A couple months ago Tofino Brewing produced a few casks of what they called Spruce Tip IPA. I tried this delightful beer at the Central City Summer Cask Festival and found it to be awesome. It was like their regular, very good IPA, but with a nice spruce aroma. It tasted a little bit like trees, in a good way.
Today I got an email from Phillips Brewing letting me know that they are releasing a limited quantity of Evergreen Ale, a spruce infused west coast pale ale. Two spruce beers in two months! Like fresh hops a couple years ago, is this going to be a new trend in west coast brewing? Phillips indicated in their release that Captain Cook was the first to brew a spruce beer in BC back in 1788 (check out this old timey recipe). Clearly, he failed to start the trend. However, I did do a little research (read googled ‘spruce ipa’) and it seems that a few other breweries and plenty of home-brewers have been brewing with spruce tips of late. Both Tofino and Phillips used Sitka Spruce, maybe because it’s the tastiest spruce? I really have no idea.
Anyway, if spruce beers taste like Tofino’s Spruce Tip IPA, then I would like more spruce in my beer please.
I went to the Central City Summer Cask Festival last weekend and it was rad. I hadn’t been to a cask festival at Central City yet, having been away for the last two, and was very impressed. Unlike at the old Dix Caskivals, there was actually room to move around. It got busy, but not crazy busy, and the patio made getting some fresh air a breeze. The food available was also very good, another bonus. But, of course, the main draw was the beer. According to my tasting notes, these were my favourites:
- Whistler Brewhouse Oaked Amarillo Dry Hopped IPA – Very pronounced oaky vanilla flavours. Amazing malt/hop balance, my pick of the bunch.
- Tofino Brewing Sitka Spruce Tip IPA – Amazing aroma, appropriately malty IPA.
- Elysian Brewing Splitshot Coffee Milk Stout – Somewhat sweet, milky taste. Coffee detectable, but not interfering.
- Central City Citra Dry Hopped ESB – Great fresh aroma, superb ESB. I could (and did) drink a lot of these.
- Water – Very watery, no malt, hops, or aroma to speak of. Excellent water taste. I actually wrote this down, likely near the end of the festival.
There were a few duds but, on the whole, most of the beers were excellent. I was idiotically unable to get to Odin’s Thor’s Oakuinox to try it, which was devastating. Some other beers, which I’ll mention because they were interesting, included Crannog Mead, Central City Chilli Stout, and Storm Raspberry ESB. All in all, it was a good time and I’m looking forward to the winter festival that promises to provide stronger and more adventurous beers.
The cask of Elysian Splitshot Coffee Milk Stout
Busy, but not oversubscribed
A few of us dudes enjoying the festival