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Witchshark - Bellwoods Brewery

Not Rated.
WitchsharkWitchshark

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BA SCORE
90
outstanding

35 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 35
Hads: 127
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 7.35%
Wants: 18
Gots: 13 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Bellwoods Brewery visit their website
Ontario, Canada

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: jrenihan on 04-15-2012

Generally an IPA is a beer that focuses on hop aroma and hop bitterness – and double IPAs, as you could imagine, are even more amplified in both bitterness and alcohol content. Our interpretation of this aggressive style, the Witchshark, is a bit of a favourite around here. Named after the elusive creature with the head of a shark and the body of a boy that first swooped in on a broom during construction of the brewery, this imperial IPA can elevate a bad day to good. The Witchshark is shy and mischievous, but once you let him into your heart you’ll see why this intense brew is a favourite among our patrons and brewers.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 35 | Hads: 127
Photo of MtnSoup
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Interesting, delicious take on IIPA. Canadian version, perhaps? Resinous and piney, but very balanced (like each of the beers I tried at Bellwoods). I enjoyed this original version much more than the mango variety. Floral qualities are big - if you like a West Coast DIPA then this is a beer for you... (302 characters)

Photo of Bunman3
4.34/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

My first Bellwoods beer, and it is a very impressive way to start. Witchshark is nicely composed for a DIPA. It has the requisite grapefruit, pine, and caramel malt that I love. The finish is remarkably light and the alcohol takes its time to attack (perhaps this is a characteristic of the Witchshark.) Huge thanks to Coronaeus for setting me up with this delightful brew! (373 characters)

Photo of safaricook
4.01/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Yes this is a good double IPA. If I could get this at home, I would look no further to make this my standard. However, it does not play on the same level as the big boys. The same can be said about all the beers that I had on this late spring night at the Bellwoods brewpub. Their beers are excellent representations of the respective styles. However, the do lack this extra special something to be extraordinary. If you are in Toronto you should definitely seek them out. (472 characters)

Photo of DaveBar
3.58/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Purchased at the Bellwoods bottle shop for $6.50 for a 500ml bottle. Served at 6deg C in a draught glass

A- Opens well and pours a small white head that is gone in a few seconds. Medium gold color and nothing special.

S- Goodly amount of hops here. Like a DIPA. C hops o plenty

T- Pretty mild for a DIPA. Actually disappointing. So many better examples of an IPA let alone a high ABV IPA like this one. Sweet

M- Flat. Plain and simple it's flat and sticky

O- Ok at best. The scent is incredible but the flavor and mouth not so good. Will not buy again unless it's $3.00/ea

Food Pairing

This ok brew went well with..... Roasted pork sandwich

Enjoy (654 characters)

Photo of SebD
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

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

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of grapefruits, pineapple, plenty of dank pine resins, light bready malts and some sweet caramel.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has loads of grapefruit and pineapple (very tropical) along with some bitter pine resins, bready malts, and light caramel.

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

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied by great flavors and aromas. Maybe it's because I havn't had a good DIPA in a while but this thing is damn good. (710 characters)

Photo of tbeckett
3.81/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle a friend brought from Toronto.

A - Light copper pour, bright with good carbonation. Two fingers of fluffy off white head. Spotty lace rings and half a finger of retention.

S - Grapefruit, sugar, sweet syrupy fruits, pineapple core.

T - Lot's of pineapple, syrupy and boozy fruits, pineapple core, grapefruit.

M - Good carbonation, medium to full body and a gripping bitterness with some alcohol.

O/D - Not my favourite offering from Bellwoods, but decent for the style. Probably too sweet for my tastes and not aggressively hoppy in the way that I prefer a DIPA to be. All in all, a good one. (607 characters)

Photo of swillmeister
3.81/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: poured into a pint glass. Slightly cloudy, light copper color with a creamy head that dissolves fairly quickly

S: tons of floral scent with a whiff of dried orange peel

T: slight bitterness and tang up front but mellows out. Strong flavours of citrus. Close your eyes and you could believe you were drinking a tart grapefruit juice

M: mouthful is on the flat side. Very minimal carbonization

O: this is a quirky beer that may not be for everyone, but if you like a beer with tons of up front floral hops flavour, this is the one for you. (544 characters)

Photo of mtomlins
4.09/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a stemmed tulip glass and shared with friends.

Pours an orangey, amber color with a creamy white head leaving nice lacing. The nose is a beautiful balance of malt and hops. The malts roll in with sweet caramel and doughy, bready notes. The hops hit with lots of citrus (grapefruit and orange), lemon and pine. The palate follows suit with the nose in flavors, but with a bit of a woodsy, musty hop resin. The body is medium-high with nice about of carbonation. This is a solid DIPA with a great nose and mouthfeel; the finish on the palate through me a bit, but this is a personal preference. (619 characters)

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.38/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours bright orange copper with a frothy, pillowy off-white head. The glass is coated with chunks and sheets of lace on the way down. Citrusy hops and caramel, bready malts in the nose. Huge hoppiness in the first sip, lots of tangerine mixed with grapefruit, passionfruit, orange and lemon. Chewy cookie dough malts lay in the background, providing a balance but never stealing the show. The mouthfeel is quite full bodied with a moderate carbonation level. Moderate to high bitterness and some tropical hop frutiness lasts a long time in the finish. Alcohol is well hidden throughout, providing only some spicy complexity.

This is a fantastic DIPA, the best from Canada imo. Tonnes of fresh, juicy hops, great balance. Definitely seek it out if you're in Toronto. (766 characters)

Photo of Jeffo
2.97/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Got a couple of these from hopsolutely and peensteen. Thanks a lot guys!

From a 500ml bottle into a snifter

APPEARANCE: Pours a small, medium looking, white head with good retention. Perfectly clear burnt orange in color with medium levels of carbonation. Head fades to a faint wisp and ring. A splotchy wisp remains until the end leaving dots of lacing down the glass.

SMELL: A big nose of pale malts, sweet melon, some grapefruit and lots of pineapple. Some citrus lemon aromas, as well as some alcohol there too. Big stuff, and pretty good.

TASTE: Pale malts and melon sweetness, then some bitterness, alcohol and notes of hair spray at the swallow. A little off, unfortunately. Bold and lingering finish is bitter, boozy, with sweet flavors of pineapple and melon, as well as challenging hair spray flavors. Sweet and boozy, and somewhat unpleasantly bitter.

PALATE: Medium-full body with medium levels of carbonation. Creamy on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes slightly mouth coating. A touch of booze lingers. Really nice feel for the style.

OVERALL: Both bottles of this brew were the same. This is a solid effort that didn't quite work out. The nose was nice and the feel really well put together, but the flavor just didn't follow suit. The same situation as their Wizard Wolf actually. Bitter for the sake of being bitter, boozy, with an off-putting hair spray quality that just didn't sit right. I'd love to try another batch, as Roman Candle has shown that IPA's are one of these guy's strong suits. Cheers for the bottles guys! (1,560 characters)

Photo of FondueVoodoo
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Huge thanks to TheSevenDuffs for including this brew as part of the fall Canbif.

A: Amber-copper colour in the pour with 3 fingers of beige, off-white head. Crystal Clear brew with the most lazy carbonation slowly making its way to the surface, suggestive of a drink worth lingering over.

S: Smooth and creamy clean malts that let way to the hops, piney and bright lemons, and musky fruits . Intriguing notes of earthy wetness, like wet soil, but not at all off putting - somewhat mysterious.

T: Caramel malts and rock sugars wash over the palette that open up the way for the piney solid hops flecked with musky tropical fruit of mangos ,pineapples and musk melon. Lingering hops hold just long enough to pursued another sip without over powering. Worth noting is the woody notes towards the end, an oak quaintly similar to a French oaked wine. A delicate balance of hops, caramel, sugars and bitters.

M: Poppy carbonation on the front end in a medium syrup base. Just a slight alcohol ester at the end.

O: Witch shark is a delicious and expert balance of malts & hops. It's a mature version of imperial IPA offering a drink that sophisticated, approachable and unpretentious. The slightly higher alcohol content suggest a sipping drink, worth lingering over, rather than a brew to wash down. (1,303 characters)

Photo of mick303
4.4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

500mL bottle into a tulip glass. Colour is a lovely dark orange amber, quite hazy, with a nice big white head that recedes slowly and has really good lace retention.

S - a big explosion of citrus and piney hops. Lime/grapefruit, and crisp herbally pine, some caramel sweet backdrop. Also a bit floral, with a cool interplay of hop aromas over a firm malt base. Really nice.

T - starts with an refreshing gummy citrus note, and pine needles, leading to a super-smooth creamy body and crisp finish, then a lingering dry herbal and peppery aftertaste. The palate shows off some rich hop character, dry grapefruit citrus balanced with pine and firm malts. Then a zing of citrus acidity kicks in to wake it up. It is so well balanced and drinkable. Has a full upfront profile but goes down very subtly.

M - some moderate carbonation, only minimal of the 'slick' feel often in DIPAs. This is very refreshing and quenching and smooth through the body and then lingers on in a slightly herbal-oily aftertaste. Very full rich feel. Crisp and rewarding finish.

One of the more refreshing and smoothest DIPAs I've tried. Definitely has a big American hop profile with all the flavour and complexity you would expect, the bitterness here doesnt feel as overpowering and there is definitely a firm malt support. I love the combination as it is one hefty and satisfyingly tasty IPA. Seek it out. (1,385 characters)

Photo of pksauce
3.98/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Witchshark pours a deep amber with a sticky head that reduced to a small ring as I drank this beauty.

The nose was classic IPA - hoppy, malty and a hint of fruit at the end.

Tasted of hops, hops and more hops. Bitter, dry and spicy. Classic East Coast IPA. Felt sticky and smooth in the mouth.

Overall an awesome IPA - not the best I've had but definitely highly enjoyable. (378 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
4.21/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Seeing all the citrus and tropical action to the south, Toronto's Bellwood Brewery gets on board with a boastful IPA that leans toward West Coast bitterness but with the teeth churning fruit acidity in aroma and taste.

Much like any well-built IPA, the body of the beer is burnt orange and with a mild dry-hopped haze. On top, a fluffy and creamy white cap gives the ale a confident look, even as it retains the session with ease of offering up concentric rings of lace.

Bright aromas of citrus and tropical fruit waft about the nose with impressions of ruby red grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple, mangoes, passion fruit and apricot are all represented in the culminated scent that reminds me of Tropical Fruit Punch.

As the sweetness greets the early palate, its of light honey and caramel and with a grainy-sweet taste. As the hop flavor builds in, the sweetness seems of the fructose in those ripe citrus and tropical fruit varieties. Trailing sweetness allows for hop dominance to close the taste with the smooth bitterness as if biting into orange peels and an aftertaste of citrus-scented furniture polish.

Medium bodied to start, the beer's light residual sweetness folds in its carbonation for a creamy texture. But as the carbonation digresses, the bitter dryness of hops and alcohol close the beer crisply, cleanly and with a high level of refreshment.

I love that teeth-churning citrus coat that the beer beer lays on the mouth. Then following with acute bitterness and crisp dryness- only the light solventy taste of alcohol becomes exposed in this otherwise naked beer where no off flavor can hide. Its a masterful representation of the style! (1,660 characters)

Photo of erha2
3.98/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: Orangish amber caramel color and cloudy. Small head. Lots of lacing streaming down my glass.

Smell: Hoppy with more malt than I usually like in my IPAs. A little sour, ciderish, grassy too.

Taste: Bitter, citrus more muted (still delicious grapefruit), definitely more caramel malt. Love the candied fruit finish.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and rich. Still medium-bodied and not syrupy. Medium carbonation.

Overall: I've heard good things about Bellwood and was not disappointed with this very fresh, outstanding double IPA. Thanks Twelve Percent for getting this stuff here.

Bottled 5/22/2013
Purchased at Whole Foods Tribeca for $10.99 (but 20% off for their annual 20% off all beer sale so $8.79) (709 characters)

Photo of avalon07
4.21/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Poured from a bottle to a tulip glass. Had a burnt orange color and a cloudy consistency. Some sediment. There was a small amount of foamy head that quickly dissipated. Pretty good lacing.

S: A solid aroma of hops, light fruit, and pine.

T: Tasted of hops (a lot of hops), some pine, citrus (a little grapefruit), and light malt in the finish. Definitely a hop-centric DIPA, but the fruity elements are apparent. A vibrant flavor.

M: A well-carbonated beer with a slightly bitter finish. Medium-bodied.

O: A well made version of a West Coast DIPA. Very much drinkable. (575 characters)

Photo of Amalak
4.04/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A. It has a caramel color, it was completely opaque. There's a slight foamy head with little lacing.

S. Very cidery with a grassy undertone.

T/M. It is extremely sweet. It is strong and hoppy. It has a very sweet taste, citrus with a tart apple taste in the back. Heavy with a long finish. There's a smokiness there, as well. Quite carbonated.

O. Very flavorful and strong. A great beer, even if it is a tad too sweet for my liking. (436 characters)

Photo of hopsolutely
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Have thoroughly enjoyed this beer on tap at the brewery, but this is the first time have taken a bottle home - dated Feb 26/13. The hops would have been more powerful in March, but still an excellent DIPA.

Pours a clear and dark luminescent orange, with a limited white head that disappears pretty quickly. Beautiful aroma of tropical fruits with caramelized malts; mango, pineapple and citrus with a candied sheen. The taste starts with the sweet toffee and caramel of the malt base before the acidity of the 9% ABV hops, the alcohol in which is scarily well hidden. Lots of tropical fruits and west-coast elements - very nice.

A brilliant beer from an excellent new Toronto brewery. Congratulations! (703 characters)

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.73/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured on-tap and served in a shaker pint, the beer is a hazy, orange-gold coloring, almost opaque, with a clingy, filmy, white head. Nose of biscuit, mango and passion fruit sweetness, and floral hops. Flavors are rich caramel and biscuit forward, with a dark, resiny, bitter hops character at the end. Pepper builds with bitter hops, leading to a dry, spiced, and bitter aftertaste. Very rich and big in mouth, with a clingy, rich finish. Bitterness dries the beer out a bit. This one's heavy and tasty. (505 characters)

Photo of Rutager
4.49/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Liamt07!

Appearance. Pours a rich and hazy amber with a finger+ of thick cream coloured head.

Smell. Very perfume-like pine with oranges and red grapefruits, A little lightly toasted caramel malt is there backing all those nice hops.

Taste. Sweet ripe oranges complete with bitter rinds, juicy red grapefruit, a bit of cedar, and some nice sweet light caramel malts.

Mouthfeel. Medium+ body with medium-low carbonation.

Overall. One of the best IPAs I've had in a while. Very juicy and clean with a nice oily bitter citrus rind finish. My kind of IPA right here, thanks again Liam. (594 characters)

Photo of biegaman
4.45/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

The beer tastes strongly of roasted pineapple and so it's only fitting that it should look something like it too. The caramelized orangey-yellow colour is translucent and replete with highlights despite its coppered tone. Its froth is sturdy but covers only half of the beer's surface; it leaves lacing that hugs the glass like a lonely aunt at a family reunion.

Double IPAs tend to be, by their nature, very aromatic beers. Still, this bouquet reveals a fragrant and gargantuan hop flavour. The aroma is maddeningly citric, to the extent that one could name just about any tropical fruit (pineapple, lychee, mango, blood orange, lemon, grapefruit, etc.) and you'd jump up and scream “that’s exactly what I’m smelling!”

The mango, pineapple, grapefruit, papaya and passionfruit flavours are sure to put a smile on your face - they sure do put one on mine! Yet to be mentioned, though deserving of every the same credit as the fruit, is a pungent and earthy grassy-type element that is very redolent of pine. This sappy, resinous taste sticks on the finish like glue.

As far as the malt-to-hop ratio goes, the toasty, toffee-ish sweetness is a minnow among sharks, so to speak. Still, this beer is built like a Clydesdale, a true-to-form workhorse that has enough of a sturdy, bready malt-base to make the near double-digit alcohol seem like nothing; what should be a bitter as hell hop profile is somehow smooth as glass on the palate.

Californian brands may be the gold standard of juicy, vibrantly citrusy DIPAs but this Canadian offering may be one of the best examples of the style I've ever reviewed. It is a strong (9%) and intensely hopped ale that somehow - inexplicably - comes across as a gentle, social and pleasant drink. For a brewery that seemingly can do no wrong, this may be their best. (1,817 characters)

Photo of Digimaika2
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle from Bellwoods bottle shop. Bottling date: Feb. 28, 2013

(4.25) A: Very clear copper with a tangerine hue and a good-looking creamy and dense foam head.

(4.25) S: Pine, tart grapefruit, lush mango, toffee, rich and buttery bread. Definitely an overall fresh aroma with those great bold hoppy qualities coming through.

(4.0) T: As per the aroma, with juicy tropical and citrus fruits upfront that lead into a dry pine quality that emits a ton of bitterness. Toffee sweetness and a thick buttered bread taste appear towards the finish. Boozy warmth blankets this, perhaps a tad more noticeable than was expected.

(4.25) M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Appropriately, very oily and slick with a long lingering and heavy bitterness.

(4.0) D: This is a standout Imperial IPA that I’d purchase/order again in a heartbeat. Recommend giving this a try, and visiting that bottle shop of theirs! (911 characters)

Photo of Beelzebeer
4.24/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled January 29th, served in a Bellwoods tulip

A - Chewy darker amber, with 1" head that I had to pull semi-hard to get out

S - Pine! Smells delicious. Resin, a little fruit, some malt.

T - Some jackfruit, more fruit than on the nose. 9% is evident, but not overwhelming. Nice malt backbone.

M - A little bit too thick for my tastes. Good carbonation.

O - Maybe not my fav, but not far off. Would love to have again. (426 characters)

Photo of korguy123
4.04/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle into Bellwoods tulip.
Bottled Jan 29, 2013

Clear dark copper pour with a two finger, off white head. Lacing is sticky sheeting the glass.

Bitter pine and bright citrus, fresh cut grass, and some sweet candied sugar.

Bitter, dry pine. Bright juicy grapefruit and mandarin oranges. Sweetness of raw sugar?

Light body, quick dry finish. (344 characters)

Photo of Groulxsome
4.61/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Bottled on January 30th, 2013 and bought from the brewery, Witch Shark pours a copper amber with orange hues and a slim white head (4.25). The boozy, pine, and grapefruit aroma (4.5) is followed by a rich sweetness and light caramel malt taste which is cut through by lots of big, sharp, almost acidic citrus and resinous hops (4.75). The strong bitterness is followed by a fair bit of alcohol heat, a syrupy body (4.25), and a lingering grapefruit rind taste. A wonderfully balanced beer between the big piney hops, the brown sugar sweetness, and the brazen booziness. This is a DIPA for those who really enjoy pine and resinous flavours that cannot help but remind me of Hercules DIPA by Great Divide Brewing Company (a somewhat polarizing interpretation of the DIPA, but one that I am particularly fond of). While not the tropical fruit combination which now seems to be emblematic of the style, Witch Shark is not to be over looked and is, at least in my opinion, one of the very best beers being brewed in Ontario (4.75). (1,026 characters)

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Witchshark from Bellwoods Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 35 ratings.