Of all the beer samples and deliveries I’ve received, none have come in a nondescript, unbranded can. This particular can came from Mike from the Kensington Brewing Company and contained some of their brand new FishEYE PA, a West Coast style IPA. The beer has gone through a couple of trial versions, but this was close to what Mike and Brock (owner of KBC and the Burger Bar restaurant in Toronto) had as their final vision. The beer is being contract brewed at Wellington for the time being and is starting to appear in bars across Toronto.
The FishEYE PA pours a light tan/deep amber with hints of ruby and orange. A finger of cream coloured head that leaves nice lacing on the glass. The colour is a lot darker than I expect from a West Coast IPA, pushing the boundary of an amber ale the same way that Nickelbrook’s Headstock or Troeg’s Nugget Nectar does. Some citrus on the nose, a lot of malt character (caramel and cereal grain) and a fruity tea character from the yeast. The beginning reminds me a lot of an English ale with a big dose of earthy malt. A touch of citrus before resiny hops leads to a slightly astringent and soapy finish. The bitterness in the finish is a little jarring after the sweet beginning. A little light in the body considering the malt profile. Very drinkable for 7% ABV (which comes from the KBC website and not the can, obviously).
I can see where Kensington is trying to go with the FishEYE, but it still needs some more work. My recommendation would be to reduce some of the crystal and Caramunich malts in order to lower the sugars, allowing more of the hops to shine. This would also allow for a slight reduction in the bittering hops, hopefully losing some of that astringency. I know they’ve experimented a lot with dry-hopping the Augusta Ale and the same technique would probably do wonders for the aroma of the FishEYE. (Keep in mind that I’m not a homebrewer, so these are just ideas from my limited brewing knowledge that I think would help the final product. I also know Brock and Mike would not consider themselves to be brewers, so I applaud the work they’ve done to create the FishEYE.) This is a good start, but it lacks an all-around hop punch to really be a West Coast IPA.