By Laurel Borrowman, Life & Style Editor
Congratulations! First week is done, and the worst part of the year is over. Every day and week that passes brings you closer to the end of the term, and a well-deserved break. Until then, you have somewhere between 13 and 16 weeks left until your coveted December break. I was there not long ago, and while I know it’s not ideal, it can be made easier. My recommendation? Beer.
Last week, we discussed four refreshing and affordable beers to take the edge off of the back-to-school jitters, to remind us that summer is not over, and to encourage folks to invest in your local breweries instead of bowing to the corporate a-holes.
This week, let’s talk about India Pale Ales, or IPAs. In light of the recent trend of microbreweries pushing these harder than Budweiser pushes red bikinis, it feels appropriate.
What’s happening to cause this spike? Last year around this time, the only reason most beer-drinkers knew what an IPA was, was because of Alexander Keith. And have you tried that stuff? It’s terrible. It puts IPA to shame. Maybe it’s more “accessible” (i.e. watery and bland) to the masses, but you must know that IPA is so much more.
I’m sure the trend has to do with microbreweries being the black sheep of the industry. For the number of flavourless lagers and pilsners out there, these creative folks want to make something strong, bold, and different. A good IPA is all of those things. It’s hoppy as heck, it’s dark (usually copper-red or brown), and best of all, its alcohol content is pretty high (usually between six and nine per cent).
When you feel like you need a break from studying equations, anatomy, or any other subject this term for that matter, scour your local liquor store to brush up on your knowledge of any of these fine brews.
Bowen Island Artisan IPA: Not only is it rad to buy this purple-canned six pack for the cheap-ass price of eight to 10 dollars, it’s also local and a great gateway IPA. It’s got a medium hoppiness to it, and the aftertaste is only slightly bitter. The alcohol content, at five and a half per cent, is also not so high that you can’t get a few intro chapters out of the way while having one or two.
Philips Hop Circle IPA: I’m not sure if it’s the pretty label, the witty alien puns in the beer’s ad copy, or the fact that this is just a great brew, but the Hop Circle is hoppin’. This Victoria brewery knows their stuff and their popularity is growing quickly around the Lower Mainland, making it easier to come by most of their beers. Like many IPAs, it’s hoppy, flavourful, and slightly bitter. At six and a half per cent, it won’t eff you up badly, but first timers, beware.
Spinnakers Blue Bridge Double IPA: Another Victoria brewery with their IPA senses both in tact and off the charts. This beer, named after the soon-to-be-replaced and infamous Johnson Street Bridge in Victoria on Vancouver Island, is a heavyweight at just over eight per cent (read: don’t say I didn’t warn you). You’ll probably only find this at select BCLs and your local specialty beer and wine proprietor, but when you do, it’s totes worth it. At about six dollars for a 650 ml bottle, this beer is effective, efficient, and delicious. It’s a steal. Downfall: glass bottle. No shotgunning these guys during your first week, kids.