With the ever-growing commonality of limited and seasonal releases and a steady spate of new breweries coming online, it can be hard to find a local beer with as much history as Reynard. Like John Mitchell’s legendary Bay Ale, or Gary Lohin’s IPA, Ian Hill’s Oud Bruin is one of those iconic local beers that can be used as a reference point to chart the evolution of craft beer in BC. Despite only making its debut for Strange Fellows last June, the Reynard is just the latest iteration of a style that Hill has been bringing to the good people of Vancouver for many years now. Long before ‘sours’ became the beer de rigueur, Hill was crafting a fine array of Oud Bruins, Flanders Reds and Krieks dating back to the 90s and his tenure at Yaletown Brewing Company. Like the work of Mitchell, Lohin and fellow local brewing legend James Walton, Hill’s creations exposed Vancouverites to new and expansive flavour profiles, challenging many preconceptions of what ‘beer’ could taste like.
When word broke that Hill would be opening up a predominantly Belgian-focused brewery with an extensive sour program, the city’s craft beer circles rejoiced. Convincing a brewery owner to tie up inventory in barrels from months to years on end (let alone package ‘niche’ beers like Oud Bruins) can be a tough sell, so having someone like Hill and his vision-aligned business partner Aaron Jonckheere at the helm of Strange Fellows has been key to their growth and success. And although Hill has produced some fantastic kettle sours over the last two years, Reynard is his first barrel-aged sour at Strange Fellows.
Quite fittingly for a beer with such a storied vintage, Reynard aged for over twelve months in French oak barrels, developing a lovely amount of complexity, character and depth along the way. Pouring a gorgeous mahogany colour and displaying hints of cherry, leather and oak on the nose, Reynard has some pronounced black cherry notes up front which are nicely balanced by flavours of caramel, vanilla and bittersweet chocolate. A gentle, resonating tartness and a spicy earthiness linger, complimented by the continued prominence of cherry, vanilla, leather, oak and a rich, round mouth feel.
Whether you’re savouring Hill’s latest Oud Bruin on your own or serving it over the holidays with some Le Cendrillon Ash Chevre or a slice of Cadeaux’s gorgeous Black Forest cake with sour cherry compote, Reynard won’t disappoint.
Top photo via Strange Fellows.