Your Beermonger: From the Great White North

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

By now most of us are familiar with many of the more boutique Canadian craft brewers; Quebec-based outfits like Unibroue and Dieu du Ciel whose more esoteric offerings are usually Belgian in style or inspiration. But when we think of Canadian beer, it’s usually of big Lager houses like Molson or Moosehead (or Elsinore for the Strange Brew fans out there). But there’s a full spectrum of Canadian craft brews out there, some of which a new importer is bringing to our area.

Canada’s Select Brews (CSB) is dedicated to finding Canadian craft breweries as of yet undiscovered by Americans and bringing them here. CSB is so young that at this point they are only representing two breweries in the U.S., both of which are located in British Columbia, and both of which are now available in Virginia.

Right now I’m not carrying everything from both, but here’s a quick rundown on them and some of the beers of theirs I’m going to be carrying starting this week:

Parallel 49: Vancouver’s “hipster” reputation didn’t materialize from thin air, and its artisan scene has led to a burgeoning craft beer industry. Three friends who grew up in east Vancouver opened a restaurant in 2008, and as its success grew they realized their dream of opening a brewery. I’ve only been able to try a couple Parallel 49 beers, but already my far-and-away favorite is Salty Scot. Based on traditional Wee Heavy Scotch-style Ales, Salty Scot plays with the flavors found in a classic Wee Heavy. Where Wee Heavy beers have lots of caramel notes from the malts used, Salty Scot uses actual caramel to make it “go to 11” along with some sea salt because sea salt and caramel are delicious together. The final product isn’t nearly as sweet as you think it should be, and much lighter than its 7.5 percent ABV suggests.

Howe Sound: About 45 minutes north of Vancouver you’ll find the mountain town of Squamish, where the Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company has been hosting guests and brewing beers of many styles. Howe Sound uses unique “pot-stopper” 1-liter bottles with Grolsch-like rubber flip-tops, and I’m kind of in love with them. With nearly a dozen year-round beers and many seasonal and limited releases, you’re going to be seeing lots of Howe Sound beers out and about. For my money, the Total Eclipse Of The Hop DIPA, Wee Beastie Oak-Aged Scotch Ale, and Megadestroyer Imperial Licorice Stout are the ones to snag. All three are bold in flavor yet show the kind of balance present when a brewer truly cares about keeping their beers “drinkable”. The Megadestroyer is especially impressive, as I usually dislike beers that use star anise and/or licorice: the trick here is that Howe Sound uses the star anise flowers, which impart all of the flavor you’d expect without the intense medicinal “burn” that comes out most of the time.

Try some of these beers out if you see them around, and let’s hope for more great beers to come from Canada’s Select Brews in the future. Until next time.

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net, and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings at www.arrowine.com/mailing-list-signup.aspx. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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