Witchshark - Bellwoods Brewery

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WitchsharkWitchshark

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BA SCORE
89
very good

34 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 34
Hads: 125
rAvg: 4.08
pDev: 3.92%
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: 34 | Hads: 125
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)

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 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 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 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 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 jrenihan
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Bellwoods.

Beer is copper in colour with a white head of moderate size. Good lacing.

A big hop scent in the nose, lots of citrus, and a bit floral.

Taste is excellent. Very bitter, lots of citrus (grapefruit, mainly), some pine. Caramel malt backing it up. A very big flavour, and very good.

Moderate to high carbonation, full bodied, an oily feel. Very drinkable - if this is truly 9%, it has been hidden very well!

Overall, excellent. Bellwoods is a pretty exciting brewery for anybody in Toronto, and this is my favourite of their initial offerings. A really good DIPA that I could easily drink a lot of - but regret the next morning. (662 characters)

Photo of liamt07
4.27/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the brewery, into a branded tulip.

Lightly hazy darker orange with some red hues, a couple of fingers of white head with good retention and lacing. Nose is hoppy with sturdy malt support, sort of a sugar cookie type thing going on in the background. Clementine, mango anf a touch of pine later in the nose. Taste again features more malt with solid hop suuport - orange, tangerines, clemetines and relatively bitter into the finish. Again, perhaps a shred of pine. A balanced IIPA, with the alcohol being almost completely masked. Bitter with a generous amount of sweetness, and perhaps the malt could be dialed down just a bit, although I feel I'm being a bit nitpicky. Full feel with a somewhat low carbonation. Solid hop profile and an IIPA I'll definitely seek more of in the future. (799 characters)

Photo of papat444
4.26/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to jrenihan for this one.

Poured from a 341ml. stubby bottle, bottled Sept. 21, 2012.

Appearance: A nice slightly hazy honey-colored body with circle upon circle of nice, hanging lacing.

Smell: Very grassy, citrusy, orange.

Taste: Fresh fruit, bit of brown sugar, lots of grapefruit, flesh and rinds combined. Really intense and good.

Mouthfeel: Very creamy, good bitterness, well balanced.

Overall: Very pleased with this one. Would love to have this on hand more often. (484 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 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 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 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 TheSevenDuffs
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewpub. Served in Bellwoods snifter.

A - Cloudy medium orange colour. Half a finger of bright white head formed with decent retention. Light lacing.

S - Huge fresh grapefruit aroma up front. Tangerine and pine also accompany a bitter hop presence. A slightly sweet malt backbone provides some balance.

T - Big grapefruit, pine and orange peel flavours up front that accompany a sharp bitterness. The malt backbone is fairly noticeable and provides a fairly good balance and enough caramel malt sweetness to give this beer the perfect balance.

M - Medium body. Light to moderate carbonation. Full of sticky hop oils.

O - A really good DIPA. Highly recommended. (681 characters)

Photo of peensteen
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hazy amber orange colour, about a fingers worth of white head, good amount of lace. Smell is very hoppy, citrus, tangerine and grapefruit, a good dose of sweet malt is there as well but this is very much a hop bomb, a bit of alcohol comes across as well but it is a nice mixture of hops and sweet bready malt. Taste is lots of citrusy hop, pineapple, tangerine and grapefruit, a bit of sweetness, mid palate the malt comes through and breaks up the hop assault a bit. Super oily on the palate, medium-full body with a light carbonation making this go down fairly quickly. Solid stuff here, very easy drinking IIPA, it will be quite a while before another Ontario IIPA gives this a run for its money. (699 characters)

Photo of wordemupg
4.14/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

341ml stubby poured into tulip 10/10/12 bottled Sept, 21 so its fresh... I guess, no really though cheers liamt07 for this little gem

A light amber orange with some tiny suspended particles being moved around by various sized bubbles, thumbs width of foam falls rather quickly and leaves just a random patch of lace

S tangerine, mandarin orange, and pineapple are quite strong faint floral notes but mostly citric, some sweet malts creating some balance smells strong and awesome

T pine resin and citric rind with a little brown sugar, not as tropical as the nose but still pretty darn tasty

M medium bodied with a sharp bite, gritty and loads of rind on the finish that lingers for ages, zero heat and that's impressive considering its 9% booze and its slick after the grit fades

O what I expect and like in a DIPA, nicely hoped up with a little balance and VERY well concealed booze, really though if you told me this was a 6%er I'd believe you. tropical citrus and a little pine with some sweet malts, right up my alley

I could have another as I don't think I got the chance to fully enjoy this one fully because I drank it to fast. I've only had a few brews from these guys and I predict good things in the future, keep your eye on Bellwoods these guys are going places (1,284 characters)

Photo of WeedKing4
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to a buddy for picking this up from the brewery. This bomber pours a clear, light amber on the first glass, and a golden hazy amber on the second glass. Definately can pick up the tropical fruit flavours in this, with a nice bitterness with the malty finish. The 9.0% alc is well masked and it drinks down very smooth. This is quite a good beer from Ontario. An imperial IIPA! (383 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 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 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 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 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 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 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)

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Witchshark from Bellwoods Brewery
89 out of 100 based on 34 ratings.