Here for the beer
By Evan Seal
They may just have the cure for what ales you.
A pair of Surrey brewing companies has been tasked with creating this year's signature beer to represent B.C. brewers during Vancouver Craft Beer Week (May 18-26), the province's largest craft beer festival.
Recently recognized on the world stage for excellence in brewing, Jack Bensley, head brewer at Russell Brewing Company in Newton, and Gary Lohin, master brewer and part owner of Central City Brewing Company in City Centre, put their heads together to create a unique Pacific Northwest ale.
Cascadia Brown Ale began the fermenting process on March 30 at Russell.
"I threw out the idea of a brown ale initially because I had brewed one recently that I really liked," said Bensley. "But this hoppy brown is a totally new recipe."
With ingredients that include two row malted barley, English crystal malt, Munich malt, dark bristol and chocolate malt, the brewers say Cascadia Brown Ale should showcase a distinctive West Coast flavour.
"We all love flavour and that's what we try to make," said Lohin. "Our secret is we try to make beer that we want to drink, and what I have found recently is that the Pacific Northwest is driving craft beer (sales) in North America."
The creation of Cascadia Brown Ale is part of a collaboration between 30 of the finest craft brewers in the province – including Surrey's Big Ridge Brewing Company – using premium ingredients supplied by Canada Malting.
Bringing all the brewers together also creates a camaraderie that exposes a common love of good beer.
"We want to show there are no secrets and we're happy working with each other," said Lohin. "We are really trying to make the (craft beer) pie bigger, and it is getting bigger."
With a dry hop finish to give the beer a wonderful aroma with no bitterness, Lohin believes this year's brew will be a flavourful marriage between malt and hops.
The nutty, medium-bodied brew will be available during Vancouver Craft Beer Week in draught at participating establishments, and in 650-ml bottles at private liquor stores throughout the Lower Mainland.
With a full batch of only 7,000 litres, the ale should sell out quickly.
Each year, partial proceeds from the sale of the collaboration beer are donated to a different charity. Last year, $1,294 was raised for Japanese tsunami relief from sales of the 2011 Cascadian Dark Ale. This year proceeds will go to the Farmland Defense League, a B.C.-based volunteer organization dedicated to protecting farmland and promoting organic farming.
Vancouver Beer Week tickets go on sale after midnight on April 12.
For more information on venues, check www.vancouvercraftbeerweek.com