Imperial IPA | Garrison Brewing Company

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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

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Reviews: 125 | Ratings: 225
Photo of IronDjinn
3.72/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

From a 500 ml brown bottle. Pours out a hazy marmalade hue, tall massive billowing spongy white head with excellent retention. Small yet thick patches of lacing.

Rich bready malt on the nose with a background of mild citrus hops, with predominant orange notes.

Rich chewy bready malt up front in the flavour, also some caramel character, with a serious presence of bittering hops, while some sharp pine works its way out of it all towards the finish. Some white grapefruit pith atringency leeches out in the aftertaste

Full-bodied mouthfeel but on the lower end of that scale, low carbonation and silky smooth. If only all DIPA's had this calibre of mouthfeel.

This has its moments, the mouthfeel is great, however the hop profile within the flavour simply comes across too aggressively one-dimensional, there's far too much bittering character without much development of actual flavour making it almost akin to chewing on a pine bough without the sharp edges. Malt is great, just needs more diversity with hop treatment.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.15/5  rDev +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 EnemyWithin
3.98/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle into wine glass on Jan 2, 2011.

Appearance = 4.5
Slightly hazy (unfiltered) burnt, caramel orange body with 1 inch thick, dense orange-white head . Mild head retention and good lacing.

Smell = 4
Very delightful sweet, citrus hops aroma (grapefruit, oranges, tangerines) dominates with substantial sweet, caramel aroma of malt as well. Quite strong and delicious smell overall. Does dissipate in intensity with time somewhat.

Taste = 4
Incredible bitterness from hops, that is more piney than citrus ( in contrast to aroma). Persists from start of taste until end. Near the end of a taste, notes of more citrus and malt, especially as beer warms. Hint of mineraliness at times, although I may be just mistaking it with hops.
Definite hops-bomb, particularly because this bottle is fresh right from brewery.
Should let warm to good temp to get fullness of flavour.

Mouthfeel = 3.5
Moderate carbonation and mild-mod viscosity. Overall, on the dry end and somewhat prickly on tongue, given the bitterness. Is enjoyable.

Drinkanbility = 4
As mentioned, hophead beer, but still extremely drinkable. Refreshing and hides 7% ETOH well. I would seek this out and have a few, especially if fresh.
I agree with others that this is one of the best beers Garrison has, having tried them all at some point.

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Photo of socon67
4.32/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brought this back from a trip to Halifax.

A - Dark orange and cloudy with a thick white head. Looks very enticing.

S - Very hoppy, and in a good way. Very crisp aroma and a little spicy as well.

T - This guy is a hop bomb, plain and simple. A true DIPA with a little sweetness. What makes this pretty darned good is the smooth finish from what is a potently hopped ale.

M - Finishes with a little raspy feel on the tongue. Medium bodied.

D - Very much so. I will enjoy this bottle. Can easily be a go-to beer for IPA lovers.

I've had most of the Garrison line and this is by far their best offering.

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Photo of Swedes21
3.98/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500 ml served in a chilled glass..

Appearance - beer pours a gorgeous cloudy auburn colour with a 3 finger head. Head is a light foamy head that is off white/brown based. Can not see much carbonation.

Smell - strong citrus based smell with a good hops based. There is also the expected pine smell, but not dominant.

Taste - I can really taste the citrus on the backend that adds to the bitterness. There is a caramel base to the front that adds some sweetness. A really nice and clean IPA.

Mouthfeel - I wouldn't say there is much carbonation added, however a little goes a long way. The mouthfeel i found brings fwd the caramel taste a little and lessens the aftertaste.

Drinkability - I actually liked this beer, found it to be full and complete. Would be a great session beer and offers a lot to the taste buds.

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Photo of robnews
4.7/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into a Stella chalice.

Fantastic orange haze color. Nice thick head, looks like trouble.

The smell of hops and fruit galore...incredible.

Taste: Wow, the hops coming on later shocked me big time...Very bitter, but fruity and refreshing all at the same time.
Don't taste any alcohol, cause my mouth is busy processing what just passed through it...Very hoppy.

The aftertaste is strong, hoppy, unforgettable and very drinkable. Magnificent brew from Halifax.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%
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 korguy123
4.32/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml into DFH signature glass.

A- Hazy orange/copper pour. Finger width white head, carbonation is barely visible deep within the glass. Lacing is great and sticky, just sheets the sides of the glass.

S- Sweet candied sugar, piny fresh hops. Mild citrus tones. Subtle maltiness and faint strawberries.

T- Floral hop bitterness ravaging my tongue. Long dry finish, with subtle citrus notes. Toasted malts and faint caramel.

M- Medium bodied, dry finish. Bitterness continues in your mouth long after your sip. Sticky sweet on the lips.

D- Very easy drinking DIPA. Glad I got to enjoy this one, it was a real treat.

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Photo of shamus
4.3/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was truly ecpecting this to disappoint me, given how many Pale Ales and IPA's in the LCBO don't live up to their name. This however was a beautiful surprise. Yes it has a luscious head and body, yes it smells fragrant and promising but the real proof is in the taste. If there were a single draft this pleasing in this city I would be there at the tap daily. This is new at the LCBO in my territory but I really hope they continue it. P.S. it's a Canadian beer.

One year later: Now this is more like it. After drinking some tepid Ontario APA this IPA from Nova Scotia is the real deal. Beautiful pour with lots of long lasting head and lace. You can smell those hops. It's like coming home. I would gladly drink this again. Too be fair it's not perfect but what is. It's really great. More please. Too bad it seems to be seasonal

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Photo of TerryW
3.98/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This is a pretty fierce brew best suited to hop lovers. Looks great. Hazy orange amber that pours a large firm head that eventually settles to a heavy film and gives up a ton of lace long the way. Looks quite appetizing.

Very hoppy nose with a sweet malty backbone. Very fruity, lots of grapefruit citrus and pine. Also quite appetizing. Quite sweet from the malt when it first hits your mouth but is immediately dominated by powerful grapefruit peel. You gotta be lovin' your hops to like this, otherwise you'll be wondering what hit you. Long lingering bitter finish.

Well made, good drinking. Worth a try.

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Photo of StarshipPoopers
4.23/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500mL bottle poured into a snifter.

A - What a nice appearance. A very hazy orange with about 2 fingers of foamy white head. The lacing is excellent and leaves a lot of legs. The retention is alright, dies down pretty quick but there are still patches of head here and there.

S - What an unexpectedly good smelling DIPA. The hops come through with a strong grapefruit smell and other citrus. Also a grassy pine smell in the hops as well. Some slight hints of malts as well.

T - Quite hoppy and well balanced. I am impressed, I would place this from California or some other place along the West coast, certainly not from Nova Scotia. The tastes are much the same as the smell. The grapefruit hops are very nice and this beer is quite balanced. Pines and earthy notes come through and the beer is balanced the way that I like it. The malts taste mainly of caramel and adds a nice backbone to the overall taste. Balance is typical of a good DIPA, strong hops with good malts to back them up.

M/D - Nice smooth mouthfeel that i have come to expect from good DIPAs. The bitterness adds a nice bite, and the aftertaste is quite subtle and not overpowering.

Very good, I hope the LCBO keeps this around.

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Photo of drinkininthewood
4.61/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle from the LCBO.

Served into a Samuel Smiths glass.

A- Foggy amber color with off white inch of foam. Looked almosy syrupy while pouring.

S- Fruity and floral with strong citrusy hop aromas and even some strong malty aromas. Quite possibly one of the best smelling beers I have had.

T- Great malt up front brings a wave of caramel sweetness completely transforming into some delicious, citrusy hop oils. Drying bitter finish lingers. Very flavorfull and assertive. I love it!

M- smooth and full bodied.

D- Very tasty but also quite strong. 1 or 2 bottles.

Overall the best Canadian brewed IPA. What is stopping other canadian brewers from pulling out all the stops and dropping hop heavy brews such as Garrison IIPA. The standard has been set in my opinion.

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Photo of mrnobody
3.75/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

500ml bottle poured into an oversized tulip. Pours a hazy amber with 3 fingers of creamy head. Head eventually settles down to a ring of foam but leaves some nice lacing. The aroma is tropical fruit and pine, very inviting. Taste consists of a very upfront piney bitterness followed by some sweet fruit on the finish but with a persistently bitter final note. This is definitely more of a single IPA than a DIPA in terms of the body, however the carbonation seems about right. Other than the lingering bitterness, this is very drinkable. This seems a little out of balance. There is some nice tropical fruit here but it is dominated by the bitterness unfortunately. Otherwise, a pretty good beer.

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Photo of heebes
3.65/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle

Pours a hazy deep orange amber, producing a thin head.
Smells of sweet citrus, pine and hints of floral.
Taste is bold on the sip. Sharp bitterness of the hops is very upfront, a mild sweetness follows then finishes very dry and the bitterness sticks around in the aftertaste. Medium to heavy mouthfeel. Overall the sticky afterkick of hop flavours holds this back slightly as a smooth drinking IIPA. It's got all the nose of a great beer but to me doesn't quite reach the greatness of top IIPAs.

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Photo of allergictomacros
4.03/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy copper with a big billowy head. Careful pouring this one - the head will build for a good long time! Nose is bright, floral and citrusy with a touch of sawdust and fruit. A little on the boozy side and leans towards bitterness rather than hop flavour. Could have more balancing sweetness. Good body and drinkability. Tasty enough but doesn't really pop.

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice to finally see some Garrison brews out east...

Poured into a nonic. A lovely light orange russet brew, sporting a substantial creamy head with loads of lacing sheets. Remarkable retention, a sturdy layer lasting throughout the pint.

Nose is all hoppy goodness - a fine blend of pine, citrus and leaf, with some caramel malts and bread in the back.

Tasty stuff, not the hopslam I had expected, but nevertheless a flavorful hoppy brew. I find with some IPA/DIPAs that my tastebuds acclimatize quite a bit, so with this one I found the hop character less pronounced as I went through it. Caramel malt flavor provides a backdrop, but the leafy, citrussy hops are allowed to be the stars of the show. Finished slightly nutty, with a long bitter finish. Alcohol is barely present, if at all.

Mouthfeel was slightly watery, but creamy and with solid carbonation. A pleasure to drink.

This was the brew from Garrison I was waiting for, and it did not disappoint. One of the better Canadian strong IPAs I've come across. Rich and flavorful, a great evening sipper. Not hopped enough to become burdensome, but the high ABV reduces the appropriateness of sessioning. Great stuff.

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Photo of bylerteck
4.06/5  rDev -0.2%
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 strangemusic
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clouded dark orange with a fluffy head leaving lots of sticky dots. Nice.

Smell of biscuits, orange and piney, herbal hops. Pretty on par for the style. Not a blast of citrus/grapefruit. Florals, bitterness and some brown sugar.

Loads of piney bitter hops up front, with lingering grassy/herbal/floral character, and a lemon-zesty finish. There is a bit of caramel sweetness in the back of things, but it's not too sweet. On one hand this keeps things nice and light, on the other it makes for not the greatest sense of balance in the beer. Chewy mouthfeel with good carbonation. Medium body. Drinkability also good for the style, also owing to the absence of heavy malts or really intense alcohol.

This is a pretty good IIPA that doesn't have any pretentious bones about it. It's not oily or puckeringly bitter, nor is it a beast to drink due to huge malt profile. It manages to stay refreshing, and it has lots of that straight-up hop wallop.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev -1.7%
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 TheSevenDuffs
3.8/5  rDev -6.6%
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 spinrsx
3.9/5  rDev -4.2%
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 MattyV
3.93/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy deep amber-orange colour with a thick creamy off-white head that shows great retention.

Spice and (mostly) citrus evident in the nose, along with a noticeable caramel malt character. Hints of fruit start to come out as it warms.

Very bitter tasting, but doesn't overwhelm, just coats the tongue and mouth with a thin coating of grapefruit rind, pine needles, and earthy hops. A subtle caramel malt flavour can also be picked out which complements and balances the hoppiness, although it clearly/appropriately takes a back seat to this major hop-assault on the tastebuds.

Medium-bodied and moderately carbonated, slightly creamy mouthfeel.

The intensity of the hop flavours will prevent most from reaching for more than one of these in a single sitting... but that being said, I was glad to see this arrive at my local LC as its great for once to be able to grab something Canadian to get a solid hop fix!

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Photo of BBP
4.41/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a thick orangish brown with good carbonation. The head was quite robust, and the lacing was preeminent.

S- Piney hop with a bit of bite, as well as some malt. I couldn't make it out too well as the hops were very dominant.

T- Piney hop and a bit of smokiness in the malt from the start. Has some citrus and caramel notes as well. Light bits of fruitiness, and very bittersweet. I found this to be a great example of balance in an IIPA. I loved the bitter pine aftertaste mixed with smokiness. Through it all, I appreciated how the hops remained the focus of it, as some DIPA's become heavy in regards to malts.

M- A bit more than a medium body, and it goes down quite smooth. The carbonation seemed just right.

D- Easy to down, and quite enjoyable. No real flaws in it at all. The only DIPA I'm aware of that I can get around here, which certainly helps it out.

Before finding this, I wasn't aware of any double IPA's in my country. I thought they were almost exclusive to the states. That being said, I wasn't sure how one of ours would hold against the others, and the answer is that it did a pretty good job. Not my favorite DIPA, but I don't think it's lacking.

I may pick up a couple more of these, regardless of the slightly high price point. It was incredibly smooth for it's style, but maybe a little less potent.

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Photo of WeedKing4
3.6/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle pours a dark, slightly hazy orange brown colour, with a lot of head. Tastes slightly bitter with a bit of a hop bite up front, but the follow through falls short. Lacks the finish, this beer does. Its ok overall, but the back end could use a little more punch. Thought this one was a little over hyped.

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Photo of liamt07
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
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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Imperial IPA from Garrison Brewing Company
4.07 out of 5 based on 225 ratings.
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