Give these local beers a try—you’ll be glad you did

Nigel Springthorpe

Co-owner, Alibi Room (157 Alexander Street), Brassneck (2148 Main Street)“I’m excited by just about anything Four Winds is doing lately,” says Nigel Springthorpe. He’s especially enthusiastic about the “excellent” Phaedra Rye & Wheat IPA from Delta’s aforementioned Four Winds Brewing. “It’s a really unusual IPA. The rye grain really brought something to the table.” While the Alibi Room no longer has this seasonal beer on tap, he’s pretty sure his establishment stashed a cask to pull out for June 1’s sold-out Hoppapalooza V event, part of Vancouver Craft Beer Week.As his personal favourite, Springthorpe names Moon Under Water Brewery’s Potts Pils. “It’s just a really well-crafted, excellent pilsner, which is pretty difficult to do,” he says of the beer, explaining that “with a pilsner, there’s nothing to hide behind.” The “very authentic” German-style pilsner is made year-round by the Victoria brewery. “Beer guys like it because they can tell the quality, and people who are looking for something easygoing, easy-drinking like it because that’s what they get out of it.”Chris Bonnallie

Beer supervisor, Legacy Liquor Store (1633 Manitoba Street)Chris Bonnallie is happy to see more customers interested in Belgian lambics such as Gueuze Tilquin. “A gueuze is a style of lambic, which is a wild fermentation beer,” he explains. “It’s a beer that’s gone so bad it’s turned into something interesting and unique, very much like Burgundy wine.” How does it taste? “It’s exceptionally sour. Think drinking balsamic vinegar,” he says. “The smell is very reminiscent of barnyard.” Fifteen years ago, he said, nobody in Vancouver would have touched it, but now “lambics have become all the rage.”His own go-to beer is Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale. “When I get asked about my desert island beer, that’s it,” he says of this low-alcohol beer that’s versatile in terms of food pairing. “It’s beautiful northern brown ale that has a lot of wonderful nuttiness coming through, and a beautiful viscosity.” It’s made by “a classic brewery from Yorkshire…they’re still fermenting in fermenters made out of slate.”Amanda Barry-Butchart

Events coordinator, Vancouver chapter of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale)Amanda Barry-Butchart points to the new Rollin’ Golden Belgian Ale, which is a collaboration between Vancouver’s Steamworks Brewing Co. and Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing. “The golden ale has this nice, bright crispness,” she says, adding that Szechuan chili peppers add a bit of bite. “The Szechuans at the beginning are very slight and faint, but you can still taste them.” Barry-Butchart manages Steamworks’ cold beer and wine store (375 Water Street), and she notes that the beer is available both on tap in Steamworks’ pub and bottled on the shelves. The latter product has Brettanomyces, a souring agent, added to it. “It can be cellared, and the flavours will change over time,” she explains. “You can drink it now, and you can save it for a couple of years.”She’s also loving Wunderbar Kolsch from North Vancouver’s Bridge Brewing Company. “It’s so clean and rounded and easy-drinking,” she says. “At the end of the palate when you’re done sipping, you get this slight hint of peachiness; it brightens the beer and then it’s gone.”Vern Lambourne

Brewmaster, Granville Island Brewing (1441 Cartwright Street)Vern Lambourne is proud of his just-released Swing Span Amber Ale. “It’s not too strong alcoholwise, at 5.6 percent, and it’s got lots of nice hops flavour and aroma,” he says. The new year-round release, available in stores and on tap, is a “slightly tweaked” version of Granville Island’s limited-release Irish Red Ale. “We’ve gone with a new hop variety called Mosaic, which are fruitier,” he explains. “There’s a tropical-fruit character to go with the citrus character.”The beer is named after the swing-span bridge that operated over Granville Island until 1950, swinging open to let tall ships sail through.At home recently, he enjoyed a bomber (650-millilitre bottle) of Sauerteig from Victoria’s Lighthouse Brewing Company. “It’s a really tasty beer,” he says of the farmhouse ale. “It’s got a reasonably full body to it, but it’s got a crispness.…It’s nice and refreshing and really good when the sun comes out. I had it with turkey burgers on the barbecue.”Nigel Pike

Owner, Main Street Brewing Company (261 East 7th Avenue), and moreNigel Pike, who’s behind restaurants such as the Cascade Room and the Union, is a busy man these days. His Main Street Brewing Company is in the final stages of construction, and he’s hoping to open the tasting room this Wednesday (May 28). When he needs a break, he heads to Nigel Springthorpe’s Brassneck for a pint. Brassneck’s Passive Aggressive IPA is a favourite. “It’s a great, easy-drinking, accessible IPA. It has some hints of citrus, light golden colour.”Elsewhere, Pike’s go-to beer on tap is Victoria’s Driftwood Brewery’s Fat Tug IPA. “It’s got the right balance of bitterness to flavour,” he says. “And everywhere you go, it drinks the same on tap—the consistency is unbelievable.”He’s also been impressed by releases from Persephone Brewing Company, which opened last fall in Gibsons—especially bottles of Persephone’s Double IPA. “It’s a big double IPA with a lot of great tropical fruit and complex flavour,” he says. “It’s dry, with big IBUs [international bittering units]. It’s world-class.”

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