For the second time in my beer drinking career I tried my hand at the other end of the keg serving up casked ales at Central City Brewing Company’s Summer Cask Fest held on June 30th. While it may have been ‘summer’ only in the mindset of local beer enthusiasts, thirty-one cask creations ensured that no one was too sad to spend their Saturday indoors.
This time around I opted to volunteer for the morning shift so I could ensure I had the afternoon open to sample all must must-tries before they were tapped out. Beer geeks are not what you might consider morning people so once the doors opened at 11:00am we weren’t exactly swamped with thirsty customers but luckily the pace picked up quickly and some live blues music from Brandon Issak got the fest into full swing. To fill the lull times my station co-volunteer nicely offered me information on everything beer and brewing in case I was not quite up to snuff on my geek speak.
I was in charge of the Pale Ales, not the most popular station I’ll admit, but busy enough to get some socializing in and to afford me enough free time to try my hand at serving at a couple of the other stations (here I learned the hard way that not all kegs pour the same way and spilled beer is quite alarming to the masses). The brews at my station were Dead Frog’s Dry Hopped French Oaked Pale Ale, Howe Sound Green Tea Pale Ale and Lighthouse Tasman Ale. For educational purposes I had to sample all three so I could converse with token bearers. See the line-up section below for some brief tasting notes.
Looking back on the day as a volunteer, I enjoyed the morning shift for many reasons not the least was the fact that the majority of patrons were still lucid and the kegs were still pouring well –insert quasi-disastrous images of people ‘volunteering’ to tip near-empty kegs to drain the last drops of beer, which nicely encapsulates my experiences during the Winter Cask Festival as an afternoon drone. After my shift, my afternoon was happily spent ticking off all the beers I wanted to try and sampling from the menu. For the record I want to say that Central City treats its volunteers real nice (I even got an extra token from brew maestro Gary Lohin after my shift!) offering us five free tokens, Red Racer gear, food and an after-fest party so the remaining kegs did not go to waste! If you have never taken the time to volunteer at a craft beer event I highly recommend it.
The Full Line-up
Alameda Yellow Wolf IPA
Big River Dry Hopped ESB
Cannery Oak Aged Port Porter – A nice surprise; rich and sweet but light in body.
Canoe Summer Chocolate Honey Wheat Ale – Far too light bodied with a watery chocolate flavour and honeyed finish.
Central City Brewing Citra Dry Hopped ESB – Well-balanced bitter with lots of citra hop on the nose and in the flavour. Clean drinking with a bitter finish.
Central City Brewing Hibiscus Cherry Ale – Too sweet for me but the hibiscus adds a nice tepid quality. Summery.
Coal Harbour Imperial Smoke Ale
Crannog Mead – Very mild and flat with fruit and honey notes. Seems like it could benefit from additional aging.
Dead Frog Dry Hopped French Oaked Pale Ale – Similar to the one they bottle in the 650ml, a little sweet and a bit more of a hop bite. Did not inspire much in the way of feedback (at least to the pourer).
Elysian Brewing Splitshot Coffee Milk Stout – Sold Out during the morning shift : (
Granville Island GI Bitter
Howe Sound Green Tea Pale Ale – Nice palate cleanser with that tepid green tea flavour. Mixed feedback from my customers on this one though.
Lighthouse Tasman Ale – Interesting with the citrus forward Tasman (New Zealand) hop profile. Lots of good feedback on this one.
Longwood Port Alberni’s Brewers Gold Dry Hopped IPA – A lot of citrus elements on the nose and in the flavour, almost like a touch of tang in your beer. Light bodied and very still.
Odin Brewing Thor’s Oakuinox – Sold Out during the morning shift : (
Parallel 49 Brewing Dry Hopped Ruby Tears – A flat, hoppy bitter but not one of my fest favourites.
Port Townsend IPA
R&B Smoked Hop IPA
Russell Graetzer Polish Smoked Wheat Ale
Salt Spring Brewing Dry Hopped ESB
Spinnakers Spicy Mandarin Hefeweizen – Orange notes on the nose, light bodied and typical hefe mix of citrus and spice.
Steamworks Ginger Beer – Told this one was for ginger lovers but I found it pretty mild.
Storm Raspberry ESB – Lots of raspberry flavour playing off the hoppy bitterness; so not too sweet. One of my favourites!
Storm (Daniel Knibbs) Ginger Rye Saison – A mild saison, light on the barnyard, but nice hints of ginger and spice.
Swans Dry Hopped ESB – A nicely balanced bitter with some extra hop kick from the regular 650ml.
Taylor’s Crossing Manhattan Brew – Strong candied cherry notes and heavy on the liquor taste. One of my favourites!
Tin Whistle Dry Hopped Scorpion Double IPA
Tofino Brewing Sitka Spruce Tip IPA – Resiny hop taste with a bit of sweetness. Seems to be taking a run at the Big Dog Pliny and a respectable effort. One of my favourites!
Vancouver Island Hopfenweisse
Whistler Brewhouse Oaked Amarillo Dry Hopped IPA