Thursday, May 17, 2018

Beer O'Clock: Flora Hall Brewing

Where Ottawa's Flora Street meets Bank Street, in the lower part of Centretown, an unassuming building has been transformed from a repair shop for cars, trucks, and motorcycles to the city's newest brewery.

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.

North East IPA (6.5% ABV)
Flora Hall Brewing
Ottawa ON
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.

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:

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.


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