An Ode to the IPA
I remember the first time I had an IPA. I was amazed at how different it tasted from what I’d been drinking. When I realized that APA’s have the same essential qualities as IPA’s, I became hooked on both. “American,” “Indian,” I’m not picky, so long as the beer makes my jaw clench and my mouth water after I drink it. So with great joy, I present my first review of an APA: from Barrie, Ontario, Flying Monkeys’s take on the American Pale Ale: Hoptical Illusion Almost Pale Ale.
For a pale ale it has a surprisingly creamy mouth-feel, not as thick as a stout but again not as thin and fizzy as some others. The much-advertised Amarillo hops makes my mouth water but doesn’t pucker my lips or tighten my jaw like a bitterer APA or IPA.
The creamy mouth-feel I enjoy as I’m drinking ensures that the final sip is always a heady one, so avoid chugging these or you’ll be belching more than speaking for the rest of the night. Like most beers, don’t let this one get warm. This beer’s bitterness packs a refreshing kick when it’s cold but that turns into a full-on Ryu-style roundhouse if drunk at room temperature.
Some people don’t like bitter things. I sympathize: I hate coffee. Beer—especially an APA—is one of those things that benefits from a bit of bitterness, though, especially when enjoyed with some deep-fried food.
Established in 2004 as Robert Simpson Brewing, the brewery’s name was changed in 2008 to Flying Monkeys to more accurately reflect its philosophy. Whatever their name, though, Flying Monkeys is a success story in the world of craft brewing. The About page of their website—on which you start at the bottom and scroll up—describes them as the little guy down to the brewery’s founder Peter Chiodo’s beer making origins, “In a dorm room, in a basement, in a kitchen … .” On top of 2008 being a big year for the brewery’s re-branding, it was also the year that sales of Hoptical Illusion Almost Pale Ale were launched. Since then Hoptical Illusion as well as other Flying Monkeys brews have won a number of Ontario Craft Brewers medals, and, thankfully, Flying Monkeys continues to release new flavours every year.