After last year’s tastings and the brews I’ve tried in between, I knew my faves would be dark beers and fruity beers so I sought those out primarily.
This year’s list went as follows:
- Elysian Brewery, Dragonstooth Stout. UGH this one was SO strong and so thick it took a long time to get the taste out of my mouth.
- Vancouver Island Brewery, Black Betty a blackberry infused Belgian saison. Ohhhhh, that was good. Light, solid berry flavour (not as deep as Longwood’s Berried Alive but flavourful) and the perfect antidote to the Dragonstooth.
- Fernie Brewing, Sap Sucker Maple Porter. YUM. If I’d been able to drink more, I’d have had another of these. The maple added just enough sweet to counter the intensity of the porter.
- Longwood Brewpub, Berried Alive Framboise. This was one of my faves last year and did not disappoint. Easily the best fruit beer I’ve ever had.
- New Belgium, Fat Tire Amber Ale. Shawn and I discovered this on a road trip several years ago and I am very excited that it will now be sold here in BC. Basically, Fat Tire opened the doors of beer-drinking for me; I’d long been a cider drinker and just not interested in beer until I tasted it so it will always have a soft spot for me. The brew is smooth, slightly sweet, and neither too malty nor too hoppy while still definitely tasting like a craft brew.
- Townsite, Blackberry FestiveAle. Until I looked back at last year’s list I had completely forgotten I had tried this. I liked it better this year than last — I think I was better able to accept that strong fruit flavour is not easy to manage in beer. 😉
- Powell Street Craft Brewery, DiveBomb Porter. Not only was this a rich, smooth, uncomplicated dark beer, but it had what I think might be my favourite beer label of a crow in an aviator helmet and goggles.
- Prohibition Brewing Company, Harvest Pumpkin Spiced Ale. I’m not a big fan of pumpkin beers but this one was subtle — it was more about the spices than the pumpkin.
- Double Trouble Brewery, Vanilla Bean Espresso Imperial Stout. This was actually the first brew we tried to get and went back twice before they were finally pouring from the keg. I was not disappointed. It took me a long time to drink because it was so strong and so intensely coffee flavoured. Like a good Italian espresso blended with a good dark beer. Perfection.
- Steamworks, Espresso Stout. I almost wish I hadn’t done the two coffee beers back to back but the Espresso Stout was solid. (If the Vanilla Bean Espresso was perfection, the next closest for me was Hoyne’s limited run of Espresso Stout earlier this year). I would consider this one a good “beginner dark” — would be great with a late brunch.
- New Belgium, again. I went back thinking I would get their pumpkin brew but couldn’t resist another glass of the Fat Tire.
- Unibroue Inc., Ephemere Cherry. I started on a low note and ended on a low note — this one for me was “hint of Nyquil.” Bleahhh.
So, top of the heap was the Vanilla Bean Espresso Imperial Stout but also excellent were the Dive Bomb Porter, Berried Alice and the Sap Sucker Maple Porter. And I think Fat Tire, now that I can get it locally, will be my go-to beer for barbecues. 🙂
After we left, we headed for Smoken Bones for a big feast of meat — same thing we did last year, actually. I had their Sloppy Joe for the first time and it was absolutely exactly what a sloppy joe should be! A quick cab ride home and it was only 9:30. I started drinking water with dinner and continued at home… hopefully the effects of a dozen 4-oz beers can be mitigated somewhat. 😉