Tag Archives: Beer Label

My Year in Beer

It’s that time again where people gather to reflect back on the year that is passing and to look forward to what the future will bring.

For craft beer aficionados it feels like the bubble will never burst. Just when you think the seemingly insatiable growth of the craft beer industry may be leveling off a new brewery sets up tanks, a new tap room polishes its’ taps, a new beer festival celebrates an emergent style, a new hop farm plants a rhizome, a long-forgotten beer style is revised and revamped and a new beer blogger offers up their thoughts to the universe.


SRB Beer Tasters


2013 was an enjoyable year in beer for me. I went to a few of my favourite beer festivals, I visited some new local breweries here in British Columbia and in Washington, I took a road trip to California, which included brewery visits of course, and I tried some very memorable beers.

Also, this year I really tried to focus on quality over quantity when it came to my craft beer choices. For awhile the market was small enough that you could (reasonably) try each and every new thing but this is no longer realistic. I have been sampling my way around long enough to really know my own palate or I know what I like dammit so why not invest in what I enjoy.


Bottle Caps


Here are some of my highlights from the year the was:

Visiting Russian River Brewing Company – I had put Russian River on a pedestal for so long I knew my visit could never meet my expectations; nonetheless it was so worth it to sit down in front of the massive sample try and enjoy some of the world’s best beers on tap in the place where they were born.

Discovering The Bruery – This year saw me introduce myself to what just may be one of my all-time favourite breweries. Focusing on barrel aged creations, The Bruery really caught my attention with Tart of Darkness a sour stout. Any brewer that can successfully merge these two stellar beer styles deserves our devotion.



Drinking a Manhattan – The beer that really blew me away this year came from a very reliable source, Cascade Brewing in Portland, OR. An amazing fusion of sweet, rich cocktail meets sour beer made this a beyond memorable brew.

Pulling into Elizabeth Station – This little tap room that can in Bellingham, WA has become a must visit every time I am cross-border shopping. An incredible bottle selection accompanied by a well thought out tap list.

Out of Province Beers – I had the chance to sample craft beers from Prince Edward Island, Ontario and Quebec that never make there way out to BC and it is always fun finding something new that none of the local beer geeks have got their hands on.




Tasting the Best Beer in the World – Unintentionally stumbling across a case of Westvleteren 12 at a local liqour store meant I could finally see for myself what all the hype was about. The best? Maybe not definitively but pretty damn amazing that’s for sure.

Blogging about Beer – Always a highlight coming up with topics of interest and subjecting fellow beer geeks to my personal views on whatever comes to mind. Some of my personal favourite posts were Four Word Beer Reviews, Putting the “I” in Beer Review, Decoding Duchesse and Re-Inventing Rodenbach, The Art of the Beer Label BC Edition, Out of the Cellar and finally, Beer with (insert current foodie fad).


FW Tasteroom Tasters

Looking forward to another big year in beer. Happy New Year!


The Art of the Beer Mat

Recently I wrote a post entirely devoted to the art of the beer label so this time around I thought I would blog about that oft-overlooked and most humble staple of brew pubs the beer mat. Composed of absorbent materials like pulp and paper, the beer mat, or coaster, is designed to spare furniture from the dreaded water ring but more than that beer mats are another venue for brewers to display their creativity and further their brand. It is this aesthetic aspect that has led to beer mats becoming a much sought after part of breweriana.

Now for a little history lesson: In 1880 this first beer mats made of cardboard were introduced by the German printing company Friedrich Horn, and in 1892 Robert Sputh of Dresden manufactured the first beer mat made of wood pulp. By the start of the 1900’s, brewery names began appearing on the mats in single colours. Watney brewery then introduced the beer mat to the United Kingdom in the 1920’s. The world’s biggest beer mat company (with 97% of the US beer mat market), Katz Group, has been in business since 1903 but recently declared bankruptcy.

So what does the future hold for the beer mat? Staking their reputation on the belief that beer mats mean more to the beer drinker than a place to park your ale, one Katz executive sees beer mats of the future adorned with shiny foil, pull off labels, wipe-clean surfaces and mats that change colour with heat/cold. A computerized version detects the weight in your glass and alerts the barkeep when you need a top up!

Other fun facts about the Beer Mat:

Tegestology is the Latin term for the practice of collecting beer mats. Tegestos refers to a small reed mat. The most extensive collection comprises of 150 000 mats.

The record for beer mat throwing is 38.26 meters. There are also record holders for most beer mats flipped off a table and most beer mats flipped off a chin.

In Ireland, beer mat usage is the world’s highest at 50 per person per year.

Beer Mats Rule! is a blog devoted to the beer mat.

The Official Beer Mat Flipping Website is dedicated to …well beer mat flipping.

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*Thanks to Wikipedia, BBC and Spiegel Online International

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