Hop Circle IPA from Phillips Brewing Company in Victoria, British Columbia is golden yellow in colour and has a slightly wavy look to it with a moderate off-white head that remains as a thin but persistent collar through the glass and leaves a thick frosting of lace behind. This American IPA smells of grains, grapefruit, pineapple, mango and strawberry, with a distinct sun-dried tomato note.
The taste of Hop Circle IPA tastes of toasted grains, umami (sundried tomato and salt), lemon oil, grapefruit, light caramel and black tea. A salty bitterness hits sharply on the tongue and lingers between sips along with a mildly earthy aftertaste. The ale has a medium body, low carbonation, a subtle tingle of yeast and is rather oily, particularly in the finish.
Hop Head IPA from the Tree Brewing Company in Kelowna, British Columbia pours a hazy, rusty amber colour with a sizable and frothy off-white head that settles quickly as a collared film while leaving a generous amount of lace. The aroma of this American IPA is not what I was expecting and a bit muted overall. Lightly caramelized malts have a fresh, grainy backing with a semi-sweet floral tone and a subtle hint of lemon oil and alcohol.
Hop Head IPA surprisingly tastes like toasted, chocolate malts up front. A light buttery tone gives way to an earth-like taste and a fairly strong bitterness that really lingers, but remains in control. Again, a hint of lemon or orange oil pokes through in the finish. I find it very well-balanced compared to most of its contemporaries. The beer is rather light-bodied with a medium-heavy carbonation that really pops on the tongue and a distinct oily quality that smooths over the bitterness in the aftertaste and adds to its drinkability.
Pugnacious Pale Ale from Grand River Brewing in Cambridge, Ontario pours a nice honey-amber colour with a frothy white head that settles as a thick film while leaving a moderate amount of lace. This American pale ale smells of thick, caramel-sweetened malts, freshwater and buttered popcorn. A dark fruit tone, like plums, comes through as it warms.
The taste of Pugnacious Pale Ale is very malt-forward. A buttered, heavy bread taste gives way to a brewed tea note and crisp and bitter finish with a hint of lemon zest. The beer has a fairly heavy mouthfeel with a medium carbonation that’s prickly on the tongue and a mostly clean aftertaste with a slight yeasty tone.