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B.C.'s local brewing companies adapt to the changing season with soul-warming beers for cold-weather survival
Beer might be best served cold paired with a patio or deck in the summer sun, but the hot weather is fading into the cool days of fall and winter, which means British Columbia breweries are preparing to launch brews better suited for cooler temperatures.
From pumpkin ales to coffee stouts, B.C. brewmasters won’t be hibernating this cold season.
Click through for some local breweries that have released special offerings just for the chillier months.
Vancouver’s Bomber Brewing has recently released one of its fall offerings, which was adapted from a summer favourite, the Marzen.
Blair Calibaba, Bomber’s head brewer, says the brewery is beginning the season with the launch of their Oktoberfest version of the Marzen.
“It’s a little bit lighter in colour and higher in alcohol at six per cent,” says Calibaba. “It’s done in a Munich Oktoberfest-style.”
Also, inspired by one of the most popular fall crops, Bomber will be releasing their pumpkin ale later this month, which is made with locally grown pumpkins.
“It’s almost like a Halloween ale,” he says. “When you see the label, you’ll see the ghoul and goblin ode to it. Our pumpkin ale isn’t going to taste like a pumpkin pie. I liked the pumpkin flavour that comes out when you roast it and introduce it in the mash and the boil, that’s what we’re trying for with that.”
When many people hear about fall and winter beers, they probably think of holiday spices like vanilla, cloves and cinnamon, David Bowkett, Vancouver’s Powell Street Craft Brewery brewer and founder, says the they prefer to focus on harvest ales, such as their fresh hopped beer, bottled late last month, and darker beers like a barely wine with its higher alcohol level.
In addition to their fresh hopped pale ale, 95 Pounds of Wethop Goodness, Bowkett says they will also be releasing a saison and their winter seasonal ale.
Echoing Bowkett’s descriptions of fall and winter beers, Sean Hoyne, brewmaster and owner of Victoria’s Hoyne Brewing Company, has also launched a wet-hopped pale ale.
“Our Wolf Vine wet-hopped pale ale is made using freshly picked hops right from two farms: one in Chilliwack and another on Pender Island,” says Hoyne. “We use a huge quantity of fresh hops in this once-a-year offering. The hops are picked one day and in the batch of beer the next. That is the reason we can only do it once a year, because we use them fresh.”
Hoyne Brewing will also be releasing a golden lager called Helios this fall, which with its higher alcohol content, will keep you warm in the cold fall and winter months.
“When I’m looking for a winter beer, particularly if it is a barley wine or a high-gravity winter beer, I look for a nice beautiful warming effect from the alcohol,” says Hoyne. “It has a little bit higher alcohol, and a bit more malt than a lot of Pacific Northwest craft breweries normally do.”
Hoyne says a lot of Pacific Northwest breweries focus on hops rather than malt, but he says for winter beers he gravitates to the beers that are more malt focused.
“It should have good solid body to the beer, and a snifter type with brandy qualities. Those are the types of winter beers I like,” he says.
Tofino Brewing Company, on the other hand, have recently released their Cosmic Wave IPA, which is a big Pacfic Northwest-style India pale ale with a lots of hoppy flavour.
“We all just get together and talk about beers we want to drink, and hope people are in the same mindset as us and if that is the case, hopefully the beer flies off the shelf,” says Brian O’Malley, president and brewer at Tofino Brewing.
“It comes down to the beers that the people who work here like to drink and those are the ones we end up brewing.”
Tofino Brewing will be bringing back their Kelp Stout this fall and winter, along with their Dawn Patrol Coffee Porter.