An ale as old as the hills – Burton Ale from VIB & Gladstone

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On a cold November day in the Cariboo, keeping warm is an exciting activity to pursue. While this often takes the form of stoking a wood fire (or cosying up to the fire pit outside), beverages often begin to reflect this too. When I found this collab offering from Vancouver Island Brewing and Gladstone Brewing, the description of a 1920’s style (Although the origin seems to date back to the 1600s). Whatever the case, a 7.5% rich malty beer felt a safe bet to bring to the ranch.

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While the snapshot above doesn’t do it justice, it poured with little carbonation and head. Nicely viscous (I absolutely hate heavy beers that pour like water), it was a dark amber that smelled rich and almost syrupy. I’m no expert on my malts since I drink malty beers during a fairly short window of the year, but VIB lists Maris Otter, Superior Pilsner, Crystal, and Black malt in the recipe. And this combo delivers some liquor luxury.

Side note – while everyone loves a cold beverage (even if in a solid state like below), I recommend tempering this just a little to allow some of those flavours out. I left the bottle on the counter and drank from a tumbler and found that worked well.

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This is a limited release collaboration beer from 2 breweries on Vancouver Island and I felt fortunate to locate a bottle in North Vancouver. I think it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that I am the first person in history to enjoy this historic (specific) beer in all of the Cariboo. Just being a pioneer in my own way.

I mostly chill in the Summertime

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It was only recently that I realized that this blog was sorely lacking in one of my favourite styles – the humble pale ale. I have quickly trolled the archives of late and am trying to add a bit more of what I clearly drink up there but sometimes forget to mention. Like Dude Chilling Pale Ale from R&B Brewing. Drawing it’s name from the smart ass artist who renamed a park in East Van as a stunt, which eventually got the park renamed after public interest was expressed via petition. Because it is awesome after all.

Which leads to the beer, which is also awesome after all.

I was drinking Dude Chilling while bar-be-cueing for a group, and it was perfect. Cold, hop-forward, and easy to drink. I realize I don’t have many photos of pale ales in the snow, so I can deduce that I probably lean more towards the style in warmer months.

And doing a quick search online, BeerMeBC mentions that it’s part of the R&B core lineup, so perhaps I’ll bring a bottle for our New Year’s trip.

A Pair of Ravens – Abby Beer in the Cariboo

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On the last trip up to the ranch I did not have much time to stock up on unique beer for our unique ranch. Somewhat fortunately we had to get gas out in Langley and it put us right near a BC Liquor store. I wondered what I’d find in the shop, and while the craft selection was pretty modest, they did carry a few from Ravens Brewing Company. I managed to pick up their pale ale, dark mild, and a limited release called Corvis which is a gose with lime and lingonberry.

Being November, the beer was easy to chill in nature’s fridge – the great outdoors.  I like the bird theme (I trust you read my post about Strange Fellow’s popinjay). It felt fitting for this pair of ravens to sit on the old bench, lightly perched in the shallow snow.

But now – onto the beer. It’s been quite some time since I’ve brought pale ale to the ranch – going all the way back to the PEI Brewing Company Vic Park Pale Ale in August. Which is surprising because I’m such a fan of a good pale ale and it’s the beer I bench mark every brewery by when I can. If I dislike a brewers pale ale, I know it’s going to go downhill from there. Fortunately, Ravens Brewing has done well here. It’s a very straight forward offering, which is great in my books. I don’t see the need to deviate from a classic recipe with odd ingredients unless the brew master has a good idea in mind. So this beer gets the full endorsement for a solid offering.

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to crack the dark mild, so it will have to be explored on another trip. I did get the Corvus opened, so that I’ll explain in another post.

And of course it’s not just an exciting new beer to enjoy in the Cariboo, but I’d like to assert that no one in all of the Cariboo has ever tried this gem, so that makes it mine to claim as first to have it up there.

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Road Popinjay in the Cariboo

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While I seem to take many bombers to the ranch, I am a huge fan of the tallboy and have been actively buying up great BC craft cans ever since West Coast Canning began with Moon Under Water‘s Lighter Side of the Moon.

Thankfully Strange Fellows Brewing came out of the gate with a core lineup in tallboys (Tallisman being my fav). And then came Popinjay – a home run in a can.

Our November ranch trip allowed us to use nature’s fridge to cool our beverages, so Popinjay got left outside to chill a little.

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What’s great about a peacock on the can is it lends itself well to bird-themed environments around the ranch – old roosts and bird houses…

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Even the metal owl sentinels that guard the raised garden.

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Now after all that fun of letting the beer get cold, I should probably mention how spectacular it is. Popinjay is the first non-fruited sour that I can really understand. I’m still wrapping my head and mouth around sour beer and mostly enjoy them in hot weather. However, adding the promise of “West Coast” was a bold move by SF and caught my eye. And then my tongue. And they have created something really special. It gets a gentle hop nose and a little of that juicy citrus but balances amazingly with that subtle tartness that makes me think this is how a sour should be. I really like this beer.

And as I usually end my posts being absolutely certain that I’m the very first person in all of the Cariboo to discover this brewed gold, I must begrudgingly admit that one of my companions callously and wholly unwittingly downed one of these before me. But leaning on the truism that if it’s not online it didn’t happen, I’m going to steal her thunder and stake this claim myself. Also, she shotgunned it so that can’t count.

So when you are heading out to the back country yourself, do yourself a favour and pack along some of these road Popinjays.

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Fresh-Hopped Saison Season

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It seems a perfect time to drink fresh-hopped beer when the wild hops are dying on the vine. Like many things in BC’s Cariboo region, the cycle of life is illustrated in Technicolor. Hence why I brought this special seasonal offering from Category 12 Brewing to our inland paradise, because I could witness that miracle of nature through beer.

Not long ago I shared a photo of our infamous (to me) outhouse hops vines in the blog post about 4 Mile Brewing‘s Session IPA (Mosaic Session IPA – four miles of flavour), and let you in on my plan for the future home of Outhouse Brewing Co. But more about that later.

Come October, the vines are starting to sag and the ambitious brewer should have long-since picked and used the cones. But being slightly unambitious and preferring the fruits of others labour, I brought my C-12 fresh-hopped beer instead.

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While C-12 knows that they used Cashmere hops from Chiliwack Hops Farms, our outhouse hops varietal is more of a mystery. And mysteries being good in only some situations, likely not when brewing to find out if your beer is any good, my choice to bring someone else’s beer was vindicated.

And so to the beer – saison is one of those styles I don’t lean towards because I don’t always respond well to a yeast-forward, peppery beer. But what made me take the leap of faith in this beer was the fact that C-12 was clearly celebrating the hops in this brew and I wondered if a familiar bitterness might sneak in and balance the flavours in my favour. Interestingly the familiarity that crept into my mouth was more like the mild citrusy notes I find in some of the NE IPAs, just not with that intensity. To which I say – well done. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for this unique offering next year.

And being such a limited, seasonal release, let’s not forget that I am more than likely the very first person to take this down in all of the Cariboo. #Pioneering

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Melts in my mouth, not in the can

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Like many who drink the field of BC craft beer, I often pay attention to new openings and hope that I’ll find a way to try them. It so happened that I have a friend in the township of Coquitlam, and she so happened to be planing on joining us at the ranch…so that’s how I got to be the first person ever in all of the Cariboo region to quaff this brew.

But less about me and more about me drinking this beer. I’ve mentioned in my post about Red Arrow Brewing’s Kölsch and my enjoyment of the style. It extends to other hybrid-beer styles too – this time the cream ale. And of course I actually reference a cream ale that was my gateway beer in my post about how I got more interested in craft beer.

But back to this beer, the cream ale, from Mariner Brewing, that is exceptional. It’s got a hoppy surprise in it’s smooth body and it finishes lovely. Ranch-lovely. It’s the sort of beer that you need to stop what you are doing and enjoy. Which I was happy to do.

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It’s the sort of beer that lets you toast yourself. And again. And it’s ok if no one is there. Or if you are ignoring whomever is there. It’s that good.

I’ve seen that they are about to can an amber ale, and I am feeling optimistic. Teasing us with the “coming soon” status, we do know that growler fills begin Nov 8. So perhaps a call to West Coast Canning is in order to see if they can jump the queue. Because I’m off to the Cariboo shortly after that and getting a little worried about supply.

I don’t shotgun my Dive Bomb

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Powell St. Brewing’s Dive Bomb dark ale

Before my last visit to the ranch, I popped into Powell St. Brewery to inquire if I had missed the fresh hop boat. Which I had by a few days, of course. The super friendly guy behind the counter reminded me that dry hopped beer could also be awesome and pointed out the tall can offerings (my fav format). I wasn’t sure whether to go Cheeky Monkey or Dive Bomb, so my new pal let me try both. And I came away with both.  What I loved when I tried Dive Bomb on the coast was a clean, crisp maltiness that wasn’t familiar at all.  I occasionally enjoy a malty beer, but they usually are awash in those Christmasy/Wintery-flavours. Dive Bomb didn’t carry that burden. Once in the Cariboo on the cusp of Fall, on a beautiful day, this was a perfect sit-on-an-old-wooden-bench-and-bask-in-my-exceptional-privilege kind of beer. And bask did I ever. I find this beer is fantastic with a slight chill to it, and on a crisp day it seems like a pairing made in heaven. And while there were no crows anywhere to be found that could disturb my moment with a dive bomb, the faint cry of an old raven could be heard.

October is an exciting month at the ranch – shorts are no longer packed along, wood fires get stoked at night, and the window in which you can drink a beer outside in a t-shirt gets pretty narrow (like between 12 and 1).

And it’s in those brief moments when I can sit and imagine the seasonal changes. First comes the barest of dustings of snow a the top of the hills. Then (as below from early November last year) the snow line starts to get lower. And the window for a beer outside not huddled near a fire has just about shut.

And of course during that brief time when I’m sipping my glass of this delicious malty magic, I’m realizing that there is no one, anywhere in all of the Cariboo, doing what I’m doing and drinking this particular beer. I’m a pioneer once again, in my own special way. I too have brought something unique to this special place.

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The next phase of Fall in the Cariboo

Mosaic Session IPA – four miles of flavour

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If a brewery has the audacity to have an “experimental series” release, you can be damn sure I want it. I have no idea why – maybe they are experimenting with the relatively simple advertising strategies that appeal to craft beer fans. And it works. But also having the word “session” in the title can get my attention too as I’m often looking for a ranch beer that won’t knock me off my tractor. So this gem from 4 Mile Brewing got packed along for our Thanksgiving trip.

It’s a hoppy little number and the IBU comes in at 50, which feels like a nice number. Half of 100. On a scale none of us really understand (because it doesn’t factor in other flavour elements that can add to bitterness, for instance). But none of that matters when it’s all about me and my beer in the Cariboo. And me being the first to drink a specific beer – this specific beer, in the Cariboo, if I didn’t say that already.

Although our wild hops that grows around the old outhouse was all dried on the vine by Thanksgiving, I find it remarkably satisfying to look at it with a pint in hand and dreaming of the day I’ll open Outhouse Brewing (photo below is from this Summer). But until then, It’s me bringing great beer on my Cariboo excursions made by great brewers.

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Future home of Outhouse Brewing – first brew will be called “Hop to it”

 

I’d like to be under the sea (Subaquatic domicle IPA)

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It’s fortunate that I live only 1 km from Hearthstone Brewery in North Vancouver because I’m able to get some of the limited release craft beers that can sell out in a single day. These are the kinds of beer that I’d literally bet my life on that no one has taken to the Cariboo before. So it was with that completely unreasonable satisfaction that I decanted this beauty and propped the can on a post for later BB gun practice. It’s definitely a good looking beer, but because it only comes in short cans it doesn’t stick around long enough to get a photo of it in a glass. At 6% ABV it’s nearly sessionable, but you wouldn’t catch me trying to fire up the 1972 Mitsubishi tractor with a can of ether after drinking a couple of these, nor drink the can of ether and use these as a tractor starter.

And with the moniker Subaquatic Domicile IPA there is a certain irony of drinking it on a ranch. However just 5 minutes down the road, Nasa has actually been doing some deep water work (Kelly Lake is 700 feet deep), meaning that this beer could be highly relevant around Kelly and Pavillion Lakes. In fact should the Pavillion Lake Research Project start up again, I may need to ask Hearthstone to put these in tallboys because deep water exploration might need to rely upon efficient can size. And I like tallboys.

I can drink 4 Mile(s) and miles

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While I wouldn’t walk 500 miles for any beer, I would stroll to one of my beer caches and collect something that’s never alighted in the Cariboo before. This particular beer, 4 mile Brewing‘s Cactus Grapefruit IPA has the unusual additive of cactus, which seems rather thematically related to the dry Cariboo region. It also has grapefruit in it, which isn’t at all a Cariboo thing. Like many of craft beers that I bring with me on my trips, this one is an India Pale Ale (IPA).

Flavour-wise I could not discern cactus to save my life. Likely because I have no idea what cactus juice tastes like. Also probably because the grapefruit is pretty potent (no idea how much of that is influenced by the hops). But on a warm night in British Columbia’s gold rush region, where you could not find a bottle of this beer anywhere to save your life, I was smugly sitting there and decanting this brew into my glass. Smug not just because most other beer in the region wears the moniker “America” on it’s can, moreso because not one person has got to enjoy this beverage before in the Cariboo. It’s amazing how context can affect taste, and in this instance I liked it that much more because I am the first person to ever drink this beer in the whole region.

This is blog post #4 and It’s amazing how I never tire of proclaiming to be the first person to drink a specific beer in the Cariboo.  And not one person yet has written/tweeted/phoned to contradict my claims, meaning that I’m surely right and the proof is online. Thanks for enjoying pictures of my craft beer conquests in my favourite place.