Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nelson Brewing Company

I recently moved to Nelson - snow sport and weed capital of Canada - for a contract archival job at the Touchstones Museum and Art Gallery and was pleasantly surprised to realise that my new pad is located two blocks below Nelson Brewing. I have seen Nelson's all-organic beer in Vancouver liquor stores but have always been turned off by the company's packaging and graphics. While my grandma always used to say "Never ever judge a fermented alcoholic malt beverage by the graphics and labels used to market it", I find the branding indistinguishable and ineffectually gothic. Such a pithy idiom from Gammy Dawk-Dawk.

Irrespective of my thoughts on their packaging, Nelson beer is friggin' everywhere in town, and I really do love supporting local businesses and breweries. My first experience trying NBC's draught was at Mike's Pub, in the historic Hume Hotel, and I couldn't have picked a better place. Little did I know, Mike's always has at least four taps dedicated to the local brew, so I was able to sample a range of NBC's product. 

The first beer I tried (which was recommended by my landlord the first day I arrived in town) was their Faceplant Winter Ale. I am kind of on the fence when it comes to Winter ales because I often find them too sweet and rich. The vanilla flavour of Granville Island Winter Ale, for example, makes it difficult to drink more than one pint. Even though Faceplant is fermented using molasses and brown sugar, these ingredients tend to add a depth rather than a sweetness to the beer. I would still only want to drink one of these at a sitting, but as a dark ale at 6.5% you only really need one or two.

The second beer I tried was the Old Brewery Pale Ale, which won silver medal at the Canadian Brewing Awards way back in 2004. This is kind of NBC's "house" beer, as it is common in stores and pubs. I enjoyed it, and will continue to order it at the handful of pubs around town, but I found the Cascade and Perla hops a bit sharp. NBC is a hop-heavy brewery...they don't even make a lager! 

As the picture above indicates, I also bought a six pack (or three) of their After Dark British-style mild ale. This is my favourite. With just enough hops to counterbalance the chocolate-roasted, substantial two-row malt (high sugar, low protein...used in many British true ales), this is a robust but very drinkable beer. It pairs really well with hearty Winter meals too, which is perfect since I am in the Kootenays and love making chilli, chicken pot pie, and burritos. Ahhh, the bachelor lifestyle.   

Keywords: "Vancouver craft beer", "Nelson Brewing Company", "Best Canadian beer", "Alex Dawkins"  

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