Vancouver Island Brewery: Flying Tanker White IPA

Photo: Craig Kalnin

When we heard this beer was coming to shelves, we knew it had to come to ours! A white IPA? Who’s ever heard of such a thing??  Well apparently a few people (Google to the rescue once again) but until now, neither had we.

Suffice it to say, Vancouver Island Brewery, with a stable of nicely accessible beers available in traditional sizes, have taken their first step into the world of the bomber-sized craft beers that they have titled the “Vancouver Island Series”, and what a first step it is.  Like a Mariano Rivera cutter, Flying Tanker might catch you off-guard, but it’s hard not to appreciate its crafty brilliance.

As it hits the glass, our first two senses tell us that this is a classic hefeweizen for sure – golden-yellow cloudy ale with a nice rich, white frothy head, a good inch or more that lingers around like the last friend to leave a party.  The nose delivers fruity ripe banana, spicy cloves and a smooth butteriness, but what about all those hops – this is an IPA too, right?

Other than a slight sharpness in the spice notes on the nose, the “full payload of hop power” doesn’t really come in until our third sense, taste.  Hop bombs away for sure!  As we sipped, the IPA comes audaciously strutting in and takes over up front and through the middle of the flavor; strong hops, wonderfully intense grapefruit-pith bitterness and a prickly spiciness.  On second and third sips, we find it easier to pick out more of the hops in the nose, but our sense of smell is still trying to convince us that this is more a true white beer loaded up with hop flavour.  It’s sort of like finding an old photo of some hot girl in the basement, but then it turns out to be your mum / aunt / grandma or some other weirdly confusing relative; your eyes are telling you one thing but your brain is screaming something else.  More sips and our sense of taste starts winning the debate, and IPA for sure.

Ahhh, but then as each sip finishes, IPA tags out and White tags in, hops fading away and soothing back into more buttery wheat and banana that leaves us delightfully undecided, and ready to continue the debate!  … Maybe it’s okay to think your mum was kind of good looking, at least in the sense that there’s hope for your kids… right?

So what is Flying Tanker?  Fortunately not a grown man in tights and red underwear or years of expensive therapy, but a beer that somehow manages quite nicely to be both White and IPA at the same time.  Fortune favours the bold, and we hope there is more bold to come from VIB’s Vancouver Island Series!

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