Bearded and un-bearded, craft beer lovers seek out any spot where numerous beers can be sampled at one sitting. Those beer lovers are crazy-happy about any establishment that offers small samples – “paddles” or “flights” of craft suds.
Flights arrive at the table as a treat to the eyes, gleaming variations from pale to dark amberin colour.
Arranging them in the correct tasting order comes next. From lightest to darkest,hoppy to hoppier, malty to maltiest is how I usually set up my personal tasting. Then the fun starts!
To taste numerous local brews at one sitting, Sawmill Tap House and Grill in Chemainus is one of my Sunday afternoon guilty pleasures.
Taverns boasting more than 20 craft beers on tap qualify in my books as a genuine “tap house”.
Now two years old, Sawmill Tap Househas its game on. From the hosting station to payment, its systems are in perfect working order.The draft selection is carefully thought out, offering 26 of Vancouver Island’s best island-crafted beers.
While many of these beers are available at Lucky’s Liquor, they do taste a little different on tap. Nitrogen is used in a good tapping system to “push” the beer to the tap and contribute to the effervescence. In bottled or canned beer, bubbles are created primarily with CO2, which adds acidity and slightly alters a beer’s mouth-feel, at least when compared to its draught equivalent.
To put this piece of science to the test I sampled a number of beers I have tried in cans. Besides, the sun was out. Refreshing beer was called for!
First up was Vancouver’sParallel49thBrewingTricycle Radler. Brimming with grapefruit juice flavours and perfectly carbonated, this refresher definitely had a richer texture than the canned version. It whetted my taste buds for a sample of Nanaimo’s LongwoodBerried Alive. The Berried Alive bubbles were smaller and less prevalent in the on-tap version, resulting in a weightier brew that prolonged the tart raspberry flavour.
This lingering raspberry taste encouraged me to move on to the Berliner Wiese Berry Sour fromAxe and Barrel in Victoria.No comparisons here: with its complex aromas, delightful malts and refreshingly tartness, the Berry Sour brew is only available on tap.
The beers were a fine accompaniment to equally excellent meals we paired with them. Our burgers were dressed with a piquant chimichurri that complimented the acids inthe beers. The pommes frites were super crunchy, having been prepared in the proper French method of being pre-blanched in oil.
Should you feel the need to burn off those beer calories, a five minute drive from the Sawmill Tap House is the beautifully round, trout-stocked Chemainus Lake. A shore-line trail offers the perfect 30 minute hike to aid digestion.