When the frat boys crawl out from under shot-gunned cans of Bud and begin the steps towards the craft beer wall of their local beer stores, more often than not they grab an India Pale Ale (IPA) or something equally hoppy. There’s nothing wrong with this—in fact I encourage anyone to get started with craft beer—but it’s all too easy to get sucked into the breweries battle of the bitters.
To be honest, IPA’s make sense for those who subscribe to traditional views of masculinity; it’s like people who are constantly searching for spicier hot sauce. People love the burn, they can’t get enough of that lemon-rind bitterness.
But what’s on the other side of the spectrum? What if you don’t enjoy the citrus-bitter-flavours that hops give beers? Are there some beers that have minimal amounts of hops? Well, that’s what I went to look for on a recent trip to Cascadia Liquor Store at Uptown. A friendly sales associate by the name of Christian helped me make my final decision.
“Everybody here is rather obsessed with hops,” said Christian. So finding beers with a very trace amount of hops narrowed the selection considerably. Here’s what we could come up with while still, for the most part, staying local:
Red Racer Stout from Red Racer Brewery in Surrey, B.C.
“It’s not a very heavy stout,” said Christian. “Nowadays . . . not only do they make them very hoppy but they make the alcohol content very high.” This stout is different. With only five per cent alcohol, this beer is very drinkable, with subtle chocolate and dark roasted coffee notes. It’s lightness actually managed to come off as quite refreshing. So for those still clinging to their Buds and Pabst but who also like the roasted flavours in coffee, this is a great beer to get you into craft beers.
Hercule Stout from Ellezelloise Brasserie in Ellezelles, Belgium
“Belgian’s don’t usually do stouts,” said Christian. Although there are of course brewers in Belgium making stouts today, it’s true that historically stouts first tumbled out of taps in England. This beer has a fruity alcohol nose to it. It’s thick and creamy with a sweet mid palate. The interesting thing about this stout is—unlike many stouts—there’s no real coffee or chocolate notes. Instead, the after-taste pleasantly resembled burnt toast. This may seem like a strange flavour to be pleasant, but it finished off the sweet roasted mid palate nicely.
Longboat Chocolate Porter from Phillips Brewery in Victoria
Do you love chocolate milk? If yes, you’ll love Phillips Chocolate Porter. It doesn’t even matter if you like beer; this is a gloriously rich chocolate beverage for anyone ages 19 and up. It’s pretty heavy, but since you’ll savour it with every sip, you won’t need more than one pint.
Sap Sucker Porter from Fernie Brewing Company in Fernie, B.C.
This true Canadian beer is a maple porter. So, logically, it has a roasted maple scent and sweet flavour. Although its flavour profile is less complex than the other beers, its sweet, simple, maple-hinted roast flavours are very approachable for anyone looking to try something a little bit different.
Creepy Uncle Dunkel from Moon Under Water Brewpub in Victoria
Not as thick as some of the other selection, the Creepy Uncle Dunkel is almost as fun to drink as it to say. It has some similar notes of chocolate to other beers listed, but on a more subtle scale. It’s lighter in colour and texture than other malts in the list.