In case you’ve been wearing earplugs for the past 10 days, Vancouver Craft Beer Week is in full swing right now. The main event – a massive three-day tasting festival taking place at the PNE – starts this Friday, where there will be three stages of live music, huge swaths of people and beer, beer galore!
So much beer. Some might even say too much beer, what with more than 100 breweries and over 400 beers available. It can be tough to navigate an environment like this even if you’re educated on craft beer – never mind if you’re just starting out!
And because this festival is designed to turn newbies on to craft beer, The Growler will be onsite facilitating the Growler Challenge – a curated guide to the festival that doubles as a scavenger hunt. Collect 10 stamps from 10 different breweries and you could win you some nifty prizes.
Or, you could just read this list and chase these beers down instead. Either works, but none of the beers recommended here will be featured on the Challenge. There’s a lot of love to spread around, people!
Field House Sour Wheat Gose
This German-style sour is a refreshing, flavourful brew from one of most promising new local breweries. It’s made using coriander, elderflower and salt from Vancouver Island Salt Co., giving it a citrusy, slightly salty flavour.
Bridge Brewing Company Side Cut
Bridge has created what’s arguably the shining local example of a North East IPA, one of the BC’s newest beer trends. This is a cirtrusy, cloudy brew with hints of lemon, grapefruit tropical fruits and a mild hoppy bitterness.
33 Acres of Sunshine
Sunshine has been around for a couple years already, but it’s a perfect introductory beer for people who think they don’t like beer. This is one of the most consistently approachable, drinkable, refreshing and well-crafted summer beers available in BC, and is honestly good for any occasion, for any level of beer drinker.
Persephone Pale Ale
Here’s a sessionable pale ale for folks who enjoy the hops without wanting their palates obliterated. The light malt base is balanced by a citrusy hop flavour.
Twin Sails Hefeweizen
For my dollar, this is the best hefeweizen made locally – which ain’t bad for a brewery that’s barely seven months old. It’s crisp but very flavourful, with notes of fruit and a little spice. Very approachable, very delicious.
Steel and Oak and Strange Fellows VCBW Collaboration Brew Tu Meke Saison
Steel & Oak will be pouring this year’s collaboration brew, a full-boded saison that’s made with Tasmanian Pepperberries, giving it notes of fresh cracked pepper along with raspberry, citrus and currant. Don’t let the pepper throw you off – this beer is a killer. Get it while you can.
Red Collar Brewing Belgian Wit
Kamloops’ Red Collar is one of the more under-recognized breweries in the province. Helmed by veteran David Beardsell, its lineup of beers is consistent and dependable. His Belgian Wit is one of his more approachable brews – a cloudy wheat beer, brewed with Seville oranges and coriander, making for a very refreshing summer sipper.
Powell Street Craft Brewery Witbier with Ginger & Cardamom
I haven’t tried this one yet, but it sounds mighty appealing. Here are Powell Street’s tasting notes: “Fresh ginger and cardamom seeds lend bright, zesty aromatics to this unique take on a Belgian-style witbier. Complex and refreshing, this beer will pair beautifully with spicy foods or sunshine.”
Four Winds Nectarous
This beer is a masterpiece and was recently recognized as the best beer in Canada at the 2016 Canadian Brewing Awards. It’s an ideal sour beer for people who think they don’t like sour beers or want to see what all the fuss is about. Nectarous is approachable, with a complex flavour profile balanced by tropical fruit esters, and a clean and tart finish. Amazing.
Category 12 Elemental Series Wild IPA
I only vaguely recall knocking back multiple taster glasses of this beer at Victoria Beer Week. I don’t recall how it tastes even remotely, but I do sort of remember singing its praises to C12 co-founder Karen Kuzyk. I’ll let Karen’s tasting notes educate you: “Our Wild IPA is fermented with an untamed wild yeast call Sacc. trois. This yeast imparts an enticing tropical fruit aroma with a slightly tart finish that complements our hop profile. The result is an assertive IPA with layers of luscious fruit, citrus and spicy character.”
I literally couldn’t have said it better myself.