Today a co-hort of mine and I decided it was high time that the Leapbeer journey found its way to Comox’s Surgenor Brewing. We met there with the über Brewer Martin Eschbaumer for a tasting and to get a bit of the information about the future of this brewing operation.
A little history first. I distinctly remember when I first saw their beers on the shelf with the painted aluminum bottles. I was very eager to try this locally made product. Sadly, whether my palate wasn’t tuned to the task of drinking their beer or for other reasons, I really didn’t like it. I do know that since then (2-3 yrs ago) I’ve definitely broadened my tastes as far as what I enjoy and like in a beer. Back then I purchased a 6 pack each of their Steam Donkey and Red House Ales. This proved to be my only foray into the beers until this trip.
We drove up to the operation to see a great big For Sale sign on the front lawn. I had heard that the brewery was for sale, but this is now a complete shut down. In talking with the staff it has already begun its close down and dismantling of the equipment. What is happening with it you may ask. The equipment is being shipped to Baltimore Maryland to setup down there, and the crew is going down on a consulting term to help them set up. The reasons behind closing up shop are undoubtedly complex, but sadly its a fact. The doors will be shut soon. That said, there’s still beer in them thar taps, and thanks to Martin for sharing what was there.
First beer I tried was their Steam Donkey ‘Lager’. Lager is in quotes because it’s not really a lager, but I’ll get to that in a bit. This is a lovely light golden coloured beer that is very crisp. It leaves a nice delicate lacing in the glass and has an equally light mouthfeel to it. It finishes bitter, showing off its European hops. I told Martin that this tasted more like a Pilsner to me, to which he replied ‘It is a pilsner’ .
Dude, wait, what?
Isn’t it Steam Donkey LAGER? It was then explained to me that while this is a pilsner, it was marketed as a Lager to induce people who usually only drink lagers to buy it. Also it was explained that most people only thought of ‘Old Style Pilsner‘ when they thought of a pilsner beer, so they marketed the Steam Donkey as a lager to not be associated with a lesser quality beer. Regardless of all the nomenclature confusion, this is a wonderful beer. An easy drinking PISLNER that makes a great session beer from growler at the brewery (for not much longer) and in the aluminum bottles at liquor stores.
Leapbeer #128 is Steam Donkey from Surgenor Brewing Company
Next we were treated to their Red House Ale. This is a red india pale ale in the traditional sense. Not to be confused with the uberhopped PNW IPA’s that have become so popular as of late. Their beers are brewed strictly by the Reinheitsgebot which forbids dry hopping. When Martin explained that to me it was completely news to me. I’m absolutely not an expert on the Bavarian purity law of 1516, in fact I couldn’t even remember its German name (I asked).
Back to the beer. The Red house smells quite malty, but it has a lovely bitterness to it. If I would compare it to previously reviewed beers it’d be most similar to the Wells IPA. Red house has a real nice balance to it and a good finish. It too is a 5.0% ABV making it also a good session beer.
Leapbeer #129 is Red House Ale by Surgenor Brewing Company
Those were all they had left in their taps when I went. There were previously 2 other beers they made, but I never got a chance to try them. All hope is not lost, however, since after setting up in Baltimore they plan to open again under the Shelter Point banner as ‘Shelter Point Beers/Brewery’ or something of that nature. And again these tasty beers (Or something of equal quality) will be available again soon. They hope to be up and running in the area in the summer or fall of 2012.
I encourage you to go down and try them if you get a chance, I enjoyed both the beers and the hospitality of the Brewery. It is with a hopeful outlook that I look forward to their next iteration.
Thanks for reading everyone