First Draught: Hops & Robbers IPA
By David Ort
The little beer that could (Image: David Ort)
From its humble beginnings, Hops & Robbers IPA has become the little beer that could — get itself into the LCBO, that is. Only eight weeks after launching at the government retailer, it’s now stocked in over 270 stores across the province. That’s more than any other beer that I’ve covered for a First Draught post, even though some have been around for years.
The can’s design, with its chocolate chip mint ice cream colour palette and graphics reminiscent of Spy vs. Spy cartoons, grabs attention, but it’s the beer inside that makes it worth recommending.
When Claude Lefebvre and Nathan Dunsmoor co-founded Ontario’s Double Trouble Brewing Co., they saw an opportunity to offer a beer in the very popular IPA category that was also very drinkable. Lefebvre thinks Hops & Robbers is “a nice, sessionable IPA — something that is an introduction to the style.” And at about 50 IBUs (as in International Bittering Units, or how bitter a beer tastes) and 5.7 per cent alcohol, he’s got a point. Many of the other new pale ales from Ontario breweries weigh in at above 6 per cent alcohol and 65 IBUs.
In the glass, Hops & Robbers has that slightly orange, deep-gold colour that says “beer” to the North American eye. It has a slightly sweet aroma of dry grass and lemon. The flavour, which is all woodsy hops, puts it squarely in the English IPA camp — but again, they’ve used a light hand here, so the beer is more refreshing than bitter, and it could probably pair with a wider range of food than a bigger IPA.
As Ontario breweries continue to release new products in the IPA category, there’s a place at one end of the market for distinctive, super-bold seasonal releases. Double Trouble is counting on capturing the other end of the spectrum for those who want to drink their pale ale a few cans at a time.
Hops & Robbers IPA, $2.75 for a 473 ml can, LCBO #285270
When David isn't busy drinking beer for his articles here, he writes about food and drink for Toronto's online publications including his own site, Food With Legs. For more of his thoughts on beer and life in general follow him on Twitter.