You might have had this beer in its previous incarnation when it was “Happy Hour Pale Ale,” but about three months ago it got rebranded as Big Mouth Pale Ale. I never bothered to try it as Happy Hour and I just happened to pick one up at the LCBO last week.
In short, this beer rates a “meh.”
When I poured it, I noted that it had nice carbonation and a decent foamy head, and I also noted with some excitement that there was a notable citrusy hop aroma owing to the inclusion of cascade hops and UK Kent Golding hops.
Unfortunately, the aroma was misleading and the taste is mainly a malty sweetness with some hoppy bitterness in the finish. It has a remarkable sweetness for a pale ale but somehow maintains a lingering bitterness that never quite establishes that hop flavour I was looking for but does balances it out to a resoundingly average beer.
I wouldn’t typically opt to post a review of one can that I had so-so feelings about (that isn’t even a new beer), but I was struck by the fact that, amid all this talk of “gateway beers” and the big guys getting crafty with offerings like Keith’s Hop Series, this beer could easily fit the bill as one of those gateway beers. Unfortunately, coming from Hop City, I feel like it isn’t really positioned to be that beer. It may have a flavour profile designed not to scare off “mainstream” drinkers, but its marketing and art seems to put it decidedly in the craft category, where mainstream beer drinkers aren’t that likely to find it. So if the embracing of craft beer in Ontario continues to occur as we all have predicted it will, this beer might find an audience, but right now it seems destined to beer purgatory–just a little too different to appeal to lager drinking masses, but not quite complex enough for craft drinkers looking for hops in a market fairly flush with better pale ales.