There’s a lot to like about the Doan brothers’ little family-run operation out at Powell and Victoria. First, there’s the focus on producing deliciously consistent, honest expressions of traditional Germanic styles like altbier and kolsh. Then there’s the inviting, family-friendly vibe of their quaint tasting room, complete with a vintage arcade game, a pile of old Mad Magazines, and a big box of Star Wars Lego. Throw in Ola Volo’s amazing artwork that graces their labels and adorns an entire wall of the room and you start to get a little taste of the spot’s charm. For me though, the history of the space itself is also pretty poignant, because in a way it’s kind of emblematic of both the phenomenal growth that our craft beer industry has experienced in the last few years, and the exceptional talents of our province’s craft brewers.
You see, not that long ago, 1830 Powell Street was the home of another small, family-run brewery. Opened in December 2012 by husband and wife team David Bowkett and Nicole Stefanopoulos, Powell Street Craft Brewery quickly shot to national attention when – a mere five months after the brewery opened its doors – their phenomenal ‘Old Jalopy’ Pale Ale was recognized as Canada’s best beer at the 2013 Canadian Beer Awards. Not surprisingly, when demand quickly outpaced supply, PSCB moved its operations a few blocks west to a much larger facility, and brew master Bowkett started producing a broad line-up of fantastic beers that are being distributed to appreciative customers all across the province.
Big shoes to fill, right? But somehow, shortly after one incredibly talented brewer (with no previous industry experience, I might add) moved out, two other incredibly talented brewers (who similarly had no previous industry experience) moved in. And while a national award didn’t invariably follow five months after Doan’s opened last July, a gold medal for their Rye Stout in the highly competitive ‘Best Stout or Porter’ category at the 2015 BC Beer Awards did, along with the ‘Rookie of the Year Award’ for BC’s best new brewery.
Now, while I’m definitely not one to give up on my dark, rich beers when the cherry blossoms begin to bloom and the nights start to get shorter, there’s something pretty amazing about a good pint of stout by the fire on a cold winter night. Doan’s Rye Stout, which is one of the brewery’s yearly offerings, was a real ‘go-to’ this past winter, and is definitely worth picking up the next time you pop by the tasting room or your local bottle shop.
Pouring an almost black, darkened mahogany color, the Rye Stout displays subtle notes of cocoa, freshly ground coffee, toasted rye and caramel on the nose. Semi-sweet chocolate and the earthiness of east African coffee varietals feature prominently in the first taste, and are soon balanced by a fantastic roasted character from the rye, and really subtle hints of sticky toffee pudding and vanilla bean. As these flavours dissipate, bittersweet chocolate emerges on the finish, subtly complimented by earthy, woody notes of cayenne and walnut. With a mouthfeel that similarly starts out supple and rich, only to be cut by a firm, dry finish, Doan’s rye stout is an inventive yet honest take on a classic style that is well-deserving of its recognition as BC’s best stout.