To make a horrible generalization about Victoria-area beer from a Lower Mainlander’s perspective, I find I’m often seeing the same offerings annually (or at least that’s all the local shops are ordering and stocking near me). I’ve always enjoyed Fat Tug, or Blue Buck, going back years. But now that we’ve surely hit PEAK CRAFT BEER, I need a new beer weekly to keep my attention. And many brewers are providing that. That said, Spinnakers Brew Pub seems to kick out a broad range of offerings (Iced Team Pale Ale anyone?) and even if they’ve been done the previous year I’m likely to have not seen them. This year I chanced upon Fan Tan – a spiced Belgian ale. I often shy away from Belgian beer, usually out of ignorance and sometimes fear of those skull-crushing ABVs. But this bottle caught my eye as an interesting option for the cold Cariboo ranch on a December day.
The beer had a red hue and was flavoured with Chinese 5 spice and orange peel – almost a drinkable ginger snap. The nose was really strong, preparing me for the flavour hit, which I didn’t shy away from. At just 4.7% it was an appreciable pre-dinner beer – able to warm up the palate without drowning out the appetite.
And a beer that provides a gentle warmth is a good thing. I’m often chasing the late Winter light, drinking in the last of the daylight, and preparing to retire to the wood stove for an evening of companionship and fun. And perhaps another pint.