Nanaimo’s Longwood brewery offers decent stout and weizenbock
By Taylor Pitt, Contrbibutor
I recently had the opportunity to pick up a couple beers from Longwood Brewery. Longwood offers over 40 types of beer at their Nanaimo brewpub, but failing a road trip, their Russian Imperial Stout and Winter’s Own Weizenbock were exciting retail options to taste.
First up, I tried the Russian Imperial Stout, also known as Stoutnik. It’s packaged in a matte black bottle, featuring a label embossed with Morse code and a shining, silver image of the Sputnik satellite. You can tell that Longwood placed a lot of confidence in this brew. Sadly, although not entirely naive, this confidence may have been somewhat misplaced.
This beer pours as black as the bottle and has a light, almost golden brown head. Even when held up to the light above my workspace, it remains extremely dark in colour throughout the glass, except for at the very top, where just enough light shines through to turn it brown. Thinking about drinking it for the first time was almost intimidating. It smells, quite frankly, of malts and burnt coffee. Think black, dark roast Starbucks, if it had been sitting out on the counter until cold.
First impressions were entirely surprising. Sputnik tastes highly of dark roasted malts and Americano coffee. Hitting your tongue, it tastes somewhat sweet, and very rich, but becomes bitter the longer it sits on your tongue. It’s extremely smooth, and easy to drink.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stand out as an excellent beer. It’s rather average, despite its extraordinary looks and surprising taste. Once I got waist-deep into the bottle, it was quite clear that although certainly worth the $7.50 I paid for it, it wasn’t something I’d be interested in buying again. In fact, if you let it sit and begin to forget what you’re drinking, you could drink it down in large gulps and not even taste its full flavour. This is one of those times I feel as if its “smoothness” does the beer wrong.
It’s great-tasting, but not delicious, and easy to forget if you’re doing other things. But, hey, if you’re stuck studying for a midterm, perhaps Stoutnik Russian Imperial Stout is the sidekick you need.
Second, the Winter’s Own Weizenbock. While not as decorative as the previous beer, this brown glass bottle is still labelled with some impressive artwork of Old Man Winter. It pours golden brown and appears slightly darker towards the top of the glass. It smells slightly fruity, but mostly of fresh wheat—which makes sense, considering a weizenbock is a strong wheat beer (think hefeweizen’s badder, older cousin).
Immediately, you can taste the warmth of malt, wheat, and spices. Pleasant to the taste right away, it also finishes off with some fruity accents which reminded me of a light apple cider. While not as smooth as the Russian Imperial Stout, this beer is still easy to drink and won’t give new beer drinkers a hard time.
Overall, this beer felt a lot more… beery than my first pick. Is that a good or a bad thing? Well, it depends. If you’re not into dark or strangely flavoured beers, and like microbrews, this is one of the better picks for beginners. Although not a usual fare, it’s still pretty basic—but not without its hints of oddity, and not at all bad. In fact, I found this wiezenbock more memorable than the previous, and I’d definitely buy it again. For any occasion, and perhaps just to show off to friends who are both hipsters and PBR-drinkers, Winter’s Own Weizenbock is a decent pick.