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Explore the World of Craft Beer

Joe Wiebe, the Thirsty Writer
Craft beer has exploded in popularity over the past several years. Maybe you are interested in learning more about it, but you are unsure where to start. Here are some pointers. 
First of all, do not worry: after all, it is just beer! Craft beer is accessible and relatively inexpensive. 
Do you usually drink mainstream lagers? Then try Phillips Pilsner. Or maybe step it up to a notch to Hoyne’s Helios Dortmunder Lager, which is a little stronger and darker. Another step further would be a dark lager like Creepy Uncle Dunkel from the Moon Under Water or Vancouver Island Brewery’s Hermann’s Dark Lager. 
Speaking of dark beers, perhaps you are a fan of Guinness. Lots of craft breweries brew stouts and porters. Some also add chocolate or coffee, or age them in bourbon barrels, giving them an oaky, vanilla character.
Today’s IPAs are not as bitter as some people expect. Newer strains of hops have citrusy, tropical flavours, and brewers have devised specialized methods such as “dry-hopping” to extract even more flavour and aroma from the hops. Fat Tug IPA, brewed right here in Victoria by Driftwood Brewery, is a fine example of the style.
Skeptical about sour beers? Try Nectarous from Four Winds Brewing over in Delta. Winner of Beer of the Year at last year’s Canadian Brewing Awards, it is a delicious, tart and slightly sweet beer with amazing tropical fruit flavours.
Contemporary craft beer culture has shifted from quantity to quality. Spots like the Drake Eatery, Garrick’s Head Pub and the Churchill allow you to pick a flight of four small glasses so you can taste your way through a range of styles. Their knowledgeable staff can help you pick beers that suit your tastes. Order a little plate of charcuterie to nibble while you taste and talk about the beers, and then maybe try a second flight of four. All in all, you will have tasted eight beers, but consumed less than two pints in total. 
And during Victoria Beer Week , there are lots of different opportunities to explore craft beer, including several events at the Victoria Public Market. Many of the daily events involve food: pizza, cheese, tacos, and fish/seafood. There are two Friday Cask Nights, a sour beer event called Pucker Up, and a barrel-aged beer event called All About the Wood. In other words there’s something for everybody. Check out www.victoriabeerweek.com for more information.
Joe Wiebe is the Co-Founder/Co-Producer of Victoria Beer Week and the BC Ale Trail and Author of Craft Beer Revolution: The Insider’s Guide to B.C. Breweries

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