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.
Being that Pale Ale is one of my favourite craft beer styles, it’s funny that it’s not well represented in my blog. So I dug back in the archives to see what I’d forgotten to talk about and found this treasure from Black Kettle Brewing of North Vancouver. It was the last post about Raven’s Pale Ale that reminded me of this, and it’s likely that much of the new/limited release beers these days are India Pale Ales (NE style, juicy, DIPA etc). I think it’s important to remember that sometimes the simplest things are the best.
I first discovered Black Kettle (the then closest brewery to my home in North Vancouver) when I was “researching” for my short Storyhive (Telus) funded mini documentary called Brew Love. Phil (Brewmaster) had just begun cranking out his core offerings and Pale Ale was the 1st growler fill I came away with. And it was exceptional. It’s not overly complex, which is a strength in my books. It’s approachable and quaff-able. Both are big pluses in my books.
I also pulled a still frame (below) from the doc for Google images and it’s proven to be a hugely popular image (pats self on back).
It’s usually at this point in the post that I remember to tell you about the beer itself, but as I’ve said there’s not much to tell (and that’s a good thing). Rather – try it yourself and you will know why it accompanies me on the 434 km journey to our Cariboo haven.
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.
It’s not just NOT every day that you enjoy a pale ale from Prince Edward Island while firing up the BBQ in the Cariboo. It’s the kind of thing no one has ever done before. I mean, I haven’t exactly called the PEI Brewing Company and asked, but I’m feeling it’s a virtual guarantee that I’m the first person to ever drink this here. It might seem an inconsequential thing to you, but to me there is something pioneering about it. In the fun sense of pioneering, since likely nothing that was really pioneer-era would have been any fun. And drinking Vic Park pale ale is way more fun than clearing fields by hand or skinning goats.
Now about that beer – I’m a pale ale kind of guy. I judge a brewery by it’s pale ale. And my first introduction to this Atlantic-Canadian offering was well received. There was something familiar about it – a citra-hops kind of familiarity, but it definitely differed from our West-Coast pale ales of British Columbia.
But more important than the malts that make it is the context in which it was enjoyed. A friend had stashed this in her luggage and flew this across Canada to me, where I in turn drove it 414 km to our little piece of paradise. I then added it to the beer fridge knowing I could grab it when it felt like the right moment. And that moment came at about 4:15pm on a milder day when the temperature had waned to about 23 degrees. I was charged with getting the bbq ready and feeding the kids. But before they were to come back from the lake I had the opportunity to sit and ponder with this pint in hand. And sitting in the Cariboo, surrounded by historic buildings and everything old and beautiful, is a good kind of place to drink a great craft beer. Some beer is great for conversation. This particular pint was good for pondering. I’m not saying that if you were to have this beer (if you could even get your hands on it) that you’d need to drink it alone. But for me, in this place, it was the right thing to do. And do it first. And to enjoy the monumental sense of “one small sip for man, one giant…”. Because no one in the history of the world has done this before.