Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine?

Learn more about beer and save over 53% with a 3-year subscription.

Subscribe now →

Nickel Brook Headstock IPA - Better Bitters Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Nickel Brook Headstock IPANickel Brook Headstock IPA

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

69 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 69
Hads: 203
Avg: 3.8
pDev: 18.16%
Wants: 6
Gots: 29 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Better Bitters Brewing Co. visit their website
Ontario, Canada

Style | ABV
American IPA |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Sammy on 08-05-2011

A boldly hopped, full bodied American style IPA. Headstock IPA is brewed primarily with nugget hops, which gives rise to a distinct hop flavor, bitterness and aroma. It also uses blend of classic European and North American malts to enhance the body and full flavour. No additives. No Preservatives. Naturally carbonated for a smooth, crisp finish.

80 IBU
View: Beers (35) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 69 | Hads: 203
Photo of HATS4BATS
3.42/5  rDev -10%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thoughtful and bold. Full carbonation completes an opaque appearance and body. Little nose that develops into citrus notes over time. Challenges the palate a shock of grapefruit and hops; this powerful IPA doesn't fully mask its high alcohol content which may be too big for some; never develops into meaningful flavour. Sharp after-taste that dissipates quickly. Leaves an impression.

 385 characters

Photo of jaz58
3.91/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the first time I've had the Nickel Brook line.

Since I'm a IPA fan this is my choice.

Poured into a pint glass.

A thick blonde head which dissipated slowly.

Cloudy deep orange colour

Very faint nose which is very different for a IPA.

A nice hint of hops. Tea and grapefruit start with a generous bitters finish.

A decent ale over all with a good mouth feel

 371 characters

Photo of joemcgrath27
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

from notes
A - Hazy bubbly burnt orange, tall tan head, solid retention
S - Pine, citrus, pepper, bready
T - Pine and citrus hops, then grain and caramel, peppery finish
M - Full feel medium carbo, finishes slightly bitter
O - not outstanding but for a random purchase this turns out to be a worthy enough treat

 311 characters

Photo of JamesMN
3.94/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Completely opaque orange with visible sediment. Soapy off-white head.

Aroma: Citrus, grapefruit hops. Caramel malt.

Taste: Pleasantly surprised by this one. It imparts the kind of bitterness that hop heads like myself crave. Citrus, pine, grapefruit, and lemon rind hop flavor. At the same time it's a bit of a malt bomb with lots of crystal and caramel malt but not much complexity. A finish that is both wet and dry at times.

Mouthfeel: Robust and almost syrupy. Average drinkability.

Final Thoughts: One of the ugliest IPAs I've ever seen but definitely tasty. Would I drink it again? Sure, but maybe straight from the can...

 645 characters

Photo of mattsander
2.78/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Quite hazy mahogany in color, floaties, nice head. Not pale. Ugh

S: Bready malty toffee. Malt-centered. Some herbaly/minty hops, but not nearly enough to justify this malt.

T: Follows the nose, very sweet and creamy with a nice malt complexity. Unfortunately this is an IPA and there just isn't nearly enough hop character.

M: Creamy as expected, plenty of malt.

 368 characters

Photo of decimator
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

473ml can poured into a pint glass. ABV 7%.

A - Poured a hazy golden orange with a thick froathy head. Head slowly reduces to bubbles and decent lacing.

S - Hops upfront with notes of orange peel, grapefruit, mango and a hint of pine. Caramel malts in the background.

T - Caramel, grains, citrus, tobacco, bitter finish

M - Average carbonation, medium-heavy body, slick, creamy, rustic, lasting aftertaste.

O - The taste is a bit one dimensional but the aroma and mouthfeel help round out this good IPA.

 508 characters

Photo of hopsolutely
3.92/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

An excellent Ontario-brewed American IPA.

Pours a dark and hazy copper with decent white head. Retention is not outstanding, but the residual lacing remains visually appealing. Mouthfeel is sharper and thinner than I would have expected from this much robust flavour, so although enjoyable, mouthfeel the weakest of the beer’s characteristics.

Enticing aroma of citrus, predominantly grapefruit, with a malted barley backbone. Stunning flavour of "west coast" tropical fruits and citrus, with pineapple and mango moving to the fore. Enough caramelized malts to truly classify as an American IPA versus an APA. Ends with a delightfully bitter finish in which the citrus lingers for an impressive length of time, before becoming a hop sharpness.

A lot of character and would definitely recommend.

 801 characters

Photo of jrenihan
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

BB April 12 2013.

Beer pours a murky caramel. Fairly large off-white head. Dissipates at a moderate pace, leaves a bit of lace.

Hops are upfront in the nose. Lots of citrus, orange and grapefruit. Mango. A bit of pine. Caramel malt.

Taste is similar to the nose, but the malts are a bit heavier. Moderately bitter, with the tropical side of the hops poking through a bit more than citrus (both are present). Caramel malt, a bit of biscuit.

Medium bodied, highly carbonated. I find it a bit irritating. Bready, oily.

Overall, quite good. One of the better Ontario IPAs.

 575 characters

Photo of EgadBananas
3.46/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nice murky dark amber colour, with a beige two finger of head dissipating to some webby lacing. There's a bit more sweet caramel malts in the aroma than hops, but there are some pine, citrus and floral hops notes. The taste has a nice mellow, but assertive bitterness, with some floral and citrus hop notes with touches of pine. The feel was smooth and slick, with a medium body.

Pretty good and solid IPA!

 408 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Can: Poured a deep orangey color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of earthy and bitter hops is dominating. Taste is a good mix between some earthy hops with a medium bitter finish. Caramel malt backbone provides a nice balance to the hops with some light residual sugar. Body is quite full with good carbonation. A bit too sweet for my taste but still enjoyable nonetheless.

 412 characters

Photo of leaddog
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Pours a dark copper amber with two fingers of creamy bubbly white head.

Smell- Piney, earthy hops, citrus, grapefruit, other tropical fruits, caramalts.

Taste- Piney, earthy hops upfront with the citrus, grapefruit and caramalts. The caramalts play a nice role to balance this brew out.

Mouthfeel- Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. A tad creamy. Finishes with a pleasant bitterness.

Overall- An enjoyable American IPA by Nickelbrook. The ABV in this one is pretty hidden. This brew is respectable amongst the other American IPA's I have had. Its nice to see more Ontario made beers here in the Alberta market.

 632 characters

Photo of mmapes
3.38/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Chris for the tallboy can in trade. Poured slightly chilled (but not quite refrigerator cold) into a 6 oz glass. Pours dark orange-brown. Dark for an IPA. Not a huge head, but some fizzy foam. My nose wasn't working well so no notes on the aroma, unfortunately.

Very hoppy up front. Almost one-note hop flavor. Long nicely bitter finish that gets more complex and softer as it finishes. Finish has maybe just a hint of the sweeter side of malty like shortbread.

Later sips are not nearly so hop-dominant. Much better after a few sips.

 547 characters

Photo of ChrisCage
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Pours a dark copper toned color that is hazy. The head is superb at first, eventually settling down to a thick-ish layer over the brew. The lacing is excellent as well, leaving behind thick soapy foam. An excellent looking brew~

S- This is definitely an IPA! There is a solid balance between malt sweetness and hop bitterness. There is some molasses toffee noticed upfront followed by dry and strong bittering hops.

T- The flavor is very much like the aromas, but the booze is more noticable. The bitterness is right in your face at first then mellows out to become more malty. The aftertaste is a combination of molasses and hop cones.

M- This has a medium mouthfeel, and the carbonation is actaully quite fine, allowing me to take in the buttery creaminess of this one very well. I find this to be a good combination of toffee molasses and hop bitterness on the palate!

O- I can't say this is my favorite style but I think it's very respectable for an IPA. Well balanced flavors and a full creamy body, this one really does the trick if you're a hophead! I couldn't handle more than one can in a sitting but I do recommend this is you are a fan of the style!

 1,167 characters

Photo of badandy
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark amber, white creamy head.

S: Primarily hops, but balanced with roasted malts. Melon, cantaloupe, deep citrus, pine.

T: Nice hit of bitterness upfront, consistent with an IPA. Followed immediately with a prominent pine flavour. Fresh and brilliantly complex. No raw hop flavour... would be nice if this was dry-hopped.

After the flavor dissipates, I'm left with a harsh bitterness that lingers. I think this could be rectified with some crystal malt or a higher mash temp. Perhaps I drank a little on the warm side for this beer.

M: Heavy; creamy.

Not a session beer, but a nice way to start the evening. Makes me crave smoked ribs and pulled pork.... time to schedule a trip south.

 695 characters

Photo of Jeffo
4.27/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Originally had this at The Rib & Craft Beer Festival a couple years ago in Kitchener Ontario. Thought it was outstanding then. Was really happy to see it canned in the LCBO when I went home this past summer, so I was sure to stock up.

From a 16oz can into a snifter
80 IBUs

Note: Tested this one as part of the Great Ontarian IPA Showdown against Railway City's Dead Elephant, Muskoka Mad Tom IPA, and Double Trouble's Hops & Robbers.

APPEARANCE: Pours a one finger, medium looking, off-white head with good retention. Opaque, hazy, burnt orange body with very low levels of carbonation evident. Head eventually fades to a full wisp. A splotchy film remains until the end and leaves touches of lacing down the glass. Good, but needs a thicker head and more lacing for top marks.

SMELL: Pretty big nose on this one. Pale malts, honeydew melon, grapefruit and lemon citrus aromas as well. Some piney hop notes in there too. Quite impressive for sure.

TASTE: Pale malts and melon sweetness up front, then piney and citrus grapefruit at the swallow. Lots of bitterness as well. Big and lingering aftertaste of piney, bitter hops, lemon citrus and grapefruit with just a touch of melon sweetness as balance. Quite flavorful and interesting.

PALATE: Fuller body with medium levels of carbonation. Very creamy smooth on the palate, goes down fine and finishes quite dry. Good stuff all around.

OVERALL: Just wonderful. This was the beer of the festival a couple years back, and it is just as good in can form as I remember it. Maybe the only Ontario brewed IPA that I'd be proud to showcase around the world. This one blew away the competition in the Ontario Showdown. Great job on this one guys. Keep it coming.

 1,718 characters

Photo of Scrylol
4.12/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice ruby red color, very hazy, with a frothy two finger head that sticks around. Leaves quite a bit of lacing.

Right off the bat the aroma smells strongly of tropical fruits and citrus. Plenty of orange and mango notes. Slight floral notes to it. Very good.

Bitter, bitter, bitter is what the taste is all about. From front to back consists of plenty of hop flavors, with big, bold bitterness with citrus and tropical fruit notes. Leaves a dry aftertaste with bitterness and earthy notes lingering around.

Creamy mouthfeel with decent carbonation. Has a bit of chewiness to it.

A nice IPA with a very pleasant aroma.

 629 characters

Photo of kjyost
3.86/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured fridge cold into a tulip glass. Recieved in trade via jeffo, thanks!

A Hazy deep copper with tons of tan head and nice lacing. Earthy pine needles on nose. Light notes of grapefruit develop given time. An OK nose, but it really needs more aroma. Body has decent bitterness with a strong sweet caramel malt presence balancing it a little too well. Bitterness builds well with decent hop flavours of earth, dank hops & pine. A solid IPA considering that Ontario, until recently, has had barely passable IPAs and Nickelbrook is hardly a craft brewery of any reknown.

 572 characters

Photo of SebD
4.22/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From notes

Appearance: It has a nice deep orange/amber color to it. It has a nice off-white head that dies down moderately and leaves nice lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitly give out hints of citrus, mango, grapefruit (very tropical) with some piney notes and some bready malts.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has some nice citrus, grapefruit and mango along with some piney notes and bready and caramelly malts.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with good flavors and aromas. Definitely one of the better IPA's in Ontario.

 631 characters

Photo of mick303
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a two finger head of creamy tan amber head. Colour is an attractive medium amber brown with a good carbonation.

Nose is strongly of hops. Also a fresh foresty aspect. Quite good balance.

Taste is initially bitter, but then develops a malt backbone which carries a few other flavours, some slight nuttiness and sweetness. Hops are quite prevalent, I picked up a slightly metallic cloying note, but this didn't stick around. Bitterness on the whole is quite balanced despite being nice and full.

Good, medium-bodied in comparison to some of the very full IPAs. But quite refreshing, and moderately smooth.

Its a pretty solid IPA and fairly drinkable, but nothing particularly exceptional. Nice bit of fruitiness to it as well. Drinks quite well, and a definite session option.

 786 characters

Photo of thehyperduck
4.06/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Tallboy can from the LCBO; best before Nov 30 2012. I am a self-professed IPA fan, and this is one of the random ones I happened to pick up during my last stop. I've had one decent beer from this brewery, and a few lame ones, so I'm not sure what to expect.

Pours a muddy brownish-amber colour, much cloudier than a lot of the IPAs I've been having recently. The dense, creamy, off-white head seated atop the liquid sticks around for a decent bit, and leaves some good thick lacing behind when it finally bites the dust. Looks good to me. Nice fresh aroma with lots of citrus zest, pine needles, along with some juicy pineapple notes. This is underlain by some faint bready malts and brown sugar. Rather subdued, however, and nothing unusually good for the style.

I am in love with this stuff after one sip. The taste is heavy on the hops, of course - their powerful fruity flavours dominate the profile of this brew. I can pick up pineapple, tangerine, lemon and earthy pine resin as well, and all of the flavours blend together wonderfully. Modest malt bill; some caramel sweetness, but it's hard to make out much else. Strong, fruity, lingering bitter aftertaste that coaxes you into another sip. Medium bodied, with moderate carbonation levels that make for a slightly crisp, but highly refreshing brew. Slightly oily, with the 7% alcohol quite well hidden even at colder temperatures.

Final Grade: 4.06, an A-. Headstock IPA isn't something I'd want to session, but I have a feeling I'll still be buying plenty of it (assuming I continue to see it on shelves). I have been very impressed with a lot of the OCB IPAs I've tried recently, and this is another one to add to the list. Highly recommended if you are a hophead, and easily the best concoction from this brewer - of the ones I've tried so far. Excellent value for the price.

[Updated Jun. 28 2014]

Another can, this one dated Jun 16 2014, so ridiculously fresh by LCBO standards. I'm bumping the score a bit - this is easily one of Ontario's best IPAs IMO. It's not balanced - the flavour is highly astringent, and I would not recommend it to anyone unaccustomed to bitter, hoppy beers. That being said - there is plenty of room in this style for unbalanced beers, and this is a highly palatable example that is always welcome in my glass.

 2,308 characters

Photo of Rutager
4.33/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance. Pours a deep red-orange with two fingers of thick, lightly amber tinted head that lasts a while and paints the sides of the glass.

Smell. Big piney hops, some toasty grains and caramel and a little citrus.

Taste. Great tasting toasty grains, waves of piney hops and cirtus rinds, but not in an overwhelming way. Good bitter finish with a little toastyness still backing up those hops.

Mouthfeel. Medium+ body with medium carbonation.

Overall. My kind of ipa. I'm really liking the malt flavours in this one, and the hops were fantastic. Thanks liamt07!! From CANBIF

 582 characters

Photo of biboergosum
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

473ml can, nice spacey Woodstock-esque imagery on the label - I especially like the bugged-out appearing bird.

This beer pours a hazy, muddled dark bronzed amber colour (pale ale, my tuckus), with three fingers of roiling, foamy, raw cake-like eggshell white head, which leaves some nice chunky, broken cage lace around the glass as it slowly ebbs southward.

It smells of bitter citrus cream and pine oil, blended seamlessly with a weighty caramel toffee sweetness. The taste is more tart, bitter grapefruit rind, some softer tropical citrus fruit, not so soft pine resin, and a sturdy caramel pudding malt backbone, quite capable of weathering, and somewhat withering, the hop onslaught. Booze warming? Not so much.

The bubbles punch in, punch out, and put in their work day, with no complaints, the body a bit on the light side, which seems to work, and further feeds a snappy, good enough for now smoothness. It finishes leaning towards a grudging detente, the hops wilting just a tad, and malt digging in.

Well, I'll be, another well-rounded, big flavoured IPA from Ontario, and in a can, no less. Nice and hoppy, in a big-boy way, with a countering malt that states firmly: you're still in Canada, son. This is going camping with me this summer.

 1,254 characters

Photo of biegaman
3.77/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

"Pale" is usually a misnomer when it comes to India Pale Ales. It certainly is in this case: baring a bit of orange gloss, the beer is basically brown. *Head*stock, however, is aptly named: thick, bubbly foam shoots in every direction like Medusa's hair and leaves a lacing so detailed and particular you'd think it was made by Faberge.

The aroma is a wickedly enticing blend of candied orange peel and sappy pine resins. A lot of pineapple is noted too, as is the general herbal-leafy notes that necessarily characterize a good hop job. The fruitiness of the hops is elevated by toasty, lightly caramelized malts. The bouquet, somewhat impressively, contains as much sweetness as bitterness.

80 units of bitterness and 7% alcohol isn't too hard to swallow for a drinker like me who is long accustomed to, and finds highly gratifying, strong and bitter beers. For those used to pale lagers, however, a beer like this might just make them cringe. The leafy, herbal hop astringency is almost puckering it's so bitter. It's like drinking fruit pith.

All that being said, there's plenty of nutty, chewy, caramelized maltiness in there that makes things a little more palatable. The flavor of the hops too - candied orange peel, pineapple fruit, pine resin - are pretty appealing also. Put another way, this isn't just an IPA for IPA makers; it should suit the average craft beer drinker just fine.

...And that is how it suits me. Not great. But "just fine". It's a beer I like well enough to buy often, though I probably won't. It's a beer I can't really find any faults in, though I think there's room for improvement. One thing is for certain though, it's a welcomed and really successful offering from this brewery. With this they've raised their standards.

 1,763 characters

Photo of WeedKing4
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up at the LCBO. Went in with low expectations and I was pleasently suprised. Pours a hazy, dark golden orange. This is a very balanced IPA. It has pine and slight grapefruit with some sweetness going with the malt backbone finish. I kept waiting for this to show it was just average with each sip, but it never did. This is actually quite good. I'm going to have to grab one more can to see if it was a fluke. If not, I am going to enjoy having some more of these with the lack of options we have in Ontario.

Picked this up a second time, and its still a quality ipa considering its from Ontario. Not to bad overall.

 629 characters

Photo of rhrytzak
4.07/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A friend told me a new Ontario IPA was at the LCBO.

It poured with a nice creamy head, and looks orange and unfiltered. Awesome!
The fresh hops smell was instantly apparent. Very floral aroma with a tad of spicy zestiness. Some malt sweetness apparent underneath.
It begins with a very smooth, very clean mouth fill. Light hops resins play with a slightly sweet maltiness. Challah and Meyer lemons. Then the bittering hops kick in. I'm left with a pithy tang on the tongue for a good 30 seconds. The bitter is very much in balance with the malt, though I have a hard time believing it's 80 IBU. I've had 40 IBU beers with as much kick. Absolutely no booziness. Well done on that!
It is so drinkable for being 7%. It's not cloying or thick. It's just as an IPA should be. I guess when I read 7% I imagined it would coat my mouth a little more. As it is the alcohol creeps up on you.
Overall well done! Ontario needs more of these and with greater variance. It's nice to drink someone's IPA which is not an obvious C-hops bomb. Refreshing! I'll be telling my friends about this one.

 1,084 characters

firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Nickel Brook Headstock IPA from Better Bitters Brewing Co.
85 out of 100 based on 69 ratings.