Hermannator still king of the winter seasonals, 31 years and counting

Lara Zukowsky photo

GOLD: Strong Beer, Hermannator by Vancouver Island Brewing

Few beers are as ubiquitous in this province as the mighty Hermannator, Vancouver Island Brewing’s 9.5% ABV gentle giant. The beer was first launched 31 years ago as a holiday treat for original VIB brewmaster Hermann Hoerterer’s friends and family, becoming the province’s first and longest-running seasonal beer release.

The German-style eisbock, or ice bock, is a strong dark lager that takes more than three months to make. Bursting with flavours like rum-soaked Christmas cake, molasses, dried fruits, hazelnuts, port, tobacco, coffee and cocoa, Hermannator is surprisingly smooth for its robust strength.

“It’s a unique style,” says current brewmaster Ralf Pittroff. “The beer is frozen to condense the flavours.”

Over the years the recipe was been tweaked here and there. The standard two-row pale malt was switched to Canadian Superior Pilsner malt, and a new yeast strain was adapted to ferment the beer.

But as this year’s gold medal for Strong Beer in The Growler Craft Beer Awards proves, Hermannator is only getting better with age.

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