What Can You Buy There? (# 1)

As promised on Friday, I’m going to write briefly about the kinds of beers I can find in my bottle shop in small-town Western Canada. And I’m doing so because our regular host lives in one of beer’s current Valhallas–one of the places in the US where you could most likely get any beer you might require.

But I don’t recall, even in some of the best bottle shops in Portland, seeing a wide selection of Canadian beers. And so my goal is to give you at least one brewery–perhaps more, we’ll see how the day goes–to keep an eye out for. Or, heck, even to cross the border for.

Four Winds (in Delta, BC) was mentioned when your host came to visit me in September; we shared their Meli, a delightful farmhouse ale made with honey and pollen. Four Winds is one of the more experimental and daring brewers in BC, while hewing closely to a style guide than might be described as Belgian, writ large*.  While they make quite good pilsners and oat stouts, to give a few examples of standard beers, they first came to my attention with their Zephyr series, which combines NW IPA hoppiness with some of the yeasts and esters we might think of as belonging to the world of Belgian beers.

Their Juxtapose is a Wild IPA–an IPA made with wild yeast. And the nose** brings that across. You get hints of mango, stone fruit–but also the barnyard funk you’d expect from a wild yeast. And, finally, a bitter note–the bittering of hops.

The front end is quite surprisingly malty, and gives way to a spicy breadiness in the middle–cracked pepper water crackers?–, and, in the end, the dryness you’d expect from both a hoppy beer and from the barnyard element. As the beer warms slightly, there’s a richer front mouthfeel; the middle spice disappears, but some previously undetected melon come to the fore; and the end exhibits more of the funk, less of the harsh bitterness of the colder pour. But at no point does the funk imbalance or overwhelm the beer–it’s one element working in harmony with the rest.

You could have this beer on its own. I paired the end of the glass with an “old” cheddar***, and was delighted as to how well the creaminess of the cheese brought new notes of the barnyard to the fore. I’d not go the bleu cheese route, but would stick with creamy and relatively neutral cheeses for my pairing.

*Their more experimental beers tend to hew more closely to Belgian beers for inspiration, but most of their products tend Belgian in identifiable ways.

**To the extent I have a nose today. Think about what I’d be writing if I could actually breathe through both nostrils.

***Old, my foot. Middle-aged, at best. Were it a human, it would have just stopped finding Buzzfeed quizzes relevant.

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