Surly – Todd the Axeman

It’s been an amazing summer. I’ve gotten to spend every day with my daughter and, while it has been incredibly busy and exhausting, it’s been incredibly rewarding and fun. As my holidays end, I am looking forward to the routine of work and getting back to writing, but I am not very excited about my girl going to daycare and not getting to spend every day with her.

This summer has also been a great one for beer. Starting with Flatlanders, movements towards opening by Stone Angel, Trans Canada, and Oxus, Barn Hammer’s and Torque’s first Anniversaries, Half-Pints 11th anniversary, the first ever Winnipeg Beer Festival, and the arrival of Surly on a go forward basis.

For those of you not familiar with Surly, I did an in-depth write-up of them <here> when they first announced their coming to Manitoba. This is big. They have a waiting list for expansion and have chosen to come to Manitoba. What’s more, we are going to be seeing some of their seasonal offerings, including Furious Black IPA, Damien, and both the 2016 and 2017 vintages of their Russian imperial stout Darkness.

Surly - Embrace the Darkness

They’ve begun by sending us X-Citra, a pale ale loaded with citra hops, Furious Red IPA and the focus of this write-up, Todd the Axeman, a west-coast style IPA.

IPAs or India Pale Ale, have a storied history. The first known use of the term comes from the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser in 1829.  At this time, they were also referred to as a “pale ale as prepared for India”, “East India pale ale”, and “Export India Pale Ale”.  These types of IPAs were widely popular amongst the East India company and, while considered very hoppy, they were not much stronger than other beers brewed now. Hops are used as a preservative of sorts, to help keep the beer fresh. If you were preparing a beer for a long trip from England to India, you’d need to add a lot of hops. So, while the IPA if consumed in England before shipping would be quite hoppy, at the other end it likely would not. Today, the tradition of hopping beers continues, but we don’t have as far to send them, and the goal is to make a hoppy beer. If you’re curious about IPAs check out Wikipedia, the BJCP Guidelines (Page 37) or IPA Beer.

Todd the Axeman is a West-Coast IPA that comes in at 65 IBU. The west-coast variation on the IPA is typically higher on the alcohol range usually coming in between 6.8% and 8%. The reason it is called “west-coast” is largely due to the use of hops available on the west-coast. In the case of Todd, it uses exclusively Citra and Mosaic hops. These hops are balanced on the back of a 100% Golden Promise grain bill. This beer is being sold for $6.99 in Liquor Marts and, while this is on the expensive side, Golden Promise, Citra and Mosaic are probably the most expensive ingredients you can find for a beer.

Golden Promise is an early-maturing spring barley, is the Scottish equivalent of Maris Otter. Though brewers north of the English border claim that its sweet, clean flavor is superior to Maris Otter. Golden Promise malt has a depth of flavor that makes it the ideal base malt for both UK and USA-style IPAs. Golden Promise is also used extensively by premium whisky distilleries such as The Macallan. Golden Promise is floor malted which means that it malted by creating a thin lair of malt on a heated tile floor and constantly moving it around. You can read more about the traditional process here. Onto the beer.

Before we get to the beer, it’s important to note that this beer was created in collaboration with Danish brewery Amager Bryghus and is named for Surly’s original brewmaster, Todd Haug.

ABV – 7.2%
Appearance – Pours a hazy orange colour with a nice beige head. The first can I had was reasonably clear while the second had some sediment (No effect on beer review, just a note)
Smell – Citra and Mosaic hops bring fantastic tropical notes of grapefruit, passion fruit, piney notes, cattiness and some nice dank hopness.
Taste – This is a juicy beer. Solid malt sweetness followed by nice big notes of pineapple, grapefruit and passion fruit and a lingering hop bitterness. The hops bring a nice resinous finish that balances well with the almost honey-sweetness of the malt.
Mouth Feel – Medium bodied with good carbonation and a lingering bitterness.
Overall Thoughts – Well balanced IPA bringing good aromas and flavours from the hops. The hops bring fantastic tropical notes and a beautifully balanced honey-sweet malt backbone.
Do I like it? – Yes. I like this a lot.  This is a very good IPA and I enjoy it immensely. The balance between the hops and malt is beautifully done. This is a beer that I’m going to be happy to drink regularly. Even with the price point, this beer will be stocking my fridge.

I plan to review all of the beers we will be getting from Surly so be sure to follow along. There is a lot of stuff I am looking forward to doing this year and a lot of new breweries on the verge of opening. Keep following along for all your beer needs.

-Beer Winnipeg

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