The Six Pack Project: BC!

6pack-logo1Today, I have honor of taking part in something new. Specifically, its a project that brings beer snobs and lovers from across the continent – and indeed, the world at large – together in our shared fondness for one of mankind’s oldest spirituous beverages. It’s known as the “Six Pack Project”, a campaign that was started by blogger Bryan Roth who shares his love of beer through his website This Is Why I’m Drunk.

And the rules of the project are really quite simple. Every month, six bloggers are featured where they select six beers that they feel best represents their locality and/or its beer culture. The selections must be brewed in-state (or in my case, province) and should be year-round varieties as much as possible, though seasonals are also acceptable. With these basic criteria in mind, I set about trying to select six beers that I felt best represents British Columbia’s brewing culture.

And here’s what I came up with, a list not only of individual brews but the varieties I wanted to cover. As anyone who has ever experienced BC’s beer culture knows, we produce a wide variety of styles, which is very much reflective of our cultural diversity and heritage. As such, the styles I felt I should cover needed to include the best local representations of British, American and Continental European brewing. And so, here are my six choices for BC brewing styles and the beers that I feel best represents them:

India Pale Ale – Central City Red Racer IPA:
red_racer_ipaDefinitely a contender for the best India Pale Ale in BC, if not the entire country, Central City’s Red Races has everything that a fan of Pacific Northwester IPAs have come to expect. This includes a rich amber hue, a strong and floral hop aroma, and a taste that proceeds in waves. This begins with a syrupy, slightly sweet malt flavor, then gives way to a citrusy blend hops that are highly reminiscent of grapefruit before finishing with a lingering bitterness. Strong, yet balanced, it also manages to be quite refreshing, which is not easy when dealing with your maltier, hoppier brand of India Pale Ale. So really, what you get is a very well rounded beer with a wonderful balance of characteristics. Add to that a respectable alcohol content of 6.5 % per volume and you’ve got a winner!

Brown Ale – Cannery Naramata Nut Brown Ale:
Naramata
British Columbia is renowned for producing some mighty fine brown ales, but Cannery’s Naramata Nut Brown remains one of the smoothest and pleasing ones I’ve had to date. Dark and almost stout like in its appearance, this brown is very smooth to taste, but packs a viscous, chewy mouth feel and some very toasty malts that do a nice dance on the tongue. All of this is then rounding out with a nice hop finish and some well-placed chocolate notes. And consistent with its name, it also has a slight nutty profile that calls to mind the taste of cashews and other roasted, harvest nuts.

Session Ale – Lighthouse Tasman Ale:
tasman_aleProduced by Victoria’s own Lighthouse brewery, the Tasman is an session ale that is brewed with local malts but has the distinction of being flavored with hops imported from the Tasman region of New Zealand – hence the name and label art. The result is an light amber-colored ale with a light head that is reminiscent of both a good Northwestern Pale Ale and an ESB. This comes through in the slightly sweet, syrupy malts and the hop profile that is at once citrusy, subtle, multilayered and reminiscent of a dry-hopped bitter. On top of that, it maintains a respectable 5% alc/vol, despite being a session ale, and finishes quite clean and refreshing, making it an all-around pleaser!

Flanders Red – Driftwood Belle Royale Sour Cherry Ale:
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As part of Driftwood’s Bird of Prey series, Belle Royale is the third Flanders-style sour ale produced by this brewery. And in my opinion, it is the best so far. This may have to do with the fact that in all previous cases, I was automatically reminded of the tart taste of sour cherries when I sampled them. So it seemed ridiculously appropriate that they chose to fashion one that actually incorporated the fruit this past year. Combined with an oak barrel-aging process and the addition of specialized yeast that brings out the lactic acid, this beer has several layers of flavor which the accomplished beer drinker will enjoy sorting through. It begins with a burst of tart cherries, then proceeds to an oaky  flavor similar to a dry red wine, and then on to a lingering flavor of mild sugars, yeasts and tart fruit flavor. And at 8% alc/vol, it also packs quite the punch!

Belgian Triple – Townsite YOGN 82 Belgian Triple:
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Located in Powell Rivers’ historic Townsite district, this brewery is the chief purveyor of beer to the Sunshine Coast, and arguably one of the best breweries in all of BC. And it is without exaggeration that I say that their YOGN 82, the second beer in their Hulk Series, is one of the better Belgian Triple’s that I’ve ever had. Between its golden blonde hue, distinctive Belgian nose, strong malts, hints of banana, and an oaky aftertaste, it has just about everything I have come to know and love about this distinctive style of beer. But one difference which sets it apart is the added kick of citrus and sugary malts, which add some more dimension to the flavor. And like all good Triples, it weighs in at a hefty 9% alc/vol. To be nurtured slowly, and with care!

Hefeweizen – Moon Under Water Victorious Weizenbock:
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Last, but certainly not least, is my current favorite wheat beer that is brewed right here in-province. Produced by Moon Under Water, another brewery located in the heart of Victoria, the Victorious Weizenbock is also my favorite beer out of their entire lineup. Basically, it incorporates the styles of a hefeweizen and a bock to produce something that is truly interesting and harmonious. This comes from the combination of Canadian wheat, German Munich and Chocolate malts, along with New Zealand hops, specialized yeast, and a bock lagering process. And what comes out of all this is a beer that is smooth and tawny at first, then transitions into the sweet and rich, and has notes of banana, clove spice, chocolate, and a nicely spicy, yeasty aftertaste to round it all out. And at 8.2% alc/vol, it’s no slouch in the strength department!

Believe me when I say this was a tough process and I had some hard calls to make. If I could expand on this, I definitely would. But what can you do? Rules are rules, and there’s only so many spots for top contenders. Here’s hoping it helps some people out there in their ongoing quest to find new and interesting beers to try!

More Six Pack Projects from around the world:

  • Connecticut by Kristen at Now Beer This!
  • Indiana by Rebecca at The Bake and Brew
  • Maine by James at Insurance Guy Beer Blog
  • Minnesota by Paige of Alcohol by Volume
  • Montana by Ryan of Montana Beer Finder
  • Oregon by Chris at I Think About Beer

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Driftwood Belle Royale Sour Cherry

driftwood_logoI have always been a fan of sour cherries, ever since I was a boy and my family planted one in our backyard. Another thing I am quite fond of is Flanders’ Red Ales, which are renowned or their sour and complex character. So you can imagine how pleased I was when I found out that their is a beer that combines these two sources of greatness into one whole. It’s called Driftwood’s Belle Royale, the latest in their Bird of Prey series.

bellelogo-sourEver since Driftwood began producing these limited releases, which started in 2011 with the Flanders Red and then followed up by their Mad Bruin this past fall, I have been hooked. And now, with their Belle Royale Sour Cherry, they have managed to tap into the stuff of my dreams. Whenever I drank one of their sours in the past, I was reminded of my favorite fruit and kept thinking how awesome it would be if they came as one. And thanks to this latest installment, now they do!

And like all of their Bird of Prey beers, this one comes unfiltered, is quite strong (8% alc/vol) and is matured for months in oak barrels – in this case, a good 18 months. However, I can attest to the fact that the wait is well worth it.

Appearance: Dark red, translucent, low foam and high carbonation
Nose: Dry sour scent, heavy on the oak and lactic acid
Taste: Immediate burst of sour flavor, giving way to tart cherry fruit and yeasty accents
Aftertaste: Lingering sourness, notes of heavy oak
Overall: 10/10

My compliments Driftwood on your best sour ale yet, at least in my humble, heavily nostalgic and biased opinion. You’ve made me smile and given my first taste of sour cherries since I moved to the West Coast. I wish they were just a little bit easier to procure out this way. I would kill for some sour cherry pie right about now, definitely with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! How perfect would that be with my current selection of beer?