I made some glaring omissions in my previous post about BC Winter beers. My list was not complete and so I felt compelled to add the following beers to it:
Also, from outside of BC:
Any of the above beers will warm you up on a cold winter day and I highly recommend picking them up should you find them.
The PR firm representing Charcut, a soon to be opening roast house in Calgary, recently emailed to let us know that Charcut will have on their staff a beer cellar steward. I’d never heard of a beer cellar steward before, but I think the idea is pretty cool. It is my opinion that beer pairs with food just as well or better than wine. I’ve been to a few establishments employing sommeliers with epic wine cellars, so why not do the same with beer? If I’m in Calgary (flames suck) anytime after January, I’ll surely pay a visit to Charcut to see how they are getting on.
Erik got us introduced to Charcut’s steward Kirk Bodnar, author of Beers ‘n Such, who I’ve found to be a really cool guy from our conversations so far. Kurt was kind enough to share with us a few of his favorite beers and food pairings:
I have to say that Fall/Winter is probably my favourite time in terms of seasonals – there’s something about having a nice full bodied Doppelbock or Barley Wine in the warm indoors when it’s cold outside! Then again, you really can’t beat drinking a refreshing Kölsch in a Biergarten in the summer in Cologne (I recently moved back to Canada from Germany). But anyway – here’s what I have been drinking over the last few weeks:
Ayinger – Celebrator Doppelbock. A classic! A winter must for me!
Unibroue – Maudite – again, nothing new, but great – especially with cured meats/charcuterie.
Dieu de Ciel – Route des epices – spicy – almost Christmas-like to me.
Les Trois Mousquetaires – Doppelbock – probably my favourite doppelbock currently.
(I’m really liking Quebec beers right now…)
I’m still drinking a fair amount of Hefeweizen as well – although they are summery, I never really get tired of them. Tree’s Hefeweizen is still tasting great, and I also like Kaltenberg’s König Ludwig Weissbier.
As far as interesting pairings, I recently paired some Dupont Saison with a warm roasted wild mushroom and spinach salad – very nice! The earthiness of the Saison paired perfectly with the similar elements in the mushrooms. Also, to stick with my current Quebec beer infatuation, I put together a Les Trois Mousquetaires Noire (Black Lager) with a tiramisu – it was a perfect! The beer has considerable coffee and chocolate notes, which go perfectly with the tiramisu. I even had some oreo ice cream with the Noire, and it worked too (though not as well, but decently).
All the best to Kirk and Charcut on their new endeavor! I hope their passion for beer and food pairings educate and delight their patrons.
As the seasons change, so does the availability of craft beer. I, for one, am thankful for this, especially as I regard the changing of the current season as going from bad to worse. What better way to cheer yourself up in this dreary weather than to sip a winter warmer from one of BC’s great breweries? I can think of a few things, but none so simple and effective as grabbing a winter ale (or a few) and watching the healing Canucks thrash Colorado.
Many BC breweries have already released their winter beers and a few still have barley wines on the way. Joy to the world! Here are a few BC winter brews you might consider trying:
Also, some other fine non BC breweries have produced tasty winter ales:
If the rain, darkness, and cold displease you as much as they do me, I suggest one of the above as a temporary and enjoyable remedy.
Chris, the kind man that he is, patiently waited for me to arrive at his house yesterday to try Molson’s latest creation, Rickard’s Dark. I must admit, my expectations were not all that high going in – a major brewer such as Molson has aggressive sales targets and reaching sales targets often translates into brewing bland beer. Sadly most macro-brewed Canadian beer has to appeal to most beer drinking Canadians, and most beer drinking Canadians are intimidated by a dark flavorful porter. With that said, There is nothing stopping Molson from brewing quality porter and I was hopping for the best.
Chris displaying his pouring skill
Rickards Dark, a self proclaimed “porter”, poured a deep, but nowhere near deep enough, ruby-brown. Of course I was only able to appreciate the colour after removing the supplied blindfold. I would very much love to speak with the marketer who came up with that idea – most brewers are proud of their beer’s appearance.
Blind Taste Test
The aroma was quite mild and I couldn’t much detect any maple syrup. Similar to the color and aroma, the beer was mild and tasted quite similar to other Rickard brews. Faint flavors of roasted malts, chocolate and nuts was detected, key word being faint. For a more in depth tasting review check out Greg Clow’s review at Taste T.O.
The Final Verdict
Rickards Dark is just not a porter, it is much closer to a mild ale or nut brown ale. Porters are dark, rich and flavorful – Rickards Dark was neither of the three. It is certainly not a great beer, but not foul in any way either. My hope is that Rickards Dark will serve as a gateway beer, introducing many beer drinkers to the unknown world of dark beer.
Erik and I received an email from a PR firm who wanted our address so they could send us a sample of a soon to be launched beer. I was a bit worried it was someone I’d offended coming to punch me in the face, so I gave them my work address. Lucky for me, a package arrived on Friday instead of a fist. I opened the package to find an elaborate wood box labeled Rickard‘s Dark. The box contained two bottles of Rickard’s Dark, two beer glasses, two coasters, and a blindfold. I found the inclusion of a blindfold a bit odd, but I suppose it is for doing a blind tasting? Or maybe for post tasting kinky fun times? Either or, I doubt I’ll be using it.
Opening the package to find the Rickard's Dark box
Contents of the Rickard's Dark Box
I haven’t tasted the beer yet. Erik is coming over on Monday and I figured I’d wait for him. Rickard’s Dark is supposedly a 4.8% ABV English style porter with added Quebec maple syrup. I do love me some porter, but I’m not so sure I’ll like Rickard’s Dark. I used to drink Rickard’s beer in my younger days because I found it to be a breath of fresh air when compared to Molson Canadian. I’ve since expanded my beer horizons well beyond Molson’s own Rickard’s brand and no longer care for their Red and Honey Brown like I once did. That being said, I hope that Rickard’s Dark is wonderful and that it might get some non craft beer drinkers into porter and onto other wonderful porters like Black Butte from Deschutes. Expect to see Rickard’s Dark on the shelves in Rickard’s Taster packs within a few weeks.