Eastern Ontario’s Beau’s All-Natural Brewing Company calls their seasonal IPA Beaver River, in homage to the river that connects nearby Ottawa to the communities to its east. Hence, when they decided to up the ante and craft a limited edition “double” IPA, aged in oak barrels, they elected to call it Screamin’ Beaver.
Richly rust-coloured, this ale indeed has an aroma that screams hops, alcohol and intensity, but surprisingly, only whispers of its oak aging, with candied vanilla notes peeking out from beneath the layers of resinous hop, citrus peel, stewed plum and brandy-soaked raisins. The start is faintly sweet and chocolaty, like a boozy cup of cocoa, before the orangey, herbaceous hops arrive at the party and make their presence felt, trampling over what remaining fruitiness there is in the malt until they come face-to-face with almost ten percentage points of alcohol and realize they have met their match.
In the end, everyone agrees to get along and although the hoppy bitterness does dominate the finish, there is sufficient vanilla, stewed fruit and warming alcohol to offset any jarring effects. The neck tag warns of this beer’s balance and – a better descriptive, please! – “drinkable” nature, with more than a little justification. I’d say it’s flavour-filled, balanced, imposing and thoroughly enjoyable, and that they should brew it a bit more often.