Belgian and Bitter Beer Trends Are Hot In BC #BrewedAwakening

By / Wine + Drinks / October 26th, 2018 / 6

Last week I went to BC Wine Boot Camp and had a fabulous time, and received a detailed education on some of the best wines in the world. I also participated in the 2018 version of The Judgement of BC, benchmarking BC against international wines.  While there, though, I also took the opportunity to try some good beer, naturally.

BC beer has gone quite beer crazy, and they now have a wealth of small breweries – over 100 – spread around the province. It was, to be fair, the province with Canada’s first microbrewery, in West Vancouver, called Horseshoe Bay Brewery, which started a new wave of microbreweries, or, as some called them at the time, cottage breweries (the nebulous term “craft brewery” didn’t come along until much later, and many of us wish it never had…).  BC used to be a land of English style ales and maybe the odd Euro style lager but now it is all about highly hopped west coast style ales, and Belgian inspired sour beers.

a flight of beer at Curious Café (photo from their website)

On arrival in Kelowna I met up with my friend Wade Dhooge, a Nova Scotian Sommelier who moved to BC to work in the trade, eventually ending up as a buyer and seller at Cask & Barrel in Kelowna, a private store that has a large selection of beer, from BC, but also the rest of Canada and the US.  Dhooge also “curates” beer lists at local purveyors, so we went to one of those, Curious Café in downtown Kelowna. It’s a rather upscale place, not a regular pub but more of a restaurant, and has an extensive beer list including offerings from some of BC’s best breweries, such as Burnaby’s Belgian style specialist, and Canadian Brewery of the Year, Dageraad,and North Vancouver’s Beere, who also dabble in those enigmatic Belgian styles.

Curious Café also sells a range of other North American speciality beers. I had a glass of Belgian specialist Jester King‘s super bretty farmhouse ale, from Austin, Texas, then a flight including Dageraad’s tasty witbier, Boneyard (Oregon) 7-Day WKND IPA (7% alc, 70 IBU), Dunham Pinnacle Saison from Quebec, and Beere Mental Floss Double Dry Hopped IPA from North Vancouver. All well made beers, but quite a challenge to the palate.

This was quite a taste experience, but I couldn’t help but notice that there was not a single Pilsner/Lager on the beer list, nor a Pale Ale, Bitter,  ESB, Dry Stout or Red, or any other moderate beer style. I found this interesting, as those are the kind of session beers I tend to drink at pubs in Atlantic Canada, as they are lower in alcohol and food friendly.  In a BC beer bar, though, the word “session” is open for interpretation.






Craig Pinhey discovered good drink circa 1985 at Ginger’s Tavern/Granite Brewery in Halifax and has been writing about beer, wine and spirits for 25 years. A Certified Sommelier and BJCP judge, Craig lives in New Brunswick where he runs his own writing and consulting business and is the beverage columnist for Brunswick News. He is the only person to have judged all of the national wine, spirits and beer awards of Canada.

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