Beer Reviews

My friend Dan has been extolling the virtues of Central City for awhile now. So last Friday, when in search of dinner and drinks, we gathered up a small group willing to brave the wilds of Surrey to visit the Central City Restaurant & Pub. It was super easy to get to on the Skytrain, only about 50 metres from the Surrey Central station. There was also the added bonus of heading in the opposite direction from the crowds going into Vancouver for the evening; we walked right in and immediately got a nice roomy booth for five.

The beer selection was quite wide with ten of their microbrews on tap. Unfortunately, I only had time to sample two of them.  The menu to accompany the beer was comprised of pretty standard fare. I ordered the Central City Burger with fries. It was simple but good, especially the fries. Everyone else seemed to enjoy their dinners as well.

All in all, this brewpub is definitely worth the trip out to Surrey. I think we will all be visiting again in the near future and in the meantime picking up a few six-packs of their beer.

The Beers:

Central City Empire IPA

empire_ipaCentral City Empire IPA was voted the Best Beer in BC in 2008 by CAMRA. They just might be right. This was a very good beer which reminded me of the IPA’s of Oregon that I so enjoy.

It had a medium copper colour with a floral and citrus aroma. Once I was drinking it down, it had that hoppy citrus flavour with very strong notes of grapefruit, but nicely balanced with a bready malt. It was quite bitter, but in a good way. One of the best BC IPA’s I have tasted.

Central City Boomers Red Aleboomers_redale

Bitter’s are quickly becoming a favourite of mine, and my growing appreciation was definitely helped along by the Central City Boomers Red Ale.

This ale had a reddish amber colour with a good frothy head. It had a nice medium bitterness and was slightly sweeter than the IPA. There was a good mix of hops and a lightly roasted malt with a dry finish. If we hadn’t had to catch the train back to Vancouver, I could have had quite a few.


blue-buckPhillips Blue Buck is currently my “go-to” beer for parties. In fact, I was drinking it this Sunday at my Super Bowl party. It is a tasty, easy drinking pale ale.

Blue Buck pours a rich amber colour with a very slight citrus aroma. It has a toffee malt flavour with a tiny bit of hoppy bitterness which nicely balances out the sweetness. The finish is crisp as the beer goes down easily. This is definitely one of my favourite beers. It is also readily available at most Vancouver area liquor stores, which means I don’t have to make a trip to my trusty Firefly if I am out of the area or in a rush.

Thumbs up for Blue Buck!

innis_and_gunnI first tried Innis & Gunn Oak Aged beer in my beer tasting class and then had it again this weekend at the Six Acres pub in Gastown. Luckily, I had it at the beginning of the night before the 36 Czechvar that our tabled imbibed. This pale ale-style beer is definitely a unique beer given that it is aged like whiskey in oak barrels.

It is a medium gold in the glass with an oaky and slightly sweet aroma. The most dominant flavour to me was the vanilla, however there are also hints of toffee and peat. Given the vanilla and toffee notes, it is a bit sweet, so the limit on these would probably be two or three. This is not a session ale (a good thing since they were charging $7.50 for it at the pub!). It also has a great mouthfeel, soft and creamy and just generally very smooth.

This would be great with desserts. I can imagine sipping it with some sticky toffee pudding or gingersnaps.

Overall, I liked this beer and would definitely drink it again (maybe just not at 7 bucks a pop).

ruination-ipaThe last of the beer we brought back from the Beer Road Trip, Stone Ruination IPA promised “A liquid poem to the glory of the hop!” While it didn’t inspire poetry, it was a decent double IPA that I would drink and buy again. But, it is pretty strong at 7.7% so maybe just a pint!

It is a hazy orange colour in the glass with a zippy pine smell. The first taste is a “hoppy kick in the a$$”* but with a surprisingly mellow finish which makes it quite drinkable.

But keep in mind that it is a double IPA, so if you don’t like hops, you won’t like this … at all.

*as colourfully described by my boyfriend

moylansI tried this beer at dinner tonight and was pleasantly surprised. It comes in a larger bottle which gave us two good size servings. The ale was a hazy reddish brown in the glass and smelled sweet and toffee-like. The taste was initially sweet but with a nice “twang” (subtly-hoppy) at the end which balanced out the sweetness. It also had a very nice mouthfeel – a little bit thick which seemed appropriate of an Irish ale.

While I had this with chili tonight (only because that’s what happened to be on the menu), it would go well with hearty bread and cheese to balance out the sweetness.

I wouldn’t drink a ton of these at once, but I could drink quite a few! Overall, a nice mellow, but interesting, beer.

I tried this beer and type of beer – Extra Special Bitter (ESB) – for the first time last night at my beer tasting class and it turned out to be my favourite beer of the night. It was quite dark and had a dry, chocolatey and hoppy flavour (but much more subtle than the chocolate you would find in a stout or the hops in an IPA). It also had a nice bitterness at the end. Overall, a solid drinking beer; good for the autumn when you want just a few pints of something darker but not as heavy as a stout or porter.

Propeller ESB has definitely piqued my interest in sampling some more ESB’s as well as checking out the other beers that Propeller Brewing Company (from Halifax, NS) has on offer.

This was my turning point beer. The beer which made me realize that beer was tasty; not “drink a lot of it to have a good time tasty” or “refreshing on a hot day on a patio tasty”, but “something to be enjoyed for is delicious flavour tasty.”

I first had Widmer’s Broken Halo IPA on an August Long Weekend road trip in 2007. We had randomly purchased a local brewery sampler case at the Safeway in Tillamook, Oregon and cracked the first beer sitting around the campsite in Manzanita and WOW! It tasted refreshing and slightly like grapefruit and I loved it. Thus, began my beer adventure and my love affair with hops.

(more detailed beer reviews to come…tomorrow marks the start of my “Beer Tasting and Education 101” class at the university – give me a few classes and i’ll be able to report on such “beery” things as aroma and mouthfeel)