Head Stock: Meet Ontario’s best IPA again for the first time


Nickel Brook’s Head Stock IPA is the best regularly available IPA in Ontario–and it is finally getting a better look.

If you’re like me, the first time you heard someone positively mention Head Stock, you probably said, “You mean that beer with the terrible 60s-themed can with a Stevie Ray Vaguhan stand-in silhouette?”

Yes. That’s the one.

Like you, and I assume many others, for a long time I dismissed this beer out of hand for its can–quite literally judging a book (beer) by its cover (can)–and assumed it was another iteration of the ubiquitous crystal-malt heavy “Ontario Pale Ale.”

I didn’t even bother trying it.

I was very, very wrong.

Head Stock is juicy and aromatic, with scents and flavours that are piney and citrusy with just the right amount of bitter in the finish. It’s a hop head’s dream and a loving tribute to Simcoe, Amarillo, Equinox, and Mosaic hops.  In short, it’s a perfect IPA and I’ve even heard my favourite bartender, Bar Hop’s Matt Bod, cite it as the reason people shouldn’t be all that excited about some of the other more famous American IPAs that are coming to the province soon: Ontario already has a badass IPA, thanks.

Thankfully, as of today, Head Stock now has a more appropriately bad ass can: the above-pictured, much more subdued, matte-finish, black and orange guitar graphic.

The beer has always been great, but hopefully this new can is a step toward getting it the attention it richly deserves and ideally turning a few more people on to the great beers being made these days at both Nickel Brook and Collective Arts by brewmaster Ryan Morrow, arguably the most underrated brewer in this province.

The new can ships to LCBOs tomorrow, so I’m barely even able to brag about having mine first.

10 thoughts on “Head Stock: Meet Ontario’s best IPA again for the first time

  1. I liked the old can – I’m sorry to see it go. Either way its whats inside that counts – and what’s inside is pretty damned good.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. Headstock is fantastic and everything that NickelBrook is producing is outstanding. Now for a rebrand of the equally amazing Naughty Neighbour and it’s slightly sophomoric label.

    1. Naughty Neighbour is getting a bit of a makeover and will be available in a can at the LCBO sometime in the next couple months. Nickel Brook will also have a new year round can at the LCBO as well as a limited release surprise.

  3. I have tried a whack of IPA’S but Head Stock is the best of the bunch. The fact that is made in Ontario is incredible. This Brew Master has got it going on.

  4. I tried Headstock once from a can and it was terrible. I generally like IPAs and often find myself craving a nice hoppy beer, but it just didn’t do it for me. I will say that I tried Headstock from a cask and it was amazing… like “gimme another pint” amazing. Perhaps I’ll have to give it a try again from one of these new look cans.

  5. I actually avoided it because of the ugly can.
    Then a buddy showed up at my house with a handful of them and I’ve been buying them religiously since. It really is one of the best IPAs on the market.

  6. I tried a new can last week and really picked up on the citra for the first time, it tasted great. Hop addicted as I am, I quickly hit up another LCBO and bought 2 older style cans (dated Dec 12/2014) and not so much Citra… to the point that I started suspecting they might have switched up the recipe for the new can.

    Lesson learned: drink it fresh!

  7. Was a bit unimpressed to see the new labels are just plastic wrapping over a can. Any idea if this a temporary fix while they work on getting actual printed cans?

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