A couple of weekends ago I checked out Beerthirst’s event at Rogue Wetbar for launching AleSmith Brewing in Canada. Needless to say, I was psyched to try a diverse lineup of beers from the widely-celebrated brewery out of San Diego. I was a little intimidated when I saw the tap list, as many of AleSmith’s beers hover around the 10-12% ABV range, but was excited to try some really dialed and unique brews!
Beerthirst was able to bring in some fantastic beers to Rogue for this tap takeover. Not only did they have AleSmith’s award winning Speedway Stout, but they were also pouring the Thai Speedway Stout and Nibs & Beans Speedway Stout variations. If you weren’t a stout fan, not to worry! Alesmith’s IPA, Nut Brown Ale, Spezial Pils, and more were flowing from Rogue’s taps.
I started off my evening at Rogue with a beer flight, since it was too difficult of a decision to choose only one of AleSmith’s Brews.
Thai Speedway Stout
ABV: 12% | IBU: 70
This variation of Alesmith’s popular Speedway Stout was really intriguing, and unlike any stout I’ve tasted. Take the caramel, chocolate, and coffee flavours from the original Speedway Stout, add some citrus and tropical fruit notes into the mix, and you get the Thai version. A very complex and unique beer.
India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.3% | IBU: 73
First off, this is one of the most balanced IPAs I’ve had the pleasure of consuming, and I’ve tried a fair share of IPAs in my day. Did I mention I like IPAs?! This brew has fruity aromas, a solid bitterness, and a firm malt backbone that lead to a dry finish. AleSmith’s IPA fits nicely in the middle of the massive West Coast bitter “hop bomb” IPAs and the Northeast hazy “hop juice” IPAs…or maybe that’s just me trying to make sense of it all. Grab a bottle from your local bottle shop (if they’re in stock) and come to you own conclusions. My bet is that you’ll share my enthusiasm
Lil’ Devil Belgian Style Pale Ale
ABV: 5.75% | IBU: 24
Lil’ Devil is a refreshing Belgian-style pale ale that is quite sessionable. Sitting at 5.75%, it’s alcohol content can sneak up on you though (hence the name Lil’ Devil??). This would be a great dinner pairing beer as it’s quite light-bodied, but still carries some nice citrus fruit and yeast flavours.
Horny Devil Belgian-style Golden Ale
ABV: 10% | IBU: 23
Think of this beer as the evolution of AleSmith’s Lil’ Devil. Consistent with many strong Belgian-style beers, Horny devil has a strong yeast flavour (it uses Trappist yeast strain) with banana and spice notes. A mild tartness and bubbly finish round out the complexity of this delicious beer. I’m a fan of most Belgian strong ales and Tripel-types, so I wasn’t surprised at how much I enjoyed the Horny Devil. Okay, I’ll admit it…that last sentence just sounded wrong!
I also sampled the Nibs & Beans Speedway Stout and Nut Brown, both of which were excellent beers. You might be asking yourself, what pairs with a great beer flight better than some delicious eats? This is often true, however, this day was different. My good friend Stewart was in Vancouver for a short visit and was able to join me for the AleSmith action. Believe it or not, Stew used to be adamant that all beer was horrible. Coolers, Jagermeister, hell – even whiskey was okay, but not beer. We all go through different phases in life; some more outlandish than others, and what’s important is that we come out on the other side with some perspective and hopefully clarity. In this case, I believe that Stew has done just that (as is evident by the picture of him below, enjoying a barrel-aged stout). I’m so proud! Not pictured is my other hometown pal Luis who joined us for a pint later in the evening…a good ol’ Quesnel reunion, indeed.
AleSmith’s head brewer, Ryan Crisp, made the trip up to Vancouver for the series of AleSmith launch events and to participate in their collaboration brew with Yellow Dog Brewing. I was able to catch up with him to get his thoughts on bringing their craft beers to Canada. He was definitely stoked to bring AleSmith beers up north and to see the positive reactions from Canadian consumers. It was interesting to briefly discuss the San Diego craft beer scene with Ryan as well. He drew parallels to AleSmith’s local scene when I mentioned that the B.C. craft beer industry was an extremely collaborative community. For instance, Ryan borrowing ingredients from a fellow craft brewery in San Diego isn’t out of the norm. This sounded very similar to conversations I’ve had with BC breweries, whether it’s hops, malts, growler caps, utilizing a breweries keg cleaning system…the list goes on.
Although this might not seem like a huge deal, when one craft brewery steps up to help out another craft brewery (who are, ultimately, competing for tap lines at local bars and for shelf space at grocery and liquor stores), it’s a small step forward in the continuous battle against the macro-beer giants.
Thanks once again to Beerthirst for inviting us out to the AleSmith Canadian launch event at Rogue Kitchen & Wetbar. It was a great night filled with expertly crafted brews and great company – I even got to say hi to Mike from Mike’s Craft Beer! I hope you were able to check out the event or one of the other launch events that were held at HandleBar and The Drake Eatery. If not, keep your eyes peeled for AleSmith’s beers in specialty liquor stores and bottle shops in your area. You can also stay up-to-date on AleSmith events and tap announcements by following Beerthirst on Facebook. Cheers!
Words + Photos: Chris
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