Starting my brewery tours through the Okanagan, we have, ironically, the most Southern Brewery to begin — North Basin Brewing in Osoyoos.
Centrally located in Osoyoos, they have a wonderful view out of their tap room of the lake and the mountains beyond. Whether driving, riding, or hiking, you can definitely find your way here to enjoy several different beverages on tap.
When I stopped through, both Wes Greve, the founder, and Kody Rosentreter, the head brewer, were there getting set up for the day. Chatting with both Wes and Kody, we got right down to business … sampling the available beers!
Although not my greatest picture (sorry guys!) you can see that I had a nice selection of beers from which to choose!
A key goal of Wes and Kody is to use either locally-sourced ingredients (when possible) or sourced through a Canadian-owned business otherwise. For instance, if they need Saaz hops for a Czech-style Pilsner, they get their hops through Hops Connect out of Vancouver. Their primary yeast provider is Escarpment Labs in Guelph, Ontario. All their base malt is grown in Canada!
Looking at the photo above, the tap room is through the door with the “Open” sign–the brewery is situated in the room to the left of the center pillar. Kody is working on a 5 Hectoliter system with a nice “hot side / cold side” setup. As with most new Craft Breweries, he’s packed in a little tight and has to maneuver around a bit, but he’s definitely making it work!
His equipment is made by Specific Mechanical Systems out of Victoria, BC. Here’s a look at his Mash Tun … I really like the chute built under the opening to help clean out the spent grain.
It looks like a great design and I hope to make it back to down to see Kody in action!
Ok, this was a slight detour — I did mention above that we were getting right to the tasting. haha. We were discussing all of these things while Wes was setting me up with a flight. The beer flight is well presented with a set of four wide-mouth glasses to help release the aroma and give you a good presentation.
I went with 1) Stonewell, the Pilsner (second from the left), 2) The Ditch, a west coast-style IPA (first on the left), 3) Rouge Your Daddy, a red Saison (third from the left), and 4) Big hAir, called a Burton (fourth from left).
Kody told me that the Pilsner was a mixed-style of Pils leaning toward a Czech Pilsner. He reduced the bitterness slightly to make it more “sessionable.” Using Saaz hops rounds it out. My impression was a definite pilsner malt character in the aroma and flavor followed closely by a light floral hop aroma (and a low lemon character too). With a medium-low body, it was definitely an easy drinking pils.
The next beer I sampled was The Ditch. This west-coast style IPA was brewed using Cascade and Huell Melon hops. Kody’s approach was similar on this as with the Pilsner and he has reduced the bitterness slightly. Although it makes the beer definitely more approachable, I found that the hop aroma (citrus/pine) was lower than I expected for a traditional IPA … and the bitterness could be bumped up slightly. Overall, a really nice drinking beer! I know the aroma was probably affected somewhat by the colder serving temperature. I find most Okanagan Craft Breweries serve their beers really cold — and I’m in the minority (I’m sure) of folks who would like their beer served slightly warmer!
The third beer I had was the Rouge Your Daddy, a “Red” Saison. In this beer, Kody mixed it up from your traditional Saison and augmented his hop bill with a few darker malts, to include Rye. Hopping it with Galaxy and Enigma, he has struck a nice balance between the ingredients. Using the JÖTUNN yeast blend from Escarpment, the aroma comes across as peppery/spicy … and the same in the flavor. With medium bitterness and a medium body, this Saison will be an excellent summer refresher.
The fourth beer was Big hAir, a Burton beer. Once again, Kody is mixing up his styles to create some unique offerings in Osoyoos!
This beer is called a Burton, because Kody uses Reverse Osmosis water (which has all mineral content removed) and then uses “Burtonisation.” The name comes from the town of Burton upon Trent which had several very successful breweries due to the chemical composition of the local water. Burtonisation is the act of adding sulphate, often in the form of gypsum, to the water used for the brewing of beer, to bring out the flavour of the hops.
Typically, Burtonisation is used when a brewer wishes to accent the hops in a pale beer–it’s not ordinarily used in a darker beer. However, Kody has brewed a brown ale using Sasquatch and Fuggles hops. The profile definitely accentuated the hops, but I found that the dark malt character and the hops were a little in conflict and it finished with an interesting flavor.
I asked each of them their favorite beers (their responses (and mine) are in the table below).
|1) Wes – Reason: “Really feeling it right now!”||G’Duff (Australian Lager) … brewed with Vic’s Secret and Galaxy Hops … easy drinking lager.|
|2) Kody – Reason: “The length of time it took to get it out in the world and there’s always a sense of the unknown when you stick something in a barrel for a while. It ended up being tasty and pretty spot on from a style standpoint I think, at least all the points I wanted it to hit are there.”||Barely Beer (Barrel-aged Barley Wine).|
|3) Beer Mentor (me) – Reason: “Great example of the style!“||Barely Beer (Barrell-aged Barley Wine). (* See description below)|
Once Kody mentioned the Barely Beer (great play on words), I knew I had to try it. Having opened in 2020, this Barley Wine is their one-year Anniversary celebration-beer. A big beer (12% ABV) aged in a Mayhem Red Wine Barrel for approximately 9.5 months, it has aroma and flavor to match! A great malt character (toasted nut bread) balanced with just the right hop bitterness and a good representation of dark fruits (raisin). This one is worth a sample when you get a chance!
Wes and Kody have a very nice thing going here!
If you are in Osoyoos and are looking for some refreshing beverages, this would be a great place to stop in. And if you really like what you are drinking, feel free to take home a Crowler or two!!