Great Lakes Brewery has just announced that one of their tank ten series is going into seasonal production: My Bitter Wife IPA. I think this shows again the appetite for more assertive beers in the Ontario market. At 88 IBUs with a (relatively) moderate 7% ABV this is probably one of the most bitter beers to go into semi-regular production in Ontario.
I think this also shows the benefit of the ‘one-off’ phenomenon. While the Tank Ten series has been an unusually professional undertaking, having been regularly released into the LCBO in bespoke, embossed bottles, many other brewers are experimenting with limited production beers.
Here are some great beers that were initially brewed as one offs:
Nickel Brook Malevolent Imperial Black IPA: 9.5% / 90 IBUs. Formerly done as a run of 500 bottles only available at the brewery. I have heard from Nickel Brook that they do indeed plan to re-introduce this beer, possibly in cans. The beer itself is what you would expect from an Imperial-strength American Black ale with extreme notes of espresso juxtaposed with massive citrus.
Black Oak 10 Bitter Years Imperial IPA: 8%ABV / 83 IBUs (ratebeer est.). Formerly done as an anniversary beer, this is now available every year. This beer actually uses oats in the mix which gives it an additional level of bitterness in the body. This was the first truly aggressive beer I had tasted from Black Oak and definitely endeared the brewery to me.
Unibroue 17: 10% ABV/ 35 IBUs. Originally brewed as an anniversary beer following in the footsteps of Unibroue 10-16. However, this particular beer won enough awards to warrant a re-do. Has been made annually now since 2011 when it gained the “Grande Reserve” appellation. This, to me is basically a Belgian Quad “plus”. The aging on oak chips adds layers of vanilla and some spice (think Le Trappe Isid’or only bigger). Interestingly, I have seen some labels which mention spices being added to this beer. As a fair warning to independent brewing fans, Unibroue was purchased by Sleeman who were in turn purchased by Sapporo. However, the quality of ales produced has never dipped.