Best of 2014 — Beer edition

By all accounts 2014 was a huge year for craft beer in B.C. According to a December report from The Province, 17 new breweries launched in 2014, enough to put the total number in British Columbia alone at more than 80. And with more in the works, it looks like the province is on track to crack 100 breweries in 2015.

Here at Bad Rider, your faithful reviewer discovered a number of new faves, took her first stabs at hop appreciation, and drank more fucking pumpkin beer than anyone should ever be required to imbibe. Talking about myself in third person aside, it was a heck of a lot of fun.

But, with only four months of reviews to fall back on, and a local government election which interrupted beer-side scheduling, any real look back at my favourite brews of 2014 has to go outside the parameters of this blog. Consider it bonus content.

For me, a best-of beer isn’t just tasty in the moment. It’s the sort of beer you want to purchase again and again, even as weird and fascinating new releases crowd  into the best spots at your local liquor emporium. They’re the beers you text message friends and co-workers to recommend while half cut, or drag everyone you know out to sample first-hand.

Not all of them are flashy, but all of them are definitely worth the time.


It’s the sort of thing I’d never even considered reviewing for this blog, but man did Phillip’s Blue Buck ever turn into my craft brew of choice on non-review nights. With its pleasantly hoppy but not overly bitter finish and medium body, it’s such a solid choice when you want a beer that can deliver some interest without requiring too much of your attention. I fished a lot of these out of sampler packs during after work hangouts, and it was my go-to choice for meeting friends for strictly one (OK, maybe two) pints on weeknights.

Hon. Mention: Red Racer’s Pilsner, which graced every picnic this summer that was too highbrow for PBR.


I bought six bottles of Goose Island’s Sofie this year, which is more than any other bomber in my life, probably. But, because it hails from Phoebe’s country, it never merited a full review. Bright yellow, bubbly, a bit fruity and a little sweet, it works well with veggie-heavy cuisine (more important than usual, when the reviewer is vegetarian) and the champagne-style bottle is great for presentation.


While I’ll always love Whistler Grapefruit, Cannery Brewing’s Blackberry Porter was one of my best finds of the year. Jammy, smooth and full of flavour, it’s completely unlike most of the fruit beers I tasted this summer, and one of the small number of brews where the fruit seemed less stunt and more an obvious enhancement.


I need to buy more of Lighthouse Brewing’s Seaport Vanilla Stout. The beer — smooth, packed with pure vanilla bean, but not too sweet — is like the best beer milkshake without the heaviness (or lactose) of dairy. It’s been on my mind constantly since I reviewed it.


Red Collar Brewing’s Trippel, a light-coloured but syrupy 9 per cent-er, taught me and many of my co-workers a valuable lesson about the value of pacing oneself and knowing the alcohol content of your drink before you swig. I don’t actually think it’s my favourite Red Collar beer — that may be the Doppelbock going on tap in February, or the Mild, which I haven’t yet imbibed enough times to call with certainty — but it’s a brew I’ve gone back for multiple times and had a few interesting evenings out of as a result. And what more can you ask, really?


Less pumpkin, more anything else at all seriously never again what were you thinking Andrea.

Red Collar Brewing: Highway to the Danger Beer

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Thanks to Bad Rider friend and KTW reporter Jess W. for the awesome layout, and using a picture of me where I wasn’t making an awful face.

You can read Bad Rider’s special Kamloops This Week brewery review here. A few extra notes:

  • Red Collar‘s concept is a little different, and relatively new for B.C. The brewery has a liquor licence that only allows it to serve its own product — so don’t bring your friend who only wants gin and tonics here. Food options vary quite a lot. While they partner with local food trucks some nights, on others you’ll only have pepperoni sticks and the like to soak up the alcohol.
  • As to the brewery’s tasting room, it’s definitely bare bones — pretty much a concrete box with tables. There’s no music, no televisions, and not much in the way of sound dampening. The one thing I’ve noticed on a few RC visits is you may find yourself shouting a bit, because voices tend to echo in the room. Brewmaster David Beardsell said he’s mostly interested in beer, not “nightclubbing” and sees the Spartan nature of the place as a feature not a bug.
  • A lot of these beers are sweeter than I’d normally like, but I think the clarity of the flavour balances the added sugar in some cases. The Dubbel, Tripel and Marzen were definitely sweet. Mild, IPA and IPL much less so.
  • As I mentioned at the bottom of the review, Beardsell ended up offering us a quick tour of the brewery at the end of the evening (though we didn’t alert staff we were reviewing the brewery at any point earlier in the night). The Doppelbock we sampled was a hit for most of the crowd, and our tastes in beer vary wildly. It’s dark, very smooth, and very powerful. I’m looking forward to trying it in early 2015, preferably when not I’m not half cut already.

An Exciting Preview of Things to Come

As some of you may have noticed, my newspaper co-workers make fairly frequent cameos in the reviews for this blog. After all, who’s better qualified to give an opinion on alcohol, really, than a bunch of journalists?

I’m excited to announce that equation now goes both ways. Starting this Thursday, the beer section of Bad Rider Reviews will appear periodically in the pages of Kamloops This Week.

While this won’t normally disrupt our blogging schedule, my first outing for KTW is so ridiculous and massive I’m going to let the paper have the glory (and not just because they paid for a portion of the beer up for review). Check back here on Dec. 4 for a link to the finished product and some too-tipsy-for-primetime thoughts cut from the final review.

In the meantime, here’s a taste of what to expect…

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