Tag Archives: Hoyne Brewing Company

Great Canadian Beer Fest 2013

Smart advertising from Fernie

Smart advertising from Fernie

Well another Great Canadian Beer Festival has came and went and this year saw the participation of craft breweries from the east, the coming out party of some new local breweries, the increase in after-party events and the introduction of some new-to-us American craft beers into the Canadian market.

The GCBF has become a bona fide craft beer destination and it is exciting to see all the breweries, brew pubs and just craft beer culture in general flourishing here in Victoria, which is beginning to rival Vancouver for the mantle of Beervana North.

Beer from Powell Street

Beer from Powell Street

Chatting up 33 Acres

Chatting at 33 Acres

Now I have been to GCBF when it was too cold and I have been to GCBF when it was too hot but this year the beer gods chose to smile on us geeks and the weather was just right, a little cloudy to start off Friday’s festivities and perhaps a titch soggy but then the sun came out to shine over the remainder of the festival.

As usual there were sell-out crowds and long line-ups but things seemed to move more stream-lined than in years past. There was the traditional smattering of buskers, creatively dressed patrons and music to keep the crowds engaged as well as food tents to keep us all carb-loaded so we could fit in more beer.

Moon Under Water tapping the keg

Moon Under Water tapping the keg

Hoyne

Hoyne

For the first time at GCBF I came in early to join the media tour, which was a great way to check out the breweries’ set-ups and to hear from some of the new kids on the block like 33 Acres Brewing Company from Vancouver BC, Sound Brewery from Poulsbo WA and Powell Street Craft Brewery from Vancouver BC from before the flood gates opened (we even got to sneak in a few samples).

Being a bit of a marketing nerd I enjoyed the opportunity to check out everyone’s displays and to see what kind of swag the breweries were offering – never underestimate the drawing power of free beer mats and stick-on tattoos!

Saltspring's lovely set-up

Saltspring’s lovely set-up

As always I was prepped and ready with my beer list highlighting my must-haves and like every year I selected too many for one person to possible consume and like every year I forgot about following my list after about five samples in.

A couple missed opportunities for beers that never arrived, errant brewers and kegs that just refused to be tapped kept an element of spontaneity to my sampling selection.

No explanations needed...

No explanations needed…

Pouring at Muskoka

Pouring at Muskoka

Nonetheless I did manage to hit up quite a number of booths and here are some of my (and my entourages) beer highlights in no particular order:

Sound Brewing Humulo Nimbus Dbl IPA

Wolf Brewing Rannoch Scotch Ale

33 Acres of Life

Double Trouble Vanilla Bean Espresso Imperial Stout

Powell Street Old Jalopy Pale Ale

Hopworks Urban Brewery Survival Seven Grain Stout (a surprise but welcome appearance)

Whistler Brewing Mint Julep

Red Racer

Red Racer

Of course we tried many beers that in retrospect may have been good or may have been not so good but honestly by the end of a beer festival you are just happy if you can distinguish between flavours.

At the end of the day for those who had not quite got their fill, an added bonus was after-parties hosted by Beerthirst for the launch of New Belgium Brewing in BC and hosted by Copper & Theory for the Upright Brewing and Ninkasi tap take-overs .

Oddly enough for me, the highlight of the festival may have been the opportunity to sample the four stellar Lips of Faith beers from New Belgium at the Irish Times pub.

Driftwood swag

Driftwood swag

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The Art of the Beer Label – BC Edition

I have decided to revisit one of my favourite blog topics, the art of the beer label, this time with an eye to what the creative brewers in British Columbia have chosen to adorn their bottles.

Not surprisingly there is a huge range of styles and themes chosen to represent the beer within. So let’s take a look at just a few of the bottles from our beautiful province and see if we can discover what the labels tell us about the brewery.

 

Phillips Brewing Company

Phillips Brewing Company seems to employ every style under the sun and every colour in the spectrum when it comes to their beer labels.  One thing with the Phillips labels, though artistic, they do not always feel reflective of the beer you are about to drink – Train Wreck for instance, with its’ Deco imagery, feels like it would be more at home on the cover of an Ayn Rand novel than a barley wine. Always inventive, if busy, I tend to feel like I love em’ or hate em’ when it comes to Phillips labels.

Phillips Trainwreck Barley Wine

Phillips Pandamonium Label

Mass-Extinction-Label-Ice-Barley-wine-proof-2

 

 

Driftwood Brewery

Driftwood Brewery tends to mix-it-up now and then with their labels moving from the naturalistic palette and colours employed in their standard lbeer line-up to more cheeky or edgy takes on their seasonal beers. Driftwood does a really good job of reflecting the beer style in the label. Personally, I think the Sartori harvest label is one of the nicest labels around.

Driftwood Sartori Harvest

oldcellardweller-label-medium1

driftwood_naughtyhildegard

 

 

R&B Brewing Co.

R&B Brewing Co. is another brewer that seems to employ a ‘do what you feel’ kind of attitude when it comes to their labels arguably with mixed results. One of the tough things for me is the colours and style of the R&B logo always seem at odds with the rest of the graphics. That being said I really like their seasonal Auld Nick label.

iceholes_lager1

East Side Bitt R&B

aulp_nick

 

 

Howe Sound Brewing

I have to admit I usually do not get what Howe Sound is going for with their labels aesthetically. I mean, I get the literal interpretation of the beer name, i.e. scotch ale on a tartan background, but I feel like their choice of labels lacks an overarching vision. That being said I think the Mega Destroyer label really nailed the spirit of the beer within.

Howe Sound Mega Destroyer

howesound_weebeastie

Howe Sound High Tide

 

 

Parallel 49 Brewing Company

Okay so personal preference here but Parallel 49’s whole cartoon-ish Sailor Jerry carnival theme just does not work for me; however, I can appreciate that they have obviously put some serious thought into the aesthetic they want to present to consumers. It feels very lighthearted like you should never take the beer inside too seriously.

parallel49_uglysweater

Ruby Parallel 49

parallel49_lostsouls

 

 

Hoyne Brewing

Far and away my favourite beer labels come from Hoyne Brewing Co. Artistic and playful but never derivative, Hoyne manages to walk that elusive balance between too much of any one thing while maintaining a core imagery that still lets the consumer know this is a Hoyne beer. The tie to the beer is subtle but present. Great colours, great lay outs, great use of fonts, great job!

label-honey-hefe

label-dark-matter

Hoyne Devil's Dream

 

 

Vancouver Island Brewery

Vancouver Island Brewery has one of those label campaigns that feels a bit like we’ve been there and done that in terms of the graphics (a little bit Driftwood and a little bit Phillips). At the same time I do like their layouts, colour choices and the way they provide information on the beer inside. VIB always employs colours that embody the beer within i.e. Marzen with rich, fall tones. The Christmas label still creeps me out though.

vancouverisland_ironplow_label

vancouverisland_flyingtanker

vib_DoughHead2012

 

 

Russell Brewing Company

Russell Brewing Company has often opted for the no-label label with their specialty and/or beers in a way that I think works very, very well. In particular, the Blood Alley Bitter and the Russian Imperial Stout are a couple of the best bottles out there showing a great use of font, placement and negative space to create memorable bottles. I feel like the aesthetic choices they make really marry the beer styles within.

Russell Black Death Porter Russell Blood Alley Bitter Russell Russian Imperial Stout


The Dark Side of B.C. Beers

Still committed to my 100 mile (ish) beer diet, I am continuing to sample brews from my own backyard. This time around I tried three beers from the darker end of the spectrum, you know, the best end of the beer spectrum, sampling Dark Matter from Hoyne Brewing Co., Dark Chocolate Porter from Lighthouse Brewing Co., and the Extra Special Bitter From Salt Spring Island Ales.

Just to qualify my obvious bias for dark beers, in all fairness all the really cool flavours hang out on this end of the continuum; you never see light beers with descriptors like coffee, chocolate, molasses, dried fruit, bourbon, whisky, oatmeal, licorice, caramel, treacle etc. so in my defence I really have no choice but to embrace the dark side.

Dark Matter: Pours clear, deep reddish black and with a quickly diminishing caramel coloured head. Sweet caramel notes and roast coffee on the nose. Quite bitter in the mouthfeel, light to medium in body and a ton of roasted malt. The finish is slightly reminiscent of burnt coffee. Great interplay of sweet and bitter elements, which makes the beer highly drinkable. Love the label and reference to the Hadron Collider. Overall a 4/5

 

Dark Chocolate Porter: Deep brown/black in colour with ton of stiff ivory head and good clarity. Really nice roasted elements and chocolate on the nose. Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate at first taste but this beer mellows a bit too much as it warms losing the bitter edge that played so well off the sweet flavours. Label is a bit wanting in creativity. Overall 3.5/5

 

 

Extra Special Bitter: Pours a partly hazy amber with monumental white head. Floral hops on the nose with a bit of resin. Very hoppy for a bitter but sadly also a little off-flavour with an out-of-place medicinal taste. I can’t properly review this bottle but be assured it happens to the best of us. One of the hazards of drinking craft beer; however, I wouldn’t have it any other way  …doesn’t get any more “real”  ale than this.


Drinking My Way Around BC

I’ll admit I am often very unpatriotic in my beer drinking habits because more often than not I tend to fall back on my south-of-the-border or across-the-pond go to breweries when I am looking for something to restock the fridge. In order to remedy this deficit in my beer experience, I made it one of my new “beers” resolutions to try more beers from the Great White North. After all British Columbia is quickly becoming a craft beer destination, and boasting over fifty microbreweries and brewpubs there is no shortage of local beers to choose from.

Hoyne Brewing Company Big Bock Ale: The Big Bock pours amber and with unbelievable clarity. Nice amount of white head that lingers. Sweet malt on the nose. Very clean to drink with a medium to light body and subtle strength that is in no way overpowering. I am loving the beers coming from the Island and kudos for the inspired label.

Mission Springs Brewing Company’s The Strongman Ale: The Strongman Ale is copper-gold in colour with nice clarity. A ton of stiff head that hangs around for the majority of the pint. Subtle bitter hop on the nose and in the flavour. Decent amount of malt adds some balance. Lives up to its namesake in strength but it is not overwhelming for the 650ml size – just enough to get that warmth in your belly. Smooth to drink and relatively light in body with a bit of stickiness.

Russell Brewing Nectar of the Gods: Nectar of the Gods is described as wheat wine ale. It pours and amber-copper colour and like the other beers, has impressive head retention. A fair amount of sediment. Fermented fruit, currant and earthy wood dominate the nose. Tons of oaky whiskey flavours imparted from the casking, almost barley wine like in character but not quite. Tannin aftertaste. Hard to discern the wheat beer qualities with all the complex and dominant flavours going on.

As I was writing this post I googled ‘map of BC breweries’ but did not come up with anything, which is surprising to me. I use my Washington and Oregon Beer Guides so often they are in shambles, and they have proven an invaluable resource, source of inspiration and all-around guiding star on numerous occasions.

In the meantime I will continue drinking (and blogging) my way around BC.


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