Due to so many things going on I have not had a chance to talk about the tasting of the Vancouver Island Brewery Doughhead Ale on Saturday. I went into it with trepidation because so many of the wilder beers I have had over the last couple of years have been duds in my opinion. The five local breweries and four brewpubs offer something like 75 to 80 different beers depending on the time of year. Not to be too critical, there are least a few brews that have been released that I think were done more for attention than the quality of the flavour. With so many choices you have to stand out somehow and a gingerbread ale felt like that.
The idea of a gingerbread beer was something I had trouble reconciling in my head but Rob Ringma of Vancouver Island Brewery convinced me to come and try it on Saturday.
I was pleasantly surprised at the flavour. Sheila and I had just made a large batch of ginger snaps the night before so we had a strong sense of a gingerbread flavour in our minds. The beer delivered enough of the flavour to make the beer interesting but not so much as to smack me upside the head. A good gingerbread has a strong spicy and bitter flavour along with the sweetness. Gingerbread is really a very earthy or umami aspect to it and it is this that came through in the beer. I could really get the bitter and sweet notes of the molasses along with the spice of the ginger.
My biggest fear was that the beer would be overly sweet or taste like drinking raw gingerbread dough and nothing else. Neither of these were true, the beer was very well balanced.
The brewery had some food pairings for the beer - a blue cheese and crackers (I think?). I am not sure any longer what they were but I did think the pairings did not work for me. I am not sure what I would pair this beer with. The gingerbread flavour is there but subtle enough that I would need to find a food that enhances the flavour and does not over power it. With the cheese I lost a lot the complexity from the molasses.
I like the beer enough that I will be buying some bottles while the supplies last.