On the 13th of December 2016, my mates and I tested out the “Greatest Hits” pub crawl. Beginning at The Bent Mast around 2:30 in the afternoon, and wrapping up at about 11:00 in The Drake, it was a smashing success!
Over the last couple of years I have reviewed several beers that can only be found in stores at this time of year. So for your convenience, I have decided to put them all together into one post to help you navigate the oft’ overwhelming realm of the Winter ale/Christmas ale/Seasonal release shelves. This post is mostly applicable to British Columbia, but certain brews may be available in other jurisdictions too!
Recently Beer Me BC, a website dedicated to all things BC Beer, released a list of the top 10 BC Craft Beers reviewed on Beer Me BC.
This inspired me to make my own list. My list contains nine beers that I have reviewed in blog posts, and one beer that I have recently reviewed, but not yet shared my review of. Bear in mind that this list only contains beers that I have reviewed, and it will certainly change over time. When two or more beers earned the same rating, I have sorted them alphabetically.
This superbly balanced stout has loads of coffee, dark chocolate, and soda water flavours. It is only available on draught at a select few locations in BC, and in growlers from the brewery in Sorrento (party pigs having been recently discontinued).
In mid January, I went out for drinks at Spinnakers with Andrew and Lys. They gave me a late Christmas gift: a hardcover book about the Queen Mother. I love it, seriously. We also reminisced about the time they came over for cream tea (a form of English afternoon tea) and when Gractor sat on Andrew’s back.
This beer was sampled on New Years Eve along with the Corsendonk Christmas Ale, and in all honesty this put that one to shame. Which is rather impressive if you think about it, because that one is a Belgian beer, and this one is a gluten free Canadian beer. This beer needs no handicap to score well compared to regular beers, it is simply a good beer, regardless of its lack of gluten! I tasted it with my family friend, the esteemed industrialist Uncle Jay, and I posted these tasting notes for his, and for all the other coeliacs’, benefit!
My friend and I had plans to do some Christmas shopping yesterday afternoon in downtown Victoria, but when I discovered that there were midweek Premier League fixtures about to kick off at 11:45, I rushed downtown ahead of him to enjoy a pint and some association football. Knowing that the Irish Times would be showing the Liverpool match, and doubtful that I could find any place featuring Newcastle at Burnley, I headed there. To my delight there were two proper 20oz pints on special, Guinness, and a certain New Belgium sour beer. I opted to begin with the New Belgium Terroir, and settled down in a comfortable library style side room to watch the game. As a neutral I thoroughly enjoyed the match, and as an England fan I savoured the chance to see Steven Gerrard score a goal. The Liverpool fans up at the front filled the pub with their cheers throughout the game, and with my pint in hand and the library fire exuding heat, the atmosphere was perfect.
Ever since I returned from Belgium, we have periodically hosted Belgian beer drinking events at our home, each one known as a Stamhuis. I came up with the name by taking the Belgian term “Stamcafe,” which is a way of referring to one’s local pub, and then replacing “cafe” with “huis,” the Dutch word for house. We originally hosted several “tasting Stamhuizen” with friends who were interested in expanding their knowledge of Belgian beer. A typical tasting session involves 4 people each trying 1/4 of 8 different Belgian beers from 7 or 8 different styles. After several of these tasting events, we were able to invite people over for a”drinking Stamhuis,” where instead of having people taste specific beers, we would simply hang out and drink any Belgian beer we felt like. At every Stamhuis we use my extensive collection of glasses, serving trays, coasters etc. to create a temporary Belgian beer cafe inside the house. Stamhuis 20 was a combination of a tasting and a drinking event, with several certified tasters and 4 new recruits in attendance. Other than a bottle of Westvleteren 12 being shared between 10 people (silly I know!) the highlight of the night for me was trying the Fantôme Saison for the first time!
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