Warning: The following beer review contains graphic descriptions of gross negligence of growlers filled with 5-star beer by the author. Reader discretion is advised.

It is not often that my beer reviews come replete with harrowing adventures. This is one of those tales.

Both my wife, Stephanie, and the fine folks at Quidi Vidi Brewery come out as heroes, while I have egg on my face. But the story ends with me writing about a delicious beer, so I will happily wear the egg.

With that out of the way, I can say that I was incredibly excited to get a growler of Calm Tom’s Double IPA from the Quidi Vidi Brewing Co.

The empty growler is a great souvenir for my collection at home, and I had the pleasure of trying a bottle of the tasty DIPA as my first beer upon landing in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

The Calm Tom’s Double IPA launched in February 2018, which I am extremely grateful was before my vacation. I may not have known it, but missing out on this incredible brew would have been a remarkable loss.

The Quidi Vidi Brewery is located in one of the most unique locations that I’ve ever seen for a craft brewery. In the historic Quidi Vidi fishing village in St. John’s (known locally as “The Gut”), it occupies prime real estate on the harbour.

It is a stone’s throw from the Signal Hill National Historic Site, and was an absolute must-see for my week in Newfoundland.

The bar and social space in the brewery have undergone significant renovations, and will be opening in early June 2018, unfortunately, not until after I will be back in Ontario. By the sounds of it, the renovated space will be quite fantastic!

I should note: upon leaving the bottle shop, babe and beer in arms, Stephanie cautioned me against dropping the growler. I chuckled and insisted that she snap a celebratory shot of me holding my prize.

You may think that this is where things went awry. Surprisingly, they did not. With Jedi-like focus, I palmed the growler while my beautiful baby looked on in confused awe of her ridiculous father.

Then, Stephanie insisted again that I be careful, my good sense kicked in, and we put the growler safely in the trunk of our rental Suburban.

We toured around the windy hills of St. John’s for a while, and before making our next stop, at the Newfoundland Chocolate Company Café (highly recommended, by the way!), I heard that the growler had tumbled in the trunk.

Given that it seemed to be rolling around, I proactively popped the trunk open to secure it before continuing to our next destination. The next thing I knew, the growler was no more.

I was completely dejected, and since we hit the brewery not long before close, there was no time to go back to buy a new one. This is the stuff that nightmares are made of.

To add insult to injury, the smell of the DIPA wafting to my nostrils was itself intoxicating. However, I will say, huge credit goes to the fine people of Parks Canada, who responded extremely promptly to clean up the carcass of my once full and intact growler.

The story ends on a very positive note. I still wanted to replace my growler of Calm Tom’s, so we ventured back to Quidi Vidi the next day to buy a fresh one.

Stephanie, sparing me the embarrassment of my folly, popped in to get it, while I waited in the car with our lovely baby.

The next thing I knew, I had a fresh growler, with the beer on the house! The brewery had actually decided to hold back growler fills of the Calm Tom’s to preserve stock until the renovated space opened in a couple of weeks.

But, after hearing my oafishly sad tale through Stephanie, they not only made an exception, but only charged her the bottle deposit.

I can honestly say that I did not expect such a gesture, but clearly Quidi Vidi has a dedicated approach to customer service.

As I get into the substance of this after my silly preamble, I will say that their gesture in no way reflects my review of the beer. I tried the beer before even visiting the brewery, giving it top marks on Untappd, and sought it out for this reason.

All of that said, I think it is clear where this is going.

Calm Tom’s is possibly the finest DIPA that I have had the pleasure of enjoying. This is no small praise, given that I have had more than a few in my day, and it is a style that I thoroughly enjoy.

Named for Tom Beckett, a craft beer pioneer in the province, the Calm Tom’s is an incredibly well-balanced brew, clocking in at 7.5% ABV.

This is at the lower end of alcohol content for a DIPA, but it certainly does not sacrifice anything in the hops department.

As depressingly touched on above, it is wonderful on the nose. It is fruity, with a hint of citrus. The pour is the cloudy medium gold that I expect of this style, with a decent amount of loose, white head.

In a province that loves its lagers, this is a rare treat. It certainly is not for everyone, though. While it is certainly juicy in the context of an IPA, those looking for a sweet radler-style of beer need look elsewhere.

This isn’t dry, but it packs a wonderful hoppy punch, with a really nice balance of sweet fruity notes and the hoppy bitterness.

The key here is the balance. For those of us inclined toward hops, this is a dangerously drinkable brew. Luckily for Newfoundlanders, it does not come in the 500 mL tallboy-style cans or 600+ mL bottles that we see in Ontario.

I say this tongue-in-cheek, of course, as I finish this review half of a growler in.

For anyone looking for a new travel destination, look no further. Quidi Vidi has created an incredible product with great room for growth, still.

In a beautiful location, it is the ideal destination for a craft beer tourist.

Perhaps unknowingly, Quidi Vidi has made itself extremely marketable in this sense, and if they continue to produce brews as fine as Calm Tom’s, they will have lineups comparable to some of the most popular Toronto craft breweries.

I can’t wait for my next trip to St. John’s.

Drink up, b’ys!

  • ABV: 7.5%
  • IBU: N/A (likely 60-120)
  • Style: Double IPA
  • Taste: Hoppy and tropical
  • Rating: 5.0/5.0
  • Untappd Reviews

 

As a continuing feature of my reviews, each review will be followed by a one to two-line review from my wife, Stephanie. As a non-beer drinker, her reviews will be from the perspective of a “layperson” beer drinker.

Stephanie’s review:

Upon smelling the delightful, wafting smell of the spilled (broken) growler, as I stood by, dejected:

“That even smells good!”

Upon tasting, the next day, as a hero in this story:

“I could smell it all day. The niceness of the brewery overcomes the hoppiness for me.”

Ryan Heighton

Ryan Heighton

The Bar of Ontario isn’t the only bar to which he’s been called. Misses drinking at the SkyDome. Enjoying Waterloo Region one (sometimes two) craft beer at a time. Favourite beers: anything hoppy enough to jump off the table.
Ryan Heighton

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