I don’t drink much from Magnotta Brewery, or their partner wineries. Magnotta is a mixed bag of iced wine, beer and cider, with a range of brands and homebrew wort available for purchase. They aren’t on tap at many of the bars I frequent, and although I see them periodically at beer festivals, they aren’t usually on my radar. The brewery was named Brewery of the Year at the Canadian Brewing Awards.

I know I’ve tried the Inukshuk IPA at a beer event in the past year, but it made no lasting impression on me beyond the name. This time around, the purple can caught my eye recently at the LCBO, so I thought I’d give them a shot. I was filled with regret from the first sniff. I don’t pour many beers down the drain, but this one got dumped. It was terrible.

Magnotta True North Inukshuk IPA retails for $3.05 for a 473 ml can and weighs in at 6.5% ABV. The can boasts 38 IBU, which is woefully low for an IPA. I wasn’t expecting a hop bomb with that IBU, but I was hoping for trace hop notes.

The name had me skeptical from the get go. I don’t know if the brewery has any ties to the Inuit or other Arctic Indigenous groups, but it smacked of cultural appropriation like Ungava Gin. I could almost hear my Inuk buddy from Labrador rolling his eyes as I selected the can. If the brewery was from northern Ontario, I would let it slide. However, the Magnotta Brewery is located in Vaughan, so I wasn’t impressed.

Alright, so I was unhappy with the beer from the start. And then I poured that sucker. And I sniffed it. Did a little double take, sniffed it again. Butterscotch. Diacetyl contamination. A common off-flavour in brewing, the chemical contamination is not harmful to the beer-drinker, but it sure as heck is disappointing to encounter. It imparts a buttery note that is highly unwanted, but easily confused with caramel if you’re not familiar with the flavour profile. I waved Kole over, as he is not quite as sensitive to off-flavours. “That beer stinks. It smells like movie popcorn.” I couldn’t finish my glass and offered it to Kole. He came back 10 minutes later to dump it down the sink.

Appearance: Medium amber colour with a rapidly fading beige head.

Aroma: Butterscotch, have you not been reading? Freshly cut grass. Faint notes of caramel underneath the diacetyl layers.

Taste: Butterscotch, grass cuttings, pine needles. Cloying butterscotch.

Aftertaste: Wanna take a wild guess? Butterscotch.

Suggested food pairing: Cracker jack popcorn.

Overall: What the hell did I put in my mouth? That wasn’t worth the calories. Magnotta, I’m really unimpressed.

Shawna O'Flaherty

Shawna is a 30-something Montreal native transplanted to Toronto in 2010. Wine loving, beer sniffing and rum swilling come naturally to her, and she is also a certified Irish whiskey taster. She has hosted beer and cheese pairing events in the past.

Shawna has visited vineyards in 6 countries on 3 continents, and has a knack for finding the hoppiest beers around. A dedicated Booze Hound, Shawna completed the Wine Specialist Certificate at George Brown College in 2018.

She can be found drinking alka-seltzer and coconut water in the morning.

Email: shawna@torontoboozehound.com