It’s that time of year when cooler weather and darker days arrive in the region. But that doesn’t mean you have to gear up for hibernation. A better way to fortify for fall (and winter) is to dive into some seasonal BC ales. And with three homegrown breweries to choose from, Richmond is perfect for a thirst-slaking tasting crawl. We touched base with Britannia Brewing, Monkey 9 Brewing, and Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks to discover what each is concocting for parched locals and visitors this fall and beyond.
“We’re excited for the second seasonal release of our Sea Hound Oatmeal Irish Cream Stout,” says Britannia Brewing co-founder Trystam Hayden. “The beauty of this ale is that we use cold brew from local roasters Steveston Coffee Co. and then add steel cut oats to give a soft, warming texture.” But it’s not the only Britannia beer he recommends at this time of year.
Check out the seasonal beers at Britannia Brewing. | Photo: Britannia Brewing
“We also have our Wave Crusader Extra Pale Ale—we like to call this one XPA. It takes its heritage from British pale ales but we add a healthy dose of West Coast aromatic hops to balance the crystal malts. It’s a really flavoursome beer with lifted aromatics.”
And with winter not far off, what would he recommend for those days when extra fleece is essential? “I’d suggest our Ashore Rye Porter. It won a third-place at the recent BC Beer Awards and is a very well balanced seasonable porter. It has all the right warming chocolate and mocha characters, while still being balanced and dry for a refreshing darker ale.”
A visit to Britannia’s popular tap house in Steveston Village isn’t just about beer, though. With a menu of casual fine-dining (go for the clam chowder) alongside its tasty ales, the best time to visit, says Hayden, is for one of their beer-pairing Brewmaster Dinners. “They’re on the first Sunday of every month and they feature four courses, each matched with our beer.”
Belly-warming comfort food (wings recommended) is also a huge hook at Monkey 9 Brewing. But this Richmond brewpub is just as serious about the ales they make, according to head brewer Travis Lang. He has created a tasty slate of intriguing beers for fall and winter drinkers.
“Working closely with my assistant Bree, we've come up with a big roster of beers to take us through fall and winter,” says Lang. The menu, he adds, starts with Jitter Monkey. “It’s an oatmeal coffee brown ale combining everything I want when it’s cold: dark beer, coffee, chocolate, and coconut. It's perfect for sipping after a meal, preferably by a fire.”
Fans of the darker side should also look out for his Salted Caramel Chocolate Pretzel Porter and Toffee Caramel Stout, a specialty side-batch of Monkey 9’s newly revamped Silverback Stout. “It’ll be the same classic stout, just with a little seasonal zip,” he says, adding that winter drinkers should also check out the brewery’s award-winning James Brown Ale.
Pouring a stout taster at Monkey 9 Brewing. | Photo: Monkey 9 Brewing
Hop-loving IPA nuts will be equally happy. The Mandirine IPA is packed with orange zest and aromatic hops while their DIPA (double IPA) is strong enough to put hairs on the chests of everyone within five metres of your table. “I made a cask of this from my old homebrew recipe book. It turned out so well that it’ll be making regular appearances on our IPA rotation. It’s super hoppy, so look out!” says Lang, adding there will also be special cask nights to look forward to throughout winter.
But there’s one seasonal that’s especially close to Lang’s heart: Malty Papa ESB. “Back in my homebrewing days, it was hard making ends meet. But my wife Keshia knew I was destined to be behind the tanks making beer and she always supported my dream. We were out one night (on Keshia's dollar) and our friend Helen suggested the term Salty Papa—the reverse of Sugar Daddy.”
“My wife is amazing and she rolled the dice on a rambler like me. Eventually things fell into place for us so, with this beer, I wanted to honour her support. This one is a big pale ale, packed with flavour and passion. With my history—and now a baby on the way—Malty Papa was an obvious choice for this beer’s name!”
Monkey 9 is planning regular winter season cask nights. | Photo: Monkey 9 Brewing
Over at Fuggles & Warlock Craftworks, director of operations Glen Hutton is gearing up to pour three new seasonal beers: an intriguing Miyabi Cranberry Sour, made with fresh BC fruit, as well as a robust and warming London Dry Porter suffused with chocolate and dry fruit notes. Then there’s what may be the perfect beery antidote to declining outdoor temperatures.
“We’re bringing back our Darxide Russian Imperial Stout,” says Hutton. “It’s a great cold-season beer that ages really well. I had a bottle recently that was two years old and it was the best beer I’ve ever had!” Brewmaster Dan Colyer—the ‘Fuggles’ of the brewery’s unique name—agrees with Darxide’s restorative properties. “This is a big 10% stout packed with rich flavours of chocolate, coffee, and currants. Its strength really helps you warm-up on a cold day.”
If you’re not quite ready for Darxide-strength beers, the brewery’s milder Bean Me Up Espresso Milk Stout has been a tasting room classic for several chilly seasons. “Bean Me Up is a great winter beer. It’s flavoured with cold press coffee from Vancouver’s Notch Coffee, making it a great picker-upper for this time of year,” says Colyer.
Bean Me Up is a classic Fuggles & Warlock beer. | Photo: John Lee
But it’s not all about drowning your sorrows over all the Gore-Tex you have to wear. There are also plenty of blue-skied days at this time of year. And Fuggles and Warlocks’ newest brew is perfect for lighter sipping, says Hutton. “It’s called #Fuglife Beer and it’s an easy-drinking session ale that’s great when you don’t want anything too heavy.”
Currently only available in their tasting room, it’s also a good excuse to spend an extended evening here, with trivia nights and food trucks often on the menu as well. “With eight taps and many one-offs rotating through, it’s always fun to visit and sample our beers onsite,” says Colyer. “And in the fall, it’s also a good idea to fill some growlers here to take home and enjoy by your fireplace.”
BC Ale Trail
All three of these Richmond breweries are part of the BC Ale Trail. The breweries have collaborated with producers in nearby Delta, Surrey, and New Westminster to create the perfect craft brewery itinerary for locals and visitors to explore.