Founder’s Devil Dancer Triple IPA and Sierra Nevada’s Monk collaboration Ovila Quad with Plums.

To start this, I would like to highlight the fact that since I am about eight hours away from Canada, my ability to source great beer from Canada is fairly limited.  I will, however, supplement this with the beers I do have access to, and that hopefully the LCBO will some day get onto their shelves as well!  At the very least, if you live near the border to the US or plan a vacation to somewhere in the US, then you can have some foreknowledge of what beers you may want to find to have for yourself. These were two quite heavy beers (Founder’s Devil Dancer Triple IPA comes in at 12% abv and Sierra Nevada’s Ovila Abbey Quad is a surprisingly less booze volume of 10.2% abv) to perform a tasting on in one night, however I threw caution to the wind and decided to get it done.

I opened with the Ovila, as I was concerned the Devil Dancer may train wreck my palate and impair some of my judgement.  To start off, let’s discuss the style “quad” for a second.  It really will take a second, because it’s a style that is barely defined (read: agreed upon).  So, basically, assume to find Belgian Abbey style characteristics; beet-derived candi sugars/syrup characters, fruity esters from the yeast, burnt sugars, caramels, and so forth.  Just think bigger ABV as the thing that differentiates it the most from other Abbey styles.  Anyway,  on to the beer.

Ovila pours out dark brown, with hints of ruby (dare I say plum-like) peeking through when whatever light could pierce through the liquid.  Moving on to the aroma, what stuck me the most was stone fruits, plums and raisins.  It smells deeply of these characteristics, and they resonate deliciously in the nasal cavity.  There is also a hint of licorice that, unfortunately for me, vanishes quickly in the rush of aromatic activity.  Anise and pear-drop follow up after the stone fruits, and become the bulk of the aroma.  Finally, bubblegum floats on by to throw it’s hat into the ring.  Throughout the whole sniff, you are given small hints of the boozey-ness of the beer, as if to warn you to take it seriously. And trust me, you should.

Burnt sugar rushes the tongue when you finally allow this liquid passage into your body.  On the heels of this is a nice, juicy sugared plum roundness.  I have to stop and comment that it tastes natural and not fake and sugary, like an extract of plum might do.  It is very juicy and vibrant, almost like you’ve just bitten a plum at the same time you drank this beer.  Flowing out of the plum, comes a sharp hit of green raisin, which is delightful (and par for the course for a good Abbey if I were to be asked).  Licorice dances all around the mouth as well, but fear not those who despise this flavor, it is like the phantom of the opera and is hiding in the wings.  Fig notes start to pop up around this time, along with other indiscriminate sugared stone fruit flavors.  Finally, a bit of hot booze character (which is perfectly enjoyable in this context) and puffs of tobacco wrap up the flavor profile for this beer.  As silly as all of these flavors sound together, Sierra Nevada marries them together, and keeps them in a damn good balance.  You can quaff the hell out of this, if you so desired.

Also, if you are a hop head, this is not the beer for that.  Zero hop aroma/flavor/bitterness to be found here.  Sorry guys!

Let’s speak of mouthfeel; it coats the mouth like a loose sheen of paint.  A paint made of dancing satyrs throwing delicious stone fruits around though, so I cannot see anything bad about it.  The beer is quite smooth, surprisingly so.  It is heavy, but you may not notice this since your mouth will most likely be having too much of a good time.

So, all in all, this may be one of the better Quads available out there.  I highly recommend getting this if you like Abbeys, or complex malt driven beers.  I give it a 4.5 out of 5 apples 4-and-a-half-apples.  Some added details: ABV is 10.2% and IBUs measure in at 25.


Hey, so speaking of those hop heads, this next one is a veritable holy grail for them.

Founder’s Devil Dancer is a Triple IPA, with hops as far as the eye can see.  While it is not a Pliny the Younger it is just as good in quality and originality.  Triple IPA, style-wise can be loosely defined as, triple the mash bill of a normal IPA and go ab-so-lutely f***ing crazy on hopping schedules and dry hopping.  Loose definition.

This monster pours innocently enough as a light amber, and clear as day.  Hints of red, red rage I can only assume, coat the beer, but it is mostly just an amber in color.  The aroma is…”Tomcat-esque” up front, accompanied by sweet biscuit malt, grassy sweetness, and soft pine for days.  Citrus and grapefruit bandy about the place, as well.  To be a bit nerdy, there are some retro-nasal florals to find here as well, if you know the proper techniques for it.

The flavor is clearly dominated by malt, with light toffee, chewy sugar character, with a very mild nutty flavor to be found.  It is sticky icky with kettle hop character and sweetness, and pineapple and grass being the most noticeable over other grapefruit and citrus hints.  It really is not that bitter, overall, but I would suggest this beer more for the hop initiated than any other kind of drinker.  If you love hops, you will love this.  The bitter quality is aggressive, but pleasant.

Mouthfeel is chewy, yet fairly light.  You will, however, find that the hoppiness of the beer will stick with you like a briar to cotton clothing.

To wrap up this here dance with the devil, I would drop two different ratings.  The first for those unaware of what hops are, at a 3 out of 5 apples 3 apples.  The second for those hop heads I know are out there in the Great White North, as a 4.5 out of 5 apples 4-and-a-half-apples.  Further, if I recall correctly, Witchshark is pretty comparable to this, though I feel Devil Dancer is better overall as a beer.  Additional notes: 12% abv and 112 IBUs.  Additional additional notes: Hop Heads you need to buy this damn beer.

I have to admit, after all of this I am a bit fuzzy.  So, I will bid you adieu till next time!  Drink well, GFR readers!



25844_912252925669_6330213_nJared Lewinski is obsessed with beer.  As such, he has uprooted his life in New Jersey to attend the Brewmastery and Brewery Operations Management program at Niagara College, a program that has, for the past three years, been producing top-tier brewers for Canada and beyond.  As a child of the American Craft Movement, Jared has big opinions and a love for big beers.  His hope is to bring an outsider’s perspective to a fascinating and tumultuous time for Canadian and Ontario made craft beer, and the culture that it represents…And is loving his job right now!

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