I know what you're thinking...but we haven't screwed up and inserted the wrong picture! This is indeed a "pale ale" despite its dark brown colouring.
Founded in 1987, Great Lakes Brewery launched its Devil's Pale Ale ("DPA") in the summer of 2006 at the Toronto Festival of Beer. Originally intended as a one-off brew, Devil's Pale Ale generated a large enough following that is was re-released as a full time addition to the Great Lakes lineup in 2007. 6% alcohol by volume, Devil's Pale Ale is brewed with 6 select malts and 4 premium hops.
While DPA pours beautifully and has a nice creamy feel to it, its pronounced bitter finish lingers a bit too long for my personal taste and never really clears between tastings. If I was looking for a hoppy brew with a bitter finish, I would prefer something like Steamwhistle's Pilsner where the bitterness doesn't overpower the other tastes. Alas, DPA is a case of the bitterness fighting the other flavours, with bitterness conquering all.
If a strong, bitter finish is your cup of tea though, give DPA a try.
Note: be sure to check out the back of the can (right) for some devilishly funny information! Click on the photo for a larger image.
For our second foray into the world of seasonal beers, we tried Great Lake's Pumpkin Ale ("GLPA"). GLPA was 5.5% alcohol by volume, came in a 650 ml bottle, and we sampled it on October 22, 2011. The promo at the LCBO said that the date code was near the top of the bottle's neck, but I don't see anything there...or anywhere else on the bottle. GLPA poured a hazy light orange colour with about 1" of off white head that lasted just over 5 minutes. The head dissipated into a foamy ring and thin film that left some minor spotting and lacing down the glass. Its aroma was fabulous...pumpkin and allspice with a bit of a hop presence. GLPA's flavour started off well enough, beginning with the pumpkin and spices and then transitioning to a distinct hoppy bitterness. The balance of the flavours isn't quite right...this needs more of the pumpkin and spice flavours with a toning down of the hops. GLPA had a pumpkin/bitter aftertaste, with the bitterness lasting a bit too long for my liking. Carbonation was fairly strong but appropriate for the type of beer, and GLPA was medium bodied. I believe that this is a fairly new brew from Great Lakes, and hopefully they will continue to fine tune the balance of the flavours to deliver a better drinking experience next fall. I think I'll have to try another brewer's pumpkin ale for comparison.
Curious as to how well beer mixes with orange, Bucky picked up a 650 ml bottle of Great Lake's Orange Peel Ale ("OPA") from the LCBO. The bottle had no visible 'best before' or production date, and OPA was 5.3% alcohol by volume.
OPA poured a hazy light orange/amber colour, with the amber hue being more visible when backlit. Pouring produced a 3/8" fizzy off-white head that receded to a collar of foam and thin film within about 2 minutes, leaving no lacing and little spotting down the glass. Its aroma was fairly subdued, which was a bit disappointing given that this is usually one of the best characteristics of fruit beers. The aroma consisted of hops and honey, with just a hint of orange citrus. Thankfully the taste was more pronounced than the beer's aroma, starting with a honey sweetness, followed by a hint of orange peel, and ending with a mild bitterness. I found the honey flavour to be stronger than the orange peel, although the orange peel did become more noticeable as the beer warmed. I would describe the beer as medium bodied, with a strong carbonation that is well suited to the style. In a couple of ways, OPA reminded me of Great Lake's Pumpkin Ale...it had it good points, but in the end didn't reach its full potential. Not a bad beer by any stretch, but at $4.95 per 650 ml, probably a bit on the pricey side.
With ‘less than fond' memories of this brewery's Devil's Pale Ale still in his head, Bucky nevertheless picked up a 650 ml bottle of their Thrust! An IPA from his local liquor store. Lack of a ‘best before' or production date on this bottle has Bucky mildly irritated right off the bat, but at least I can see that it is 6.5% alcohol by volume.
Pours a foggy amber/orange colour with about 1.5” of pillowy white head with truly amazing staying power. After much waiting, the head eventually fades to a steady cap of foam that leaves all kinds of beautiful lacing down the glass. Good marks on the visuals, but now to the more important stuff. Thrust's aroma is full of tropical fruits, both bitter and sweet, including grapefruit, orange, pineapple, and a touch of mango. Pine resin is also in the mix, and I'm told that it also has hints of lychee and passionfruit, but quite frankly I have no idea what those smell like. Promising so far…on to the taste. While some sweet caramel malts are detectable, this is otherwise an all-hop production with all of those wonderful aromas coming through in the taste as well, with some apricot thrown into the mix.. The sweet and bitter tropical fruits are well enough balanced that while Thrust has a distinctly bitter finish which lingers as an aftertaste, it is not overwhelming nor unpleasant in any way. A delicious beer. Medium bodied with a modest carbonation felt on the tongue and smooth mouthfeel. All in all, an IPA in the same league as Bucky's favourite…Black Oak's 10 Bitter Years. Selling for $5.95 per 650 ml bottle at the time of writing.
Rating: 8.42 / 10
Thanks to J.S. for this one, Limp Puppet Session IPA came in a 473 ml shrink-labelled can. There are some numbers printed on the bottom of the can that may be a production or ‘best before' date, but most of the numbers are illegible. A light 3.8% alcohol by volume…this is a ‘session IPA' after all.
Limp Puppet poured a hazy golden colour with plenty of visible carbonation bubbles, and was topped by 1.5” of fluffy white head. The head bleeds away over the next five minutes, leaving some attractive lacing down the glass. Its aroma was all tropical fruits, primarily of the sweeter variety including orange and mango. Its flavour was distinctly bitter, but with a good balance provided by sweet orange, mango, juicy peach and a touch of lemon. I was expecting some grapefruit in the mix, but none detectable. As expected, Limp Puppet was quite light bodied, and characterized by a brisk carbonation and crisp mouthfeel. Overall, exactly as advertised…a light, refreshing IPA and not too bitter at 25 IBUs.