We Review Lighthouse Switchback (finally)

If you live on the west coast then you are probably familiar with the India Pale Ale beer style. There are many excellent IPA’s brewed locally such as: Tree Brewery’s Hophead, Central City’s Red Racer IPA, and Driftwood Brewery’s Fat Tug IPA. If you’re on the east coast, comparable brews are: Muskoka Brewery’s Mad Tom IPA and Flying Monkey’s Smash Bomb Atomic IPA.

Last month Lighthouse Brewery from Victoria B.C. took a little break from their limited release series and released Switchback North-Western IPA.

Commercial Description: This hoppy IPA is 80 IBUs and 6.5% alc/vol. Citra, Zythos and Falconer’s Flight hops combine to produce citrus, stone fruit and tropical flavours. The assertive bitterness of these hops is nicely balanced by medium bodied, fresh malt characters. Switchback IPA is a Pacific Northwest style IPA.

     This is not Lighthouse’s first IPA. One of their regular line-up beers is the Beacon IPA which is more of an English style IPA and won a silver medal in the 2004 Canadian Brewing awards. With some great IPAs made locally, there’re only two reasons to release a new version:

  • The brewery is trying to cash in on the popularity of the style
  • The brewer knows their craft and feels they have something to contribute to the conversation that is craft beer

Which will the Switchback be? (We think definitely the latter).

Fiddler’s Elbow :

The packaging is an eye catcher—lots of bright, bold colours—although, I’m not sure what a mountain biker has to do with anything. It’s also worth noting the stubby neck bottles make it stand out from the regular six pack bottles. The beer pours a nice golden colour with mild carbonation and a slim white head which dissipates quickly. Right away, there are noticeably strong hop aromas of orange citrus and tropical fruit notes. After the first couple of sips I can tell you this beer is good—really good. The flavour is a great mix of crisp apple, citrus fruitiness, and sharp hop bitterness which is balanced with a light sweet malt base. This beer is an excellent example of a North West IPA and could definitely hold up against any of BC’s top IPA’s.


First the packaging needs to be noted. I approve of the green colour scheme, but what’s with this mountain bike guy in the woods? I guess Lighthouse is trying to say that this is an extreme IPA for extreme sports enthusiasts? I’d rather just see a forest of hops. I do like the stubby bottles and the fact that it is a 6-pack and available at most BC liquor stores.

Switchback pours golden yellow with a large thick white head. The aroma is very hoppy with a fresh hay scent. The Citra hops are unmistakable. My first sips are filled with notes of sweet, grapefruit-like citrus and fresh flowers. The Switchback is a delicious and unexpected surprise—I certainly was not expecting an IPA of this level (based on the packaging and the scant knowledge I had beforehand). It has a palate cleansing bitterness and a great bouquet of hops to please the nose and the tongue.

IPA: Level Awesome Reached

Other reviews to check out:




Barley Mowat

6 responses to “We Review Lighthouse Switchback (finally)

  1. Pingback: We Review Lighthouse Switchback (Finally) | 8bitbeerblog

  2. Lighthouse brewer Dean McLeod here. We chose a mountain biking theme for the label because many of us at Lighthouse ride mountain bikes. That’s all. More bikes in our carpark than cars.
    Thanks for the great feedback. There’s nothing quite like a dry, crisp and tasty PacNorWest IPA after a ride, and I’m very happy to be brewing the styles of beer that I like to drink. Cheers!

    • Hi Dean, thanks for the comment, and thanks for making great beer!

      Now that you mention it the mountain bike does seem (eco)logical and is very Pacific Northwest activity.
      And the label definitely stands out.

      A cold Switchback after a ride does sound pretty great.
      I should get my bike out of storage and work off this winter Spare tire.

      Thanks for reading and keep up the excellent brewing.

  3. A ‘switchback’ is a winding mountain path that goes up/down sharply – and is often sought by mountainbikers. Its a very appropriate West Coast name and label design.

  4. When I was cycle touring on Saturna I went to a fantastic pub that served lighthouse. We had the IPA (not this one, the typical one) and it was fantastic. IPA’s are so fresh and bright that they suit post-activity cool-downs. You don’t want to climb all day in the sun and drink a stout haha.

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