Release The Hounds Black IPA — Big Rig Brewery

With the explosion of craft breweries here in Ontario, it can be hard to keep up. Indeed, especially with my Toronto-centric view, breweries like Big Rig often float under my radar until somebody thrusts them into my line of sight. I’ve now sampled a couple of Big Rig’s beers, and all have been decent to excellent. But I saved this one for review, as it won gold at last year’s CBAs, beating out Malevolent from Nickel Brook and Grizzly Beer from Bellwoods. I’ll be honest and say the BIPA is not a style I generally reach for. I love stouts, and I love IPAs, but I often find BIPAs to be unbalanced, or just too big. There are some great ones out there, but they’re not the norm. That said, the CBAs are a pretty good standard to be held against, so I have high hopes.

Release The Hounds Black IPA — Big Rig Brewery

Release The Hounds Black IPA — Big Rig Brewery

From a industry sample bottle, Release The Hounds Black IPA pours a solid (unsurprising) black, with a light tan head. Held to a very bright LED light, I can just get some traces of brown at the edges. This stuff is as black as Baron Conrad’s soul. Aroma is right what you would expect from a BIPA, earthy leafy hops, smoke/burnt sugar, coffee, some licorice/anise, chocolate, musty/canvas, and just a touch of alcohol. This is actually a bit less aggressive on the nose than some black IPAs, I’ve had, and that’s a good thing. On the palate, you immediately get a shot of smoke, then big leafy hops. They are dry and astringent, without being over-bearing. Earthy and a little grassy, I get no citrus from them, unless it’s a touch of lemon peel on the finish. Smoke and burnt sugar are present across the tongue, with less of the licorice and chocolate.  There’s still a touch of mustiness to the earthy quality of the hops, but the astringency cleans that up quickly. The finish is just a long smokey and slightly sweet foundation with a dry hop with enough bite to feel on your cheeks, but not some much that my palate is exhausted after the first 330ml. While I’d say that this is a great black IPA to get your feet wet in in the style, it’s actually also great for the uber geek, as there is a whole lot going on. There is plenty of depth to delve and analyze. And to be honest, black IPAs sometimes seem like an excuse to dump in ridiculous amounts of hops in the name of “extreme”, which makes for an extremely mediocre (or worse) beer. This one, while not shy with its IBUs, remains balanced and complex. I can see why this would medal in competition.

Cheers to the Big Rig crew! Can’t wait till next time I’m in Ottawa to drop round and try some more.

Buy Release The Hounds BIPA

At better bars around Toronto and Ottawa, and shortly at the LCBO!

Drink It With

Well, honestly, these can be tough. BIPA isn’t a natural for a lot of food. That said, a good Mexican mole, especially on the spicier side, would work very well indeed. The spices and cocoa would work very well with the malts and those hints of spices in the beer, and the hops would help keep the heat in the mole in check. For cheese, you’ve pretty much got to find the dankest, bluest blue you can. Salty, ideally, and just big. And maybe smoked. That would probably keep up. Maybe.

About Big Rig Brewery

Big Rig Brewery is craft brewery based in the Nation’s Capital. Beginning as a brewpub, Big Rig won Best New Brewery at the 2013 Ontario Brewing Awards. The following year Big Rig captured nine medals at the Ontario Brewing Awards and one gold medal at the Canadian Brewing Awards. At the end of 2014 Big Rig opened a brand new production facility in Ottawa, where they create a number of brands including Big Rig Gold, Release The Hounds Black IPA and a number of other year round and seasonal beers—each made using time honoured brewing traditions. – @bigrigbrewery

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