not miss out on this one sour fans!

 

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Menagerie – Simcoe
Single Hop APA, 5.5%
Fairweather’s single hop, American style pale ale series is an education on the flavours of different hops. Simcoe is the third Menagerie release following Citra and Idaho 7, both of which were deliciously tropical and dank. The Simcoe edition is a bit different as it has a big orange aroma yet very dank, peppery, and dry. It really brings out the earthy bitterness from the Simcoe hop, but the zesty and dank Idaho 7 is still my favourite. I hope Galaxy is next!

Barbarossa
Dry Hopped Imperial Pilsner, 7.7%
I associate light and crispy pilsners with the summertime, but in true Fairweather fashion Barbarossa is a boozy and citrusy pilsner for the winter months. The dry hop gives it a great aroma of melon and white grapes. The flavour is very citrusy with notes of tangerine and bready malt. Don’t be scared of the hops here if you’re not an IPA fan; there is very little bitterness here.

Dream Pop
Sour Ale, 6.2%
Returning to Fairweather’s fridge is Dream Pop, which is more or less their flagship sour at this point. This one is refreshingly tart with a bright citrus profile of lemon, lime and grapefruit. If you’re a Fairweather fan you’ve probably already had this one, but if you haven’t you should get your hands on this batch while the hops are still fresh!

Grain & Grit

Clouded Judgement
Double IPA, 7.9%
February saw a huge release for Grain & Grit which included the old school, West coast style double IPA. I was very excited to try this one as I love me a good West coast IPA. It definitely met my expectations as it’s very dank, piney, and bitter but balanced by sweet caramel and citrus notes. Highly recommended if you liked Collective Arts’ Way Before Hashtags IPA last summer.

La La Lovely
Belgian Wheat w/ Tea, 5.2%
I’m a big fan of white tea and Belgian style wheat beers, so I’m happy that Grain & Grit decided to combine these into one beer. Brewed with La La Lavender white tea from Ancaster’s Sipology, I really pick up the white tea and lavender flavours. Recommended to fans of Belgian wits and hefeweizens!

 

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West End IPA
IPA w/ Chinook Hops, 6.6%
If the new Clouded Judgement is too boozy for you, their classic West End IPA gives you the same West coast style beer in a single IPA format. Brewed with Chinook hops from VQH Farms near Tillsonburg, it delivers the piney hop bitterness that make West coast IPAs so delicious.

Play Thing
Oatmeal Stout w/ Chai, 6%
Attention chai spice fans! This oatmeal stout has big chocolate and roasted malt flavours and finishes with chai spice. This beer was a collaboration with Beer Diversity, an organization from Kitchener that focuses on diversity in the beer industry.

MERIT Brewing

2019 BBA Nowhere
Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, 10.6%
MERIT’s imperial stout Nowhere is always a treat in the winter months, and now the 2019 barrel aged release is upon us. I haven’t had this year’s version yet, but if it’s anything like last year’s then we can expect it to be rich, chocolatey, and boozy. Buy a few bottles of this one to age — their website says they can be cellared for up to five years.

Either Way: Vidal & Riesling
Super Saison Grape Ale, 8.2%
Another release getting an update in 2019 is the Either Way super saison, with this year’s versions featuring Vidal and Riesling grapes. MERIT is known for blurring the line between beer, wine, and other liquors and this saison series is a must for beer and wine fans alike.

 

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What Dreams May Come
Tequila Barrel Aged Gose w/ Salted Lime Skins, 6.6%
Tequila fans should seek this one out as you definitely taste that tequila flavour in this one. And with the salted limes skins it’s like taking the full shot! A slow sipper for me even at the modest ABV. This is a tasty and unique beer, but quite intense for a gose.

Ren & Spinney
Young Coconut IPA, 5.6%
This was a collaboration between MERIT’s head brewer Aaron Spinney and Ren Navarro. It has an enticing coconut aroma, but the young coconut flavour is very mild with dank and bitter citrus pith dominating. An interesting experiment but I’m craving more coconut!

Clifford Brewing

Clifford Porter
Porter, 5.9%
Located in Stoney Creek near Eastgate Mall and Wild Waterworks, Clifford Brewing should not be skipped on any Hamilton brewery tour! The beer that really put them on the map is their flagship Porter: a robust and roasty porter with notes of chocolate and espresso. Highly recommended for fans of Collective Arts’ Stranger Than Fiction or Fairweather’s Silky.

Pinball Wizard APA
American Pale Ale, 5.7%
Another one of Clifford’s original brews, this West coast APA is citrusy, piney, and bitter which is great for fans of traditional, American style pale ales like Sierra Nevada. Along with their Porter, this beer became a hit in the LCBO and bars in the Hamilton area, which led to the opening of their own brewery and taproom space last year.

 

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Artificial Paradise IPA
India Pale Ale, 7.1%
Clifford released an American style IPA late last year called Artificial Paradise, which was brewed with Citra, Amarillo, and Galaxy hops. It has some subtle tropical fruit and citrus flavours while still having a great, grassy hop bitterness. Drink it fresh!

Devil’s Punchbowl ISL
India Session Lager, 4.8%
Named after Stoney Creek’s famous waterfall, this India session lager is smooth and easy drinking while giving off some great citrus aromas from the Citra dry hop. A crushable beer that will be present in my fridge all summer long!

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