Year Opened: 2013
Flights of Four: $6
BC Beer Award Wins: 2015 – Sours/Wild Ale (Juxtapose Wild IPA)
Canadian Beer Awards Wins: 2016 – BEER OF THE YEAR (Nectarous Dry-hopped Sour Ale), 2015 & 16 – Belgian-Style Brett (Operis Brett Saison), 2015 – BREWERY OF THE YEAR Belgian Style Strong Specialty (Sovereign Super Saison, Brett Saison)
God, Four Winds is great.
Try and criticize them and see a mob of incredulous beer nerds descend on your awful hot take. Disliking Four Winds is impossible: it exudes outstanding, unpretentious craftsmanship at every turn, with every new release, even with their labels.
The family-owned company opened in 2013, and by 2015 was named brewery of the year FOR ALL OF CANADA, and then followed it up in 2016 by winning beer of the year FOR ALL OF CANADA, justifiably, for their Nectarous dry-hopped sour ale that has the perfect mix of tartness and depth.
Christ, even their mushroom tacos are great.
Yes, Four Winds is great, consistent, relatively prolific, and deserves all the plaudits it gets. The quality of their beer is the best in Metro Vancouver, full stop, and can be bought and consumed at many bars across Metro Van.
But it’s not the best brewery.
So, with a heavy sigh, let us pick at its shortcomings like one would describe tiny imperfections on the statue of David, and discuss where Four Winds is merely very good.
Their six standards are the saison, IPA, pilsner, pale ale, Berliner Weisse, and oat porter.
Why no cute names? Because Four Winds doesn’t need your twee craft affectations
Their standards are all fine-to-very good, clean beers, and better than 80% of any other BC brewed beer at the liquor store, but interesting is not a word you would use for them.
No…when people talk about why they adore Four Winds, it’s generally for their seasonal selections: the Nectarous, the Juxtapose Wild IPA, the Pomona sour ale, and the many other seasonal variants that are a little harder to find.
But because Four Winds distribute their standards widely and take up half their tap list, it means they’re not leading with the best foot forward. And those experimental favourites? Generally sours, IPAs, and saisons. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but we’re still waiting for the great Four Winds porter or stout.
There’s also the matter of the tasting room: nondescript to the point of being unmemorable. The wallpaper is nice, the piano is cute though awkwardly obstructing, and the markers to distinguish tasters in flights are confusingly difficult to parse, let alone actually impossible if you’re colour-blind). Hidden in a hard-to-reach industrial part of Delta, it closes at 7pm every day, practically inaccessible to anyone without a car, anyone responsibly desiring more than one pint, or anyone who isn’t going to bike or bus for at least an hour.
(Seriously Four Winds, just open up a small tasting room off Main Street anywhere, and you can have all our money!)
It’s easy to resent polish and efficiency but the tasting room, regardless of the location, lags behind the beer.
Four Winds is great, they know they’re great, we know they’re great, and they’re going to keep on being methodically great for a long time.
There’s no shame in second. Especially in this market. And especially when you’re this good.
Quality: 18.2/20 (1st)
Standout: 4.5/5 (1st)
Diversity: 7.2/10 (7th)
Innovation: 3.9/5 (5th)
Experience: 7.0/10 (17th)
TOTAL: 40.8 (2nd)