Mmmmm… seasonal beer
As rain and fog start to obscure the North Shore skyline, it's time to switch that iced tea-flavoured beer for a dark, well-hopped bottle.
Brewmaster Dave Varga from North Vancouver's Red Truck Beer Company, decides which kind of beer will pair perfectly with the seemingly endless rainy days. This season's choice: Red Truck Ltd. Brown Porter, "perfect to celebrate fall and Halloween."
A lot of people think dark beer is heavy says Varga, but that's not the case with his porter. It's done in the English style so although it's is rich in flavour, drinking it won't feel like eating a full meal.
Red Truck brewery, located on Marine Drive beside Indigo, is busy as the season changes.
"Beer is food, just a different form of food," says Varga, hopping down from a stainless steal tank used to make beer. He's made around 30 seasonal beers for Red Truck since it opened eight years ago.
The smaller batches the brewery makes for festivals and other events allow his creativity to really shine.
He once made a Christmas beer with nutmeg, ginger, brandied dry fruit and molasses. But the real kicker is his "barbecued duck beer," meant to be reminiscent of a scene in the 1980s movie A Christmas Story, where the whole family is forced to eat duck at a Chinese restaurant after their turkey is destroyed.
He used Chinese five-spice powder and soya sauce to flavour the beer (no ducks were harmed) and paired it with fortune cookies.
It can be risky, however, to do large batches of this kind of beer because it's difficult to make, says Varga, so it's not available to the public.
He first learned the science of making beer while at UBC, where a professor held weekend brewing seminars at the school labs. He's worked in the craft beer industry for the past 15 years, and has been Red Truck's brewmaster since day one.
The seasonal beer changes every six to eight weeks, says director Sam Payne.
"Up next after the porter is an IPA; it has a higher alcohol content and it's very warming (perfect for cold December evenings)," he adds.
Red Truck makes 30,000 litres of beer a month and distributes it to restaurants around the Lower Mainland.
Which beer does Varga like best?
He doesn't necessarily have one: "It's like picking a kid you like the best, you like them all."