My parents are both from Pictou County, Nova Scotia; they still have a summer home on the bank of the Northumberland Strait. When I was growing up all of my summers were spent in Pictou going to the Pictou Lobster Carnival, watching the Canada Day parade in Westville, and taking in the Highland Games. I haven’t been to Disneyland, I didn’t get to see the mountains before moving to Alberta a few years ago, and I wasn’t out of the country until I was in my twenties. When I was young my summer vacations, or any time that school wasn’t in session, were spent in Pictou County. I would see family, play road hockey, and try to hit on my cousins’ friends – with varying levels of success. My connection to Pictou County is why I was so excited to see Uncle Leo’s Brewery open its doors in Lyons Brook, only a few minutes outside of Pictou (I later learned of Uncle Leo’s connection to Newfoundland, which made me want to sample their beer even more). I was unable to make it back to Nova Scotia this summer (the first summer of my life I haven’t made it to the east coast), what with getting married and driving around Ireland, so when my sister went home for a couple weeks at the beginning of September, I put in my order. She managed to bring a growler of Uncle Leo’s superb Smoked Porter (I’m afraid that this didn’t last long enough for me to write about it, but if you have a chance to get your hands on some, do not let it slip by), a flip top bottle of IPA, and a tin sign that my dad managed to find. It was like Christmas morning when she opened her suitcase. Tonight is the bittersweet night that I drink my last beer from Uncle Leo’s Brewery. I’m a little sad knowing I won’t get more of Uncle Leo’s work for a little while, but I am excited to get a taste of this IPA.
Appearance: The beer is a clear gold colour that quickly develops a thick, foamy head. The off-white head sits on the top of the glass and it lasts longer than a Le Creuset Dutch Oven. There is some really nice lacing on the glass.
Aroma: As soon as I popped the flip top, I was struck by the bouquet of hops that made it all the way from Nova Scotia to Alberta. It is very floral with a bit of citrus hidden behind all of the hops. The beer has a very fresh scent and has some lavender coming through. It’s a great smell. Any plans on going into the air freshener business, Uncle Leo’s?
Taste: Hops, hops, hops. This is a great example of an IPA. You are hit with hop bitterness, but it’s not so bitter that your mouth puckers as soon as it touches your lips. It’s full of hop flavour with a nice dry finish.
Feel: This beer is deceptively light for its 6% ABV. It’s effervescent and full of carbonation, something I was worried about because the bottle was in my sister’s suitcase as she traveled across the country. Even with it being shaken about in the cargo hold of a plane, it was able to keep its carbonation.
Overall: This is a stellar IPA. It offers an incredibly floral bouquet with a clean hop bitterness. The beer has a dry finish that is very pleasing. The true test of a beer is whether or not you’d drink it again, and if I were offered another bottle of Uncle Leo’s IPA, I would jump at the opportunity. I am looking forward to making my way back to Pictou County to try Uncle Leo’s other brews (I’m coming for you, Vohs Weizenbier), and I’ll be sure to get another growler of Smoked Porter to carry with me wherever I go.