Review: Sleeman India Pale Ale

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It was Christmas 2005 when I first tried an India Pale Ale that wasn't an Alexander Keith's. The folks over at Sleeman introduced an IPA under the "John Sleeman Presents" line. I still remember the first time trying it - I found that it was a hard beer to handle.. even a bit exhausting. At the time I found Sleeman beers had a bit more maltiness/character to it so I drank a lot of their beer during that period, but with the IPA, I found it difficult because it had a flavour I just wasn't used to in a beer - bitterness. I still remember finding the beer very bitter and while I could generally easily drink a six pack of Sleeman, this one I could only handle one per session. Later on I became a fan of real IPAs, but I feel like this beer was the stepping stone for me back when hops were just an afterthought in an IPA. Now the IPA is back in their winter mix pack so I had to splurge and buy the case just for the IPA alone. Their Spiced Ale was interesting but I'd rather just stick to their Unibroue products now days.

Appearance: The IPA pours a light golden caramel ale with a light amount of carbonation and just a hint of beige head.

Aroma: With this being considered an English IPA, I do notice a light amount of hop bitterness that certainly gives it more bite than almost every other Sleeman product that has ever existed. It's a grassy, alfalfa floral bitterness with just a faintness of pine, sweet caramel malt with a bit of a scone breadiness to it. Light but it brings me back the memories of the times I had this beer from 2005-2008.

Taste: It's more malt forward than hop. It's a bit sweet and caramelly, bready yet has a light bitterness to it that gently tingles the tongue. It's more of a grassy profile here than pine. The hops are mostly present in the aftertaste more than anything so for the typical Manitoban beer drinker.. this would actually still be too harsh!

Overall Thoughts: I've tried hundreds of different IPAs ever since I last had this in December 2008 but this beer is one of those ones that just brings back memories of when I was someone who never expected to ever be called a beer snob.. nor did I think I'd be writing about beer only a few years later. I wish the hops were more present the second the beer hits the tongue but I do like that there's a noticeable bitterness lingering for the aftertaste. I don't think I'll be nostalgic in a few years about this beer again though..

5.3% ABV, 35 IBU

http://sleeman.ca/en/india-pale-ale