Monday, November 14, 2005

Best Beers in Canada

Apparently this may be a recent addition to, but they now have a ranked list of the best Canadian beers according to BeerAdvocate member reviews. I've written before about the subjectivity (and generally biased) nature of BA reviews, but its still a list of some pretty good beers made in Canada.

Speaking of BA reviews, I was reading the reviews there for Alexander Keith's IPA. From the site, it gets a bad rating. Now, I've tried many a beer in my time, and Keith's for me is a good ol' standby. I like it. It generally seems that anything that is (1) yellow and clear and (2) you can buy at almost every liquor store, gets a bad rating. Keith's has both. I agree, the color is too yellow for a true IPA, but I also read comments about it doesn't have enough alcohol for an IPA and its not bitter enough. Both are not true.

There is a trend in a lot of North American breweries to make EXTREME beers... very high alcohol content, and insanely hopped/bitter. So, when North American's think of an IPA, we think of something that will get us drunk in two bottles and so bitter we can't taste ever again.

However, the original IPA developed in England to be shipped to India was not this extreme. True, English IPAs would be more bitter than your average English ale to keep bacterial growth down. But the bitterness was still reasonable. None of this 70+ IBU we see today. As for alcohol content, a lot of people think that IPAs had higher alcohol content too. However, from my readings it seems that English IPAs were actually meant to be LOWER in alcohol than a regular ale. The brewer would have less sugar in the wort so that the yeast would ferment a larger percentage of the fermentable sugar, thus there would be no left-over sugars for bacteria to feast on during transport. All in all, this would create a very dry, bitter beer.

Anyway, that just seemed interesting to me. As for Keith's, its 5% alcohol content is perfectly acceptable, and I feel it has a decent bitterness and hoppy flavor, certainly more than your regular Canadian "yellow" beer. As much as I'm a beer snob, I like Keith's, its a good beer... just because its 'mainstream' doesn't mean it can't be good.


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