Craft Beer Stories – Renfrew Red Ale


Sooke Oceanside Brewing

Sooke, BC

Red Ale, 5.1 %

You know a red ale is serious about its content when it goes all the way to that extra 0.1 percent to stand out. Certainly, this was one of many things that caught my attention when I stood before the craft beer fridge. But I couldn’t reveal the puzzle of what a red ale hid beyond that five percent; not here, at least, where the staff kept a close eye on me since the last incident.

It was time to explore the horizons of the sea and board the expedition beyond hops and bitterness. Beer can be different without having to suck. So I could not delay to find out if this one was smooth sailing or yet another shipwreck.

I poured myself a glass the moment I got home. It’s always an adventure to try out new craft beers and this one looked very appealing. The red liquid could deceive a lesser expert in the craft of beer, but not me, a man of sophistication and wit who had reviewed over 3 similar beers on his blog.

I could see the magic in its rising bubbles. This would be a new realm to travel to, and I was ready. Without hesitation, I pulled the glass closer to my lips. The smell of malt promised quiet fields of wheat in the dry summer heat. I sipped, and drank, and gulped, as the colours around me faded into a broody burgundy.

I lost my balance and dropped the tulip glass. Gravity seemed to be playing tricks on me as I wobbled from one side to the other. It was the noise of creaking wood and roaring waves that then made me realize, this was not the wheat farm I expected.

I was standing on a ship, sailing through a thunderstorm, it seemed. The horizon gloomed in an ominous and dark red. Wave after wave rocked the ship as ocean water splashed in my face and made me taste the malt that had lingered in my nose for a while. The ship was sure to be overcome by Neptune’s force any minute, and so the bitterness lingered in the background; subtle, but present. This in particular was unexpected. I suppose “red” was the bridge between the hop and the malt in beers. Yet, it seemed fruitless to think I could make it out alive this time, alone on a ship about to be sloshed and swallowed like a merlot at a wine tasting.

I closed my eyes and embraced the wind, the waves, and the horizon.

The wind howled through the ripped sails and I listened.

The waves crashed against the damaged bow and I welcomed them.

The horizon called me and I followed until the red shade consumed me.


When I opened my eyes, I found myself standing on a sandy beach and looking out into the water. My right hand held a tight grip around the empty Renfrew bottle. Well, it was empty of any liquid, but there was a rolled piece of paper stuck inside. I didn’t remember if I was the one that put the note in, or if I had just found it on the shore. But I believed this to be a message for another time. I had enough of red ale for a day.

I took a wild swing and chucked the bottle out into the ocean. Whatever was written on that piece of paper, would serve me sometime in the future, I was sure of it. Maybe it would be somewhere entirely different than this place as the bottle floated up and down on the waves and away, deep into the sea.


Rating: One red out of green.





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