I know it's uncouth to call oneself a hero, but if I can just brag for a minute here: Yes, I've been buying beer from local breweries during these trying times. (Please, save your applause for health care workers!) Does it really matter whether I'm doing it to support small business owners, or because I selfishly want there to still be craft beer waiting for me on the other side of this? The point is that money is going into our brew-conomy and delicious tall boys are going in my fridge. Everybody wins. My personal recent pick for a summer sipper that pairs well with solo patio hangs or Animal Crossing marathons alike is Strangefellows' Moon Rabbit Szechuan saison. Like the can promises, it's bright, peppery and citrusy, and I hope I get a chance to drink it fresh from the tasting room one day soon. —Stacey McLachlan, executive editor
One of the (rare) positive byproducts of this pandemic is that it's caused me to head into the wine cellar and start pulling out bottles that I had been saving for that proverbial rainy day. This exercise corresponded with it being BC wine month, which also corresponded with the BC wine industry reeling from the sudden departure of their very important restaurant clients so for me it was pretty much all Okanagan, all the time.
There's a tough-to-describe excitement about drinking aged BC wine in that for the most part it's uncharted territory. It's pretty easy to source detailed, year-by-year tasting notes for, say, Chateau Margaux such that, when you pull the cork, you have some idea of what to expect. But try finding a tasting note of JoieFarm's 2011 Pinot Noir that's recent—it doesn't exist. So when I cracked the seal on the $20 wine that was likely never intended to stick around a decade I had no idea what to expect. The short answer is that it had aged magnificently: the calling cards when it was you—vibrancy and juiciness—were still very much evident but they were joined by a few savoury notes as well. It tasted like it was three years old, not nine.
But reading about wines you can't buy is always a bit of a tease, so I want to focus on an aged wine that you can. I have no idea where I got this bottle of Intersection's Axiom (maybe a friend brought it, maybe it was a sample from the winery?), but it was six years old, so fit the bill for the month's marching orders. It's a Right Bank Bordeaux-style blend (that means it's Merlot and Cabernet Franc) and there are few styles of wine that benefit more from some cellar time to sort stuff out than new world Bordeaux blends. I gave it a quick decant and as I poured it I could already pick up some of the telltale notes—cherries, dark plums. It's plenty dark in the glass and some spicy notes come into play that help offset some fruity and oak-y richness. It's a fantastically complete wine and I immediately was sad that I had cracked it on random Tuesday night. But when I went to the website, an unexpected surprise: the exact 2014 wine is available right now. It's not cheap ($45, but that's a steal for a six-year-old wine of this calibre) and you can only buy 1 bottle (unless you're part of their wine club), but c'mon! What a find.—Neal McLennan, Food Editor
Discovering Potato Vodka
While we've solidly entered rosé season (I recently received my Everything Wine order of Quail's Gate and Lavendette, two of my summer favourites), my Friday night Zoom cocktail tradition with friends now features a...cocktail, yes. For years I'd avoided vodka because I'd believed it was a migraine trigger. Turns out it was grain-based vodka that was the culprit, so I've started to explore a handful of Polish potato vodkas we can get in BC. Luksusowa is is one of the most prevalent, decently priced, and makes the base for my new Friday-night favourite: a lazy lemon drop cocktail. Drop 2 oz of the Luks into a cocktail shaker with a couple of big ice cubes, juice in a whole lemon, and follow it with a teaspoon of sugar. Shake it, strain it into a highball and voila: summer in a glass. Purists might want to throw a little Cointreau in there too, but oranges are another headache source for me. Until someone figures out a potato-based Cointreau, it's lemon, and lemon only for this Zoom cocktailer.—Anicka Quin, editorial director
Yes, many local breweries are delivering, and that’s wonderful when you live in Vancouver proper. And—brag alert—I do. But when your newly-long-distance partner (#thanksCOVID19) lives in Richmond and booze-by-mail is one of the only Dr. Bonnie-approved methods of showing love, you might feel a little stuck. That is, until you remember Fuggles and Warlock Craftworks, the quirky brewery tucked in the corner of my very flat hometown. I’m not much of a beer drinker, but their super-refreshing Gin and Lime Pilsner is fab, and the same-day drop-off was a dream. I also really appreciated the deliverer’s friendly “It’s at the door!” message: a very brewer-looking (read: bearded) Memoji giving a thumbs up.
The delivery was a gift, but I wound up drinking a couple, too—my partner did the two-metre toss the next time we saw each other. Perhaps if Romeo threw a beer up to Juliet’s window, their story wouldn’t be a tragedy.—Alyssa Hirose, contributing editor
As my friends are starting to (not so) playfully rib me about over Zoom, I'll try absolutely anything when it comes to beer. And, because my friends are the worst, that's opened me up to a decent amount of criticism. "What're you drinking Nate? A peanut butter chocolate parfait stout?? Haha, get it, because he tries stuff."
So while I've definitely had my fill of such delicacies during quarantine, a lot of beer I've consumed of late hasn't been super easy on the pocketbook. Yeah, my planned trip to Europe in September is looking not great, but my partner believes that I should still try to "save money" apparently. In that vein, Red Truck's new Adventure pack is easy on the wallet ($13.79 at the liquor store for an eight-pack—an absolute steal) and has enough variety to keep things interesting. No, there's no Cotton Candy Sours on deck, but there is a refreshing Pineapple Hefeweizen and the brewery's New England Hazy IPA, one of my favourites of the genre. You might not be able to "adventure" in the way you'd like to these days, but hey, that doesn't mean you can't get hammered.—Nathan Caddell, associate editor