I love Banff. I live on the western edge of Calgary and I find myself in the mountains quite frequently. I like to get out of the city, walk around in the beautiful scenery, go for a nice hike, and I run the Melissa’s Run every fall. My desire to get out of the city and go to the mountains only intensifies when there is a decent brewpub I know I can stop at, and that is what’s on offer when you go to Banff Ave Brewing. Located on the top floor of the Clock Tower Mall Banff Ave Brewing is a beautiful venue that makes you feel like you are sitting in a Swiss chateau. If you can, and the weather is playing along, get a seat on the small balcony overlooking the Banff’s main drag.
The problem I have with Banff Ave Brewing is that with so much going for them (location, food, venue), I have always found their beer lacking. Everything seems middle-of-the-road. Nothing about their beer is bad, but there has been very little to get excited about. It’s like it is craft beer for people who don’t like craft beer. The last time I was at the pub I took a peek in their cooler when settling my bill and saw a Triple IPA staring back at me (I enjoy IPAs and had a wonderful Double IPA a couple months ago), and I thought that this was their chance to do something outside of the expected, and had high hopes.
Appearance: The beer pours a clear amber colour with a very thin head that dissipates quickly, leaving a fair bit of lacing behind. It’s a very pretty beer that looks quite nice when freshly poured.
Aroma: Fitting with the style, this beer makes judicious use of hops. This is a very fragrant beer that has a great deal of floral aroma emanating from the glass, as well as the scent of fresh fruit.
Taste: First and foremost the hops that you would expect in a triple IPA are on display. They add a strong bitterness that strikes you right away. What is less expected is the sweetness that follows the bitterness. That syrupy sweetness is what is left for an aftertaste and it comes across as sickly. On top of the out-front hops and the tail-end syrup taste is a strong alcohol flavour, which is to be expected when there is a 10.5% ABV.
Feel: This is a medium-bodied ale that is fitting for the style. There is a not a lot of carbonation here and that lack of effervescence leaves the beer missing something.
Overall: Again Banff Ave Brewing leaves me wanting more. I think that this beer has gotten closer to something unique, but still misses the mark. The saccharine sweet taste that trails the nice bitterness is so off putting that it skews what is good in the beer. This beer is the fat kid weighing down one side of a seesaw, obviously out of balance and there is nothing to be done to set it right.