Okanagan Spring Pale Ale


nav_logoThis beer has always been a favourite, an early (late 1980’s) craft beer entrant in B.C., all-malt with a complex fruity/hoppy savour. It must be enjoyed when the beer is very fresh as small deviations in flavour from age or mishandling deliver a different experience. It is a Canadian counterpart, say, to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, or Stone Pale Ale as it was before the recent makeover, closer to the latter probably, or Mendocino Red Tail Ale, that style of tasty but approachable pale ale.

Draft is best and while variable in the past due to the long route in from the West Coast, lately the beer is quite reliable, I think this may be due to being brewed at stablemate brewery Sleeman Brewery in Guelph, ON. At its best, it offers a satisfying mid-course between characterless mass market brews and the highly hopped IPAs of more recent craft brewing vintage.

Here is a pint as it looked today at Wylie’s on Yonge Street:



Many craft beer fans, I suspect, are missing out by abjuring beers which appear middle of the road but by their quality and drinkability deliver a more historic beer experience than, say, a highly pungent pine-and-grapefruit IPA much less a double IPA at 8% or so alcohol with sugary, juicy extract.



Note re first and third images. The first is taken from the Okanagan Spring website, the third from the Beer Store’s website.














4 thoughts on “Okanagan Spring Pale Ale”

  1. Yes, historically the British Brewers used Bavarian hops as well, but it’s certainly rare for an ale in the PNW!

    IMHO, their 1516 is under-rated, as lagers often are. I’m always happy to see that as an alternative at common restaurants and pubs, provided the lines are clean and there’s reasonable turnover. Their swartzbier is a really nice drinker as well.

  2. I think Okanagan Springs was originally hoping to become another regional brewery like Pacific Western, producing macro alternatives at a reasonable price (though perhaps more upmarket). They launched with a lager, but quickly found that the new craft segment was partial to ales. So they brewed this ale with the continental hops on hand and never looked back. In the context of a macro ale it may not be such a strange idea, but it’s certainly different than British ales and the overwhelming majority of new world versions.

    • Derek, yes, it’s always had a German-trained brewer IIRC and kind of took root independent of the craft thing, yet has become part of it. (Of course the two are related). The pale ale seems to me more English in type, but it’s very nice.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: