Thursday, October 24, 2013

Firehall in B.C.'s wine capital

   Oliver, B.C. proclaims itself the wine capital of Canada, sitting in the middle of the Okanagon Valley and soaking up sunshine.  Like Woodinville down here, a wine-tourism town can still support local beer, too, and the Firehall Brewery in downtown Oliver is proof.
The building did once house the town's firefighters, thus joining breweries in Tacoma and Republic, Wash. with that historic link.  It opened in April 2012 and received good marks from Joe Wiebe in his Craft Beer Revolution for the Holy Smoke Porter, one of the two brews they made last year. This stout, made with German smoked malt on top of a dry stout recipe, won a medal at the FestivAle in Pendicton this April.
   The decor at the entry includes pictures of cantaloupe farming and packing, the first big agricultural boom in this part of the Okanagon. That was before wine grapes became so much more profitable than melons. The tap handles are little red fire hydrants; they had the stout and Backdraft Blonde on tap the day I stopped by.  The brewing apparatus is in the basement; a modern system of 1800 hectoliters capacity, according to Megan, friend of the brewer Sid Ruhland.
I have the FestivAle on my calendar for next April, even though a late winter can make some of the mountain passes dicey driving.  The highway goes through Oliver on the way to Pendicton so I'll be interested to see how Firehall is doing as they turn two years old.  Megan did say they just started bottling, so that good smoked stout will become better known, at least in British Columbia.
(Visited 9/19/13)

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