Saturday, April 6, 2013

Big Rock Brewery - IPA

ABV 5.5% (Bottle 341ml)
The Brewery

"It started with a thirst. Ah 1984, a simpler time when Alberta beer drinkers had the choice between “lager A” or “lager B”. Choice was what noted beer fan Ed McNally wanted. Rather than complicate matters by having to track down established import brews, Ed took the “easy” route of starting his own brewery."

The Bottle
Get all in the info on this brew.

The Pour
Golden amber and clear with red emerging around the edges of the glass.  The one finger white head quickly fades, but you don't really need a big head for the brew like this.

Surprisingly hoppy with layers of bubblegum and grapefruit over-top creamy malt.

Very hopped at first with caramel malt underneath.  The hops are of the resiny variety but the body is a bit watery and the taste fades quickly leaving no trace.  Definitely looking at a summer refresher here.

Big Rock makes good gateway beers and this one is no different.  It's dry hopped for scent and it shows as the hops don't stick around on the palate and the brew isn't very demanding on your taste buds.  However, I can see this being a nice introduction to the flavour of hops for the novice who hasn't experienced their unique taste outside of the usual macro lagers (that is AT ALL).   I give this one a B.  Not great in a category with such stiff competition, but a decent way in for those unfamiliar with hops.

Next up...
New Brunswick's Pump House Brewery Blueberry Ale

A bit about gateway beers

I'm quite fond of Big Rock as their Grasshopper wheat was my first introduction to craft beer.  I was in Grand Bend one summer in my early twenties and a place called Gordie's (at the time) had it on tap.

I'd never tasted anything like it; having mostly drank Canadian and Pabst type stuff up until that point.  It was like candy in my mouth.  I actually had a similar experience in the same place with Moosehead the next summer, but that brew hasn't aged as well with me; but I do LOVE me some Hop City Barking Squirrel Lager (owned by Moosehead) so the connection continues in a way.  But Big Rock was definitely the first beer that did something different for me and brought something to the table aside from a quick buzz.  It was surprising and tasty and all my friends loved it too.  I don't drink it as much anymore, but I'll never turn one down and am always happy to see bars carry it, especially when it's their non-macro option.

In addition, Big Rock's Traditional Ale was my favorite beer on tap for quite a run at the start of my beer drinking experimentation when I first entered university.  They had it at Western's Grad Club and it helped make that place special to me.  In fact, writing this has made me think it's been far to long since I hooked up with a good old Trad Ale.  I should pick some up.

Gateways beers are important because they bridge the gap between macro and craft to help ease people in.  It's easy to get down on something like Big Rock IPA because it's not Boneshaker or Mad Tom (Even Madder Tom), but those are beers you give to novices as a joke to blow their heads off.  I know...I was ONE of them!  The hops hill is hard to climb if you don't have an immediate taste for them and beers like this offer a nice escalator at least part of the way up.

Since I don't hear this question asked a lot, but find it absolutely fascinating, I thought I'd ask: What are your gateway beers?  What brew showed you there was more to beer than cold, carbonated malty brown water?  I hope some of you will take some time to comment.



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