It’s been nine months since I left my beloved Toronto for the picturesque City of Vancouver. Any self-respecting microbrew beer lover should consider doing the same.
I’ve been thinking much about the differences between these two cities (and provinces) as a blog topic but then I decided a monthly series of posts might be more fun. And since I’m asked repeatedly for my thoughts on YVR, as Vancouver is frequently referred to by the locals, it dawned on me to discuss that which is near and dear to almost every man’s heart: beer.
Simply put, B.C. kicks Ontario’s ass when it comes to the number of quality microbrew beers. And so tender beer drinker, I offer you my own personal top 10 list of fave B.C. brewed beers (in no particular order or rank). If you decide to head west, be sure to quaff a few of these:
Howe Sound Diamond Head Oatmeal Stout (Squamish)
I’m a Guinness man. So I’m not easily wooed by lesser stouts (Guinness being the Lord’s stout in my humble opinion). But one must give credit when due, and Howe Sound’s Diamond Head Oatmeal Stout (5%) is a traditional, dry Irish stout of the finest order. A full-bodied pint with an intense roasted malt character that gets better with each swallow.
Cutthroat Pale Ale by Tree Brewing Co. (Kelowna)
A delicious, refreshing ale that goes down smooth — maybe a little too smooth as one tends to lead to four. Still, this light-tasting beer (5%) is an all-season pint. It goes just as well with a hearty meal in the colder months as it does while sunning yourself in the dog days of summer. Pleasant tasting, no bitterness, no aftertaste. Bravo!
Dead Frog Lager (Aldergrove)
Not only does the name of this brewery rock, but so too does its beers. Truth told, I like all of Dead Frog Brewery’s wares but zeroed in on the Lager (5%) since it was the first of the lot I tried (thank you Jason Tobin for the introduction). I highly recommend Dead Frog Lager to the daily beer drinker. This all-purpose pint will never let you down. Deee-licious!
Lighthouse Riptide Pale Ale (Victoria)
I’ve yet to spend any meaningful amount of time on Vancouver Island but I’m told it’s rife with independent breweries brewing exceptionally tasty beers. One day I’ll have to take the time to do an island pub crawl and find out. In the meantime, you can purchase a number of fine lagers and ales from Victoria’s Lighthouse Brewing Co. on the mainland including the scrumptious Riptide Pale Ale (5%). I find it difficult to describe exactly what it is about this beer that I like so much because it’s got a lot going for it: it’s crisp, light tasting with no bitter aftertaste; a very drinkable beer. More often than not I catch myself reaching for a six of Riptide when I visit a BCL store.
Red Truck Lager (North Vancouver)
A hard-to-find beer but well worth the endeavor. The first sip of Red Truck Lager (6%) does drive right over the palette and it’s got bite. But it’s like driving a vehicle with standard transmission. Once you’ve mastered it, the ride becomes smoother and more rewarding. Indeed, it is ‘pure bliss on the tongue’. Cool factor: Red Truck Lager is only available in kegs and it’s delivered fresh in and around Vancouver in a classic red 1946 Dodge truck.
Stanley Park 1897 Amber Ale (Delta)
I’m not a big fan of amber ales, never have been. But the Turning Point Brewing Co. has earned my respect for its well-rounded, Belgian style 1897 Amber Ale (5%). This is a bit of a demanding beer in the sense that it’s so flavourful (and slightly bitter) you need a few mouthfuls to fully appreciate its depth. It’s not my first choice, but it’s not a bad one either.
Nelson Brewing Co.’s Paddywhack IPA (Nelson)
This beer produces a big, frothy head (and doesn’t that sound fun in and of itself?). I admit, at first I thought this beer wasn’t very good. But subsequent tries has me thinking the other way. You need to be a fan of hoppy beer, as Paddywhack IPA (6.5%) boasts an aroma of hops with a hint of grapefruit citrus.
Okanagan Springs 1516 Bavarian Lager (Vernon)
At one time, Okanagan Springs Brewery stood out as one of B.C.’s first and finest indie breweries. Nowadays it’s owned by Sleeman’s but don’t let that bother you. Okanagan Springs produces a number of good beers but for my money, the 1516 Bavarian Lager (5%) wins the day. This beer seems to go down best right after a workout or a game of hockey.
Granville Island Brockton IPA (Vancouver)
Another former indie brewery bought out by an international conglomerate. But since most Vancouverites appear to regard the Granville Island Brewing Co. as their hometown microbrewer, Granville Isle’s Brockton IPA (6.5%) made my list. I’ve had better IPAs to be truthful, but the Brockton IPA strikes a chord simply because of the pleasant taste despite the higher alcohol content. It’s uncomplicated and fulfilling. Another please!
Black Bear Ale by Kamloops Brewing Co. (Kamloops)
I first tried Black Bear Ale (5%) years ago when it was still brewed by the now defunct Bear Brewing Co. Despite the brewmaster’s change of address, it still resonates as a worthwhile beer to enjoy, especially if you’re like me and you enjoy darker beers. In a nutshell, Black Bear Ale is a porter-style ale with reddish hues and a nice fluffy head.
Believe you me, there are a slew of other B.C. beers I’ve yet to try but time is on my side. Cheers!
What’s your favourite microbrew beer?