Bit­ter­ness more vice than virtue for brewer

New brew­ery on block in Kelowna tries for ‘round, soft, ap­proach­able’ beers

Penticton Herald - - OKANAGAN - By STEVE MacNAULL

James Wind­sor’s favourite beer is al­ways the last one he made. “So, that means my cur­rent go-to is The Hum­ble Canuck, a B.C. pale ale made with lo­cal rye,” said the brewer from Kelowna’s Vice & Virtue Brew­ing Co.

“It’s flo­ral and fruity with some tof­fee and spice flavours.” But favourites can change on a dime. Wind­sor’s work­ing on The Brut, and upon its re­lease it will be­come the new most-adored.

“Brut is as­so­ci­ated with dry and Cham­pagne in the wine world, and The Brut will be a dry ale, very Cham­pag­ne­like,” he said.

Vice & Virtue is the new­est beer maker in Kelowna. Its brew­ery, tast­ing room and restau­rant just opened last month at 1033 Richter St., in the city’s in­dus­trial North End.

It’s on the same block as Tree Brew­ing at 1083 Richter, Red Bird at 1086 Richter and Ket­tle River, which is just around the cor­ner at 731 Bail­lie Ave.

BNA Brew­ing & Eatery is just a few blocks away at the cor­ner of El­lis Street and Cle­ment Av­enue.

Kelowna’s other spe­cialty brewers are spread out with Boundary, Big Surf and Freddy’s up and off High­way 97 and Kind in down­town West Kelowna.

“Craft beer is on the rise,” said Vice & Virtue co-owner Matt Jewell.

“Kelowna has quite a few brew­eries now and there’s this in­cred­i­ble clus­ter right here in our area. It’s not where Kelowna is with wine, but it will get there. Peo­ple are al­ready com­ing to Kelowna on beer tours, and we get amaz­ing sup­port from lo­cals too.”

Vice & Virtue was born of six friends mak­ing some half-de­cent beers in Jewell’s garage.

Talk turned to tak­ing it com­mer­cial, but the boys knew they had to bring a pro­fes­sional brewer on to en­sure quality, cre­ativ­ity and vi­a­bil­ity.

Jewell first men­tioned on Face­book he was look­ing for an ex­pe­ri­enced beer maker.

Friend An­drew Wind­sor, the wine­maker at Tin­horn Creek Win­ery in Oliver, replied, not for him­self, but for his brother James.

James was the brewer at Good Lot Brew­ing in Cale­don, Ont., and look­ing for a rea­son to move West to join his brother and re­unite his preg­nant girl­friend with her fam­ily.

“My ap­proach to beer is round, soft, ap­proach­able,” said James.

“It’s a bal­ance of sim­plic­ity and complexity with a level of so­phis­ti­ca­tion. I know the West Coast seems to love bit­ter beer, but I come from the East, where we try to keep the bit­ter­ness in check. I’m bring­ing that to Vice & Virtue’s beers. Craft beer from some places can be over the top with too much bit­ter­ness and too many flavours. I’m aim­ing to make beers peo­ple will drink and like.”

Drink it and like it they do. A month into busi­ness, Vice & Virtue is sell­ing three times as much beer as it ex­pected at this point.

Be­sides the afore­men­tioned Hum­ble Canuck and The Brut, Vice & Virtue’s other cur­rent re­leases in­clude The White Lie Pil­sner, Love Po­tion Rasp­berry Ber­lin­erVice, The Giver Pale Ale and The Homewrecker In­dia Pale Ale.

Which brings us to Vice & Virtue and beer names. “There’s a du­al­ity to it,” ex­plained James. “Beer it­self is both a vice and a virtue de­pend­ing on if you drink too much or drink in mod­er­a­tion to en­joy a care­fully crafted brew. And the beer names are all po­etic, ei­ther a vice or a virtue.”

Vice & Virtue takes its food as se­ri­ously as it does its brews.

Nel­son Daniels, for­merly of Wa­ter­front Wines restau­rant, is the chef and part­ner who cre­ates the food to pair with the beers.

His favourite match is the beef brisket on a brioche bun with The Hum­ble Canuck.

“The toasted rye in the beer re­ally com­ple­ments the bar­be­cue flavour of the brisket,” said Daniels.

He also has chicken pate, ce­viche, steel­head trout, pork steak, char­cu­terie plat­ter and chicken on cia­batta on the menu.

The only way to take Vice & Virtue beers home right now is in re­fill­able growlers, but the brew­ery does plan to get into pro­duc­tion in bot­tles and cans as well.

Vice & Virtue is open noon to 10 p.m. every day ex­cept Mon­day.

STEVE MACNAULL/The Okana­gan Week­end

All of Vice & Virtue Brew­ing Co.’s beers have vice-and-virtue-themed names, such as Love Po­tion Rasp­berry Ber­lin­erVice, the two on theleft,TheGiverPaleAle­andTheHum­ble Canuck Pale Ale.

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