Tag Archives: BC Beer

There’s no taste like home

Recently I received a wonderful gift in the mail, three new beers from Steamworks Brewing Company. It is like somehow the beer gods knew I was feeling quite homesick and bestowed these three offerings upon me – also pretty sure the new Sales and Marketing coordinator may have had her hand in there as well.
The treasures in my mailbox included two limited releases the White Angel IPA and Tropical Tart Ale as well as one seasonal release YVR ISA. timely selections in light of the fact Ontario is in the midst of a heat wave, a tropical heat wave, the temperature is rising, it isn’t surprising that she can, really can-can …. Oops off on a bit of a digression there perhaps the heat has gotten to my brain. Thankfully though my palate has been spared.

YVR India Session Ale is a lightly hopped 4.4% session beer that pours clear straw gold colour with lots of bright white head. Big citrus hop nose, good carbonation and lots of flavour packed into a very accessible beer. All citrus and tropical notes at the front followed by a subtle bitter finish. Light bodied and perfect for a patio pint. I really love session styles, especially in the crazy humid days we have been having. If you think IPA’s are a bit too much this brew is a great segue. As always beautiful bottle artwork.

Tropical Tart Ale is as advertised a 4.9% ale with tons of passionfruit flavour. This beer pours a hazy gold with lots of airy head on the initial pour. Like the YVR, the nose on this beer is all about the tropical fruit, reminds me of papaya, but also a little bit of that sourness that kind of puckers the back of your cheek. Effervescent and a little too easy to sip, light sours are really one of the best summer options out there in my humble opinion. There is also some yeastiness on the finish giving it a subtle hefe quality. A very pleasant surprise. If this beer makes it easy I will be picking up some more.

White Angel IPA is a 6.9% hybrid of IPA meets Hefeweizen. Pours hazy straw gold with lots of thick white head that leaves nice legs on the glass. Lots of carbonation. Spicy almost funky nose, all hefe, with the IPA character coming through after a couple of sips. Not as hop forward as I thought it may have been. At first, White Angel seems like a fairly light beer but the strength really begins to come through the more you sip. Of the three I sampled this one is not my favourite but it is an interesting blend of styles and the slightly higher ABV lets the big flavours -spice and hop- come together nicely.

Thanks Steamworks Brewery for a little taste of home!

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Beers Across Canada

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15 years. I have lived in British Columbia for just shy of 15 years and now I find myself saying goodbye to this most beautiful province as I, the hubby, our assorted pets and Juliet (our u-Haul) make our way across the country.

While it is always hard to say goodbye it is also exciting to think of all the new places and all the new craft beers I am going to explore in this next phase of our lives.

To commemorate my transition I thought I would mark each evening with a beer local to wherever I happen to land for the night.

First up is my final British Columbia beer, well to be clear my final BC beer consumed as a resident of the province, not my final BC beer ever. Anyway I digress as tonight with dinner I began my journey with a pint of Mt. Begbie High Country Kolsch on tap in Revelstoke home of Mt. Begbie Brewing.

This Kolsch pours a bright clear gold colour with very little head and lots of carbonation. There is a slightly yeasty slights sweet nose, it is very light bodied and you get subtle a sweet grassy flavour, mild hops and some wheat beer character. The finish is quite dry. Overall a really nice beer after a long day on the road.

Stay tuned as I continue to drink my way across Canada (not while I am driving of course).


Beer from the Rock

Growlers

Well as Murphy’s Law dictates if you plan to move at the end of any given month during the last week of said month a craft brewery will finally open within walking distance.

To further rub salt in the wound said brewery will be adjacent to your hairdresser so you will have been patiently biding your time, watching the slow progress as the brewery moved in equipment, put up a cryptic sign referencing beer, proceeded to paper all the windows all on your regular trips to the area while never knowing for sure when the doors would open.

White Rock Beach Beer Company

But enough whining on my end, the White Rock Beach Beer Company has finally opened its’ doors (door actually) and I paid them a first on their inaugural weekend.

The White Rock Beach Beer Company was started by a trio of fellows Rob Kwalheim (Brewmaster), Peter Adams and Bill Haddow (Marketing), a couple of whom were local teachers (can you think of any better motivator to lead you to beer?). While there is not a whole lot to describe about this tiny brewery, they do have some swag emblazoned with the brewery logo, growlers and half-growlers for fill, and a standing-room only tasting space. Personally, the brewery branding is not really my style I do like that they managed to incorporate that giant White Rock we are all so fond of …(cough, cough).

Beer on the Wall

One thing myself and my entourage noticed were the bricks in the wall, not in the anti-establishment kind of way but the tangible bricks bearing peoples names. Turns out when this brewery was a mere idea the proprietors shopped the concept around to people and got some of them to put their money where their mouth was so to speak and turn the dream of craft beer in White Rock into a reality. To honour those early supporters they get their names proudly displayed, swag AND they get dibs on some free growler fill-ups.

Oh, and  there are some interesting opening beers as well.

Menu

Menu

Currently there are three options on tap a pale ale, a nut brown ale and a porter, granted these are pretty safe choices but they are done well. I sampled all three at the brewery and me and the gang took a growler of the pale ale home for further dissection.

The East Beach Nut was in fact quite nutty, which sounds like I am being trite but in fact I often find the nut brown ales miss the mark by not keeping that nut flavour at the forefront. While I generally like this style for blending with other beers it is quite drinkable in its’ own right. The Border Porter was decent as well but I would really have needed a bigger pour to offer any fleshed out opinion.

The West Beach Fruit really surprised me because pale ales are so not my thing but I have to say I really enjoyed this beer. It was sessionable, well-balanced and like the nut brown kept the fruit character at the forefront. It was much more of a stone fruit taste and not an overt sweetness, there was a bit of hop character but nothing over-powering.

Beer Superfans

So if you find yourself at the Rock stop in for a growler before you hit the beach.

 


Don’t Drink Green, Go Red Instead!

Russell Luck of the Irish

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day beer lovers!

While the masses may be reaching for pints of green-hued lagers the craft beer legions know that real geeks celebrate the day by eschewing green and going red instead.

Red ales are malt-forward, light-bodied, often session-like, slightly sweet brews that just beg to be served by the pitcher.

 

Luck of the Irish

 

I am marking the day with Luck of the Irish from Russell Brewing Company, a 5% ABV Red Ale.

Luck of the Irish pours a lovely clear red (duh) colour with lots of cream coloured head and great head retention. As always Russell impresses with their bottle, which is a no-label painted bottle using varying green tones and simple well-placed graphics. There are subtle notes of roasted grain on the nose and maybe a bit of sweetness. This red ale is a thin brew with sweet caramel and toasted grain flavours. It is very clean on the finish with just the tiniest hint at bitterness.

Overall a very sessionable, and thereby drinkable, beer that is a great way to start a night that inevitably must end with a big bold stout 😉

 

Red Ale


New Brew Friday

Happy Holidays to all my fellow beer nerds, I hope Santa treated you well bringing a sack full of new and interesting beers for you to share with friends and family.

This new brew Friday is somewhat special for me because I finally got to drink a beer I have been looking forward to for quite some time now, Lustrum Wild Sour Ale from Driftwood Brewery.

Anyone who knows me or has ever read this blog will know that I am to sour beer what hop heads are to Double IPA’s. To find out that one of my favourite BC breweries was trying their hand at my most favouritest style was exciting.

Lustrum

Here is the description from Driftwood: “Aged for over a year in French Oak this blood red vinous beast holds depth of color, flavor and aroma unparalleled in any beer we have brewed thus far. Fermented with locally sourced wild yeast and a copious load of black currants, Lustrum will be enjoyed on many levels!”

And here is mine: Lustrum pour a beautiful deep plum red colour with tons of reddish tinged soapy head that really stuck around. Big dried fruit nose with an equal helping of funky yeastiness. Tart at the front then giving way to an oaky character and some sweetness. The currant really dominates giving this beer an almost lambic like quality meets red wine reminding me of Unibroue Cassis or Lindeman Cassis. A dry beer that finishes with some tartness but also a bitter quality. To me this beer tastes a bit young, like the flavours have not really blended together, and I think it could have benefited from further aging. I found the currant taste over-powering at times and also a bit cloying while the yeastiness seemed a bit too up front. Personally, I like my sours to be quite tart and very dry. Overall it felt like a bit too much was going on in this beer at once making it feel like a bit of an identity crisis.

Nonetheless to see BC brewers delving into sour/wild ale territory is quite exciting and hopefully this is the beginning of something big. #BCneedsabarrelhouse


Craft Beer Market, the Vancouver Edition

I am a little slow on the draw so while I was aware of the fact that a behemoth tap room opened a location in Vancouver, BC it took me until last week to actually visit and, to be honest, I only went in because I was at nearby Legacy liqour store and managed to snag a free parking space.

Craft Beer Market

Craft

The Vancouver edition of Craft Beer Market is located in Olympic Village (False Creek) in the gorgeous Salt Building. Before I get to the modern incarnation of the building here is a little history courtesy of Scout Magazine

“Thanks to its crisp, polished finishes and bold color scheme, the Salt Building could easily be mistaken for a brand new structure leaning on our city’s penchant for industrial design. The truth, however, is that this spot is the real deal featuring a long history that reflects much on our city’s changing industrial landscape and operations. 

Built circa 1930, the original 13,000 square-foot space served in partnership with the Bay Area salt trade in San Francisco, whereby unrefined salt was shipped to Vancouver for secondary processing and extraction… The structure features a complex roof truss system bearing weight onto numerous columns, with a large clerestory of windows brightening the long stretch of working space.” 

Craft Beer Market Kegs

Craft Beer Market Inside

Craft Beer Market a self-described ‘premium casual restaurant’ boasts 140 taps with over 100 of said taps devoted to beer, Canada’s largest selection. The sheer logistics of the volume of beer being tapped here is staggering and the sight of a mountain of tapped kegs sprouting silver tentacles, filled with numerous beer lines, is worth the visit alone.

Now I have to interject with a bit of a personal hang-up before I continue. Typically, I am not a big fan of big. Big beer, big box stores, big vehicles, big homes, (big hair is cool though), I feel like it all screams over-compensation or, even worse, it is simply big for the sake of being, well, big. As I sat down to peruse the menu I did my best to shelve this bias and be the objective blogger I was destined to be.

Craft Beer Menu

Lo’ and behold there are many beers on tap here so it is as advertised. Beers are broken down by style to help guests manage the mega-menu. Rotating guest taps and cask night on Tuesdays add some new items into the mix, while pre-chosen flights offer guidance to the overwhelmed – though the ‘what the locals drink’ menu boasting two Stanley Park beers did set off some alarm bells.

Flight at Craft

Odd as it may sound in this veritable sea of options I had a really hard time choosing something to drink, not because there were so many beers I wanted to try but rather just the opposite because there were so few.

The beer menu was predictable in the sense there were no surprises to be found.  It was like walking into a provincial liqour store and seeing the familiar beers we know and love from the familiar brewers we know and love and feeling that slight twinge of disappointment that there is nothing to get excited over, nothing different to be discovered. For the non-craft beer nerd it must seem like a cornucopia of choice but for the veteran it felt a little stale. Granted the usual suspects are on tap so if draught versus bottle turns your crank you will be pleased.

I settled on an Elysian Oddland Series Spiced Pear Ale, a hoppy ale, and the hubby tried Ommegang Game of Thrones Take the Black Stout, a pretty standard stout. Overall, both beers were pretty middling. When our server asked what we thought I mentioned some thoughts on the Elysian but they pretty much tuned out so I figured we were not going to talk shop.

Elysian Spiced Pear Ale

Game of Thrones Take the Black Stout

Personally, the whole thing felt a little corporate lacking in the ambiance, engaged staff and unique and/or challenging beer options that really make a tap room worth its’ salt. While I understand the need to have the majority of beers be something accessible I felt like there was no heart behind brand, that behind the beautiful facade there is no real love of craft beer here.

Beer on Tap


New Brew Friday

Dawn Patrol

Dawn Patrol Coffee Porter from Tofino Brewing Company (6.5%)

A deep black brown porter that is opaque and still. This is very little mocha coloured head, which quickly dissipates leaving a light ring around the glass. Lots of cold coffee on the nose more on the roasted side than the bitter side of the coffee spectrum. Lots of coffee flavour but just the slightest hint of chocolate malts and not much in the way of sweetness. I get a slight astringent taste from this one as well. A light bodied beer that has a subtle dry bitter finish. I am not a coffee drinker but I enjoyed this one, which may mean its’ not potent enough for you coffee aficionados out there. Overall a somewhat middle-of-the-road porter, glad I tried it but not sure I’ll re-buy it.

 


Squeezing in just one more Pumpkin Beer

The Pumpkining

 

It is down to the wire as far as pumpkin beers go (it’s gauche to consume one after October right?) so when my very nice neighbour dropped off  a couple of bottles of The Pumpkining from Granville Island Brewing I knew I had to dutifully drink it before midnight lest I turn into a pumpkin.

The Pumpkining (6% ABV) pours a burnt orange (according to the bottle) but to my untrained eye I would describe it as a very clear chestnut reddish brown beer with lots of thick off white head and excellent head retention. An earthy nose that is rather subtle and an earthy yam-like flavour with a lot of underlying pumpkin pie spices. Body wise I find this one a bit thin with no real warming character despite the label’s assertion it is a strong beer. I don’t get much in the way of maltiness from this beer and the finish continues the earthy notes making this one consistent if not terribly complex. I have to say GIB always nails it when it comes to putting the flavours front and centre i.e. if it says it is a pumpkin beer there are lots of pie spices or if it says vanilla than by gosh there is a boat load of vanilla. Whether this is a good thing can be up for debate. Personally I like my pumpkin beers to be a bit on the sweet side and a little heavier body wise.

Overall not a bad entry into the (overly) saturated pumpkin market but not memorable enough to make The Pumpkining a repeat purchase.

Happy Hallowe’en!


Crowd Surfing at Brassneck Brewery

More beer

On my recent pilgrimage back to the city I stopped to try another new Vancouver beer hot spot Brassneck Brewery, which just happens to be the progeny of some serious local beer pedigree, Nigel Springthorpe (of The Alibi Room) and Conrad Gsomer (former brewer at Steamworks).

The Growler Wall

Brassneck Artwork

Brassneck is located on Main Street just north of many great food spots, quirky used book stores, trendy coffee shops and local clothing merchants, in other words in a pretty great neighbourhood.

The brewery, growler fill station and tasting room are housed in a rather nondescript building but it has a big glass front allowing people the chance to see the brewers in action and to see the depth of the line-up at the growler fill counter.

Barely open two weeks when I stopped by, the hubby and I just squeezed into the seating area under the max capacity allowance.

A View to the Room

Brassneck Entrance

Food Truck

Nice touch

The long narrow tasting room is, well, woody, which for some reason seems to be the decor choice of many a brewery. A giant communal table extends from the end of the bar and the other half of the room has equally cozy tables where drinking with your neighbour is somewhat unavoidable – the exception being one table tucked away at the back for secret meetings and brewery espionage (I presume). Little cutout windows afford patrons a view behind the scenes.

The aesthetic here seems to be studied quirkiness (very Main Street) with pen and ink sketches for the beer ‘labels’, underwear branded with the brewery name and, of course, a food truck parked in front – oh, and a grain sack for a garbage.

Behind the scenes it looks like most breweries lots of stainless steel, plastic bucks and an endless nest of hoses running here and there.

More behind the scenesBeer, Beer and more Beer

The Maze

Beer, beer, beer…

They have a lot on tap for a new brewery, ten beers in fact. Oddly though the taster flights come in fours so this begs the inevitable question what to leave out? I decided to let the guy pulling the taps make that decision for me so I would not discriminate uninformedly (not sure this is a real word).

One other thing that seemed like an ‘ironing out the kinks’ kind of issue is that there is no means to differentiate the beers in your flight other than the whirlwind recount from your server. So when you are forgetful like me (or you’ve had one too many beers) this lack of labelling makes it hard to remember what is what and I noticed more than one beer geek (myself included) with the beer order jotted down on a scrap of paper.

Flight of the Beer

Flight of the Beer part two

While we were at Brassneck we tried:

Small Wonder – A table saison meaning a light and accesible drink to be shared. Light pale gold gold in colour, just a little head and the tiniest bit of funkiness to remind you that this is indeed a saison style brew. A good starter beer.

Kingmaker – A clear golden coloured pils with a light skim of head. A slight yeasty nose and a bit of nutty flavour, which is pretty typical for the style. An okay beer but I wasn’t loving it.

Brassneck Ale – Moving along the colour chart we have a clear light amber ale. A little bit more flavour and depth that the first two beers. Some toasted elements, a hint of bitter and a bit of a coppery taste.

Blichmann’s Finger – We are now onto the golden ale, which in appearance is pretty close to the Brassneck, perhaps a bit darker in colour. Hoppy on the nose and in flavour with equal parts maltiness.

Old Bitch – Cloudy reddish-brown in appearance with very little head. A very tepid and thin beer lacking the malt flavour I expected. A bitter finish but overall really lacking in character.

Passive Aggressive – Bright cloudy orange pale ale with nice lacing. Big floral hop nose with some piney notes. Lots of sweet malt flavour and even more hoppiness as you drink -perhaps more IPA than pale ale. Dry bitter finish. This one is the best of the bunch so far.

Barn Burner – Dark black-brown with some mocha coloured head. This dark saison has a sweet and funky nose, nice roasted malt and leather flavours and a dry finish.

The Geezer – Last but not least the porter. A dark black-brown beer with mocha coloured head. Chocolate and roastiness on the nose, lots of roasted malt flavour. Chocolate is dominant, coffee notes very slight, making this porter not too bitter but it is quite thin. Dry finish.

What's on Tap


33 Acres Brewing Company

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This past weekend I paid my first visit to 33 Acres Brewing Company one of the many new breweries and tasting rooms popping up all over the Lower Mainland. 33 Acres is centrally located where east meets west on 8th Avenue in Vancouver.

33 Acres Brewing Company

The tasting room is housed in a somewhat spartan space that feels a bit like the people from a J.Crew catalogue met for a beer at a Restoration Hardware.

White everywhere, silver and wood accents and the occasional succulent dot the tasting room and, to be truthful, I felt just a little too old and a little too un-hipster to be drinking in this space but I did because I liked what I tried at the Great Canadian Beer Festival and what the hey, we are all beer geeks inside.

All in all it is not the most warm or inviting tasting room I have ever been in but at the same time the staff were informative and accommodating letting me take a peek behind the scenes and showing me their in-progress kitchen area and mentioning plans to have a rotation of food trucks available for patrons – waffle Sundays anyone?

Also, I have to say 33 Acres has really nice, if expensive, merchandising (ceramic growlers and surf boards) and clearly they have a cohesive vision for the aesthetic of their brewery.

33 Acres Bar

 

33 Acres Interior

33 Acres Merch

33 Acres Brewing Equip

But really I have been to tasting rooms that are little more than old garages and dingy basements so when it comes right down to it it is all about the beer you are pouring…

While I was there 33 Acres was serving 33 Acres of Life California Common and 33 Acres of Ocean West Coast Pale Ale both of which were available to GCBF patrons though word has it another seasonal is in the works (they had a seasonal called 33 Acres of Sunshine at the GCBF) but I could not get any more details than that.

33 Acres Samples

33 Acres of Life (4.8%) pours a bright copper penny colour with just a little white head and some lacing. Very good clarity and carbonation to this beer. You get a burnt sweetness on the nose and a rich caramel flavour as you drink with just the slightest bitterness. Fairly light in body. The finish is fairly sweet. Overall a very approachable beer though not terribly memorable.

33 Acres of Ocean (5.3%) pours a lighter amber/copper colour with a little white head, some lacing and very good clarity. In appearance remarkably similar to Life but just a lighter colour. One sniff of the nose tells you this is an entirely different beer. Sweet and piney hop-forward nose with an undercurrent of citrus. Light bodied, hoppy in flavour but not over-poweringly so and a clean finish. Overall a very nice pale ale that retains a West Coast character while not being a hop-bomb.

33 Acres Beer


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