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November brews: exploring seasonal beers to warm your autumn evenings

Matthew Poirier’s monthly Matter of Beer column
A busy Vancouver Island Brewing Taphouse. (Courtesy Vancouver Island Brewing)

Fall is in full swing but winter’s not afraid to show up at any time. With the colder temperatures come the desire for cozier full-flavoured dark beers and more intimate settings. So as things move indoors, we can all look forward to a shift in what’s on tap, on shelves, and bringing us together.

Of course, it wouldn’t be this time of year without talking about Vancouver Island Brewing’s Hermannator Ice Bock. Always a favourite, and released back on Oct. 13, this beer is not to be waited on as it has very limited quantities this year. This three-month layered, rich, dark lager, with notes of chocolate and caramel, is a perfect way to warm up on a cold night, and it’s also a great starter beer if you’re considering getting into cellaring beers.

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That’s right, not every beer needs to be enjoyed right away. Stronger, darker beers, and wilder, funkier beers are fantastic options to hold on to for a bit, to let develop and grow into new flavours. Don’t do it with your IPAs or your lagers though; keep enjoying those fresh and cold.

If you’re getting cold, go inside. There are so many great taprooms that are also great spots to use for your game nights, where nobody gets stuck having to do the cleanup before and after to make the space guest-ready.

Every Thursday, from 6 to 9 p.m., Small God’s Brewing in Sidney hosts their Full Deck Games Night where they have a selection of games if you’re not bringing your own. On top of its great selection of beers, ciders, non-alcoholic options and delicious food, it’s a perfect spot for everyone, including kids (yes, it’s kid-friendly).

Small Gods’ food selection. (Courtesy Small Gods Brewing Co.)
Small Gods’ food selection. (Courtesy Small Gods Brewing Co.)

Plenty of taprooms host trivia nights, music bingo, comedy nights, live music, and more, including unique options like cornhole tournaments at Beacon Brewing.

All these options continue to support local businesses, performers, and people, which is exceptionally important at this time of year, so consider that when you go out. Otherwise, stay warm, stay comfortable, and enjoy good local beer.

Vancouver Island Brewing Taproom. (Courtesy Vancouver Island Brewing)
Vancouver Island Brewing Taproom. (Courtesy Vancouver Island Brewing)