Howling for You (Barkerville Brewing)

Barkerville, that dog is too cute and you need to be stopped.

Barkerville, that dog is too cute and you need to be stopped.

The Specs: Barkerville Brewing Co. (Quesnel, B.C.) Hound of the Barkerville Brown Ale
5.9 per cent ABC, 650mL, regular series


I didn’t initially intend to review this beer right now. In fact, had it not been for last weekend’s Prohibition ale review, I might have given the little brewery in Quesnel that could a few months off before returning to their lineup.

But, a couple nights after reviewing that nice, but totally average brew, I found myself needing a brew that could stand up to both latkes and stuffed peppers and discovered the brown ale I’d been hoping for.

On the face of it, Hound and Bootlegger look pretty similar — same deep amber colour, though much less head and overall carbonation on the former — but there are surprisingly few points of commonality on taste.

Where Bootlegger is wheat bread, Hound is a much more interesting loaf.

Starting with a deep, roasted malt flavour and rounding out into a quick hit of pluck hops, it’s in some ways a much simpler beer. Where Bootlegger offered hints of citrus and sugar, Hound offers a straight-ahead nuttiness and virtually no sweetness.

With the slightly hopped finish, you’re not weighed down by the darkness at the front of the sip, and with no sugar the lack of acid isn’t an issue — there’s no syrupy tones to cut through.

Once again, Barkerville’s done a solid rendition of a standard. And, in case you were wondering, it indeed stood up beautifully to peppers and potatoes. I’m on my second bottle in less than a week, and if that’s not a seal of approval I don’t know what I can do for you.

Shallow drinker success story

52 Foot Stout


The Specs: Barkerville Brewing Co. (Quesnel, B.C.) 52 Foot Stout
7 per cent ABV, 650mL, regular series

I don’t think anyone, anywhere, ever has been as happy to sell me something as the clerk at the liquor store was when I stepped up to the counter with my tallboy of 52 Foot Stout.

According to the clerk, Barkerville’s beers are pretty much impossible for this small private store to keep in stock, and the stout is the best-seller. She assured me I was going to adore it.

With that much hype in the mix, I naturally put off drinking the beer for almost a week out of concern.

But rest assured, reader, this beer is awesome enough that, in contrast to a recent review of Phoebe’s, my notes started out with “oh my god. OH MY GOD. Oh my God!”

You know that moment when you find a beer that hits all your preferred characteristics for its style?

Though 52 Foot Stout has an odd ingredient on its list — in this case “boreal amber birch syrup,” to quote the bottle copy — it’s not a particularly quirky beer.

From my experiences with birch beer, root beer’s love/hate cousin, I’d expected something sweet and even syrupy.

Instead, 52 Foot doesn’t offer so much as a hint of sweetness. The birch beer seems to contribute to a toasty woodsmoke and nature finish that would have been entirely lost in a sugary brew.

With a stout, heaviness comes with the territory, but that campfire-on-a-dark-night note keeps 52 Foot drinkable and never oppressive the way the dregs of a lesser dark beer can get.

And, ok, this is shallow, but we have to talk about Barkerville’s packaging choices, because they’re charming as hell, from the cartoon lantern and the old-timey, hand-lettered fonts on the front to what looks like a moonshine jug printed on the back side of the bottleneck. The brewery’s schtick is solidly  gold rush-era, and they’ve hit a great balance with their bottles.

Assuming the liquor stores around here manage to keep the brewery’s other varieties in stock long enough for me to get through my bottle backlog, it’s safe to say this won’t be the last time you see Barkerville on Bad Rider.

And future stouts are going to have a hell of a lot to live up to.