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A Delightful Patch of Troubled Waters

Who knew Alberta brewers were into three-ways?

Collaborations, that is.

To celebrate their first anniversaries – which came within a few weeks of each other – Bench Creek Brewing, Blindman Brewing and Troubled Monk Brewing got together to brew a three-way collaboration beer. I think it was a fitting way to mark the trios’ respective milestones. All three have made a noticeable mark on the Alberta beer scene and, to my mind, have done so adopting very different approaches to both their beer and their marketing.

In a way their differences make the collaboration more interesting. They opted for a Double IPA, but not your usual kind of DIPA. It is more of the trendier East Coast-style, which, among other things is usually quite cloudy and fruity. Brew day was early November at Bench Creek outside Edson, and the beer was released in early January as a keg-only product. They called it Troubled Waters – which even the most distracted of you should figure out the connection.

I first had it at a local establishment a few weeks ago. But I hate writing on my phone so didn’t take any notes (in case there was any doubt, I am no Millennial). Earlier this week I scooped up a crowler of it so I could sip on it at home and dig into its layers of flavour.

As promised it pours deeply hazy with a light to medium yellow hue. It builds a big white head that is both bubbly and dense and rocky at the same time. I notice the formation of considerable lacing along the glass. The aroma gives off fresh citrus, lemon, grapefruit, papaya, orange and a touch of leafy hop aroma as well. I even pick up peach and apricot in the background. Let’s just call it “very fruity”. Only a hint of light grassy malt to balance. It has a very tropical character.

The beginning of the three-way brew day, where I am told much brewing and very little beer drinking took place.

The flavour starts with a light grassy grain, followed by a delicate fruitiness. Different kinds of fruit mix, including papaya, peach and hints of lemon. The middle brings a bit more floral hop character and a drier graininess. Hints of pine also sneak in. As it works its way back I find myself thinking about Tropical Punch and the vivid tropical fruitiness it offered when I was a kid. The finish is surprisingly soft. The perception of bitterness is subdued, this is more about fruity hop flavour than IBU intensity. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely bitter in there, it is just not the main player. The linger is grapefruit and passion fruit. Overall the body is quite light and refreshing. I even get an ever so slight tang to the beer to give it a summer-y, refreshing note.

Very East Coast. I really appreciate the accent on the fruitiness rather than a lupulin crush. The alcohol is extremely well hidden – it is an 8% beer after all – which is both impressive and scary.

In a way it reminds me of – and I say this with care – Heady Topper. It is difficult to compare any beer to such a singularly brilliant creation (read my review of it here), but I can safely say that it possesses many of the same kind of flavour notes, suggesting to me they are definitely in the ballpark of the style and do a mighty fine job of executing it.

Clearly a good example of what happens when you put three young, adventurous breweries together who are in a mood to celebrate.

5 comments to A Delightful Patch of Troubled Waters

  • Brett

    Where did you obtain the “Crowler” ?

    • beerguy

      I got mine at Sherbrooke Liquor but other places might have it as well. Call around.

    • @ Brett That’s my question also. I like to try any thing and everything brewed from all parts of the country and give them a chance but because of meddling by Government I can no longer purchase Black Bridge Breweries Milk Stout (an award winner) in Alberta ? Not saying this is the case as per the article and realize the logistics but our antiquated tax regulations are a joke and hinder our beer industry and we the tax payer will subsidize this mess and at our expense to boot. Will try and find a Troubled Waters at Crowfoot Liquor store in Calgary. Merci

      • beerguy

        Glad you are supporting local beer. I, too, lament the temporary loss of Black Bridge (I am sure they will be back), but for the most part I am unconvinced there has been a catastrophic effect on consumer choice in the province (which is not to diminish the effects on individual agents and breweries). Plus some quality AB beer gets some room to grow.

  • Watershed

    Pretty sure they’re going to brew it again. That’s a good thing. It’s a real beauty.

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