Great Lakes Etobichoker vs Indie Alehouse Instigator IPA

Okay, I’m the first to admit it: today’s match-up is a totally uneven bout.  Indie Alehouse’s awesome Instigator IPA is a rock-solid American-style IPA, and a constant crowd-pleaser at the brewpub. Etobichoker is a new Tank Ten brew from Great Lakes, and is a Belgian double-IPA.  While they both share three initials, that’s probably where the similarities end.  And I’m okay with that.  There’s no prize aside from bragging rights, and everybody will still be pals at the end of the day.  So what the heck, here’s a fight between a storm-trooper and a rider of Rohan!

Great Lakes Etobichoker vs Indie Alehouse Instigator IPA

Great Lakes Etobichoker vs Indie Alehouse Instigator IPA

Round One


From a tank ten branded tallboy can, Etobichoker pours a hazy amber, with tones of yellow at the edges.  About 1″ of dense, nearly rocky head slowly dropped to a decent layer of foam.  Aroma is huge spicy Belgian yeast, and big citrusy hops.  Clove and bubblegum and pink grapefruit and and some pineapple.  Malts are sweet, and candy-like, giving a lemon-drop like aroma.  Just amazing.

From a bomber (not sure if it’s 650 or 750, but I think the former) with an awesome label, Instigator IPA pours a darker amber, with brilliant orange glimmers.  Its 1″ head was slightly more loose, and dropped to a slightly thinner layer of foam.  Aroma is lemony and earthy with biscuity sweet malts.  Hops are big but in good balance with the sweet aromas.  Lovely.

Well, tough call: Etobichoker is fascinating and big and exciting, Instigator is hoppy but balanced and inticing.  I think I’ll give this round to Great Lakes, but with such different beers and such amazing quality, it’s not an easy choice.

Round Two


Etobichoker is immediately Belgian influenced, and actually reminds me quite a bit of Christoffel Nobel.  Huge yeasty esters, showing white pepper, cloves, coriander and even some allspice.  There is bubblegum and a touch of banana.  Hops are bright, citrusy and quite bitter.  Lemon and pink grapefruit and pineapple and even green mango.  It’s a fruit punch! It’s probably worth mentioning, I actually tasted this second, as I expected it’s higher abv and IBU to interfere with my tasting of the Instigator below.

Instigator shows lovely sweet caramelly and biscuity malts right off the top.  Hops are initially evergreen and citrus peel, and dry out to a biting tannic finish.  There are hits of pineapple to the body as it warms a bit too.  A great IPA where the malts are not only there to off-set the aggressive hops, but actually add quite a bit of flavour character through the sip.  And while the finish is quite dry and hoppy, there is still a touch of the malts.  A very approachable IPA, and despite it’s personae and name, it’s a gentle giant.

Hmmmm, picking a winner is tough here.  They really are two totally different beers.  In sheer taste volume the Great Lakes “wins” because it’s harder to pick out flavours in the Instigator after drinking it, but that isn’t really fair.  Okay, while I find the Etobichoker fascinating and quite complex, I would drink the Instigator all day, and not tire of it, or burn out on it.  This round goes to Indie.

Round Three

Overall Impression

Despite being an American IPA made by a man who not only doesn’t apologize if you don’t like his beer, he possibly gives you the finger, Instigator is actually a very well-balanced and approachable IPA.  Not a hop-bomb or a sticky mess, it is clean, hoppy and dry and has a lovely sweet malt base.  The body is just on the light side of medium, and the soft carbonation gives it a very English feel.  On the other hand, Etobichoker is a beer geek’s wet dream.  Big hops; Big Belgian yeast, bitingly dry and sharp; wicked high abv.  It is thought provoking and is even showing more fruits as it warms up.  It is a complex beer that I really dig.  But I’m going to give the final “win” to Indie, again, on the grounds that it’s a daily-drinker, maybe a few a day, particularly if you’re a crack-smoking politician from Etobicoke.  I know that this isn’t fair, as the match was uneven to begin with, but the reality is, nobody really wins and loses here; both beers are awesome for what they are.  And I am totally going to grab a few more cans of Etobichoker and bottles of Instigator.  Because in their own way, both beers are excellent.

Buy These Beers

Both beers are available at their respective brewery’s retail stores.  And the extra good news is, both brewery retail stores are chock-full of these and other excellent beers.

Drink Them With

Well, the Instigator IPA went awesome with the BBQ ribs and chicken wings that Indie gave us for the radio bit airing tomorrow.  Like, really really good.  You can’t go wrong there.  I’m not sure about this next one, but I’m going to be cooking up some mussels for dinner in about 30 minutes, and I’m saving the rest of my Etobichoker for that.  Here’s hoping it’s a win! (I bet it will be 😉 )

About The Breweries

Great Lakes Brewery

Great Lakes BreweryIndependently owned by the Bulut family, we produce our beer as it was done hundreds of years ago by using an open fire, copper brew house built in Germany in the early 1900’s.

Our small-batch brewing process allows us to carefully blend only the finest all natural ingredients to produce our award-winning beers. Our water, hops, malts and yeast are selected from local producers and those afar on the basis of but one criteria; quality.

Indie Ale House

This isn’t actually Indie’s boilerplate, mainly because I doubt they have one. But it was part of a response to a questionnaire I sent to Jason a while back.  I think it should make everything clear:

We make only ales, no light beers or lagers. All of our beers are un-filtered, un pasteurized and have no chemical additions. If an ingredient goes in the beer it’s real and it’s put in by hand. No syrups, puree’s or extracts. We like to be on the more adventurous side when it comes to flavours and attitudes, so we are not for everyone.

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