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Belt’s Beer Garden: Oh, Canada

Two brews from Collective Arts - Ransack the Universe and IPA No. 3


Living near Chicago has some benefits…you get breweries from the West Coast, the East Coast, and everywhere in between. Even from our neighbors to the north.

A few weeks back I found a new Canadian brewery that I had never seen or heard of before – Collective Arts Brewing. The brewery is situated between Toronto and Buffalo in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and has been making beers since the fall of 2013. Their objective is to fuse beer with emerging artists, musicians, and filmmakers to create unique beers and labels.

One of the coolest features of their cans is that they can come to life with the use of augmented reality. If you have the Blippar app just scan the label to hear the music, see videos, and view the artist’s bios.

Like I do whenever I see a new brewery distributing near me, I had to try their stuff. So, I grabbed two of their brews: Ransack the Universe and IPA No. 3. Both were sold in packs of four 16-ounce cans but they were a little bit higher priced.

First up, I’ll start with Ransack the Universe, which is one of their core beers. It’s made with six types of hops: Galaxy and Mosaic for flavor and aroma then dry hopped with Citra, Centennial, Chinook, and Simcoe. Each of the cans comes with a very solid 6.8% ABV and 85 IBU with a four-pack of pints costing $11.99.

Ransack poured a dark golden straw color with millions of bubbles sitting patiently under the surface and just a finger of foam on top. The slightly off-white foam fizzled out quickly, leaving a small dusting across the beer but not much else.

On the nose there were big, hoppy tropical fruit flavors. Mango, pineapple and grapefruit take the lead with some cantaloupe and grassy undertones behind that. It was all backed up with some lightly toasted caramel malts.

My first sip started with moderate carbonation that seemed to last a little while. The flavors actually began with melon and cantaloupe coating my taste buds before the mango and pineapple swooped in to add more tropical notes.

After the initial burst of fruity flavors, the Chinook and Simcoe hops imparted an earthy, grassy taste that was followed by just a hint of spice…almost like the spice you get from ginger but not nearly as potent.

The 85 IBU were not shy and the hops finished off the sip with a lingering fruity bitterness that reminded you just how hop-forward this IPA was.

Ransack, surprisingly, left absolutely no lacing as the beer was excavated from my nonic pint glass. Not a single bubble remained on the side, despite the pool of clouds floating around the remaining beer.

All in all, Ransack the Universe was good but had a few too much bitterness lingering on the backend (and that’s coming from a hop-head!). The flavors and aroma were pretty damn good but the backend of each sip was just too much to love this brew.

Next from them, I tried one of their Collective Project (their seasonal experiments) brews, IPA No. 3.

This IPA was made with Citra and Crystal hops and has a very solid ABV and IBU listing – 7.1% and 80 IBU. Additionally, this one, as a rarer seasonal beer, costs a bit more than the others at $13.99 for the four 16-ounce cans.

IPA No. 3 poured a super cloudy dark copper color and looked similar to a New England IPA. Topping off the beer was just about two fingers of dense eggshell white head. The thick foam stuck around for a little while and, as it slowly faded away, left a cloud of lacing around the glass.

There was a heavily hopped-up aroma of peach and pineapple and, because of that, the brew resembled a pineapple juice blend more than it did a beer. Behind those fruits was more citrus with grapefruit, orange, and other stone fruits. The tropical blend dueled it out with bready malts but the hops were more than overpowering than the malts.

At first sip there was just a flash of carbonation before the liquid coated my tongue with a smooth and creamy mouthfeel.

Initially there was an earthy/woody aspect from the Crystal hops that didn’t last long at all. Almost immediately after that, the hops provided a bitter, yet tropical, medley of flavors across my tongue. It was mostly pineapple and peach but there was also some apricot, grapefruit, and light orange zest.

IPA No. 3 had a bitter twinge throughout but, as the malty flavors began to kick in, the hop-sting faded somewhat. The malts provided some biscuity and caramel sweetness but, try as they might, there was no doubt about it – the hops that did the talking throughout.

Unlike Ransack, IPA No. 3 laces incredibly well. The entire wall was covered in a web-work of bubbles.

The 7.1% ABV and the 80 IBU were both hidden really well behind the tropical flavors. This was a very tasty, semi-juicy IPA that utilized the hops well. If you like pineapple and apricots, this is the perfect IPA for you.