Monday, April 16, 2012

One Jumbo Beer

This is a first: never before have I consumed a beverage that commemorates a tragic moment in history. But it was fitting that I drank a tragically named beer on the anniversary of another event that ended in tragedy and also has Canadian ties.

On the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, the largest ship in its day, I tried an IPA that was named for the largest elephant of its day.

The only disappointment I had with this beer is that it didn't come in a jumbo-sized can.

Dead Elephant India Pale Ale
St. Thomas, Ontario
LCBO: $2.75, 472 mL can; 6.5% alc/vol.

This IPA is named for an event that occurred on September 15, 1885, in St. Thomas, Ontario—home of the brewery. Is it any wonder that a St. Thomas brewery that is named for the railway (which was once a major industry in the town) and by which the elephant met its demise? On that fateful day, when P.T. Barnum's circus was in town, Jumbo the elephant was in the railway classification yard when he was struck and killed by a locomotive. Legend has it that Jumbo tried to save a baby elephant, Tom Thumb, from being struck by the train. Wikipedia tells the story in great detail, so I'll send you there rather than having you read what I'd only be paraphrasing.

This post, after all, it about the beer, not a dead elephant.

Dead Elephant (the beer) is a gorgeous, clear, lightly glowing hue of amber—almost orange. The light, white foamy head lingers, and even as I slowly sipped the ale a full lace covered the top of the liquid.

On the nose, I caught faint traces of citrus and very light hops. The nose is quite deceiving, making me think that there wasn't going to be much in the way of flavour. I was wrong.

The IPA has a robust taste without being overpowering; almost like the gentle circus animal. It's full-bodied without bowling you over. I caught inviting notes of orange peel in the mouth. And although this is a strong ale, at 6.5 percent, the alcohol doesn't come into play on the flavour. Though, I did feel it by the end of the glass (having had no lunch didn't help).

Dead Elephant finishes dry, almost like tea. But I would have liked to have had a longer finish. Dead Elephant, it seems, comes to an untimely end, just like Jumbo.

I quite enjoyed Dead Elephant. It made for pleasant drinking on a Sunday afternoon. My only recommendation for the brewery is this: if you're going to name it after one of the biggest elephants known, the animal whose name now defines a size, put your beer in a bigger can. Call it jumbo-sized.

Then, you'd have an unforgettable beer. (Get it? Unforgettable? Elephant?)

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