I had an accidental, side-by-side taste testing of Bellwoods Brewery‘s heavy hitting Imperial India Pale Ale, Witchshark paired up with the equally delicious and potent Indie Alehouse‘s` own Imperial India Pale Ale, Cockpuncher. Accidental, in the sense that the waitress at Bar Hop brought me a tasting flight, and in my pursuit to keep the two new ciders I was trying straight, I neglected to keep the two IIPA’s straight. What better opportunity would I get to try my two most beloved local IIPAs in an unbiased setting? How could I possibly choose which one was my favourite knock out beer? Dreams of collaborations came to mind, when it quickly came to my attention that the two local brewpubs have already teamed up in the past to make the Tommy Likey Belgian Imperial India Pale Ale as a one-off. Sadly, I missed it. I love Witchshark and Cockpuncher enough to have their tshirts.

Both brews are available at their respective brewpubs and finer bars around the city. Bellwoods Brewery’s Witchshark is regularly available as part of their core product line, and can be frequently found in the adjacent bottle shop. Indie Alehouse’s Cockpuncher falls under their rare releases category, and only pops up 4-6 times a year. They are the two 5 ounce samples on the right side of the tasting flight. Short of bringing home bottles from their respective bottle shops, this is the best possible venue for an accidental blind tasting. Perhaps even better, because I cannot bias my review by pouring them myself. I should have paid better attention to the waitress.

For the purposes of reviewing the match-up, they will be referred to as beer left and beer right. Which one do you think is Indie Alehouse’s Cockpuncher? What about Bellwoods Brewery’s Witchshark? Let us know.

 

Appearance:

Beer right: Rich golden colour, definitely a filtered look to it. Nice amount of head.

Beer left: Deeper golden colour, with more of the sediment left in the beer. Slightly cloudy appearance. Hardly any head.

Aroma: 

Beer right: Hops, hops, hops, with a side of hops. Nice tropical fruit aroma, maybe hint of pineapple? It smells great.

Beer left: Hops, hops, hops, with a side of hops as well. Citrusy aroma.

Taste:

Beer right: Definite fruity taste, with a strong bitterness from the high dose of hops. Maybe some mango, maybe some pine flavours? Full bodied flavour, I could drink it all night although I realize this is one heck of a strong beer. Better take another sip to be sure – wait, now I’m feeling dizzy from the beer. More please?

Beer left: Thicker mouth feel, hoppier flavour. Citrusy flavours. Packs an awful lot of flavour into a little 5 ounce glass. Also with a very full bodied flavour, definitely hoppier than beer right. Wait, is my sample glass already empty? Is it impolite to lick the glass in the bar?

Aftertaste: 

Beer right: Hoppy after taste without being overpowering. Lingering malt flavours.

Beer left: Very hoppy after taste. This one definitely has more hops going for it. Am I seeing double?

Overall: It was challenging keeping Kole out of my sample glasses. We had to get him a beer of his own to keep him distracted. I think I figured out which beer was which at this point, and confirmed with the waitress when I paid the tab. Did you figure it out?

Beer right: A solid IIPA with a wee little less knock-out hoppy flavour. I’ll definitely order this one again.

Beer left: Another solid IIPA, but the hoppiness might be more then some newer IPA drinkers could handle. I like my hops with a side of hops, so I will seek it out again. Now someone, please call us a cab? We’re a bit weak in the knees from these bad boys.

 

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.

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

Email: shawna@torontoboozehound.com