The guys from Spearhead and I rolled into Victory around 9:30. Their bright orange van is parked up on the curb out front. As we make our way to the back of the bar, none of them are speaking. Their ears are attuned to that familiar phrase in any pub: ”What’s on tap?”.
Omar is a true believer. Anyone lucky enough to catch his attention while they’re pondering draft gets a pint of Hawaiian India Pale Ale to try, plus a hat if they love it – and people who don’t are few and far between.
He tells me that when he first tasted Spearhead, he knew it was his favourite beer. It’s not hard to see why after one sip – and one sip tends to be all it takes to convince people to make it their second and third beers.
Spearhead has been hitting the summer festival circuit hard. Omar tells me what he’s finding is that at the tastings, maybe one or two people out of 100 make that previously familiar “eww, this beer is bitter” face. Most people light up and come back for more. At only nine weeks old, they’re available in more than 50 bars in Southern Ontario, many of which are right here in Toronto.
This love for IPA’s in general is something that you wouldn’t have seen in Canada even ten years ago. However, the guys from Spearhead don’t believe they’re capitalizing on a trend, they see the Hawaiian IPA as their flagship. A year round brew that will one day be the centre of a larger family.
“Yes, we could ‘do one thing really, really well,’” Omar said. “But…we do. So lets do more.”
I have no doubt that one day this will be true.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of trying their Hawaiian IPA yet, seek it out. I’ve seen these sales reps convert Canadian and Coors drinkers, which honestly shocks me. The beer is cloudy and unfiltered, with a deep amber colour and a rich soapy head.
The smell has a hint of the hoppiness as well as the sweetness that will follow. It’s dry, it’s bitter, and then there’s a bit of pineapple juice to take the edge off.
When they talk about pairing it with food, they run the entire spectrum. Spicy, light, stews, salads – anything goes with this diverse ale.
Everything about Spearhead is carefully thought out. The bright orange van, the t-shirts, the swag, even the glassware only came out after bringing their beer to the United States and tasting it in several different shapes of glassware before settling on the tulip glass.
Kate enters the bar closer to 10:30 and after scoping out the taps, finally deciding on the Spearhead.
“Oh…”, Kate’s eyes widen, surprised, as she takes a second sip. “I could drink far too much of this.”
Her reaction is typical for the night.