Three weeks ago, while travelling on Vancouver Island, doing research for my forthcoming book VANCOUVER ISLAND PINTS, I visited Riot Brewery of Chemainus, BC, enjoyed a pint of WORKING CLASS HERO, and chatted with brewer Fabian Specht. A week later, I joined my swimming friends at QUARTER CELTIC, a brewpub in Albuquerque, NM, where I enjoyed a pint of PEDRO O’FLANAGAN, and chatted with brewer Brady McKeown.

Both the settings (over 15 hundred miles apart) and the beers were very different. When I visited Riot, it was a cold, drizzly day, one of many I experienced during my two week stay on Canada’s West (Wet) Coast. The beer I enjoyed was an English Dark Mild, a rich, full-bodied, malt forward ale, something perfect for the day when I drank it. My afternoon at Quarter Celtic was sunny and warm, the beginning of a long summer. PEDRO O’FLANAGAN was a Mexican lager, gold in color, light-to-medium bodied, in which the Hallertau hops nicely balanced the malty/corn flavours. It was a great outdoor beer.

But both the beers shared several things in common. Their makers were not only skilled brewers, they were individuals who welcomed their patrons and enjoyed discussing beer with them. And the beers they made were good, really good.

This morning, I discovered another similarity. Both were winners of medals at this year’s World Beer Cup competition. Working Class Hero won a gold in the English Dark Mild competition. Pedro O’Flanagan came home with a bronze in the International Pilsner category.

Pedro O’Flanagan is only available at the Albuquerque brewpub. But, lucky for me, that’s only a five minute drive away, so I plan to drop by regularly with my swimming group. Unfortunately, Working Class Hero is only distributed in British Columbia. So, if you happen to hear of any craft beer lovers heading to New Mexico, do suggest that they pack a couple of bomber bottles of Working Class Hero to bring to me and I’ll gladly take them to Quarter Celtic for a few pints of “the Pedro.”