Tag Archives: Fernie Brewing Company

Fernie Brewing Company: First Trax Brown Ale

The fourth and final installment of the Fernie Brew Co. mixer pack that we tasted. The First Trax is interesting in that it claims to use eight different malts in the mix! It is a heavier beer than the other Fernies and tastes better the longer you drink it. While not overly complex, I can see this beer being more well received than some of the others in the mixer due to it’s richer flavours and full nose.

– Tristan


Having tried this one before, and enjoyed it a fair bit, I expected it to be my favourite of the mixer, and looked forward to tasting it again. While I estimated correctly that it would be my favourite, I didn’t enjoy the First Trax nearly as much this time around — simply the victim of a proper analysis.

Boasting a wide variety of malts, the First Trax Brown Ale is rich, fairly complex, and on the darker end of the spectrum. The chocolate-cocoa-toffee sweetness on the nose is quite pleasant, and certainly more appealing than the malt derivatives of the Big Caboose. On the palate, it tastes and feels like a traditional nut brown — think Cannery Nut Brown or Howe Sound Rail Ale. While it’s got a fairly robust body, it’s not nearly heavy enough to be filling, and I could, quite easily, drink several of these in a short period. The finish leaves one with a lingering chocolatey sweetness that is somewhat enjoyable, but gets tiresome.

Having done the Big Caboose Red and the First Trax Brown back to back, I have realized that a good red ale requires a certain amount of hops — and a good brown ale requires a certain amount of malts — to make it appealing. The First Trax, with a sufficient amount of malts, is simply better integrated than the under-hopped Big Caboose.

Nose: 19.5
Body: 19
Taste: 21
Finish: 18.5

Kamran: 78 pts.


While this was better than the Big Caboose Red Ale, in my opinion this beer wasn’t as impressive as the Griz Pale Ale or the Buck Wild Ale. Personal opinion I know, but I do see more people enjoying this one as its nose, body and flavours could be more in line with the majority of people.

The nose was sweet as a result of the malts used, but it also had a caramel-esque, chocolate, almond and pine smell from the varying malts. Intriguing yes, but a wee bit sweet for my liking. The body was a little surprising as the bitterness took the first swing at my taste buds when I was fully expecting it to be sweet as sugar. It was thicker than the prior beers from the mixer pack, so I’m not sure if I would recommend people buy a 6-pack to consume for a party or event unless they enjoy a filling beer. The Taste was bitter, almost like an espresso or dark roast coffee behind the malts. The finish was actually drier than expected, and of course… malty.

A little bolder in the malts, this beer has a slight complexity to it, but perhaps more hops are needed to even things out. Or I’m just knit-picking… either way it’s a good beer, but I prefer the first two of the Fernies we tried to this and the latter, red ale, in the box.

Nose: 16
Body: 16
Taste: 15
Finish: 15

Tristan: 62 pts


Final Average: 70 pts.

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Fernie Brewing Company: Big Caboose Red Ale

Three Quarters done the mixer and we get to the Big Caboose Red Ale from Fernie Brew Company. One of their newer beers — added to the lineup in November 2011 — this is a typical red ale, straddling a fine balance of malt and hops — somewhere in the middle of the beer spectrum.

– Tristan & Kamran


Similar to the Griz Pale Ale in that it doesn’t really standout, the Big Caboose Red Ale is a fairly plain, yet inoffensive dark amber ale. Unlike the Griz, though, I found the Big Caboose to have just a little bit more going on.

As with virtually all red ales, the Big Caboose has conflicting tones of malt and hops. The goal of brewing one of these beers is to perfectly integrate and balance these tones — this is the concept behind Phillips Double Dragon, a seasonal that is released once a year. In this case, though, the malt is a bit overdone, and the hops don’t shine through. As a result, the malt lends itself to a slightly sickly sweetness; it’s not heavy or dark enough to give it that roasted flavour, and not roasted or hopped enough to give it a balancing level of bitterness.

That said, it certainly doesn’t taste bad — it could be a lot worse — but it’s rather lackluster. The body is fairly rich and textured, but, again, it doesn’t really stand out, and the finish leaves one wanting.

Nose: 19
Body: 18.5
Taste: 19
Finish: 18

Kamran: 74.5 pts


Well this beer was the lowest of the mixer in my ratings… but not by much. While it wasn’t bad in the slightest, I just felt it was fairly pedestrian and underwhelming. It’s heavier than the Griz Pale Ale, and less exciting in flavour than the blond Buck Wild Ale.

The nose is malty, and almost spiced from the way the roasted malt was incorporated. The body was plain, and interestingly the colour upon reflection was more similar to Dr. Pepper than a usual red ale. In flavour, the malt sweetness and roasted malt taste combine on the palate but really didn’t impress me too much. The aftertaste is short, with a lingering malty sweetness that just kinda sticks to the mouth.

Like I said, it wasn’t a bad beer, but it didn’t remind me of anything spectacular or unique. It receives a passing grade however, and i wouldn’t be opposed to drinking another in the future… so long as I’m not buying it in a six-pack.

Nose: 16
Body: 16
Taste: 14
Finish: 15

Tristan: 61 pts


Final Average: 67.75

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Fernie Brewing Company: Buck Wild Ale

Probably the most dynamic of the additions to the Fernie Brewing Co. lineup, the Buck Wild Ale is a golden blond ale that leaves a mark on the senses. Available in the mixer pack, it was the second of four Fernie beers we have tasted.

– Tristan


As some of you may know, I’m not the keenest fan of Belgian/Belgian styled beers. Although I love lambics, fruity Belgian ales don’t typically appeal to my palate — of course, there are exceptions to this (Guldendraak, Piraat, The Stoic Belgian Styled Quad etc.). That said, while I appreciate that the Buck Wild Ale is the most complex and flavourful of the four Fernie beers we consumed, I found it the least pleasant — exactly opposing Tristan!

The nose shares a potent fruity, slightly sweet, wheat-like aroma. It is of noticeable Belgian — or Uniqbroue (Quebec) — style, and likely has wheat added, giving it a rather hefeweisen-like flavour. In fact, the wheat is what stood out to me the most, even more than the fruit notes, and, since I wasn’t eating anything, I found the taste rather unappealing. I think Belgian beers are essentially made for pairing with rich, diverse meals;  I don’t often enjoy Belgians on their own.

While the body is rich, the beer is not too heavy, like some darker — or more alcoholic — Belgian beers. In spite of this, the beer is not too easy to drink, and I don’t think I’d be able to finish more than two in a night.

Nose: 18.5
Body: 16.5
Taste: 17.5
Finish: 16.5

Kamran: 69 pts


I really liked this beer, and the marks I gave indicate as much. It’s light, fruity, refreshing, but I wouldn’t be able to drink more than a few at a patio party or bbq. Perhaps the flavour just gets to be overwhelming as the night goes on, but it is still well worth picking up!

The nose is sweet and fruity, something that carries on throughout the beer, which appeals to a summer afternoon setting. This blond is actually reminiscent to a Belgian or Quebec style beer, as it’s heavier than the colour would indicate and is rich in body. It’s also crisp, but don’t let it get too warm or the taste will change noticeably; best to have this one cold. The malted barley and malted wheat are evident underneath the fruitiness of the beer, and the aftertaste is shorter than I would have hoped.

This beer is certainly one I would recommend people try, even if blonds aren’t your favourite style brew. On a hot summers day/evening it would really accompany any salad or fish dish that lands on your patio table.

Nose: 22
Body: 20
Taste: 22
Finish: 18

Tristan: 82 pts


Final Average: 75.5 pts.

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Fernie Brewing: The Griz Pale Ale

Fernie Brewing Companyis located in the town of Fernie, BC, tucked next to the Rockies. While it’s not the most well known of local brewers in the Pacific Northwest, they do produce some solid standard year-round beers and always interesting 650ml regular/seasonal bottles on the market in government and privately operated liquor stores. The Griz Pale Ale was the first we tried in the mixer pack of beers available year-round, and it certainly made us take notice of the brewery that has seemingly come out of the woodwork up here.

–  Tristan


The Griz Pale Ale is nothing special, but it’s inoffensive; one may drink several of these in a row without qualm. The nose boasts a mild hop profile, and some citrus notes, but nothing really stands out. In a similar vein, their is not a whole lot of flavour once the liquid hits the palate; the beer is relatively plain. In this way, it’s actually quite refreshing. The lighter body makes it easy to drink, and, although there isn’t an appealing quality to the beer, there isn’t an unappealing one.

It’s not unpleasant to drink,  and is relatively cheap, making it a good alternative from the typical Caribou, Pabst, or Old Mill that you might choose if you’re going to a party or playing a lot of beer pong. The slight bitter aftertaste doesn’t linger, so you don’t get that nasty aftertaste you might get from chugging one of the aforementioned three.

Nose: 17.5
Body: 19.5
Taste: 18
Finish: 17

Kamran: 72 pts.


Without any sense of trepidation in picking up this mixer-pack from Fernie, a company I hadn’t really seen or heard of in my area of the Lower Mainland, I was immediately surprised at how good the Griz Pale Ale was. It was sufficiently malty and hoppy (with a few varieties including the noticeable Cascade hops of many regional brews), and to be honest it tasted better than Granville Island’s pale ale of late. It was a rich caramel colour, well flavoured, not too complex, and certainly easy for a patio 6-pack session.

The nose possessed a sweetness that was complemented by the floral hops that gave it that good pale ale kick. The body was smooth and crisp, ideal for a bbq as it wasn’t one that would leave you feeling full and bloated. While the taste wasn’t overly complex, the ideal amount of malt and hops kept the sweetness and bitterness in check and allowed for that easy drinking sensation many big names beers proclaim to have but fail at. The finish is short and subtle as it fades from the palate.

Nose: 18
Body: 18
Taste: 16
Finish: 15

Tristan: 67 pts.


Final Average: 69.5 pts.

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