Great Lakes Brewery, the oldest craft brewery in Toronto and a pillar of the Ontario Craft Brewers, won both Canadian and Ontario brewery of the year in 2014. After winning success with with a single beer, the Great Lakes Lager, GLB expanded into ales, then experimental batches in what they called Project X, eventually giving way to the Tank Ten Series. Thrust! An IPA is one such beer in that limited release’s line.
Once I pried off the beaming red cap, the beer poured bright copper, starting out very clear and increasing with haze until I got to the bottom, a centimetre deep of cloudy clumps of sediment.
There’s a thick layer of head on the pour, sitting bright white, and leaving a lingering lace for nearly the whole drink. The initial aroma is packed with hop resin, but there’s a great deal of fruity nose, from mango to grapefruit to stone fruits.
At first sip, there’s a strong bitterness with a lingering resiny flavour. The mid-range carbonation leads to a full mouthfeel, and a finish that easily leads to taking another sip. I wouldn’t suggest pairing the beer with food—the hops will overpower any subtle flavours. Enjoy the beer as is, which remains highly drinkable as it warms up, though the bottle suggests otherwise, with a suggested serving of 6-8°C.
One note on the bottle—a nice big 22oz bomber great for sharing—there’s a suggestion to drink it fresh after refrigerating to optimal temperature. Unfortunately, my local LCBO had it sitting on an open shelf, and there was no indication of when the beer was bottled, leaving me unable to verify the freshness. With a written instruction to prefer freshness, I’d love to know if I’m dealing with a fresh or stale bottle while still in the store.
As the beer warms up, the smooth mouthfeel remains, developing a piney flavour with a dry finish, with the bitterness mellowing somewhat. Throughout the whole bottle, the high end 6.5% ABV is hardly apparent, with a strong hop flavour and slighly sweet maltiness covering it up, not to mention the serious 72 IBU rating. The malt profile is the background, present only to balance the alcohol against the hops, but I’d love to see more of it.
Overall, it’s a tropical, piney, resiny burst of happiness, showcasing the magic of hops and filling the boots of the American IPA style nicely. There’s a reason it won gold at the 2014 Canadian Brewing Awards.