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Nickel Brook Headstock IPA | Better Bitters Brewing Co.

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
86
very good
81 Reviews
THE BROS
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Send samples
Nickel Brook Headstock IPANickel Brook Headstock IPA
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Better Bitters Brewing Co.
Ontario, Canada | website

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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

Added by Sammy on 08-05-2011

BEER STATS
Reviews:
81
Ratings:
245
Avg:
3.83
pDev:
18.02%
 
 
Wants:
8
Gots:
41
For Trade:
0
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Reviews: 81 | Ratings: 245
Photo of badandy
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

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Photo of Jeffo
4.27/5  rDev +11.5%
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.

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Photo of Scrylol
4.12/5  rDev +7.6%
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.

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Photo of kjyost
3.86/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of SebD
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
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.

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Photo of mick303
3.78/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

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Photo of thehyperduck
4.13/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

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.

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.

Final Grade: 4.13, an A-.

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Photo of Rutager
4.33/5  rDev +13.1%
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

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Photo of biboergosum
4/5  rDev +4.4%
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, and raw cake batter-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 thus put in their work day, with no complaints, the body a bit on the light side of middleweight, 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 surely going camping with me this summer.

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Photo of biegaman
3.77/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

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Photo of WeedKing4
3.83/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of rhrytzak
4.07/5  rDev +6.3%
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.

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Photo of papat444
3.58/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Chad for this one.

Poured from a 473ml. can, Exp Nov 17 12.

Appearance: Pours a quasi orange body with a thick ecru head that clings all around.

Smell: Pine, grapefruit rinds, some caramel sweetness and tangerines as well.

Taste: Sweet pine & mango mixed with grapefruit. Flavor is a bit tame but good.

Mouthfeel: I like the malt sweetness blending with the low bitterness. Has a thick, creamy feel.

Overall: A decent IPA that has some good things going for it.

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Photo of Stocean1
4/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - deep amber colour like a dark apple cider, 1/2 finger well retained off white head leaving a lasting collar, some fine sticky patchy lacing

Bready malt, pine and citrus in the nose

Taste follows the nose, prickly resinous pine with grapefruit, plenty of malt but nicely balanced with the hops.

This brew is medium plus bodied with decent carbonation, it is bitter but perfect for the style, drinkable and refreshing if you like a mouthful of hops (I do), the abv is well hidden.

Reminds me of Great Lakes 666, definitely one of the best APAs in Ontario and if you have walked by it expecting it to be like the rest of the Nickel Brook shite, pick it up today. Keep an open mind and you will be pleasantly surprised. Hopefully this brewer has turned the corner and will start producing other quality brews.

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

473ml Can from the LCBO for 2.65

Appearance - Slightly hazy copper colour with an average size fizzy beige coloured head. There is a below average amount of carbonation and there is some fair/good lacing. The head lasted for 5 minutes.

Smell - Malts, caramel, apricots, grapefruit, hops

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste hops, malts, and caramel. There is also a bit of an earthiness and some light fruit flavours such as apricots and grapefruit/oranges. The beer ends with a malty sweet aftertaste and a surprising amount of lingering hop bitterness.

Overall - Reminds me a bit of a smashbomb mixed with a Beau's IPeh. It's a welcome addition to the lacking hoppy beer scene in Ontario. I'd buy it again.

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Photo of daryk77
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Just noticed this today at the LCBO in uptown Waterloo. Nice price at $2.65 for 473ml.

A: Deep copper/red, really lovin' the look, I'm partial to red ales. Great head, stays around the whole time. Some yeast floting around in there but that's fine by me.

S: Can def. smell the hops here but also the malts shine through, pretty big nose

T: Good taste, sharp bitterness up front, not tropical, more resiny. Good malt backbone and a clean finish

M: Really like the mouthfeel, def. some substance from the malts and can notice just a bit of the ABV. Fairly high on the carbonation, probably helps to balance our the sweet malt backbone and bring out the hops.

Overall: I am impressed with this Ontario IPA and glad to see it enter the market. Flying Monkeys Smashbomb still beats it out but not by much, a real solid offering especially for the price, I will definitely buy again. Well Done!

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Photo of CanuckRover
3.49/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours really dark, orange but with a serious reddish tint. Big beige head and nice sticky lacings to the finish.

Really don't get too much on the nose. Vaguely fruity but... not as aromatic as I'd like.

Hops are bright citrus right up front, but don't blink or you'll miss them. Pine bitterness hangs around, but the flavour profile switches to darker malts, burnt caramel.

A malt-heavy offering, firmly in the Canadian IPA category.

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Photo of Digimaika2
3.48/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Tangerine amber with a bubbly semi-creamy foam head. Clinging lace down the glass with a solid and commendable retention.

S: Grapefruit, passion fruit, toffee, nutty elements, and a noticeable damp woody/earthy aroma. Quite enticing.

T: Wasn't expecting the malt-forward direction of this with a toffee and baked bread taste. Tart citrus is present along with a walnut taste, however, the earthy-woody quality isn't quite what the aroma advertised. Bitter and semi-dry. Tasty.

M: Full bodied with a moderate carbonation. Incredibly oily and viscous, but although I normally enjoy those qualities I feel the taste profile isn't bold enough to match the full bodied quality of this.

D: A decent enough American IPA that I'm happy to see in the Ontario market. After a bit of fine tuning this could be quite the gem.

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Photo of wordemupg
4.08/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500ml can poured into tulip 27/4/12 thanks liamt07 for sending the can

A dark for the style looks reddish brown, murky with little chunks floating around in a thick looking liquid, dense two fingers of beige foam has great retention and leaves a few rings of lace followed by random patches, looking great

S floral and piney hops with some grapefruit and tangerine, not all hops but pretty close just a little caramel malt create some balance and some booze is there but not too bad

T slightly more toffee and more rind then the nose, similar other then that and pretty solid if you ask me

M full bodied with creamy carbonation and a nice bitter bite, leaves a little behind in you mouth, no booze detected and a long piney rind aftertaste, no issues here

O pretty solid stuff going on here, nothing to complain about and it looks and feels great, well rounded IPA

not sure what beer all the others are reviewing because I though this was a solid IPA that I`d be happy to put in my regular rotation If I could get it here. thanks again liamt07 for the can

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Photo of bryehn
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, rusty amber colour with a medium-sized tan coloured head that is retained as a frothy collar. Very little lacing and some chunky white sediment.

Thick, syrupy aroma with citrus and berry tones in the forefront. Very sturdy caramel malt base with a pine accent and a spicy note.

The taste is similar, with bright citrus and berry tones taking the lead and backed by toasty, bready malts with a hint of caramel. Nice balance of sweetness at the beginning and a solid bitterness in the finish.

Full-bodied with a relatively mild carbonation. Very creamy on the tongue with a nice, lingering oily sensation. Very drinkable with almost no hint of ABV%. Lemon zest, pine and a peppery spice in the aftertaste.

Wasn’t a fan of any Nickel Brook beers until now. This is a very solid and competitively-priced entry in the increasingly crowded Ontario IPA scene that I’ll be sure to try again.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
3.3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours murky orange with some flocculated yeast chunks floating around. The head is patchy and shortlived, not much foam clings to the glass. Some light tropical fruit and citrus notes in the nose. Piney hops are upfront in the first sip, followed quickly by an astringent character, almost metallic. Its not overbearing but it does detract a bit from the hops. The malt profile is diminutive and simple, just some sweetness. Alcohol spicyness is present in the finish, as well as some bitterness and that same astringency.

An OK IPA, but some flavor imperfections. I'd try it on tap for sure. Its definitely hop forward.

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Photo of mintjellie
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy appearance, burnt orange in colour. Moderately retentive beige head creates a patchy lace in the glass. White grapefruit, pine, and cedarwood aromatics. The flavour packs juicy grapefruit with leafy and herbal overtones underscored by toasted grain before you hit the lingering bitter finish. A minor fault I find with it is that it seems a little too sweet.

Medium bodied with low carbonation, mouthfeel is smooth and only slightly oily/resinous. Overall, I think this is a pretty solid hop fix that would reach the next level if it were more attenuated.

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Photo of korguy123
3.62/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Can into pint glass.

A- Hazy dark copper pour with a two finger off white head. Lacing is excellent.

S- Bright floral hops, bitter citrus with a sweetness of strawberries and caramel from the malts.

T- Bitter pine and citrus with a heavy dose of malt and toffee.

M- Light to medium, slightly creamy, good carbonation.

O- Solid for an Ontario IPA will carry stock in the fridge when I can.

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Photo of Mit
3.41/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy red amber colour with a nice but short lived head.

Smells very citrusy with the hops.... A nice malty finish to the nose.

Hops somewhat subdued in favor of the malts. Bitter crisp finish.

Mouthfeel is probably thinner than I would have wanted from a beer north of 5%.

Overall this is a great addition to the craft beer scene in Ontario. Def needs some tweeking to have it rival the other beers in its category (hop head red...nugget nectar) I'm confidant that Nickelbrook has that in them though.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from a can picked up at the Lower Jarvis LCBO. Digging the Woodstock poster motif for some reason. For some reason I always associate American IPAs with the colour orange, so the colour just felt right.

Poured into a nonic. Deep amber ruby, slight haze, about an inch of head that levelled off into a fine ring.

Nose is light, but all IPA. Citrus, caramel, peach, a bit of lemon, pale malt.

Decent IPA, with notes of pine, earth, citrus and caramel. Tasty, drinkable ale, though a little bit sweet for my personal preferences. Still, enjoyable.

Mild carbonation, medium bodied, slight oil.

Another enjoyable IPA from Ontario, and part of a string of good brews from Nickel Brook. Worth a try if you see it on Ontario shelves - nice IPA in a can for the summer.

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Nickel Brook Headstock IPA from Better Bitters Brewing Co.
86 out of 100 based on 81 ratings.
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