Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Your Handy Guide to Extreme Beers at the Great Canadian Beer Festival

While other beer festivals follow a more structured and predictable format, the Great Canadian Beer Festival, in Victoria, BC, seems to morph ever so slightly every year under chairman Gerry Hieter's guidance. This year, for instance, the festival is 100% Canadian (as it should be). However, with the recent rapid growth of the local BC craft beer industry, this year's fest is very BC heavy. There's a small Quebec contingent (Unibroue, Le Trou du Diable, Les Trois Mousquetaires and Dieu du Ciel!), but beyond that, very few other provinces are represented.

What's made this BC-dominated festival possible in 2015 is the simple fact that a crazy number of new breweries opened in the last year. This has been a trend of late, but it has accelerated exponentially in the last two years to the point that it's hard to keep track of all the newcomers. And the lineup announced for this year's GCBF doesn't even represent the entirety of the BC industry. There are many breweries who, for whatever reason, have opted not to participate (looking at you, Brassneck).

On the positive side, the ones who will be there have some really interesting brews on tap. We sorted through the entire list to pick a bunch that we think are a little "out there." These are the unique brews that you shouldn't miss at GCBF in 2015. As a disclaimer, I'll note that these are not the only extreme beers being served at the festival, just the ones I think are worth trying.

33 Acres of Nirvana  Double IPA
I love Nirvana and double IPAs, so this is kind of a no-brainer. Probably not "extreme," but we'll give it a pass for the name alone.  

Category 12 (Booth 23)
Distruption Black IPA (cask)
For this cask conditioned version of their tasty CDA, C-12 went all batshit crazy and added fennel, extra Simcoe dry hop additions and Saccaromyces trois yeast.

Patrick O' Pumpkin (cask)
I'm not the biggest pumpkin ale fan, but I will line up for an imperial version that was matured in bourbon barrels. Especially if it's from Central City.

Dageraad (Booth 58)
De Witte Sour Witbier (cask)
If sour is the new bitter, this beer has all the bases covered. It's a sour Belgian-style witbier brewed with passionfruit and dry hopped with citra hops.

Dieu du Ciel! (Booth 62)
Disco Soliel IPA
Even though there's nothing extreme about "disco," we admire DDC's brilliance of  brewing an IPA with kumquat, which is both fruity/citrusy and bitter. 

American Rye Stout
These fellas love their rye and they aren't afraid to brew anything with it. Including this rye stout. Not sure what the "American" part means, but maybe it's about the dose of Cascade hops this brew gets. 

Lighthouse (Booth 27)
Pear Pale Ale (cask)
OK, I'll bite. I've never had a beer infused with locally grown pears, and given Lighthouse's expertise with, uh, challenging ingredients, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt here. 

Loghouse (Booth 14)
Kettle Sour Spruce Tip Ale
New brewery on the block goes big at its first GCBF with a spruce tip kettle sour. Impressive.

Free Spirit Cascade Berry Sour (cask)
This is how you get on the Brewtal Truth's GCBF recommended brews list. You bring a spontaneously fermented sour beer that was aged for 18 months.

Intrepid Matcha Saison
The name brings to mind dirty hippies, but we have it on good authority that it's delicious. Very West Coast.

Hip as Funk
This kind of thinking—using brett and saison yeasts for an IPA—is what makes craft beer great. Taste the future.

Persephone (Booth 36)
Imperial Pilsner
If it has "imperial" in the name, it's already in extreme beer territory, but we're a sucker for an imperial pilsner. And knowing Persephone's M.O., it's liberally hopped. 

Super Cooper Anniversary Ale (cask)
They actually brewed this STRONG 14th anniversary beer a year ago (way to think ahead!) and aged it in bourbon barrels. Oh yeah, and then dry hopped it. That about covers the bases.

Hunt & Gather
Everything's coming up berries this year. Tons of breweries have discovered that the local fare tastes pretty good in a beer. This kettle sour features locally sourced salal berries and blackberries.

Adem Tepedelen is the Victoria-based author of The Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers: An All-Excess Pass to Brewing's Outer Limits. Autographed copies are available locally at Cook St Liquor (230 Cook St).


Ian Lloyd said...

As always buddy, you are wrong. I love that line. Here is my beer-infused critique of your GCBF choices. There are a few notable absences from this year's beer fest. The first - and most important- is Crannog. Where will John end his media tour? Also where is local Victoria boy gone rogue with the Three Rangers Brewery? Also where are the American breweries? Don't worry Mr. Truth I will lead you to the South of the Border beer fest. Where for the love of great Prairie beer is Paddock Wood? For that matter Red Collar and Noble Pig?
As for Category 12, I love to draw cross hairs on the home of Victoria's top Certified Cicerone. A usual beer with extra hops and an extra yeast addition? That is soooo 2010! Regardless, I will line up to try this cask.
Do not get me started about pumpkin beers. Your Mosaic is my pumpkin.
Doan suxs
Loghouse is spot on! I plan to be lined up, with no one else, to sample Mr. Woodwards first beers.
Longwood. Despite the provocative name, I plan to erect myself to the task of sampling their first (intentional) attempt at a sour beer.
Persephone and Tofino can do no wrong. I would hand over my token for a dry hopped bottled water from these kids.
Now on to Phillips. Wait.. let's serve core brands with a random dry hopped version of our latest seasonal! Same for Driftwood. Let's offer a cask of OCD! Wait, didn't we do that last year?
What you did miss were these choices:
Bad Tattoo. Yes, all of those
Coal Harbour Baltic Porter. Should be in the extreme strength, I hope.
Four Mile. I plan to host my own personally guided off-flavour tour next to their booth.
Four Wind and Fuggles and Warlock. Why are they not side by side?
Lighthouse brings two cask and one new beer. Despite that lack of Southern Hemi influence, I will try the new ones.
Mill Street Wit. Underutilized hops in a wit? I'm up for something new.
Sherwood Brewing from Terrance must be nervous to serve all their new beers in #yyj.
Spinnakers brought a sour beer and so did Stanley Park. You know sour beers msut be trendy when Stanley Park brews a sour beer.
Enough of my rant. Looking forward to sitting next to you Mr. Brewtal at GCBF. That is, if you are still talking to me.

Brewtal Truth said...

Jeezus, Ian, shouldn't you have just published this manifesto on your own blog? Thanks for chiming in, though, in a really, uh, exuberant way. And, as always, thanks for reading. See you at the festival.