Beers of Summer
by Malcolm Yates
Photo by Malcolm Yates
Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends; we’re so glad you could attend, go outside, go outside! Aaaah, yes; the repurposing of an old Emerson, Lake & Palmer song is just the way to start the grand carnival we call summer. And while taking in the sights & sounds of said season it is highly recommended you partake of the right drink. So let us go over three fantastic options, all of which from local breweries and of a similar style.
While perhaps hiding in the shadow of its stronger, bolder brother, India (the “I” in IPA) the Pale Ale is a beer well-suited to the demands of summer. Let’s quickly go over Pale Ale’s bona fides, shall we? According to the Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines, an American Pale Ale is, “a refreshing and hoppy ale, yet with sufficient supporting malt to make the beer balanced and drinkable.” The BJCP goes into further detail, and no one’s stopping you from seeking out that intel. But for our purposes, the last sentence stands and delivers. Let’s start with the breweries of Squamish in alphabetical order and see where we wind up.
With apologies to Cookie Monster, A is for A-Frame Brewing and (that’s good enough for me!) their Sproat Lake Dry-Hopped Pale Ale. This lovely lakeside treat is a light, sessionable (meaning a slightly lower alcohol content) beer whose primary attributes include a smooth and silky malt base balanced with slightly tropical, citrus-like hop flavours. In accordance with A-Frame’s quixotic quest for perfection, each Sproat Lake brew is unique from the last as their brewer samples different hop varieties, each with their own flavour profile. A fun game to play is to drink a Sproat Lake every day to see if you can discern differences from one batch to the next. Did I say every day? I meant week. No, month. I definitely meant month. I don’t have a problem you have a problem.
B is for Backcountry Brewing (Cookie Monster’s mantra still applies) and their Trailbreaker Pale Ale. Self-described as more of a sessionable (there’s that word again) IPA than a pale ale, the Trailbreaker keeps its malt profile light while letting the hop’s more tropical notes take centre stage. This is noticeable first in the aroma and second in the sip as indeed the dominant flavour is citrus. This beer is delicious but don’t take my word for it, the judges at the 2017 BC Beer Awards gave it the gold medal in an absolutely stacked category.
H is for Howe Sound Brewing and their Sky Pilot Northwest Pale Ale. This beer was made in collaboration with the opening of the Sea to Sky Gondola and named after the majestic Sky Pilot massif. The “northwest” prefix tells you the beer will have more earthy, bitter, pine and grapefruit notes than its east coast compatriots. Rest assured, all of those drool-worthy markers are contained within, just at a more manageable (read “sessionable”) levels than an IPA with the same NW designation. No slouch in the awards department, the Sky Pilot won gold in 2015 and bronze at last years BC Beer Awards. Whether you're just coming down from the Sky Pilot peak or piqued & parched by your stroll from the gondola top station over to the Summit Lodge, this beer’s for you.
In conclusion, take all three of these Squamish beauties into consideration while plotting and playing-out your summer. They’re available fresh from the source and in liquor stores for your fridge-filling pleasure, so fill your flip-flops, folks, and I’ll see you at the beach! Please don’t fill your flip-flops.
Howe Sound Brewing
37801 Cleveland Avenue
Downtown Squamish, BC
A-Frame Brewing Company
1-38927 Queens Way
Business Park | Squamish, BC
405- 1201 Commercial Way
Business Park | Squamish, BC
Follow Malcolm Yates the Sea to Sky Beer Guy on Instagram @seatoskybeerguy