Parents are loathe to admit they have a favourite child, maybe because it can change by the hour. But brewers, not so much. At least when it comes to their favourite beer creations.
Case in point is London’s Forked River Brewing.
Capital Blonde and Riptide Pale Ale might pay the bills, and co-founder Steve Nazarian might wax poetic about Full City Coffee Porter and the early days when he had time to roast the coffee beans personally, and scribes might scrawl praise for Golden Boy.
But I suspect if you polled the Forked River team, the jewel would be a sour ale, Flander’s Red, which this year gets elevated from a brewery-only seasonal release to a winter seasonal at the LCBO.
“It’s a very special release for us, not only because it’s such a long and challenging beer to make, but also because we love it so much,” co-founder Andrew Peters told me. “It’s really one of those beers that we look forward to every fall.”
The brewery’s “barrel wrangler”, Peters spends two years on the beer, which starts life in 2,400-litre stainless steel tanks before being moved to red wine oak barrels from Niagara to finish its fermentation. Most of the beer spends at least a year in the barrels, but some of it stays for two years and is then blended with the one-year stock to produce the final product.
“It’s blend of fruity malt sweetness with an aggressive sourness and oak character that makes this brew so complex and enjoyable,” Peters said.
“Serves well alongside rich dinners, pungent and strong cheese, or on its own in a Trappist-style chalice or our brand new Forked River Teku glass. It’s like an enhanced wine glass, designed specifically for optimal beer enjoyment and what better way to complement such a special brew?”
There are 3,500 bottles of Flanders Red in the 500-millilitre format at the LCBO, Forked River bottle shop and online. Like wine, Flanders Red can be cellared.
At a preview night Friday, Nov. 23, a small group will taste this year’s Flanders Red before it goes on sale to the public and sample cellared versions from each of the past two years. Tickets for the event, at Forked River’s brewer at 45 Pacific Court, in London, are $42.42. Contact the brewery for details.
“We’ll go through the history, the fermentation and maturation process, and they’ll even get to take home a bottle of this year’s Flanders Red Ale and one of the legendary Teku glasses to enjoy it in at home,” Peters said.
Craft beer fans are used to seeing Weendigo, a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, as Forked River’s winter seasonal at the LCBO. It’s scheduled for release Nov. 29 and can be ordered online.
NEW & NOTED
Did winter’s first blast have you thinking about Storm Stayed? The little London brewery, which has London’s southwest all to itself, has an intriguing new release, brewed in collaboration with friend John Jenkinson of Folly Brewing in Toronto. Syncretic is labelled as a Hybrid IPA, playing to the strengths of the two small-scale breweries: IPAs at Storm Stayed and Belgians at Folly. “We used a mixed culture of yeast, both our house English yeast strain and a Belgian yeast strain,” Storm Stayed’s Justin Belanger said in an email. “The melange allowed the hops to shine (giving dank and citrus notes) and allowing for a subtle Belgian yeast character flavour. At 8.2 per cent, this is a fantastic beer to enjoy by the fireplace watching the snow fall outside.” Syncretic is $16 for a four-pack of cans at the brewery, 169 Wharncliffe Rd. S., London. Folly may soon have it on tap in Toronto.
One place you won’t find Syncretic (which means a union of principles) or any other Storm Stayed beer is London’s Boler Mountain ski hill. Missing some obvious marketing fun and the chance to be neighbourly, the west London ski hill’s spiffy new chalet with the snowy view features Steam Whistle.
Fans of Ottawa-area brewery Beau’s have a new way to connect. Beau’s has launched a podcast, Lagered Tales. “There are tonnes of podcasts about beer out there, but very few that are written and produced in-house by a craft brewery,” says Beau’s co-founder Steve Beauchesne in a release. “Podcasting as a medium gives us a chance to speak in our own voice in a very real way, to tell people what we stand for and why. Being independent, we don’t need to hire a marketing agency to do this for us. It’s just the collective voice of the people who work here, and our culture.” Three episodes are up now and the next is scheduled for Nov. 29 on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and at beaus.ca/podcast.
Wayne Newton is a freelance journalist based in London.
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