An ale crafted in Quesnel at Barkerville Brewing Co. recently won its third national beer award.
Barkerville Brewing Co.’s 18 Karat Ale recently won a bronze at the Canadian Brewing Awards in the North American Style Amber/Red Ale category, finishing third behind Doc Perdue’s Bobcat, West Coast Red Ale from Ontario’s Cowbell Brewing Co., which was second, and first-place Red Line IPA from Torque Brewing Inc. in Manitoba.
Barkerville Brewing Co.’s Mucho Oro Lager won another bronze in the North American Style Lager category, behind the silver-winning 3 Speed from Amsterdam Brewing Company in Ontario and the gold-winning Ides of January: O-PEE-CHEE Lager from Ontario’s Henderson Brewing Co.
The awards were presented May 4 in Toronto, and Barkerville Brewing Co. general manager Justine Pelletier was there to accept them in person for the first time.
“The 18 Karat has won in that same category twice in the past, but we’ve never won two in the same awards, so that was really cool, and we’ve also never been able to attend,” she said. “This year, it was nice to be there, with the camaraderie, and to have two awards to accept. It was very exciting.”
The awards were presented during the 17th annual Canadian Brewing Awards and Conference, and Pelletier says it was a great experience to get to be part of that.
“All the B.C. breweries seem to stick together and cheer for each other, so it was cool, and there was a good keynote speaker and some good sessions too on different aspects of the industry, so lots of information,” she said. “It was really good.”
For the Canadian Brewing Awards, breweries enter their beer into a category, and the winners are chosen through a blind tasting. Cicerones — who are like a sommelier in the wine industry — facilitate the tastings.
“Every brewer who submits, say we’ve made three batches, we’re going through all the batches and tasting it, and it all comes down to time, the flavour,” said Pelletier. “With craft [beer], each batch can change a little bit; it’s not a perfect recipe each time.”
The 18 Karat Ale won a silver medal at the Canadian Brewing Awards in 2014 and a bronze medal at the 2015 Canadian Brewing Awards.
“I think it’s really validating because that was the first beer we ever made,” Pelletier says of winning three national awards over the past five years. “It’s rather polarizing as far as taste profiles because it’s strong, so you either love it or you hate it. So sometimes we can get in our head whether it is a good beer, so the fact it has won three Canadian-wide brewing awards means it’s a good recipe and it’s a great beer.”
The 18 Karat Ale is made with malted barley and a pinch of wheat, with Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops.
Barkerville Brewing Co.’s Mucho Oro Lager is made with California Common yeast, Pilsner malt and Magnum and Chinook hops.
“I feel like every brewery has a lager, so I feel to win with a lager recipe when it is probably the most made style of beer, I’m pretty proud of that as well,” said Pelletier. “We actually made the Mucho Oro Lager at the beginning and it wasn’t a great seller, so we discontinued it and we brought it back just two years ago.”
Pelletier says they will receive the judging notes on each beer in the next few weeks.
“That will be interesting,” she said. “There are certain tick boxes to go through each flavour and style and everything, and then they put their own individual style on everything. We also sit down and go through it and see what they think. We’ve actually changed recipes because of tasting notes in the past, so it’s just good to know.”
Since opening in 2014, Barkerville Brewing Co. has won six B.C. Craft Beer Awards and four Canadian Brewing Awards, with a silver medal at the B.C. Beer Awards in October 2018 for its 52 Foot Stout most recently before the national awards.
Barkerville Brewing Co. recently doubled its occupancy and opened a patio, and Pelletier says they are looking forward to welcoming more people to the brewery this summer. They have a full lounge with a locally-focused menu with pizza, snack platters, sandwiches and charcuterie boards, and besides beer, there is also wine, cider and pop available.