Ravens Oldhand Coffee IPA: The Future’s So Bright….

Downtown Abbotsford, once the centre for trade and shopping, has gone through quite the  rough spell over the past 30 plus years. Unable to keep up with changing times, it has fallen victim to disrepair, neglect, and the relentless Father Time.

The pendulum is starting to swing, however, as a renaissance of sorts has started taking place. Restaurants and shops are popping up, attracting a younger generation with a thirst for products and experiences that reflect who they are.

The Oldhand Coffee and Bakery is a prime example of the type of establishment rebuilding Downtown Abbotsford. A coffee shop-restaurant-hangout, it’s a bright open space with rustic seating and tables, a simple but fun menu, and is usually filled with university students and groups of people seeking community. Far from a quiet refuge, this hopping little joint is full of life, and is driving the future of a once dying neighbourhood.

The Brew

Another phenomenon we’re seeing in the Abbotsford business community is cooperation, or, better yet, collaboration. Case in point is today’s beer, the Ravens Oldhand Coffee IPA. Brewed using coffee from the good folks at Oldhand, it is representative of the efforts of two Abbotsford small businesses sharing each other’s story.

The Details: IPA, 6% ABV, 70 IBU

The Pour: First off, be careful opening the can as they fill it to the absolute brim, and there is no room for error. It pours out a nice amber with a bit of haze, and a good creamy head that holds up.

The Smell: Strong citrusy-fruity hop scent. A bit disappointed I didn’t pick up much, if any, coffee in the scent.

The Swig: Wow! This is a true blue IPA that makes full use of every I, B and U – and there are 70 of them. A hophead’s dream, this is as hop forward as it gets. Quite a bitter crisp beer, that bites you right off the bat.

The coffee was really hard to pick up – possibly because the hops are so dominant. I tried it at varying temperatures, but that didn’t help much. I did find that swishing it around for a couple seconds revealed an ever so slight coffee essence that should have been more prominent. After all, if you’re going to name it after a coffee shop and include coffee in the name, shouldn’t the coffee be front and centre?

There is certainly no balancing act here either. Any malt or sweetness are at the very back end, and don’t play much of a role. It’s a hop forward IPA that isn’t much different from their standard IPA.

I’m no brew master so this is just my opinion (take it for what it’s worth), but I think it would have benefited from a bolder malt presence, coupled with a bigger hit of coffee, and maybe the addition of lactose to smoothen it out. There’s nothing wrong with a 70 IBU beer, but a bit more balance would make this quite a bit more palatable.

I would really encourage Ravens to come out with a version 2 of this product. I think the idea is good, just the execution could use a bit of work.

WIBTA?: Nope. Sorry guys, it really didn’t do much for me, and may be better suited for a dyed-in-the-wool hophead. Maybe my tastebuds are too sensitive?

The Closing Notes

It’s really exciting to see some of the changes going on in Downtown Abbotsford. Although it has a ways to go there is certainly growing optimism. With places like Spruce Collective, Duff’s, Field House, and Oldhand leading the way, the future’s so bright I’ve got to wear shades (RETRO mic-drop!).

Where do I find this beverage? Go to the link on their website showing various stockists around the province or visit Ravens Brewing in person. It’s available both on-tap for a growler fill, or in a 4 pack of cans from the fridge.

Well that’s it for now, gonna go quench that panda sized thirst… Cheers!

*WIBTA is where I ask myself “Would I Buy This Again?”


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