Local microbrewery Garrison Brewing Co. (1149 Marginal) is a two-time winner, as its Imperial Pale Ale was once again hailed as Beer of the Year at this year's Canadian Brewing Awards held last week in Toronto.

Garrison won last year's award for its 2007 version of the IPA, brewed by former Garrison brewmaster Greg Nash. Nash was ousted by Garrison owner Brian Titus in a brewery shake-up earlier this year, and moved on to Moncton's Pumphouse Brewery. He was replaced by Daniel Girard, himself a former Pumphouse brewmaster.

Girard hit the ground running, explains Titus. "You can imagine walking into a plant and having to figure out all the equipment---from production to cold storage to packaging."

Adding to those problems, Girard took over in the midst of an international hop shortage, and the IPA is a heavily hopped beer. "The price of hops has quadrupled in the last year," says Titus, and the favoured Cascade variety has at times been completely unavailable. This year's IPA has a different recipe, and uses a blend of Amarillo and Cascade hops; the Amarillo adds a slight tangerine flavour. The beer is distintly different from last year's, but holds its own, as the award attests.

Titus mentions that he has planted a few hop plants outside the brewery door. "We'll harvest a bucket or two off them and dry hop them into a seasonal or speciality beer."

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