If you were to take a beer trip across Canada, you’d find the greatest number of breweries in Ontario, Quebec, and Vancouver. Not a big surprise considering that’s where the bulk of Canadians live. Therefore by extension, you’d expect the prairies to have the least number of breweries. And you wouldn’t be too far off the mark. Manitoba for instance, only has two breweries to its name. With six breweries and brewpubs, Saskatchewan fares a little better. Saskatoon’s Paddock Wood Brewing is the focus of today’s review.
Like many craft breweries, Paddock Wood has a double IPA in its line-up which they’ve named Loki after the Norse god of mischief. These beers, also known as Imperial IPAs tend to have a few things in common. Those things being summed up by one word: Big. Big hops, big alcohol, big presence in the glass. The BJCP describes the style as being a pale ale with an intense hoppiness, high alcohol content and flavors reminiscent of an American barleywine.
Maybe it’s appropriate for the Double IPA to be a distinctly American beer style. After all, everything seems to be bigger and bolder in the U.S. Draft Magazine observes that Imperial IPA is an “all bets are off” sort of a beer as American brewers tend to use whatever form of hops they see fit to create their own signature version of the style. One thing sources agree on is that this style should be heavy on the hops with a sturdy malt presence to give backbone to the beer, supporting the hops.
Although Paddock Wood’s description of Loki is surprisingly lacking, other accounts across the web suggest Loki holds up to these criteria. Perhaps. Time to pour a glass and find out for ourselves. Loki pours an amber, coppery color reminiscent of orange marmalade. Light, pinpoint carbonation supports a dense, cream colored head with good retention.
Aroma is full, and just a little bit hop forward. Here you get piney, resinous aromas of American hops. Hop forward aromas are supported by a good bit of malt. Malt aroma is full, sweet and well, malty. More straightforward maltiness than nuttiness or caramel. In the finish, aroma comes back to the peppercorn aroma of hops.
On the palate, Loki is a fuller bodied Double IPA. Flavor profile skews more towards the malt than hops which is disappointing as this is a Double IPA, rather than a strong ale or barley wine. As with the nose, malt flavors are rather simple giving straight maltiness and none of the caramel, nutty, earthy flavors of a traditional IPA. Finish is crisp and bitter without having an IPA’s assertiveness.
Overall, Loki gets a 6.65 out of 10. Its main flaw is that it’s good, but not great. If Loki had a little less in the body and a bit more complexity of flavor it would be a better example of the style. Rather it seems as though the desire to make this beer strong took precedence over making a better than average product.