Friday, January 28, 2011

(Canada): Bracketing the country with a pair of kickass IPAs

I love being a Canadian. In fact, if you'd like to read how much I do, click here to find an essay I posted on a previous very badly put-together blog.

Anyway, when I was watching that epic Crosby goal, I was seated front and center at the Howe Sound Brewpub, a pint of Diamond Head in front of me and surrounded by a group of craft-brew and hockey enthusiasts. It was amazing and epic and united the entire country in a single hoarse-throated cheer.

And then the next day, I went back to living in the greatest place on Earth, and I'm sorry, but the greatest place on Earth is not Thunder Bay, Ontario.

You'd never get me to relinquish my clutches on B.C.; no golden carrot nor nail-studded stick would induce me to move East. Barnacle-like, I'll cling to this craggy coast with my last breath.

But if I had to, if I had to move, I'd be an East Coaster. There's a warmth and a generosity and a charm about the East Coast of Canada, and I can see the appeal of living neck-deep in newfies, although I'd imagine the constant fiddle music might get a bit wearing.

Buck 65, those funny yellow hats, Ashley MacIsaac, screech rum, Rick Mercer, that "I'se the bye" song: I can't imagine Canada without the Maritime provinces, and quite frankly, I don't want to. As an Irishman, the West Kerry lilt of a Labradorian is proof positive that this land was discovered by Brendan the Navigator in his wee leather curragh. That's a type of boat, FYI, not a cod-piece.

I realize Canada has quite a large middle bit. That middle produces oil, wheat, cattle and Alex Trebek, (which is good). But it also produces pollution, Avril Lavigne, Conservatives and Maple Leafs fans (which is bad). Let's face it, all the best stuff in this country is from the Coasts, and there's no better example of this than to look at another type of gold medal winners: Central City's Red Racer IPA and Propeller Brewing's IPA.

First, the Propeller. Often times Alexander Keith's IPA is touted as "the pride of Nova Scotia" which, not to put too fine a point on it, is utter crap. Alexander Keith's IPA is the pride of Nova Scotia like December 6, 1917 is the pride of the Halifax Association For Harbour Safety.

What Halifax should be (and is) proud of is this UK-style IPA. It's not always available out here, but it's always a good buy, being a gold medallist at the Chicago World Beer Championships. Find it, buy it, drink it: it's citrus-y and sessionable, and quite different from hoppy kick of a West Coast IPA.

...which is best exemplified by this beer: Central City's Red Racer IPA.

I'm happy to report that CAMRA Vancouver has yet again placed the laurel wreath upon the brow of this incredibly hoppy IPA, awarding it the 2010 Gold Medal for best beer in BC. It comes in a can, it has the same bicycle-riding pinup as all the other Central City brews, but this beer is hoppier than some other labels' Imperial and Double IPAs. Finding out that there are people who haven't tried this beer, which is all of 10% more expensive than Lucky Lager, is like discovering that there are people who think the high-pitched noises Justin Bieber makes are "music": it's confusing and bewildering and frankly makes you weep for humanity's prospects.

So there you have it. Want to try the best beer in Canada? Try going coastal.

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