Tasting the Duggan #9 IPA

Toronto’s Newest Craft Brewery is being run by one of Toronto’s original Brew Masters. Mike Duggan was previously the Brew Master at the Mill Street Brewery when they were first building their business. Mike has since moved and opened his own BrewPub in downtown Toronto, Duggan’s Brewery at Victoria just south of Richmond. The #9 IPA has just made its way into LCBOs, and is getting acclaims at every beer festival it goes to.

Honestly, I was pretty hesitant to enjoy this beer at first, but I’m not really sure why. I had no good reason, and I enjoy some of the beers that Mike created over at Mill Street. So my concern was completely unfounded. There was only one way to right this wrong, so I grabbed a 6 pack of #9’s and tossed them in the fridge. They come in oddly thin 275ml bottles with very clean and simple branding which I quite like. I would have preferred more beer, even just the standard 341 or 355ml, but the 6 pack is less expensive also, so no one is getting jipped. The skinny bottle is also really pretty, it grew on me more and more as I looked at it. But hows the beer? Thats the important question. 

This is a real IPA, one with flavor, complexity, and depth. It has been brewed with 9 different malts, and comes in at 6.2% ABV. Mike’s goal here is a West Coast style IPA with vibrant and bright piney flavors on a hop focused citrus bouquet. The key here will be the balance between rich hops and soothing malts. Not everyone can pinpoint this, I do have faith in Duggan though.

I opened the #9 cool around 8C (45F) and poured it into a stemmed beer glass. The pour was very smooth and creamy building a frothy and mildly dense khaki colored foam right from the start. Gently, a richly amber brown beer rumbled with foam until a deeply glowing beer was produced. The head stood just over an inch with a creamy consistency trapped in a pillowy eggshell froth. The beer shone from the center with rich mahogany browns emanating out to golden brick, dark copper and bright spots of ruby. Into the sun especially you can see the richness of this beer – it is transparent but very deep, already proving the vast malt complexity.

The nose was perfect from the first sniff, and got me hooked. I think I spent a few minutes smelling this beer before even tasting it. Rich malty caramel and toffee blended so perfectly with smooth floral hops and zesty citrus flavors with a back end of pine, earth, hay fields and freshness. The more I think about it, the more this beer impressed me. Genuinely creamy malt sensations glide into your senses showing rich gooey sweetness, but also an earthy and complex round of leather and brown sugar. The  hops sat right next to all the 9 malts and brought excellent balance creating a crisp and refreshing sensation.

Eventually I would have to try this beer, and by now I was very excited to.  Exactly like the nose, this beer is sublimely balanced on your palate with huge waves of flavor. Could it be that Ontario has really produced a West Coast IPA that can compete with the, well, guys from the West Coast!? First the malts glide with with a wide structure showing your lips, tongue, cheeks and throat exactly what they were meant to – smoothly lush, and richly deep malts with the classic toffee and dark caramel flavor that is perfect in a big IPA.

Juicy rich malt flavors show complexity again with hints of dried fruit, charred savory flavors, and barley fresh feelings. They big key though is that right when the malts begin to overpower, the hops burst in with a lemon zest, fresh pine, grapefruit and earthy bitterness that proved to quench, refresh, and balance the #9 IPA perfectly. Ya, perfectly.

I’m left with a clean and bittersweet mouthfeel that is smooth and gently carbonated in a masterful design. This was very well done Mike, thank you! I’m going for the #9 next with some Indian or Thai food, something real spicy that I can only have on rare occasions. This IPA is going to match the sweet and robust flavors perfectly, and sooth and clean the spicy with ease.

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