The Canadian Brewing Awards came and went last Saturday, and once again, B.C. breweries owned the podium, picking up 50 medals. While B.C. didn’t bring home Brewery of the Year this time, Surrey’s Central City Brewers + Distillers—itself a two-time former Brewery of the Year winner—won Beer of the Year for its After Hours Pale Ale.
It’s an interesting beer, because it’s almost not a beer at all. It’s a beer cocktail!
Part of Central City’s Spirited Series, After Hours is the brewery’s take on an Old Fashioned and features its own Lohin McKinnon single malt whisky (which I actually quite like and routinely use to fool my Scottish inlaws), as well as orange peel and cherries.
In place of bitters, After Hours relies on its hop bitterness to balance out the sweetness of the whisky and cherries. Meanwhile, the malt character perfectly complements the whisky notes, which makes sense, since beer is just undistilled whisky, right?
Correction: there are, in fact, bitters added to After Hours.
The end result is pretty damn close to an Old Fashioned. Notes of oak, maraschino cherry and bitter orange dominate, with a touch of lingering sweetness.
Purists might scoff at this being chosen as the best beer in Canada this year, and it certainly wouldn’t be my top pick, I did quite enjoy it and I do think it’s worth seeking out. As I write this, I’m staring at my empty glass and wishing I had another, so that’s a pretty good indication!
After Hours Pale Ale by Central City Brewers + Distillers
6.5% ABV • 500 mL tall can
Appearance: Brilliant copper-orange colour with a billowing off-white head.
Aroma: Orange, oak, cherries, grain, whisky, brown sugar.
Flavour: Bitter orange, oak, maraschino cherries, sweet, hint of whisky, light grainy malt character, citrus, slight hop bitterness, tastes pretty much exactly like an Old Fashioned.
Body/Finish: Medium bodied with slight lingering sweetness.
Pairs with: Duck breast, Devils on Horseback and gold fucking medals, baby.