Pale Ale : Okanagan Spring Brewery : Pale Ale
Crystal Springs IPA : Klamath Basin Brewing Co. : IPA
Pike Pale Heirloom Amber Ale : Pike Pub & Brewery : Amber
The water pistols green behind us as we leave the mainland behind and dock in Nanaimo, a wonderful place to try to pronounce. But Mondays are notoriously dead for Northwest cities and we are quickly challenged with trying to find a place even for tourists … pizza, tea shop, fast food, anything … still open. I know, I know that there would still be some place open in Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica, but the drive this evening would be a tad too far.
What’s that…the painted gingerbreading of a Victorian home and laughter from the second floor porch. It’s a Greek restaurant. Of course, I know, I know that somewhere on the Plaka there’s a restaurant still open. Fortunately, there is one still open in Nanaimo as well.
The beer option is the Okanagan. I order the retsina, but I steal a sample of my friend Helen’s glass. Nothing has changed much with the Okanagan, aside from this bottle is served colder, something that enhances its refreshing qualities.
During dinner, I amuse the crowd by demonstrating how grizzly bears row logs out to eat kayaking tourist. And knock over my wineglass on my new shirt in the process. Later my friend Helen amuses the crowd by knocking over the candle and trying to set the porch on fire. This catches the attention of the establishment.
“My father, he came from the old country, and when the ship came into harbor, he jumped it.” He’s not the owner, only the restaurant adviser, who’s been amused at clumsy New York antics. He’s deep in the story of why this is the only open restaurant in all Nanaimo and why it is also so good. “There was nothing here, so he opened a pizza place. Still my father, he made it good, tasty, so everyone came from the whole island. He’d make 130 thousand in a week and keep the cash in a cigarette machine with a sign ‘out of order’ hung across the front of it. He hated cigarettes, ruined the taste buds.”
All this talk about quality, of course, makes me long for a nice beer. Fortunately, there’s plenty left in the Belmont stock, so back at the hotel I crack open a Crystal Springs IPA. This presents a subtle, lighter body, not the emotional drive of the bigger IPA, but the tastes are crisp, slight yeast, with hints of minerals.
I follow up with the Pikes. I rarely can find this beer, but have always maintained a soft spot for it, because, with its soviet twenties constructionist graphics, this was my first craftbrew T-shirt. There’s a buttered up body and sling of tartness here. Enough flower and body to notice, but nothing at all approaching the skill of the label’s graphic design.
Rating Pale Ale : 56%
Rating Crystal Springs IPA : 70%
Rating Pike Pale Heirloom Amber Ale : 65%