“Hop” on the Bike in Ottawa - Bicycle Craft Brewery
A couple of months ago when Chris (Hops & Bros) and I were guests on episode 135 of the podcast, we talked about a number of different breweries that have helped shape the Ottawa craft beer scene. One of the breweries we talked about and sampled on the show was Bicycle Craft Brewery. They were founded in 2014 and I remember them being one of breweries I’d visit every now and then in my early days of getting into craft beer in Ottawa. They’ve grown in a lot of ways since then, including a branding upgrade, a slow conversion from growlers to the occasional canned and bottled release, to a pretty much exclusively canned lineup now. Their lineup has seen quite the evolution as well. In the early years the core lineup consisted of standards like the Belle River Blonde, Sir John A Pale Ale, Crimson Cascade Red Ale, and their flagship IPA Velocipede, which is still around today. Nowadays they specialize primarily in IPAs and pale ales (with lots of haze!), though there will usually be one or two other styles available at any given time, such as Mr. Templeton’s Wee Heavy or the Vinternat Licorice Stout. It would be remiss of me not to mention as well that a couple of years ago saw the introduction of their milkshake IPA series! #TeamLactose! These days they are a pretty regular stop for me. Fariborz and Laura kindly hooked me up with their recent lineup, which included some of the beers which have been in pretty regular rotation the last couple of years, and one of their newest IPAs! I’m always excited to try their new stuff, and it was nice to revisit a couple of regulars that I hadn’t tasted in a little while.
West Coast IPA – 6.0%
As mentioned, this was Bicycle’s early flagship IPA, aptly sharing the original name of the bicycle. To my knowledge it was their first canned beer and their first LCBO release. When they overhauled their branding a couple years ago, the Velocipede can got a very nice makeover to the colourful artwork it now sports. Listed as a West Coast style IPA, it pours with a clear copper colour and a malt forward aroma of brown sugar with a touch of pine and citrus zest. It’s malt forward on the first sip as well, that brown sugar or caramel sweetness coming through up front with bitterness delivered by flavours of pine and grapefruit. For me, the sweetness of the malt bill has it tasting almost more like an English IPA, which is not my preference for this style. It’s a good approachable IPA regardless, a nice throwback to their early days, and one that certainly makes sense for them to have kept in their regular lineup.
American Pale Ale – 4.8%
This is a very citrus hop forward American Pale Ale, pictured here in a glass with Bicycle’s original logo. It pours a mostly clear, slightly cloudy yellow-orange with a ton of citrus on the nose. The immediate flavours are very citrus dominant with lemon and orange rind at the forefront. There is a mild brown sugar sweetness similar to Velocipede, which after revisiting a few of these older Bicycle regulars I’m starting to notice is a bit of a signature malt profile, though it is more subdued in Patio Sunshine where citrus is unquestionably the distinguishing flavor. There’s some citrus pith and strong grapefruit flavor which delivers a notably bitter finish. It’s well named as it is unquestionably crisp and refreshing and would be ideal for a hot, sweaty summer day on the patio.
American Pale Ale – 5.4%
Frequency is another APA which has seen frequent returns to the Bicycle lineup over the last couple of years, now boasting its own unique label and has also entered LCBO rotation. It pours a cloudy copper with aromas of lychee, mango, and a bit of brown sugar. In flavour I get a sweet and fruity combo which makes me think of caramelized pineapple along with other tropical fruits. The same sweet maltiness I mentioned from the last two also stands out here. That brown sugar malty flavour can be a bit hit or miss for me, and it leaves an aftertaste in this one which I find off-putting. The tropical fruit flavours in it are refreshing but overall this is not my favourite in Bicycle’s lineup.
On The Lam
Vermont Style IPA – 6.6%
To the best of my memory, On The Lam was one of the first bold and more hop forward IPAs that Bicycle put out, and it’s definitely seen some evolution since its initial release in 2017. Back then it was an opaque, dark copper-orange colour, and boasting bold flavour of juicy pineapple. I remember loving it back then and I’m glad they’ve kept it around. Now it pours significantly brighter and hazier with more of a cloudy yellow-orange colour. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, and the upfront flavours are of juicy mango and pineapple with the acidity very much dialled in. There’s great tropical Mosaic hop flavour here with a nice tangy, bitter finish. It’s more to style than when it first launched, and I definitely like it even more now. It’s listed as a Vermont-style IPA but at this point, as Cee pointed out in his video reviewing the lineup, I’d agree that this qualifies more as a New England style IPA. It was great to revisit this old favourite.
NEIPA – 6.1%
Here we have one of Bicycle’s newest one-off IPAs. Hidden Beach is a New England IPA brewed with Amarillo and the hot new hop on the scene, Sabro. It pours a thick and hazy yellow-orange with a slightly sweet, tropical aroma. The mouthfeel is nice and smooth, and the tropical fruit flavours are accompanied by a bit of juicy orange giving some citrus acidity and a kind of coconutty freshness. Sabro has become known for adding a unique coconut flavour, which interestingly comes out in this beer more as it warms up a bit and actually smoothens all the flavours out. I really enjoyed this one. Its unfortunately already out of rotation at this point but hopefully it’ll one day see a return!