One of my friends from Vernon recently came down to Victoria for a concert and we met up on Friday afternoon for drinks. We rendez-vous-ed on the UVic campus and grabbed a snack before heading downtown for some real food and a drink. Since he didn’t have much experience with the Victoria pub scene I took it upon myself to give him a little tour. We began at Garrick’s Head, where we ate a proper pub lunch and engaged our mouths in the first beer of the day; a Dark Matter for him and a Stanley Park Amber for me. After that we wandered over to Smith’s Pub where we were the first patrons of the day. Here we both opted for the Longwood Steam Punk Dunkel, which comes from Nanaimo and is a mighty fine brew indeed! I look forward to reviewing it sometime. Our final stop of the afternoon was Swans Brewpub. I reckoned that Swans was worthy of a visit to anyone solely accustomed to the rather lacklustre pubs of Vernon, and I had been meaning to review their popular Berry Ale for a while.
While Swans itself did not disappoint, being one of Victoria’s better pubs in terms of atmosphere, the Berry Ale itself was a tad disappointing. I remembered trying it in the past with some satisfaction, and having spent several years championing many of Belgium’s fruit beers, I am not at all averse to the idea of a fruit beer, provided that it is still beer like and not solely reliant on sweet flavour to appeal to the vodka cooler market. Here are my tasting notes.
Appearance: A dark coppery red.
Nose: Raspberries and not much else.
Palate: Like a carbonated raspberry alcohol.
Finish: Initially tart before mellowing out.
Overall: This beer tastes too much like alcoholic juice and lacks much of the complexity that you would find in most Belgian fruit beers. Perhaps a different serving temperature would change things, although Swans is one of the few pubs that actually indicates each beer’s temperature, so they probably picked the best one.
Rating: 2/5 Okay.
For his part, Brashino enjoyed the pubs and the beers that I recommended to him, while criticizing his own sense of style with remarks such as, “I feel like I am the only person on this campus dressed like a scumbag.” At least he didn’t look scummy enough to be refused deep fried pickles at Swans! For those of you interested in “weird music,” check out his SoundCloud here.