Garrison Brewing Co. – Imperial I.P.A.

Garrison - Imperial IPA

I am very happy that when I was in the Maritimes I grabbed some beer to bring back with me.  There are so many out there that are fantastic and the brewery scene is growing every day.  While I was back in Fredericton, NB two new breweries officially launched, Trailway Brewing Co and Grimross Brewing Co.  I had the opportunity to try beers from both of them which I will be blogging about in the near future.  Today though, I’d like to review Garrison Brewing’s Imperial IPA.

Garrison Brewing is located in the largest maritime city, Halifax.  The name comes from the fact that this one was of the major garrison sites for the protection of Canada being the largest eastern port.  As well, Halifax has a long history of brewing with William Steel opening shop as the first brewer in 1754 in order to serve the early settlers and troops who were stationed at Citadel Hill.  By prohibition, Halifax was home to some 20 brewing operations!

Garrison itself tries to follow this concept of independent micro-brewing and set this at their heart when they opened in 1997 with their first brew “Irish Red Ale”.  They have continued to produce and grow serving hand-crafted ales that use the best ingredients available.

After 15 years in business, in 2013 they expanded to develop over 13,000 square feet of industrial space to become their new home. Their setup is made up of tanks and equipment that were designed and fabricated in Charlottetown, PEI (keeping it local, very nice) and consists of a single-step infusion mash tun and a propane-fired kettle and whirlpool.  It takes them an average of 10 days start to finish to ferment and condition.  You can read all about their brewing process here.

The beer from them that I am excited to try is their Imperial IPA.  Launched in 2007 at the Halifax Seaport Beerfest, this unfiltered double IPA comes in at a strong 81 IBU (international bitterness units) and is sold all year round. It uses Cascade, Amarillo and German Magnum hops balanced with 2-row pale, caramel, dextrin and Munich malts.  I received word from Garrison yesterday that they have shipped a pallet to Manitoba, so I’ll be down at the MLCC looking for some soon!

Essentially what we have here in an Imperial IPA is a double IPA.  The names are fairly synonymous.  The term Imperial tends to come from the Russian Imperial Stout, a style of strong stout that was originally brewed in England for the Russian Imperial Court.  Double IPA tends to be the most common/preferred term and essentially indicates that you have an incredibly hoppy beer on your hands with high alcohol content and good robust malty balance.  IBU on these beers tend to range from 50-120 (although 90+ it’s hard to tell the difference) depending on the brewer.  Let’s get to the beer!

Rating: 90/100

Appearance:  Cloudy golden brown coloring with a good 1” head that retains well.
Smell: Hoppy, citrus (lemon, grapefruit and some orange) with some sweetness coming through on the backend from malt (some caramel notes).
Taste: Initial sweetness followed by some extreme hoppy bitterness with the citrus being front and centre.  Good resinous hops that balance with the caramel notes from the malt and the sweetness from the alcohol.  Long dry finish.  Certainly does not disappoint on the hop front as they overpower the malts.
Mouth feel: Good mild carbonation with a smooth mouth feel.
Overall: Very strong double IPA.  The hops chosen for this particular beer balance well together providing some good meshing with the choice of malts.  Alcohol content is at 8% but not noticeable in this beer.  Sweetness is great to start and balances well with the following Hoptacular assault.  Overall a very strong double IPA.
Do I like it: Yep.  Big fan of this one.  I love IPAs and the more bitterness the better for me.  Double IPAs are at the top of my favorite styles when they can be well balanced and don’t tread into the sickly alcohol sweetness neck of the woods.  This one had a strong IBU but was balanced well.  The hops went well together and complimented each other rather than competing for the spotlight.  I’ll be drinking this one again.

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