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Nickel Brook Headstock IPA | Better Bitters Brewing Co.

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very good
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Nickel Brook Headstock IPANickel Brook Headstock IPA

Brewed by:
Better Bitters Brewing Co.
Ontario, Canada

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

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Reviews: 81 | Ratings: 251
Photo of MylesMac
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Clean, clear and lighter in color than I was expecting - maybe close to a 10 SRM. About a half inch of solid head that lasted for at least 10 minutes. Some lacing.

Smell: Pineapple, lemon, fresh pine needles maybe some bubble-gum. Very refreshing.

Taste: Piney hops from start to finish. Also get some citrus in the beginning that fades into bread flavors and perhaps a touch of caramel. Bitterness lasts long into the finish, very nice.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, low carbonation, slightly creamy - good stuff.

Overall: Very happy with this beer. Plenty to offer in the aroma and flavors department. Would definitely do this one again.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.11/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

473ml can purchased as a single from the LCBO booth at the Toronto Royal Winter Fair.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" light beige head over the cloudy golden copper brew. Head holds on nicely, with lasting lace. Aroma is juicy citrus.

Taste starts sweet, jiucy citrus from nose in the middle, moderately bitter close coupled with even more citrus. Mouthfeel is way smooth, and drinkability is excellent. Liking this one.

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

Its lush amber body carries a haze to it that makes me think this hasn’t been filtered. I’m quite fond of this trend in commercially available Ontario crafted IPA’s which are putting an emphasis on “all natural” beers. A finger and a half of creamy off-white head retains nicely before it gradually recedes to a frothy cap. Splashes of lace are painted across the glass.

Smelling from the glass right after the pour, you really get that fresh nugget hop essence. Resinous, piney, and candied lemons ooze out of the glass. This intense hop aroma however loses some of its potency rather quickly, giving way to a dessert-like bready malt character. Caramel comes to mind. The nose is both fresh and clean, and that is something I can appreciate.

A crisp piney hop kick streaks down the back of the palate with a hop leaf herbaceousness trailing behind it. The notes of pine are so fresh that it’s easy to mistake them for mint. Judging by the level of bitterness, I wouldn’t clock this in at the 80 IBU’s that is stated on the can, but this was in the unrefrigerated section at the LCBO and that may explain why this is. The malt character merely outlines the rest of the beer and rightfully so. It does manage to leave a pleasant soft sweetness in the finish.

Where this stands out most is in the feel. Its medium body possesses that creamy feel I love in IPA’s. This is perfectly balanced, crisp, and smooth. An IPA that is suitable for sessioning, although the 7% ABV would make you want to be a bit careful.

For an IPA in general, this sits comfortably at a 3.5 for me. It’s well balanced and smooth and possesses enough of a hoppy kick to satisfy a hop head like me. With that being said, it’s very straightforward and lacks a factor that sets this IPA apart from others. For an Ontario crafted IPA however, I would have given this a higher overall score. This is a testament to how far the Ontario craft beer industry has come in terms of products that are available commercially. A few years ago, a 7% unfiltered, naturally carbonated IPA that clocks in at 80 IBU’s would almost be considered a white whale on the shelves of the LCBO. And now, it sits there with Amsterdam’s Boneshaker, Lake of Bays 10 Point, and Railway City’s Dead Elephant. I love where the craft beer industry is now and I can’t wait to see how it evolves in the future.

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

473 ml can from LCBO for $2.75 CDN into a pint glass

Appearance - Golden-ish, dark orange color. 1.5 fingers if head leave a creamy white cap that is slow to disappear, Tons of sediment is readily visible in the glass which may detract from the appeal for some.

Smell – Hops! Piney scents as well as some earthy flavors.

Taste- Quite hoppy with the earthy elements and a piney citrus fueled aftertaste. Maybe a touch of lime thrown in.

Mouthfeel- Balanced as the hops are quite strong enjoyable for someone who likes this but not so overbearing that complete balance is broken. Nice creaminess as well that may be unexpected.

Overall – Quite a delicious beer, one that the hopheads will like, plus it has good ABV and other than the appearance has a refined plate that is creamy and decadent. A favorite in the IPA class.

EDIT(s) - Just had this beer again and was the same as before except for the fact that it was crystal clear and had no chunks of sediment floating around. Much improved appearance in my mind has meant a bit of an adjustment in scoring. Lately, I find myself enjoying this beer frequently, as I compare my top three IPA's I drink on a volume basis, which are Central City's Red racer, Nickel Brook's Headstock and Boneshaker by Amsterdam. I think I was selling Headstock short given that I buy a lot more of it than Boneshaker (although not as much as Red Racer) and yet it's scored lower. The 10 cent difference in price isn't making the difference. SO I've upgraded this beer to 4's across the board, because quite honesty I feel that's where it deserves to be. Maybe it's better consistency and excellent freshness that has brought me around, but Headstock is a winner for the Ontario craft beer scene.

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Photo of pokerman
2.38/5  rDev -37.9%
look: 1 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

The smell was good from the late hops however I believe it's overpriced for what it is.

The can is embarassing to have at your table, look like fruitopia.

Malt balance was fine.

Way too much yeast in suspension, look like a mistake even for unfiltered and bottle carbed beers.

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Photo of randallpink
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in: nonic pint glass

A - beautiful opaque copper colour with two fingers of head that remains for quite some time. there is quite a bit of yeast floating around in the glass which for some takes away from the look of the beer but i don't mind it. leaves decent lacing around the glass

S - not very strong on the nose but there is a definite citrusy (grapefruit = my favourite!) presence in it which is a big reason why I love IPA's so mucH. there may be a hint of pine in there but its hard to tell as the citrus is the most powerful

T - amazingly hoppy and bitter which is just what I'm looking for! the citrus is present but not as powerful as in the smell as the hops take over and is a big reason why I was originally drawn to this beer. the aftertaste is great as well as it leaves that bitter taste that IPA heads love. a bit of malt is coming through the more i drink.

M - very smooth tasting and moderately carbonated. the aftertaste isn't as refreshing as I find some other IPA's, but the bitterness remains for quite some time and its good enough for me ;)

O - i tried this beer at the craft roundhouse festival in toronto, and seeing as how I'd had quite a few beers when i tried it, I figured i should give it a go completely sober. While its definitely not the best IPA i've tried this summer, I will definitely be buying a few more cans as i did enjoy it quite a bit. the can itself puts off the image that it will be very citrusy...but in the end the taste turns out to be much more bitter than i expected...not saying thats a bad thing though ;) I would recommend this to anyone looking for a new IPA to try although it does cost a bit more than your average tall can. worth a try in my eyes. definitely think the smell could be a little stronger but the taste actually ends up being pleasantly surprising after that. good beer from nickel brook

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Photo of drinkininthewood
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

473ml can purchased from the LCBO $2.65,Packaged 05 17 13. Served in a pint glass.

A- Golden/bronze in color. Bubbly head of foam diminishes fairly quickly and leaves some blobs of lace around my glass.

S- Cirusy hops in the nose, with wiffs of bready malts. Smells good, though the aroma i find is somewhat subdued.

T- Quite hoppy up front, solid bitterness with flavors of pine and citrus ( mainly oranges ) followed by nice malt body which offers flavor of fresh bread and a touch of sweetness. Finish/aftertaste is hoppy/herbal, a lingering encore of the initial bitterness. 80 ibu i feel is a proper rating for this beer.

M- A smooth ipa with carbonation being on the low side. Medium bodied.

D- Solid flavor and smooth body make for excellent drinkablilty. I drank this brew at just above room temperature and think it really brought out some nice hoppy flavors. I bought a second to try at a cooler temperature.

Overall I really enjoy the fact that were starting to see more Ontario breweries really come into their own with bold brews such as this fine IPA. Nice job Nickel-Brook. I'd love to try this ale on cask.

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Photo of FondueVoodoo
3.61/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Special thanks to cattersley for sending us this brew. Can is marked packaged March 8, 2013.

A: Clear pale copper hue with a fair amount of suspended sediment. Two fingers of creamy off-white foam with a generous amount of lacing up the sides of the glass.

S: Upfront scents of mild pine resin with background notes of grapefruit and a floral bouquet. There is a slight spiciness together with clean mineral notes. Malts are present and round out the hoppy bitters. Smell is less aggressive than the west coast style and presents with a delicate, more malty scent.

T: Hops are noticeable and upfront in the taste. Snappy and bright, pithy orange and lemon peel envelopes the entire palate and leaves a lasting bitterness on the tongue. Malts which were noticeable in the scent are not detectable in the taste.

M: Chewy and syrupy and coats your entire mouth leaving a lasting bitterness.

O: Considering the upfront presence of hops on the palate I would have liked to have more of hop presence on the nose. With a few further tweaks this could go from good to great.

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Photo of IdeaSpeeder
3.41/5  rDev -11%
look: 5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Serving Type - 500ml can, poured into a nonic glass

Appearance - Pours an 'orange-y' copper color, unfiltered. Beautiful. Thick lacing appears along the sides of the glass. Sort of have a home-brew look to it....I almost don't want to ruin it by having a sip.

Smell - Disappointingly unobtrusive. Some citrus and pine smells coming through, but mostly citrus. Not much else so far as I can tell.

Taste - Definitely a hop beast. Better Bitters indeed....the can says 80 IBU and I wouldn't doubt it for a second. Citrus dominates, but there is also some of that pine flavour as well towards the finish.

Mouthfeel - Pretty low carbonation, average feel to it. Nothing special.

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Photo of bylerteck
4.28/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From old notes.

A - Poured hazy copper with good carbonation coming up. One finger of beige head. Minimal lace, half finger retention.

S - Citrus, bread, a bit of pine, very inviting and strong.

T - Juicy with some pine there as well. Really tasty, juicy, and citrussy.

M - Good carbonation, medium body, nice bitterness.

O/D - One of the better IPAs in Ontario right now. Lovely flavour with a high drinkability for the ABV. A nice one to have in these parts.

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Photo of MAB
4.05/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A solid, bitter IPA, with a lot of complex flavors.
Nice copper tint to it, slightly hazy, and a good tight white-ish head on it.
It smells fabulous. Leaves and pine needles. Very outdoorsy.
It tastes even better than it smells. The bitterness comes through but the aftertaste is malt and more of those pine notes, rather than strictly hop bitterness.
Nicely carbonated, for the style. The alcohol level is well-covered, so you don't get a burn from that.
I'll be having another of these, for certain.

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Photo of dipso123
2.81/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Had in tall can 6 months to the day before expiration date.

A : very cloudy, distinct orange hue, head was short-lived and little to no lacing on the glass

S: small to very small nose

T: citrus but more toward navel orange juice than grapefruit zest - a bit too sweet for me.

M: a bit slick on the tongue in the finish.

O: On the side of the can it says "brewed using primarily Nugget hops." Not sure this is the best idea and may go a ways to explain the plain character of this IPA. In comparison to the complex hop character of so many current IPAs this one is lacking.

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Photo of HATS4BATS
3.42/5  rDev -10.7%
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.

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Photo of jaz58
3.91/5  rDev +2.1%
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

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Photo of joemcgrath27
3.95/5  rDev +3.1%
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

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Photo of JamesMN
3.94/5  rDev +2.9%
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...

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Photo of mattsander
2.78/5  rDev -27.4%
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.

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Photo of decimator
3.83/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of hopsolutely
3.92/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

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Photo of jrenihan
3.85/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of EgadBananas
3.46/5  rDev -9.7%
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!

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
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.

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Photo of leaddog
3.8/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

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Photo of mmapes
3.38/5  rDev -11.7%
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.

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Photo of ChrisCage
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
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!

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Nickel Brook Headstock IPA from Better Bitters Brewing Co.
3.83 out of 5 based on 251 ratings.
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