Naming anything the best of the year is always going to be fraught with danger since such an assertion will always be laden with subjectivity. Thus, I name the Beer of the Year with some trepidation.
In an effort to quell any lingering suspicions, I shall dispense with the haughty language and get right down to my pick for beer of the year 2016: the Sour Wheat Gose by Field House Brewing in Abbotsford BC.
Justification for the Beer of the Year
I first had this beer when brewer Parker was still tweaking the recipe. He pulled a small sample from the tank and let me try out his new experiment. It tasted great at the time, and since then he has continued to tweak his recipe, perfecting it in what you find bottled today.
When I first tried a proper glass of Parker’s Gose, it was at Victoria Beer Week in March at the Drake pub. I managed to sneak in a quick glass prior to one of the events and was taken not only by the subtle changes Parker made from that initial batch, but also how much more drinkable it had become.
Throughout 2016, whenever I had the opportunity to drink the Sour Wheat Gose I would seize it. And if you recall what I said last year about my beer of the year, Four Winds’ Nectarous, that uncontrollable need to return and grab another glass or bottle is really what defines the Beer of the Year for me.
Looking back, when I reviewed the Sour Wheat Gose on Beer Me BC I didn’t rate it as high as you might expect for a beer that stands out this much for me. To be honest, I even surprised myself by that rating. But in spite of that, my taste buds and cravings are what I base this particular ‘award’ on, and both constantly steer me back in Field House’s direction.
Probably the thing that hit home for me the most was sharing this beer with my aunt who is not a beer lover by any means. I convinced her to try a little glass knowing even then that she’d want more. In the end, she couldn’t get enough; it was so different, so interesting, so delicious.
The thing with Gose in general, and this one in particular, is the salinity of the beer is often the defining characteristic. While not the only thing that sets the beer apart, it is certainly the thing that most people remember. Indeed, the Sour Wheat Gose has that light, umami finish but the salt is not overpowering and that is why this aspect defines this beer in my opinion. Compared to other Goses made by some BC breweries, the salinity of the Sour Wheat Gose compliments the other flavours rather than overshadowing them.
To avoid belabouring the point any further, the Sour Wheat Gose by Field House Brewing is a fantastic beer. I truly hope they continue to make it so I can keep coming back again and again. Congratulations to Parker and the brewery for nailing this one – among others – and for being named Rookie of the Year at the BC Beer Awards this year.
An honourable mention
Since I did it last year as well, I would also like to give an honourable mention to R&B Brewing for their Dark Star Oatmeal Stout.
This is another beer that I never shirk an opportunity to drink, and is truly a year-round stout. I recall in the heat of the summer stopping into R&B’s Pizza and Ale House and quaffing a pint of Dark Star as easily as I might a Kolsch. It is flavourful, yet light-bodied and sessionable. Kudos to R&B for this one. I look forward to drinking many more in 2017.
Cheers and Happy New Year!