It’s been a scorcher this summer.
Not that I’m complaining… I like getting to work with dry socks and I love spending my weekends in the great outdoors!
It’s been a big change to have two days off with my wife! *laughs* Go ahead and insert your off-colour marriage joke here… But really, Crystal and I have been mountain biking, hiking, taking the dog to the beach and adventuring to new restaurants, farmer’s markets and junk shops. In short, we’ve enjoyed ourselves a lot.
Consequently, I haven’t spent as much time on the blog as I suppose I should… Sorry y’all.
During all these shenanigans I’ve discovered a handful of new, local beers that have accompanied and enhanced said shenanigans in all the right ways.
In contrast with last summer’s beer list, I’ve decided to lavish some appreciation on some of BC’s smaller breweries and bigger bottles. These bombers may have a slightly heftier price tag, but you get some of the province’s best craft brew, and there’s enough to share with friends.
Fat Tug IPA (Driftwood Brewery, Victoria, BC.)
First up, the pride of BC micobreweries and the gold standard for “Northwest-style” IPAs. Make way for one big fat tugboat full of flavour! It’s really hoppy, but (despite the warning on the bottle about 80+ IBUs… whatever the hell that means) also smooth ‘n packed with juicy lemon and lychee flavour. The finish is grassy and dry, nothing cloying to the palate. Fat Tug’s reputation among beer snobs is very well documented, but it’s actually a really accessible beer for the rest of us.
Best Enjoyed: On tap at Vista 18 during a night @ Victoria Jazz Fest.
Golden Ale (Salt Spring Island Brewery, BC.)
Once upon a time I was asked to research Vancouver Island beers to replace the boring ‘ol InBev standards that my restaurant offered. Among the local breweries, only Salt Spring Island had a reputation for anytime-availability in their standard lineup, and after some tastings a love affair was born! My current favourite is the Golden Ale which pours a beautiful gold colour, tastes lightly of honey and breakfast cereal (seriously!) and finishes with a refreshing crispness. This smooth little number will appeal to a wide range of beer drinkers and compliment a variety of foods.
Best Enjoyed: With a picnic table full of friends and munchies from Runge’s Deli in Courtenay.
Grapefruit Radler (Tree Brewing Co. Kelowna, BC.)
Trust the Germans to make a sports drink with beer in it! A radler (German for “cyclist”) is a type of biermischgetränk (“mixed-beer drink”) that combines lager with a varying amount of fruit juice. The result of this seemingly unholy union is a refreshing, quaffable can of sunshine that re-hydrates and gives you a buzz. Tree Breweries makes a mighty fine radler with a big helping of real grapefruit juice that never becomes cloying or overly sweet. In fact, the flavour is more akin to grapefruit rind or zest and the beer body balances that tartness with a soft weatiness. It goes down like water, and thanks to a 2.5% ABV it’ll keep you happily in the game without feeling bloated or falling of your bike.
Best Enjoyed: After surviving a fun, yet brutal bike session at the Snowden Trails.
Rhubie Rhubarb Ale (Lighthouse Brewing Co. Victoria, BC.)
*Gasp*Another fruit beer! Have I lost my mind!!???
I came across this lovely golden ale while developing my spiced pork and rhubarb recipe back in June. Despite the big aromas that hit you after uncapping, it’s got a really mild rhubarb flavour and a soft, frothy body. This makes a bland sauce for pork, but a great sipper for hot summer days.
Best Enjoyed: By the BBQ, putting a little colour on a piece ‘o pork.
Spring Saison Dragonfly Rye (Spinnaker’s Brewpub, Victoria, BC.)
Spinnaker’s Dragonfly rye practically jumped off the shelves and into my saddlebags thanks to the eye-catching artwork on the bottle. Great purchase! It was both my very first Saison (Belgian summer-style ale) and Rye beer in the same bottle. Big citrus and biscuit aromas say “Hey, how are you?” Then you sip and the big, creamy, toasted rye and saison spices envelop you. It’s a bit hard to describe exactly what the saison spice mix, or the rye taste like… Looks like I’ll have to research a lot more beers. *laughs*
Best Enjoyed: While assembling fences to keep those pesky deer out of the garden.
Steamworks Pilsner (Steamworks Brewery, Vancouver, BC.)
I’ve already flooded Facebook with my love of Steamworks Brewery and their delicious steampunk-powered blend of awesomeness this summer, so I’ll be brief: All Steamworks beers are great, especially the pilsner. It’s a traditional Czech-style Pils, lightly golden in colour with a bubbly, crisp and slightly bitter flavour.
Best Enjoyed: Picking huckleberries with a big bucket and an army of hungry family members.
Tin Hat IPA (Townsite Brewing Inc. Powell River, BC.)
Right across the straight from Comox is the crossroads burg of Powell River, home to the Townsite Brewery. My buddy Lee turned me onto this joint a year ago, and since then a whopping four regular bombers of their beer have become regular fixtures at my local liquor store. The Tin Hat IPA is by far my favourite! Big citrus and pine flavours ride a lion of hops at first swig, followed by a nice balanced maltiness in the finish.
Best Enjoyed: While battling for space to toast your hotdog over a backyard fire-pit.
Tuff Session Ale (Tofino Brewing Co. Tofino, BC.)
The Tofino Brewery may be a fledgling on the BC brew scene (est. 2010), but it’s already built a solid following for it’s sustainably-produced , well-packaged, delicious beers. Their flagship Tuff Session Pale Ale is the perfect beer for a long summer afternoon on the patio. It’s Copper coloured, malty, with some slight caramel notes, but not too heavy. Easy to drink a couple at a sitting, like any good “Session ale” should be.
Best Enjoyed: On tap at the Kwisitis Feast House in Tofino.
Oh, and if you are looking for some slick tunes to accompany your various summer misdemeanors, my good buddy Jess (aka Nick Soapdish) has begun a project to release a new mix of incredible music each week this summer. He’s already got two up, and both are funky as all get out.
Hit up his Soundcloud account Here to get all his mixes fo fweeeeeeeee! And make sure to Like and Comment to show your love.
See you at the beach!