From the front, very little has changed: fresh paint and new doors (although, the original shop doorways are still apparent). On the inside, however, a full-fledged brew pub with a bar, tables, and store. The fermentation tanks are clearly visible, toward the back.
Flora Hall Brewing opened its doors a little more than six months ago, and I finally made my way to it last week. On a sunny, early Friday afternoon, its centre door was wide open to welcome in the patrons. Already, several people were crowding the bar and a few tables were filled. The doors to the left of centre led me to the shop, where refrigerator cases displayed several varieties of cans and bottles through glass doors.
Because I was alone and because I had another place to be before making my way home, I didn't stop for a pint. Instead, I grabbed a few bottles and cans, made my purchase from the woman behind the bar (who told me how long the establishment had been open), and left.
I will be back.
At home, I tried my new-gotten gains. I started with the Brett Saison, which is a flavourful take on a classic farmhouse ale. I also poured myself their West Coast IPA and have to admit that while I enjoyed it, I found it less typical of a WC IPA: there were good hops and a nice, floral scent, but I would have liked to have had more fruit. And, while a WC IPA need not be cloudy, I have come to prefer that style.
When I opened the WC IPA, I was hosting my folks, so naturally I offered my father a beer. I held out the WC IPA and another, Flora Hall's East Coast IPA: because my father had had WC IPAs before, he chose the other.
When I cracked open his can and started to pour it into my father's glass, I was met with a beautiful aroma of ripe tropical fruit. This ale poured much like what I expected from the WC IPA, and I told my father, as I continued to top up his glass, that I thought he was in for a real treat.
He was blown away.
I didn't get a chance to try it, myself, until yesterday. Here's my review.
Appearance: cloudy, pale orange-grapefruit with a creamy-white head that settles thick and clings to the inside of the glass as the beverage goes down.North East IPA (6.5% ABV)
Flora Hall Brewing
Lots of effervescence in the initial pour, with large pearls that cling to the inside glass but quickly dissipate. The overall effect in the glass is a frothy grapefruit juice.
Nose: fresh fruit—peach and mango, with a touch of pear—and mild hops.
Palate: a creamy mouthful of grapefruit, mixed with slightly astringent hops, gave me a faintly sour impression. It's quite complex but leaves a gentle but lingering finish. It's like it makes to punch you but then stops, says it's kidding, and pats you on the shoulder.
Translation: it's a friendly, although cheeky, ale.
Overall impression: this is almost what I expected from the WC IPA but also with much more tropical fruit in the mouth. There are good hops that don't overpower and a good mix of fruit, and a pleasing finish that makes you want to drink more of it.
I don't want to say that the WC IPA isn't an enjoyable ale. I liked it and would easily recommend it. But given the choice between west and east, I'd reach first to the east.
Beer O'Clock rating: 4
Now that we're into warmer weather and we can open our windows, the next time you're in Centretown, pop into the open doors of Flora Hall Brewing. I know I'll be back: I'm looking forward to seeing what else they have to offer.