When talking of B.C.’s great natural resources the topic generally goes toward the soaring mountains, luscious forests, everlasting lakes or incredible fauna. But in this traveller’s opinion, there’s a new contender in the debate — B.C.’s burgeoning brewing industry.
As someone who’s tasted brews in many countries and done a bit of home brewing in my time, North America could be called the home of micro brewing, with classics like the American pale ale, American brown ale and West Coast IPAs (India pale ale) topping the list.
Canada is well known for its big brewing power, take Molson or Quebec’s Unibroue which recently netted 12 awards at the 2013 World Beer Championships. But it was a pleasant surprise to learn that the craft brewing uprising that swept the world in the last decade took B.C. with it. Since 2010 craft breweries have grown in B.C., with over 50 now in the province, producing some of the best beer in the world.
The thing that Canada and B.C. are doing best is using local styles, the environment and ingredients to produce fantastic brews. The beer that really piqued my curiosity was a new one to me — the cream ale. First brewed by Shaftebury Brewing Company, most B.C. cream ales are brewed in the English mild ale style and pour an amber colour with a lasting, creamy head that laces the glass, and a mild creamy malt profile. A curious craft alteration is Penticton-based Tin Whistle Brewing’s peach cream ale.
At almost the other beer extreme, in recent years Canada has been brewing some of the best IPAs in the world. The IPA was first brewed by Commonwealth countries before the 20th century and exported to India by ship. Its high hop and alcohol content helped preserve the beer. The West Coast of North America has created a distinct and popular style of IPA that’s strongly hopped.
When quaffing a West Coast IPA you’re likely to experience exotic hops like cascade, centennial, or chinook, which provide a mix of flavour and aroma like pine, freshly cut grass, citrus and stone fruit. Some of the best I’ve experienced in B.C. are Surrey-based Central City Breweries Red Racer IPA, Lighthouse Brewing’s Switchback IPA and Driftwood Brewery’s Fat Tug IPA.
Maple, mostly found in dark ale or stouts, also makes a curious addition to beer. Most maple beers offer a sweet wood-like flavour to balance a rich malty backbone. A solid example is Cannery Brewing’s Maple Stout or Granville Island Brewery’s Maple Cream Ale.
Also popular are Canada’s winter ales that mirror classic Christmas flavours of pudding fruits, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg. Try Dead Frog Brewing’s Winter Beeracle Winter Ale or Tin Whistle’s award winning Stag Apple Scotch Ale.
Take some time to appreciate and enjoy the aromatic, bitter, malty goodness that’s created in your own backyard, because it’s world-class.