The Georgia Straight
In this pandemic, some Metro Vancouver restaurants have pulled out all the stops in taking patio dining to the next level.
As a valuable public service, we taste the latest in Lower Mainland beers and then give you a highly opinionated, pocketsized review.
La Cerveceria Astilleros Hibiscus Gose
“A bright and lively gose, with a gorgeous colour and aromatics of hibiscus leaves. ‘Agua de Jamaica’, which translates to ‘Water of Jamaica’, is a fresh, sweet, rosecoloured, hibiscus infused drink that is as common to Mexicans as Root Beer to Canadians. This beer will hopefully give you a taste of that culinary tradition.”
Well, one truly does learn something new every day. Past trips to Mexico have led to discovering the magic of chilaquiles, Tajin, and “Mal Hombre” by Lydia Mendoza. Not once did anyone ever hip us to the fact that hibiscus is good for something other than tea time at your neighbourhood retirement home. Like, for example, making beer. In addition to Saaz hops, a good amount of hisbiscus flowers go into this refreshingly bright and lemony—but not overpoweringly so—gose.
Expect soft floral notes and you won’t be disappointed, as La Cerveceria Astilleros’ Mexico-indebted Agua de Jamaica is delicate without being cloying or perfume-y. As an added bonus, it looks great, pouring a vibrant ruby red that will remind you of that time you spent a night drinking Blood of Christ cocktails at the fabulous El Garlochi bar in Seville. Interestingly, that establishment doesn’t serve beer. One might wonder if that’s only because the staff has never heard of La Cerveceria Astilleros Hibiscus Gose.
Sometimes you discover a new favourite thing entirely by accident. Confession time: when it was time to leave East Van for the first time in four months, Hibiscus Gose wasn’t on the shopping list. Instead, it was La Cerveceria Astilleros’s yummy-sounding Acan “Chufa” Horchata Porter that made braving the bridge seem worth it. And, after stepping into the North Van brewery— where, as God is our witness, someone who looked like Bryan Adams was laying into a house-made taco at a table—the Salted Lime Lager became an instant must-have.
Anything horchata-related is a nobrainer, but why the Salted Lime Lager? Easy—in Mexico, you can’t swing a piñata pole without hitting limón-flavoured potatos chips, limón-infused salt, and, most delicious of all, Sol Chelada Limón y Sal beer. In Canada, however, none of that is available no matter how much you’ve begged the staff at Los Guerreros Latin food products on Kingsway to help a hermano out.
Anyhow, thanks to the endless traffice snarls on the North Shore, it took so long (as in a good half-hour) to get from the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge to La Cerveceria Astilleros that something extra had to be done to make the endless journey worth it. So a four-pack of Hibiscus Gose joined the stack of Salted Lime Lager and Acan “Chufa” Horchata Porter. The gose instantly became the favourite and remains so today.
How good is it? Sometimes when you’re crawling along a North Van arterial route, managing a quarter-block every three traffic-light changes, you need the promise of something special to help keep your eyes on the prize. Hibiscus Gose is that prize.