Lighthouse – 15th Anniversary Ale

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With the BC craft beer scene being nearly dominated with young breweries these days, Lighthouse turning 15 was actually a little surprising.  15 years old is not particularly old for a brewery, but with breweries like Driftwood being only 5 years old, it is notable.  For BC, 15 years is respectable.  Lighthouse is celebrating the occasion with an anniversary ale comprised of a healthy variety of both malt and hops and capped with some English yeast.

I actually didn’t have big expectations for this beer for some reason.  I’m not sure why – Barley Mowat’s blog says it’s a “buy and drink”, reviews have actually been pretty positive that I can find now.  So when I took my first sip, my reaction was “oooh!”.  Labelled as an anniversary ale, this drinks like a fantastic winter seasonal.  It has the vanilla, caramel, and other sweet spices that no self-respecting Christmas ale would be caught without.  Its smooth, nearly-sticky-sweet malts are countered with a great hops presence that serves to add complexity and perhaps keep the sweetness at bay – but doesn’t add notable bitterness.  It lands somewhere between a rich pale ale and a barleywine.  I would say the same thing of a winter ale, except the winter / Christmas ales tend to lack the hops presence that really makes this beer stand out.

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Lighthouse ‘Switchback’ IPA

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I hadn’t even heard the term ‘session beer’ until pretty recently.  You see, I’m pretty new to full-on beer geekery.  Previously I was just someone who liked beer quite a lot, namely unique and strong ones.  Now more and more I find myself using terms like “flavour profile” and “nosing” even though I’m still not exactly an expert on detecting subtle flavours.

But while I love big, fancy, and limited edition beers they just aren’t practical to drink all the time.  Sometimes I just want a refreshing beer without significant monetary impact.  Other times I want to take a few to a friend’s BBQ and don’t plan to give them the attention a big fancy beer deserves.  Sometimes I just want simple.

I stumbled upon this particular ‘session beer’ by virtue of its label – I am an avid mountain biker and cyclist in general.  In fact, when it came out, I didn’t really fancy IPA’s too much.  But I gave it a try, basically just because I wanted the beer with the rider doing a sweet whip on it.

What I got was an explosion of floral hops and an unsweetened iced tea earthiness along with a crisp light body.  This turned me onto IPA’s.  As an added bonus, it comes in pretty strong for a six-pack at 6.5% ABV.  All this and it’s around the $12 mark for a 6-pack at BC Liquor stores – comparable to most entry-level craft beers.