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Witchshark | Bellwoods Brewery

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Brewed by:
Bellwoods Brewery
Ontario, Canada

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Generally an IPA is a beer that focuses on hop aroma and hop bitterness – and double IPAs, as you could imagine, are even more amplified in both bitterness and alcohol content. Our interpretation of this aggressive style, the Witchshark, is a bit of a favourite around here. Named after the elusive creature with the head of a shark and the body of a boy that first swooped in on a broom during construction of the brewery, this imperial IPA can elevate a bad day to good. The Witchshark is shy and mischievous, but once you let him into your heart you’ll see why this intense brew is a favourite among our patrons and brewers.

Added by jrenihan on 04-15-2012

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Reviews: 40 | Ratings: 166
Photo of smakawhat
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a Bellwoods globe glass.

Creamy off white colored and three finger tall head on the pour. Nice golden orange body, with a slight haze but also a real nice glow. Very nice light amounts of carbonation keeping things repopulated and good ringed lacing. Real nice looking beer.

Pineapple to grassy aroma with some small dank earthy tones and pine. Quite a bit diverse, slightly juicy sensing character, with mild malt sweetness.

First taste brings a real nice creamy feeling palate. Slight vanilla flavors but with excellent rushing bitterness of earth, touch of pine and minimal sweetness. Sweet sensing light caramel, some tropical flavors slightly of pineapple on the aftertaste which works well with the creamy texture and flavors.

Excellent palate feel, goes for a bit more on the nose than the tastebuds, but sticks to the basics real nicely. Very solid brew.

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Photo of SSS
3.98/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A-Hazy Golden yellow with a white head that lingers around the edge.
S-I get Columbus and Citra aromas, quite herbal and piney though.
M-Peppery carbonation and medium resinous mouthfeel.
T-Bitter upfront and aftertaste as well. The pepper feel stays throughout and somewhat distracts from the hop flavours. Earthy and herbal.
O-A nice IIPA, lacking a little sweetness for me.

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Photo of akdo
4.58/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Look: The beer has a bright yellow and opaque body. It initially has a two-finger white head. By the time I was about to finish the beer, the head had receded to a thin film with a few tiny holes.

Smell: The nose has a floral strength. Whilst one can sense freshness, notes of pine woods and a little bit of hints of tropical fruits in the background. There was no trace of alcohol, or should I say warmth, in the aroma.

Taste: Despite the strong presence of hops, this beer succeeds in being quaffable. It welcomes you with notes of mangos and moves on to its notes of pine woods. There was no trace of caramel on the palate. Moreover, the bitterness was not harsh.

Feel: The beer barely has any carbonation. It has a clean finish, no astringency, next to no warmth from the alcohol and a juicy feel. Overall, it has a medium-bodied feel.

Overall: I have nothing to addo about this beer. I love it, but I would have loved to see a better head retention that is comparable to Fat Tug IPA or Stone IPA.

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Photo of twiens77
4.75/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

This newest batch of witch shark from belly's is a home run. This is right there with the Pliny IMO. So good. This may have been the freshest I have had the chance to drink from Bellwoods. Dangerously good at a 9%-er...citrus forward hops at their best!!

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Photo of Roby923
4.27/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Super tasty IPA from Bellwoods. Amazing hop punch hides the higher ABV. Super clean finish. Hard to drink only one. Worth the premium. Bottled from the Oss shop.

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Photo of MtnSoup
4.1/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Interesting, delicious take on IIPA. Canadian version, perhaps? Resinous and piney, but very balanced (like each of the beers I tried at Bellwoods). I enjoyed this original version much more than the mango variety. Floral qualities are big - if you like a West Coast DIPA then this is a beer for you...

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Photo of Bunman3
4.34/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

My first Bellwoods beer, and it is a very impressive way to start. Witchshark is nicely composed for a DIPA. It has the requisite grapefruit, pine, and caramel malt that I love. The finish is remarkably light and the alcohol takes its time to attack (perhaps this is a characteristic of the Witchshark.) Huge thanks to Coronaeus for setting me up with this delightful brew!

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Photo of safaricook
4.01/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Yes this is a good double IPA. If I could get this at home, I would look no further to make this my standard. However, it does not play on the same level as the big boys. The same can be said about all the beers that I had on this late spring night at the Bellwoods brewpub. Their beers are excellent representations of the respective styles. However, the do lack this extra special something to be extraordinary. If you are in Toronto you should definitely seek them out.

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Photo of DaveBar
3.58/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Purchased at the Bellwoods bottle shop for $6.50 for a 500ml bottle. Served at 6deg C in a draught glass

A- Opens well and pours a small white head that is gone in a few seconds. Medium gold color and nothing special.

S- Goodly amount of hops here. Like a DIPA. C hops o plenty

T- Pretty mild for a DIPA. Actually disappointing. So many better examples of an IPA let alone a high ABV IPA like this one. Sweet

M- Flat. Plain and simple it's flat and sticky

O- Ok at best. The scent is incredible but the flavor and mouth not so good. Will not buy again unless it's $3.00/ea

Food Pairing

This ok brew went well with..... Roasted pork sandwich


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Photo of SebD
4.4/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: It has a nice deep golden/orange color to it. It has a nice thick off-white head that dies down moderately slow and leaves some nice lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of grapefruits, pineapple, plenty of dank pine resins, light bready malts and some sweet caramel.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has loads of grapefruit and pineapple (very tropical) along with some bitter pine resins, bready malts, and light caramel.

Mouthfeel: It has a low/medium carbonation with a very nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied by great flavors and aromas. Maybe it's because I havn't had a good DIPA in a while but this thing is damn good.

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Photo of bylerteck
3.81/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle a friend brought from Toronto.

A - Light copper pour, bright with good carbonation. Two fingers of fluffy off white head. Spotty lace rings and half a finger of retention.

S - Grapefruit, sugar, sweet syrupy fruits, pineapple core.

T - Lot's of pineapple, syrupy and boozy fruits, pineapple core, grapefruit.

M - Good carbonation, medium to full body and a gripping bitterness with some alcohol.

O/D - Not my favourite offering from Bellwoods, but decent for the style. Probably too sweet for my tastes and not aggressively hoppy in the way that I prefer a DIPA to be. All in all, a good one.

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Photo of swillmeister
3.81/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: poured into a pint glass. Slightly cloudy, light copper color with a creamy head that dissolves fairly quickly

S: tons of floral scent with a whiff of dried orange peel

T: slight bitterness and tang up front but mellows out. Strong flavours of citrus. Close your eyes and you could believe you were drinking a tart grapefruit juice

M: mouthful is on the flat side. Very minimal carbonization

O: this is a quirky beer that may not be for everyone, but if you like a beer with tons of up front floral hops flavour, this is the one for you.

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Photo of mtomlins
4.09/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a stemmed tulip glass and shared with friends.

Pours an orangey, amber color with a creamy white head leaving nice lacing. The nose is a beautiful balance of malt and hops. The malts roll in with sweet caramel and doughy, bready notes. The hops hit with lots of citrus (grapefruit and orange), lemon and pine. The palate follows suit with the nose in flavors, but with a bit of a woodsy, musty hop resin. The body is medium-high with nice about of carbonation. This is a solid DIPA with a great nose and mouthfeel; the finish on the palate through me a bit, but this is a personal preference.

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Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.38/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours bright orange copper with a frothy, pillowy off-white head. The glass is coated with chunks and sheets of lace on the way down. Citrusy hops and caramel, bready malts in the nose. Huge hoppiness in the first sip, lots of tangerine mixed with grapefruit, passionfruit, orange and lemon. Chewy cookie dough malts lay in the background, providing a balance but never stealing the show. The mouthfeel is quite full bodied with a moderate carbonation level. Moderate to high bitterness and some tropical hop frutiness lasts a long time in the finish. Alcohol is well hidden throughout, providing only some spicy complexity.

This is a fantastic DIPA, the best from Canada imo. Tonnes of fresh, juicy hops, great balance. Definitely seek it out if you're in Toronto.

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Photo of Jeffo
2.97/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Got a couple of these from hopsolutely and peensteen. Thanks a lot guys!

From a 500ml bottle into a snifter

APPEARANCE: Pours a small, medium looking, white head with good retention. Perfectly clear burnt orange in color with medium levels of carbonation. Head fades to a faint wisp and ring. A splotchy wisp remains until the end leaving dots of lacing down the glass.

SMELL: A big nose of pale malts, sweet melon, some grapefruit and lots of pineapple. Some citrus lemon aromas, as well as some alcohol there too. Big stuff, and pretty good.

TASTE: Pale malts and melon sweetness, then some bitterness, alcohol and notes of hair spray at the swallow. A little off, unfortunately. Bold and lingering finish is bitter, boozy, with sweet flavors of pineapple and melon, as well as challenging hair spray flavors. Sweet and boozy, and somewhat unpleasantly bitter.

PALATE: Medium-full body with medium levels of carbonation. Creamy on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes slightly mouth coating. A touch of booze lingers. Really nice feel for the style.

OVERALL: Both bottles of this brew were the same. This is a solid effort that didn't quite work out. The nose was nice and the feel really well put together, but the flavor just didn't follow suit. The same situation as their Wizard Wolf actually. Bitter for the sake of being bitter, boozy, with an off-putting hair spray quality that just didn't sit right. I'd love to try another batch, as Roman Candle has shown that IPA's are one of these guy's strong suits. Cheers for the bottles guys!

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Photo of FondueVoodoo
4.18/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Huge thanks to TheSevenDuffs for including this brew as part of the fall Canbif.

A: Amber-copper colour in the pour with 3 fingers of beige, off-white head. Crystal Clear brew with the most lazy carbonation slowly making its way to the surface, suggestive of a drink worth lingering over.

S: Smooth and creamy clean malts that let way to the hops, piney and bright lemons, and musky fruits . Intriguing notes of earthy wetness, like wet soil, but not at all off putting - somewhat mysterious.

T: Caramel malts and rock sugars wash over the palette that open up the way for the piney solid hops flecked with musky tropical fruit of mangos ,pineapples and musk melon. Lingering hops hold just long enough to pursued another sip without over powering. Worth noting is the woody notes towards the end, an oak quaintly similar to a French oaked wine. A delicate balance of hops, caramel, sugars and bitters.

M: Poppy carbonation on the front end in a medium syrup base. Just a slight alcohol ester at the end.

O: Witch shark is a delicious and expert balance of malts & hops. It's a mature version of imperial IPA offering a drink that sophisticated, approachable and unpretentious. The slightly higher alcohol content suggest a sipping drink, worth lingering over, rather than a brew to wash down.

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Photo of mick303
4.4/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

500mL bottle into a tulip glass. Colour is a lovely dark orange amber, quite hazy, with a nice big white head that recedes slowly and has really good lace retention.

S - a big explosion of citrus and piney hops. Lime/grapefruit, and crisp herbally pine, some caramel sweet backdrop. Also a bit floral, with a cool interplay of hop aromas over a firm malt base. Really nice.

T - starts with an refreshing gummy citrus note, and pine needles, leading to a super-smooth creamy body and crisp finish, then a lingering dry herbal and peppery aftertaste. The palate shows off some rich hop character, dry grapefruit citrus balanced with pine and firm malts. Then a zing of citrus acidity kicks in to wake it up. It is so well balanced and drinkable. Has a full upfront profile but goes down very subtly.

M - some moderate carbonation, only minimal of the 'slick' feel often in DIPAs. This is very refreshing and quenching and smooth through the body and then lingers on in a slightly herbal-oily aftertaste. Very full rich feel. Crisp and rewarding finish.

One of the more refreshing and smoothest DIPAs I've tried. Definitely has a big American hop profile with all the flavour and complexity you would expect, the bitterness here doesnt feel as overpowering and there is definitely a firm malt support. I love the combination as it is one hefty and satisfyingly tasty IPA. Seek it out.

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Photo of pksauce
3.98/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Witchshark pours a deep amber with a sticky head that reduced to a small ring as I drank this beauty.

The nose was classic IPA - hoppy, malty and a hint of fruit at the end.

Tasted of hops, hops and more hops. Bitter, dry and spicy. Classic East Coast IPA. Felt sticky and smooth in the mouth.

Overall an awesome IPA - not the best I've had but definitely highly enjoyable.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.21/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Seeing all the citrus and tropical action to the south, Toronto's Bellwood Brewery gets on board with a boastful IPA that leans toward West Coast bitterness but with the teeth churning fruit acidity in aroma and taste.

Much like any well-built IPA, the body of the beer is burnt orange and with a mild dry-hopped haze. On top, a fluffy and creamy white cap gives the ale a confident look, even as it retains the session with ease of offering up concentric rings of lace.

Bright aromas of citrus and tropical fruit waft about the nose with impressions of ruby red grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple, mangoes, passion fruit and apricot are all represented in the culminated scent that reminds me of Tropical Fruit Punch.

As the sweetness greets the early palate, its of light honey and caramel and with a grainy-sweet taste. As the hop flavor builds in, the sweetness seems of the fructose in those ripe citrus and tropical fruit varieties. Trailing sweetness allows for hop dominance to close the taste with the smooth bitterness as if biting into orange peels and an aftertaste of citrus-scented furniture polish.

Medium bodied to start, the beer's light residual sweetness folds in its carbonation for a creamy texture. But as the carbonation digresses, the bitter dryness of hops and alcohol close the beer crisply, cleanly and with a high level of refreshment.

I love that teeth-churning citrus coat that the beer beer lays on the mouth. Then following with acute bitterness and crisp dryness- only the light solventy taste of alcohol becomes exposed in this otherwise naked beer where no off flavor can hide. Its a masterful representation of the style!

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Photo of erha2
3.98/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: Orangish amber caramel color and cloudy. Small head. Lots of lacing streaming down my glass.

Smell: Hoppy with more malt than I usually like in my IPAs. A little sour, ciderish, grassy too.

Taste: Bitter, citrus more muted (still delicious grapefruit), definitely more caramel malt. Love the candied fruit finish.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and rich. Still medium-bodied and not syrupy. Medium carbonation.

Overall: I've heard good things about Bellwood and was not disappointed with this very fresh, outstanding double IPA. Thanks Twelve Percent for getting this stuff here.

Bottled 5/22/2013
Purchased at Whole Foods Tribeca for $10.99 (but 20% off for their annual 20% off all beer sale so $8.79)

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Photo of avalon07
4.21/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Poured from a bottle to a tulip glass. Had a burnt orange color and a cloudy consistency. Some sediment. There was a small amount of foamy head that quickly dissipated. Pretty good lacing.

S: A solid aroma of hops, light fruit, and pine.

T: Tasted of hops (a lot of hops), some pine, citrus (a little grapefruit), and light malt in the finish. Definitely a hop-centric DIPA, but the fruity elements are apparent. A vibrant flavor.

M: A well-carbonated beer with a slightly bitter finish. Medium-bodied.

O: A well made version of a West Coast DIPA. Very much drinkable.

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Photo of Amalak
4.04/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A. It has a caramel color, it was completely opaque. There's a slight foamy head with little lacing.

S. Very cidery with a grassy undertone.

T/M. It is extremely sweet. It is strong and hoppy. It has a very sweet taste, citrus with a tart apple taste in the back. Heavy with a long finish. There's a smokiness there, as well. Quite carbonated.

O. Very flavorful and strong. A great beer, even if it is a tad too sweet for my liking.

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Photo of hopsolutely
4/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Have thoroughly enjoyed this beer on tap at the brewery, but this is the first time have taken a bottle home - dated Feb 26/13. The hops would have been more powerful in March, but still an excellent DIPA.

Pours a clear and dark luminescent orange, with a limited white head that disappears pretty quickly. Beautiful aroma of tropical fruits with caramelized malts; mango, pineapple and citrus with a candied sheen. The taste starts with the sweet toffee and caramel of the malt base before the acidity of the 9% ABV hops, the alcohol in which is scarily well hidden. Lots of tropical fruits and west-coast elements - very nice.

A brilliant beer from an excellent new Toronto brewery. Congratulations!

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.73/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured on-tap and served in a shaker pint, the beer is a hazy, orange-gold coloring, almost opaque, with a clingy, filmy, white head. Nose of biscuit, mango and passion fruit sweetness, and floral hops. Flavors are rich caramel and biscuit forward, with a dark, resiny, bitter hops character at the end. Pepper builds with bitter hops, leading to a dry, spiced, and bitter aftertaste. Very rich and big in mouth, with a clingy, rich finish. Bitterness dries the beer out a bit. This one's heavy and tasty.

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Photo of Rutager
4.49/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Liamt07!

Appearance. Pours a rich and hazy amber with a finger+ of thick cream coloured head.

Smell. Very perfume-like pine with oranges and red grapefruits, A little lightly toasted caramel malt is there backing all those nice hops.

Taste. Sweet ripe oranges complete with bitter rinds, juicy red grapefruit, a bit of cedar, and some nice sweet light caramel malts.

Mouthfeel. Medium+ body with medium-low carbonation.

Overall. One of the best IPAs I've had in a while. Very juicy and clean with a nice oily bitter citrus rind finish. My kind of IPA right here, thanks again Liam.

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Witchshark from Bellwoods Brewery
4.11 out of 5 based on 166 ratings.
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