Tag Archives: Lighthouse Brewing Co.

Pumpkin Beer Nineteen, It’s Finally Hallowe’en

Canadian Hallowe’en Fact (courtesy of CBC) 850 — the number of Canadians who reported that they were Satanists in 2001, up from 340 in 1991


Beer nineteen, the final milestone in my ground-breaking research into the addition of pumpkin to ale. Did we end on a high note? Did I finally find the elusive, perhaps mythical, 10 candy corn beer? Is Lighthouse Brewing Company’s boringly named Pumpkin Ale the pinnacle of pumpkin perfection in a pint glass? Well, no.



Lighthouse Pumpkin Ale pours very clear, pale orange copper in colour with absolutely no head retention whatsoever. The white head that initially appeared was gone by the time I moved the glass to snap a picture. The nose has some pumpkin pie spices and a brown sugar element to it. Mouthfeel, this one is very, very light bodied and a bit cloying in its sweetness, like there was lots of sugar remaining in the beer. It is also the flattest of all the pumpkins I sampled. Pie spices and sugar are the dominant flavours and there is not a lot to the finish. Far too light and too sweet for my taste.

So things turned a little gruesome on Hallowe’en day but maybe that was my trick since I am undeserving of a treat…


Lighthouse Pumpkin Ale is being bestowed four candy corns out of a possible ten.


Back on the Chain Gang

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.


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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

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.

Still Drinking My Way Around BC …Patience is a Virtue

I have been dutifully continuing with my plan to become a craft beer locavore by sampling another three beers brewed right here in beautiful British Columbia – I also put in some time at St. Augustine’s purely for research’s sake.

In terms of BC beer selection this time out I bought my brews from the provincial liquor store so I am not skewing my education by only shopping at the Central City Liquor Store.

So what’s on the agenda this time around? Deckhand Belgian Saison from Lighthouse Brewing Company in Victoria, Dark Star Oatmeal Stout by R&B Brewing Company from Vancouver and French Oaked Stiff Stout from Dead Frog Brewing in Aldergrove.

Deckhand Belgian Saison: Pours straw gold with a ton of white head that quickly dissipates. Beer label is a neat idea, Sailor Jerry tattoo style designed by a local artist, but the overall aesthetics are not my favourite. Requisite amount of cloudiness for the style. Strong sour yeast nose with an almost chalky mouthfeel on the first sip. Gives way to competing notes of bitter and pepper that generally work well in a saison but tend to overpower this beer since it is quite light bodied. All the flavour seems to some at you right away but no element lingers for an aftertaste. Mellowed out when it warmed easing up the sharp tastes.

Dark Star Oatmeal Stout: Pours a lovely dark chestnut/black, clear with a minimal amount of caramel coloured head. An okay bottle graphic nothing memorable. Very astringent on the nose, almost rubbing alcohol like, but thankfully this disperses as the beer sits out. Nose evolves into roasted coffee notes. Very light in body for a stout and not a lot of flavour in the mouthfeel besides coffee. Reminds me Mill St. Coffee Porter. Much like the first beer, Dark Star improves with a bit of warming giving the beer a bit of depth.

French Oaked Stiff Stout: Pours deepest black stout, clear with a rapidly disappearing head. Not a fan of the Dead Frog labels but to each their own. This oaked beer is part of their “Beer Master Series”. The Stiff Stout has an oaky, sweet nose and a sticky mouthfeel. A bit more depth in the body compared to the Dark Star. Complex flavours that warms well. There is nice sweet malt on the finish.

The Verdict – I give this round to Dead Frog’s French Oaked Stiff Stout.

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