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Archive for October, 2010

Harvest Festival Round Two

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It’s only two days until the first ever Harvest Festival at The Railway Club. A few things that you should know have changed since we first talked about it.

First up, although I said it would be a caskival, it now appears that it will not. Usually the word “cask” gets plastered all over such things, and after the first few announcements that word went suspiciously missing. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there will be a cask or two, but the hoped-for row after row of cask conditioned ales will likely not be there.

So, what will be there? Not too many beers, either. Latest count puts us at ten, and while all are good, some of those are straight-up normal variants of regularly produced ales. In fact, the Railway already has Central City Pumpkin Ale on tap, so at least I hope they’re bringing out a fresh can of the lovely rather than just pulling from the pumps.

What beers can we expect? Here’s the list as of right this instant, and my take on each:

Pumpkin Ales

Pumpkin Ales are, frankly, the main reason I’m going to the festival. I have to admit to being slightly disappointed that only three are showing up, and that two of those are both the regular versions and widely available (and beer I’ve already had). However I suspect I will make the best of this situation by drinking them anyways.
Howe Sound Imperial Pumpkin Eater
I expect a regular keg of this, but I also expect it to be good (because it is).
Phillips Crooked Tooth Pumpkin Ale
This is a “limited release,” although I’m not quite sure what that means. In any event, it will likely be in a cask and likely be lovely.
Central City Pumpkin Ale
Gary, if this is just pulled from the Rail’s taps, I’ll slash your tires.

Fresh Hopped Ales

Here’s the meat of the fest. You all know how I rant endlessly about how great Driftwood Sartori IPA is. That is largely because it’s fresh hopped. If I had a daughter and it was legal to do so, she would be married off to a cask of fresh hopped ale. I suspect both these ales will be casked, because the best demands the best.
Granville Island Fresh Hop ESB
The brewery on Granville Island has been producing increasingly good beers recently. This is not to be confused with Granville Island Brewing (GIB), which brews insipid and generally lacklustre lagers and ales for the mouth-breathing unwashed masses. While both are the same company, they have completely separate brewing facilities, and the one on the island has not be tainted with suck. I expect this beer to be awesome.
Phillips Fresh Hopped Ale
How delightfully vague this title is. I expect a mild pale from the name, but really it could be anything.

“Specialty” Ales

Note the quotes. These beers are not for the weak. They range from interesting to down right freaky. You gotta try everything once, but sometimes that’s once too many.
Central City Oktoberfest Ale And here we find the thing I end the night on. Oktoberfest Ales are designed to be drunk in worrying quantity. There is no evidence to support this being in a cask, but I predict it will be.
Storm Echinacea Stout It makes you sicker and better at the same time! It’s been years since I’ve had this one-off, and man is it tasty. I hope this cask holds up to memory.
Russell Oak-Aged Scotch Ale, w spices My relationship with Russell goes way back, back before they started pushing mediocre beers and marketing their lager straight to football fans. I’ve had some of their more recent work, and it’s been surprisingly good. I have high expectations for this one, and will be straight-up disappointed if it’s not presented in a cask.
Big River Gingerbread Man Spiced Ale A pint of Christmas in your mug. Is it possible to not have this?
R&B Cornucopia Golden Ale This beer scares me. It’s infused with–I shit you not–chanterelle mushrooms. Mushrooms. In beer. Of course, people said the same thing about pumpkin so, uh… maybe it’s good? This cask will either be the best beer ever invented, or something they take 90% of back to Mount Pleasant.

Tickets are still available, and at $20/$25 I feel it’s a good price. If we support a beer fest (cask or not) in downtown, there might be more of them…

Written by chuck

October 14th, 2010 at 3:46 pm

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Keg Fridges and You

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Not everyone has a tap system at home. This is a common mistake, not just for craft beer lovers, but really for anyone anywhere. There is a certain college-dorm mystique in having lots of kegs just lying around, but as you get older you’ll find that the people who come to your house have less and less desire to frolic on top of wet, smelly kegs of beer. Hence the need to hide them out of sight.

This hasn’t happened for weeks

A tap system is both cheap and easy to get. I received mine when a local brewery decided that just giving me one was a very good investment in the future. You, however, will likely have to purchase one. This is not all bad, as having to do so also likely means you’ll make it to 50 on one liver.

Check out for a broad selection of tap and fridge conversion options. You will require a tap, shank, keg coupler and regulator. Hoses, couplers and clamps are also handy if you don’t want to spray beer all over the place, but hey, maybe that’s your thing. I’m not judging. Okay, I kinda am. Just a little, though.

Now you’ll need an old fridge. Check your basement; look behind the Christmas lights you always say you’ll put up but never do. If there’s nothing there, you can always call around and pretend to be BC Hydro. Tell folks that they’ll get a $50 credit on their next Hydro bill if they put an old fridge out on their curb for collection, then go peruse the results and pick a fridge. It is probably best to do this from a pay phone for, uh, tax reasons.

Next up is compressed gas. Unlike bottles, cans, and casks, kegs required pressurized gas to convince the beer to move up the serving line and into your glass. Non-gas options are available, but all come in the form of hand pumps, which make you do all the work to get the pressure up. In addition to requiring detestable physical labour to procure beer, these pumps also have the nasty side-affect of pumping bacteria into your beer along with lots of oxygen. If you plan on drinking your keg tonight that’s not an issue, but keep that beer around much longer and you’re sharing it with nasty free-loading micro-organisms.

I immediately regretted doing this particular GIS

Most places that sell you keg kits or even pre-fab fridges also try and sell you a small 5lb CO2 canister, which is just fine and dandy if you plan on not drinking much beer. At some point during the sales process they seem to have missed the word “keg” on the receipt. You need at least a 20lb gas canister, and you need it outside the fridge (so you can fit a 50 litre keg or two 30 litre kegs *inside*). Call your local gas supplier and see what their lease rates are; expect about $50-$75 per year plus filling charges. Hook it all together and you have a living, breathing beer-serving machine.

Lastly, you’ll need the beer itself. Call a local brewery and ask if they have a “cash price.” This is industry code for “under the table.” Despite being a very tightly regulated industry, brewing beer is an inexact process, and the government allows breweries a certain percentage of their production for “spillage,” which is a fancy way of saying “fucked up for one of a million reasons, but most likely because the staff got drunk and swam in the beer.” As breweries get better, though, they use less and less of their spillage allotment (and take showers BEFORE beer swims), and are willing to part with some of this for cold, hard, cash, and often at a significant discount from their credit card, or “taxes-in” price.

Now that you have an old fridge that can serve beer, you might want to beautify it a little and maybe even stick it in your living room. Be careful, though, as going a bit too far with this can peg you as a bit of a nutter, and ward off non-beer geeks (aka “normal people”). It’s important to strike a balance between “prettying up” and “obsessively polishing.”

Pictured: Reasonable Hobby

Written by chuck

October 12th, 2010 at 11:39 am

Posted in Beer and You

Best in BC

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I often get asked what my favourite beer is, and a lot of folk are honestly confused when I say that I don’t actually have one. My favourite beer changes with my mood, and as new beers become available. But I do have a list of beers that I constantly go back to, and a few breweries that I automatically associate with “Good Beer.” Here is that list. I will add it to the sidebar and occasionally update it as things progress.

The Best Beer and Breweries in BC According to Chuck

Best Breweries in BC: Driftwood, Crannóg, Central City, Howe Sound

Best IPA: Driftwood Sartori
Best IPA You Can Actually Buy: Central City Red Racer
Best Heff: Howe Sound Hangdog
Best Wheat: Howe Sound White Cap
Best Cream: R&B Raven
Best Stout: Crannóg Back Hand of God
Best Pale Ale: Central City Red Racer
Best ESB: Central City Red Racer
Best Red Ale: Crannóg Red Branch
Best Lager: R&B Ice Holes Lager
Best Saison: Driftwood Farmhand
Best Amber: Driftwood Crooked Coast
Best Scottish: Storm Highland
Best Nut Brown: Spinnaker’s

Best Beer in BC: Driftwood Sartori

Note that I have not included Imperials in the list above as I would have become tired of typing “Howe Sound.” There are some exceptions, but HS wins most categories, simply by virtual of being the only producer of that type of imperial. Also note there are some missing categories, this is because I have not come to a conclusion on every conceivable style of ale.

Written by chuck

October 5th, 2010 at 1:04 pm

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