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Tucked out of sight in a commercial plaza on Guelph’s west side, it’s sometimes easy to forget Stonehammer has been brewing away in our own backyard for many years.

An established micro-brewer that tends toward more traditional beers (pale ale, stout, pilsner and light lagers), Stonehammer may get overlooked by craft beer fans seeking trendier brewing styles. But they’re worth some attention.

I recently picked up a bottle of their one-off IPA, Andrew’s 2nd Wish, straight from the brewery. The label, which features a busty fairy clutching a beer mug, looks like it was made by your aunt who home brews her own wine. But forget appearances – this is a decent English-style IPA that surprises with notes of sweet apricot and a very dry finish.

There’s a caramel-tinged maltiness to this ale you don’t often find in most North American-made India Pale Ales, and a smoothness that masks the 7.7 per cent ABV.  Although the brewer says it’s IPA is “full to bursting with hops,” it’s on the lower side of hoppiness for most IPAs, and there’s very little of the pine or citrus aromas normally associated with the style. Stonehammer says the beer comes in at 70 IBU, but I’d argue the batch I tried was much lower than that.

Still, Andrew’s 2nd Wish is a nice step out of Stonehammer’s comfort zone, and I’m hoping to see more experimentation like this in the future.

What the brewery says:

“Andrew’s 2nd Wish is everything he could want in an IPA. It is full to bursting with hops with over five times the amount of hops we put in our standard pale ale.”