Beer Review – Orthodox Winter IPA, The New Edmund Fitzgerald

Actual Brewing is one of many Columbus breweries that have come on the scene over the past year.  The brewery is located near the airport (655 N. James Rd.) and their tap room sounds like a cool place to visit, but I’ve not made it out there yet.  I picked up a bottle of Orthodox Winter IPA at Weiland’s Market in early January.  The staff at Weiland’s described it as being on the malty side for an IPA.  I’m not always a fan of malty IPAs so this one sat in my refrigerator for a couple of months.  A few weeks back I visited Zauber Brewing (yet another new Columbus brewery) and they a different Actual beer on tap, Fat Julian Imperial Stout.  I loved the Fat Julian, and it reminded me that I still had a bottle of the Orthodox Winter IPA sitting in my fridge.  Since winter is officially over (though it remains to be seen if it is practically over) I thought I better drink this beer without further delay.



  • Brewery: Actual Brewing (OH)
  • Style: Black IPA
  • ABV: 6.9%
  • IBUs: 44

 My Review

First of all I have to comment on the gorgeous labels that Actual uses for their beers. This label has a wide-eyed ox dancing with a woman who is dressed like she came from sometime in the first half of the 20th century.  It’s a whimsical, eye-catching, clean design (click here if you want to see the labels of other Actual beers).  Once the beer escapes the bottle I see that it is very dark brown, nearly black, in color.  It’s close to opaque but some ruby highlights get through the edges and it pours with two fingers beige head.  This beer would not have been out of place in our recent American Robust Porter blind taste test.

Not only does this beer look like a porter, it smells like one too.  There are a lot of roasted malts on the nose that bring aromas of chocolate and coffee. The taste follows the nose, chocolate and coffee with hints of black licorice, balanced by a healthy dose of hops that keep things balanced and lead to a dry finish.  The hops and charred grains do conspire to give some bitterness on the finish, but if you are looking for an IPA with easily detected flavors/aromas of citrus, grapefruit or pine you won’t find it here.


I quite enjoyed this beer, but I can’t understand why it is labeled an IPA.  I guess Winter IPA and Robust Porter are interchangeable terms.  I’d like to do a blind taste test between this beer and Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter.  I’m not sure I could tell the difference between the two.  Aside from my qualms with the labeling I’d say that Actual Brewing is 2 for 2 so far in making very solid beers.  I did see a few bottles of Orthodox Winter IPA at Weiland’s Market earlier this week, so if you live in Columbus there is still some time to get your hands on this beer.   For myself, I picked up a bottle of their newly released Berliner Weiss Curiosus and I’m looking forward to trying that one next.

Rating = 7

Rating Scale: 10 = perfection, 9 = excellent, one of the top beers in the world, 8 = very good, one of the top beers in its style category, 7 = good, a solid beer I’m happy to be drinking, 6 = average, not bad but not something I’m likely to buy again, 5 = below average, 3-4 = poor, should be avoided, 1-2 drainpour.

3 thoughts on “Beer Review – Orthodox Winter IPA, The New Edmund Fitzgerald

Add yours

  1. Great Article! Thanks! Truth be told, we took our industrial porter recipe and hopped the crap out of it. Since it had so much hops, we didn’t want to call it a porter, it was just too bitter and aromatic. We coined Winter IPA because that’s what we thought our favorite winter beer should taste like. We’ll make it again next winter. But, yeah, it’s the love child of a robust porter, (10% imperial stout) and whole crapload of hops. Thanks for the write-up and come out to the taproom!

    1. Thanks for the response Fred! It’s always very nice to get feedback from brewer himself (and pretty rare too). I’m glad to hear that my review was close to the mark. By whatever name I did enjoy your Orthodox Winter IPA and I’m looking forward to next year’s release.

      A visit to your tap room is pretty high on my list of things to do in the coming month, so thanks for the invitation. When I come maybe we’ll have a chance to meet and talk in person. What are the days and hours when you are open for visitors?

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