Imperial IPA | Garrison Brewing Company

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Imperial IPAImperial IPA
230 Ratings
Imperial IPAImperial IPA

Brewed by:
Garrison Brewing Company
Nova Scotia, Canada

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Launched and enthusiastically received at the first annual Halifax Seaport Beer Fest in August 2007, this ale has quickly become known as the hoppiest beer in Atlantic Canada! Unfiltered Imperial I.P.A. is a robust, full-bodied and complex brew in the Double IPA style. An intensely fruity aroma combines nicely with a malty caramel backbone, clear hop bitterness and lingering citrusy finish. This beer is for the true hophead!

81 IBU

This beer was previously known as Garrison Imperial Pale Ale.

Added by MMansfield on 08-11-2007

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 230 |  Reviews: 126
Photo of Sammy
3.87/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Bigbrye, or should I say Mrs. Bigbrye. A bomber of bottled hops, with significant malting. The formula is More green hop taste well malted. It's drinkable, it's a good IPA. Dark yellow with some white head. Medium mouthfeel, a bit on creamy side. Neutral aftertaste. 2nd tatsing courtesy of NEAL was better and more hop in nose.

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Photo of kylehay2004
3.65/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: no head really on a cloudy amber with golden hues body.

S: caramel, candied fruit, earthy and citrus hops with a sweet maple syrup note as well.

T: I like how this one tastes but it is still a little bland. Up front you get caramel and earthy hops which moves to bitterness and a metallic taste which lingers for quite a while.

M: medium body and moderate carbonation.

Overall: Nice degree of hopiness, it just isnt very complex. The malt base is very good though and this is a decent beer overall.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.15/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle, nice olive drab label, to go with the brewery's overall military theme.

This beer pours a hazy, dark, but somehow bright copper hue, with three fingers of thick, foamy, and billowy off-white head, which settles evenly, leaving some random swaths of chunky, sudsy lace around the glass.

It smells of abundantly sweet and floral citrus - grapefruit and orange, with some further tropical fruitiness (kiwi, mostly) - zippy pine resin, all underlain by a spicy, bready caramel malt. The taste is big on the bitter, astringent pine needles up front, definitely more of a one trick pony than in the aroma, as the malt is also far less sweet that I was led to believe - caramelized, sure, but it also seems much more biscuity, and cracker-like, with a mild nondescript spiciness. A good job is achieved as well in alcohol subterfuge - damned if I can find any such astringencies.

The carbonation is average in its tingling and challenging frothiness, the body a solid medium-heavy weight, generally smooth, and somewhat creamy. It finishes with a hoppy resurgence, the muted citrus and free-flowing pine back for more - the lingering malt need not apply.

I can see why this has won Canadian brewing awards - it is big, brash, and unapologetic - that British influence, so endemic in its cross-country brethren, is squashed into a small corner here. I do like this very much - so why does the size of our broad nation seem so overly evident to me right now? And in another small case of apophenia - Sloan just came up on the stereo randometer: "She told me to 'loosen up' on the way to the L.C." Perfect.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.85/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a deep hazy dirty brown color ale with a quite large foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of bitter and citrus hops is dominating with s very noticeable malt backbone. Taste is also dominated by some citrus and bitter hops with a nice West coast feels and a very nice malt backbone with light dry characteristics. Body is full with limited filtration and good carbonation with no apparent alcohol. Very well done and something I would like to try more often.

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Photo of nickfl
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours with a small head of off white foam on top of a hazy, copper colored body. The foam settle fairly quickly but leaves nice lace on the glass.

S - Lots of pine and sweaty hops with caramel and toffee malt in the background.

T - Sweet, bready malt up front with some pine flavor. Orange and grapefruit show up in the middle and the beer finishes with toffee, pine, and moderate bitterness.

M - Medium body, moderate carbonation, and a balanced finish.

D - Nicely done, this is a solid IPA, with lots of pine hop character and good balance. It ain't Pliny, but it certainly gets the job done.

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Photo of smcolw
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Modest, but lasting head. Leaves a ring of lace after each sip. Hazy, copper amber color.

Fresh, floral hop aroma. Some grapefruit, some pine.

Starts with a malt base, relatively dry. Strong spicy, hot pepper bite in the swallow. There's a long aftertaste that is like sucking a hop pellet. A true hop-head's delight. The flavor completely covers the increased alcohol level. Rich bodied.

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Photo of XmnwildX12
3/5  rDev -26.1%

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.53/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a hazy amber body with a scant, off-white head.

Smell: Aroma of grass and grapefruit pith with a backing of sweetish hinted caramel.

Taste: Sweet caramel maltiness tailed by a grassy, citrusy burst of hop flavor. Moderate bitterness, some acidity. A bit of astringency in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Decent enough for a beer that resides in the no-man's-land between IPA's and DIPA's.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.05/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to korguy123 for this one

A: Pours a hazy orange color with a white one finger head. Very nice lacing down the side of the glass.

S: Nice piney hops on this one. The citrus notes aren't as strong, but I get a little grapefruit. You also get t malt on the back with a little bit of caramel.

T: Lots of hop flavor, rips at my tongue. Piney and citrus gives way to caramel malt and a light toasted flavor.

M/D: Medium to full bodied with nice carbonation. Bitter/dry finish. Overall a nice DIPA, lower on the abv scale makes it really easy drinking.

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Photo of liamt07
4.13/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 500ml bottle, dated January 19, 2010, into my new Propellor pint glass (bottle and glass courtesy of Long813). Past it's prime clearly, but I'll keep that in mind.

Pours a deep orange/amber with a finer or so of eggshell white head. Good head retention, with still a significant amount of fat, chunky lacing. Aroma is of grapefruits, but the malts have a huge presence here; very sweet, bready and caramel-like. Taste is initially of a quick punch of hop bitterness, supported tremendously by solid malt base, again not overly sweet, but balanced, smooth and of a caramel/toffee flavour. Mouthfeel is full and balanced, with a slightly astringent and dry finish. Bitterness lingers significantly. Drinkability is quite good, not a huge blast of hops and again, balanced and easy to put back. Alcohol is non-existent here. Would've loved to have tried this fresh, and will definitely re-review this when I do.

EDIT: Bottle as part of the recent LCBO release, less than a month and a half old. Appearance ranks the same, excellent lace and retention. Greater citrus and hop presence in the nose, so much more fruity and huge toffee malt compared to how I remember. Taste ranks the same, bigger bitterness this time round. More chewiness. Smell bumped up from a 3.5 to a 4, and drinkability from a 4 to a 4.5. One of the better ones in Canada, a few notches below the 10BY.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.76/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Disclaimer - got this beer as part of a trade with Loftarasa. I was supposed to pick it up from my parents in December, but the box got lost amongst some empty ones on the front porch and I didn't end up getting my beer until this week (6 months later). However, since I don't know when I'll get another Garrison IPA I figured I'd review it - but with the hopes that I'll get a crack at a fresh one in the future. Bottled December 2008. Served in an Ikea pint glass at my cousin-in-law's BBQ party.

A - Gorgeous reverse waterfall cascade of foam that eventually settles to three fingers of soapy blonde foam. Solid retention and copious patchy lacing. It's definitely an unfiltered brew, with a slightly hazed dark amber color and the occasional tiny bubble that flits into view.

S - Pine and dank earthy hops - is this a Simcoe beer? Reminds me a little of the Weyerbacher double I had last week, but obviously smells older with plenty of caramel maltiness. I'm not getting any of the citrus promised on the label - perhaps it was there in January, but I guess I'll never know. Somewhat muted, even when it warmed up.

T - Pine, maybe a hint of orange, loads of caramel and bready malt. There is still some residual hop bitterness that builds and builds over the 650ml serving size. Nothing wrong with it - but it's just not popping like a fresh IPA would, and lacks depth (again, likely due to the age).

M - Mild to moderate carbonation, medium body, soft and creamy. Dry finish with some residual hop oils and resins. Pretty standard.

D - Bitterness mounts very quickly for this one. ABV is still in the session range, and finishing the bomber was no problem, but the palate fatigue made it hard to taste much of anything the rest of the evening.

I suspect having this fresh would bump it up to an A- (smell and/or taste would probably gain a half point). Hopefully I'll get a chance to amend this review.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.9/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle poured into a pint glass

Appearance - The beer pours a murky amber colour with huge frothy beige head. I can't make out much carbonation due to the haziness of the beer, and there is some fantastic lacing.

The head lasted for over 5 minutes or so before it was gone.

Smell - hops, slightly metallic, malts, toffee/sugar

Taste & Mouth - The beer has a nice and balanced mouth feel. There is an average amount of carbonation mixed with full bodied taste that makes it feel velvety. Hops are the most prominent flavour, also some caramel and malts, and lots of floral and citrus notes. There is a lot of flavour going on here, very potent and full bodied - and very sweet. It finishes with a hop/bitter aftertaste.

Drink - Definitely a good IPA, worth seeking out.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured in to Duvel tulip glass.

A - Dark orange/amber colour with a small amount of bubbly white head.

S - Nice aroma of bitter citrus hops with a touch of floral scent coming through. A sweet caramel backbone rounds out the nose.

T - Bitterness hits you up front with some floral and faint citrus notes. A big sweet caramel malt backbone is present as well. The hops create a big bitter bite that lingers in the finish.

M - Medium body, good chew, lightly carbonated.

D - A good DIPA but needs more flavour from the hops (lots of bitterness without the accompanying flavour profile)

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Photo of Derek
4.4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Amber-copper with a light tan head, good retention, great lace.

S: Huge citrus aroma with grapefruit, tangerine, nectarine and hints of toffee.

T: Plenty of hops, with some nice malt to back it up. Great balance. Flavours of tangerine, nectarine, grapefruit, toffee & nut with hints of caramel & fruity esters. Alcohol is subtle.

M: Well-attenuated, moderate body has some hop acidity and a crisp finish.

D: I love it, but it's more of an IPA and a half, so it's certainly not as sessionable as some.

Definitely among the best in Canada.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to my father for sharing this beer. This was the new packaging, labeled as Imperial IPA and showing 7 percent ABV. I am told it is the same beer as Imperial Pale Ale.

The beer pours an orange-amber color with a tan head. The aroma is strong on the pine and grass notes. The flavor is caramel and toffee malt with some pine and grass hops to keep things from being overly sweet. Low bitterness. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

A nice beer that may be more of an IPA than a Double IPA, but enjoyable no matter what style you place it in.

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Photo of wordemupg
4.33/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500ml bottle poured into pint glass oct13 2009

A lots of suspended particles inside a reddish orange glass with a giant head on it. the foam goes nowhere and coats my glass well down the side. this is looking like a good thing

S citrus with the mild pine smell, lots of hops and some toffee

T all of the smell but more, I get some malt that works well with the large amount of hops. the citrus is a little more focused at grapefruit and a little booze is there but mild. nice seeing a real IPA from Halifax this is a winner

M foams up a fair bit but it seams too add a nice touch and give it a creamy feel.

D I like the bite this beer has going on, very easy too drink and overall one of the best big IPA's I've ever had from Canada

thanks wittaker for this one its great, knock one of the Canadian top25

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Photo of biegaman
4.06/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This cinnamon bark colour is striking; the beer's look is beyond merely appealing, it is alluringly attractive - if not to say downright tantalizing. Its provocative blush is made further handsome by a distinctive clamato-red tinge that is derived from the light. Clarity is issued but cannot be observed due to the deep, toasty tone. Its head, with its velvety texture and fluffy consistency, is the consummate embodiment of the word 'creamy'.

If you're going to tack the word 'imperial' onto your pale ale (or virtually any other style for that matter) a gluttonous use of hops is of cardinal importance. It smells like Garrison understood that rule well. And, although hops should be preeminent, malt selection matters too. Again, this is something the brewmaster seemed to be well aware of. This aroma has both the stinky, pungent, resiny hops as well as toasty, sweet caramel maltiness.

And both are displayed well in the taste too, the hops definitely garnering more attention. Their drying, bitter, pithy citric grapefruit flavour combines with just a dash of spice and a musty, earthy kind of leafiness that lends the beer a sassy, brass and certainly delicious taste. 2-row pale, caramel, and sparing uses of Munich and Dextrin malts contribute a few ounces of biscuit and caramel to the flavour as well as prop up the mouthfeel.

The brewer seems to have gotten his money's worth out of these Amarillo and Magnum hops. The beer takes on a number of characteristics, including: citric, leafy, resinous, spicy and flowery. Die-hard hopheads might wish for a slightly larger dosage (silly hopheads, always want more! more!! more!!!) but there's no arguing about the quality of this beer's hoppiness; it has the malts beat out by at least a yard-stick.

Garrison's Imperial Pale Ale may not only be the hoppiest beer in Atlantic Canada, it may also be one of the best. Leaving the beer unfiltered has blessed it with a gorgeous appearance, using a voracious amount of fruity, charismatic hops has rendered the beer with a fragrant aroma, distinctive taste and awfully charming persona. Other Canadian brewers take note: This is what a nicely hopped beer should look, smell and drink like.

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Photo of bylerteck
4.06/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Duvel tulip.

A - A nice cloudy orange/amber body with nice carbonation streaming up the sides of the glass forming a fluffy, thick, off-white head that clings to the glass nicely, leaving nice lacing as it goes. Towards the end the lacing is gorgeous and there is a half finger of head left with an ice cream scoop in the middle.

S - Huge hop aroma without putting my nose to it. Nice pine comes out at first. Mild grapefruit is there with maybe caramel.

T - Woah, hop bomb. Massive pine hop blast with a little bit of that malty caramel taste. Don't get me wrong though, this is hop forward. Very bitter finish that lingers and feels like it's shredding my tastebuds. I like the taste.

M - Full bodied with carbonation where it should be.

D - Good drinkability on this. Lower ABV for an imperial IPA. The bitterness might hold me back on this but it's still delicious. According to their website it only clocks in at 70 IBU and the lingering piney characteristic shows it.

A solid beer that was a nice addition to the LCBO fall release.

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Photo of PEIhop
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Mikexw
4.06/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Viggo
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to MMansfield for hooking me up!

Pours a cloudy amber, forms a thick off white head, settles down to a thick ring and layer, nice lacing on the glass. Smell is caramel, biscuity malt, pine and floral hops, grapefruit, nicely balanced. Taste is similar, solid malts, caramel and bread, grapefruit and pine hops, some nice floral and citrus, very balanced finish, perfect bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low to medium carbonation, alcohol is well integrated. I didn't know Canadian brewers knew how to hop until I had this and the HP Humulus, and this Garrison closest thing to an American IPA commercially available here. Thanks Matt!

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Photo of deonreds
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%

Photo of andrenaline
4.03/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a hazy golden orange, finger of head with solid retention and fantastic lacing.

S - Sweet caramel and lemon citrus hops off the top, with a touch of earthiness, followed by some pine and cedar notes.

T - The caramel hits you off the top, but is quickly overtaken by some very bitter citrus hops. Probably one of the bitterest IIPA's I've had to date for sure, though the malt does attempt to balance it out.

M - No complaints here. Even though it came across bitter, it did not finish overly dry, and was smooth going down.

O - Overall a very tasty, though bitter, IIPA. A hop heads delight and definitely something unique in the realm of DIPA's. Highly recommended and a quality Canadian take on the style.

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Photo of Rutager
4.62/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance. Pours a hazy, deep amber with a finger of sticky yellow head that leaves some lacing.

Smell. Caramel, lemon, pink grapefruit, papaya, grass and pine. Smells really good.

Taste. Sweet caramel grains and building, citrus grassy bitter hops. A little marzipan in the lasting, bitter floral, citrus, pine finish.

Mouthfeel. Medium-full body with smooth medium carbonation.

Overall. A really great dipa. Alcohol well hidden, but lower than I would have expected for such a rich beer. Enjoyed this one.

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Photo of jrenihan
3.53/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle date appears to be July 3, 2011, which means it took just over two months to get to Ontario and make it through the LCBO labs. The joys of regulation...

Pours a dark amber orange with an enormous amount of frothy off-white head. Mild lacing, good retention.

Pleasant smell of citrus (grapefruit) and caramel malt. Pleasant but neither strong nor remarkable. A bit muted.

Taste is bitter with some caramel malt. A bit of grapefruity citrus but it is not particularly strong. Some pleasant flavours as the beer sits in my mouth for a little while and more becomes apparent. Finish, however, is bitter without much else happening.

Full bodied, and quite carbonated. Somewhat irritating to me. Pretty creamy feel. Pretty good once the carbonation dies down.

Overall, this beer has some good qualities, but I was somewhat disappointed. I found the bitterness was not fully accompanied by other flavours- seemed to be bitter for bitters sake. This was particularly so in the finish. Whereas there are some nice flavours balancing the bitterness for awhile, the finish is simplistic and not particularly enjoyable. I prefer this to Garrison's Hop Yard, but do not think it is a great DIPA.

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Imperial IPA from Garrison Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.06 out of 5 with 230 ratings