Barley Mowat 

Archive for March, 2011


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I, like you, was very excited by the prospect of a smoked duck sausage being made by BeerBrats from Howe Sound’s awesome King Heffy Imperial Hefeweizen. Unlike you, though, I slept in and didn’t make it to the Winter Farmers’ Market until just after noon. This was apparently all the time it took for Zach to sell out his entire stock of said duck, making for a very unhappy Chuck.

I can’t get enough of this man’s sausage.
What? Why is everyone snickering?

Luckily though, Zach had lots and lots of other options available, so I settled on some Howe Sound Oatmeal Stout Smokies and a pack of Tree Double Hop Head Butter Chicken Sausages. To accompany these hearty hunks of meat, I picked up some light produce at said market, and picked out a mild yet interesting ale from my cellar. The beer selected was Jolly Pumpkin Madrugada Obscura, a sour stout aged in oak barrels, brewed about fifty miles west of what once was the city of Detroit. This would match the sausages–particularly the smokies–quite well.

A quick trip to the BBQ and everything was ready to go. A fresh tomato/basil salad and some artisan sourdough sat prepped. Food was plated (and photographed by Sharon for posterity) and we were ready to pop the top on our sour ale and dig in. Knowing that Jolly Pumpkin ales can be a bit, er, active when you pop the cap, I wisely had a glass at hand to catch any overflow.

Of course, I based the need for a glass upon previous openings of Madrugada, Oro de Calabaza, La Roja and others. Sometimes it opens like a normal beer, and sometimes it foams up and needs to have a pint (or two) poured fairly quickly to avert a small mess. To avoid this, let the beer settle for a few hours (or months in my case), and open it either over a sink or with a glass or four nearby. This time, though, I was in for a surprise.

Immediately after taking off the cap and placing it aside, the air directly above the bottle was replaced by a leaping, sprouting fountain of delicious pressurized sour ale, at least 3 inches in height. I’d like to claim I remained calm in this situation, and swiftly deposited the surging contents in a handy bowl, bucket or out the nearest window but, alas, I panicked like a beer newbie and did the one thing you are not supposed to do in these situations. Yes, I put my thumb over the top, all while yelling “What do I do?” This might work for leaky dikes, but it sure as hell doesn’t work for highly pressured barley juice on the loose.

The result was, in the most accurate terms possible, nothing sort of a beer explosion. Beer sprayed sideways, upwards, and downwards to distances of ten feet or more. Finally enough time had elapsed for my senses to begin functioning again (and for Sharon to helpfully point out the bread bowl right in front of my stupid face). I emptied the bowl of bread, deposited the bottle in said bowl and transplanted the whole operation to the kitchen, where it probably should have started in the first place.

Historical Recreation

All told, though, only 1/3 to 1/2 the bottle was lost to the kitchen table, floor, couches, walls and cats. I still got to enjoy my delicious BeerBrats with slightly less ale than I’d hoped. The pairing was excellent, but the meal was absolutely made by the sausages (Attn: Zach, begin the cut for a review quote here) Folks, these sausages are good. Delicious in fact. Track down Zach on BeerBrats’ twitter feed (@BeerBrats), find out what market they’re at, go there and hand over your money. You will not regret this. (End Quote. Do I get free sausage now? Please?)

The moral of the story? I guess it’s get up early, because if I’d managed to pickup some King Heffy Smoke Duck Sausages I probably would have grabbed a different beer to go with dinner. Hmm… what goes with smoked duck… sour stout would probably be just about right. I wonder if I have any left?

I aim to be at the market nice and early this weekend, perhaps even forming a line before it opens because of all the added business this post will generate. (Really? Not even one free sausage? Huh.)

Written by chuck

March 29th, 2011 at 3:02 pm

What The Hell Is This Bullshit?

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Warning: This blog contains high levels of weaponized beer nerd rage. Read at your own risk.

The people are, en mass, fucking morons.
Glen Clark, Former British Columbia Premier

OK, fine, he never said it. But when I was the editor of my university newspaper I said it, attributed it to him, and published it, so that’s the same thing right? What’s that? Speak english, I have no idea what def-un-mation of kar-ec-tor is.

Questions and uncertainty about the origin of the above statement aside, none of this changes the fact that it’s true. People are idiots. Idiots of the worst kind imaginable. Mouth-breathing semi-conscious cretins of the sort that make top-40 music, reality TV, and massive credit card debt all seem like great ways to run an economy.

All this leads me to the topic of The Georgia Straight’s recently published Golden Plate Awards. These awards are (or should be) intended to shine a rewarding light upon local businesses deserving of the extra attention for providing a quality product. Instead, they really just flip that light around and shine it squarely on society’s love affair with mediocrity and brand-based purchasing decisions. Don’t believe me? Here are some cherry-picked highlights to illustrate my point:

Best Canadian Beer brewed outside B.C.
1. Alexander Keith’s — The hell is what?

Best Imported Beer
1. Heineken — 2 and 3 ain’t much better, either. At least pick something not, you know, awful.

Best B.C. Beer brewed outside Vancouver
1. Kokanee — One can only imagine the number of spoilt ballots by morons not knowing where Molson is brewed
2. Okanagan Springs Pale Ale — Also, guys, this is brewed on Annacis Island. Sure it’s just past the border, but I think we meant Lower Mainland.

Best Microbrewery Local
1. Granville Island Brewing — Sorry, also brewed non-locally. Plus lots of better breweries in the mix.

Best Locally Brewed Beer
1. Granville Island Lions Winter Ale — Whaaaa? So much wrong with this choice!
2. Stanley Park Amber (Hell’s Gate Brewing) — Sweet mother of gord, how does this even factor? And who’d they bribe to get their brewery explicitly pointed out? How much more to get “Ask for it by name!”?

Best B.C. Brewery Outside Vancouver
1. Okanagan Springs — OK, I give up. I just… give up.

I could go on. And it includes more than just beer: Yellow Tail & Mission HIll get best red wine awards. Cactus Club wins over 20 freaking times. Cactus Fucking Club. I’ll let that sink in. Even McDonald’s snags one. The sheer mass of insipid, boring and just plain bad choices in ALL categories is almost overwhelming to contemplate.

Now, there are some glimmers of hope in that mix. Driftwood shows up in the “Best B.C. Brewery Outside Vancouver”; Central City gets a nod for locally brewed Micro; beer houses like the Alibi and St Augustine’s also show up. But what we don’t see is the crushing weight of votes for the top choices. For every one of us that despises it as banal corn swill that likely makes you infertile, there are 10 people out there that think Molson Canadian is the best thing ever produced by man.

Some people would like to celebrate what ground we’ve gained this year (and we have gained ground), and I can’t say that’s a bad approach. It’s just not my style so I’ll leave it to better people than I. I’m a grumpy, angry, bitter bearded beer geek who looks down on society from high atop my lofty perch of self-righteousness. Being happy to just make the list only tells 1/2 of the story, as for every time we talk about how Phillips tied for first place in Best non-locally brewed beer, someone will immediately point out that they tied with Kokanee. And frankly, I’m not sure tying for first on a list that seems to celebrate crappy beer is a reward to be proud of. So congrats Phillips, your Blue Buck is as good as Kokanee, but hey, at least you’re a little better than Whistler.

Just getting one of the BC small macros more mainstream beers on the list is not enough. Not nearly enough. How can the truly interesting beers (think Singularity, Woolly Bugger, Deckhand) stand a chance? The sheer size of the monumental task of getting craft beer recognized as something more than an amusing niche just makes me have days like this, where I stare at the wall for hours on end and weep quietly for the plight of humanity.

/PS Yes, I know that CAMRA’s latest Fest of Ale sold out in 11 hours yesterday. But that’s only 100 tickets in a city of 3 milllion, folks, and I’m directly responsible for 10 of those. (Aside: Free taster as commission? No?) Put up 1000 tickets for a $10 Nickelback show and compare the results.

//PPS I’ve had a few folk ask me if I’m blaming the Straight. Riiiight. They rigged the vote, I guess? Of course my rant at society in general in the context of a vote on popular culture isn’t a criticism of the publisher of that vote. The fact this rant exists is proof enough they’re doing the vote right.

Written by chuck

March 24th, 2011 at 10:50 am

Posted in Beer and You

Beer Fest is Best

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CAMRA has finally posted pricing and details for the Spring Sessional Fest of Ale. You can find the deets here. Yes, I said deets. Live with it. Deets.

The general breakdown is as follows:

Date: April 16th
Venue: London Pub
Time: 11/12 until the beer runs out
Price: $10?!?! Sweet Jebus that’s cheap!
Price incls: Tasting glass, 1 ticket
Refills: $2.50 each

The split start time reflects a desire to let the first 100 pre-sale tickets in a bit early to enjoy all the beer without all the crowds. However, 100 people + The London Pub = crowd. And don’t pretend this won’t sell out and that you’ll be able to walk up at noon, buy a ticket and get in. These things are as popular as the Bubonic Plague and only getting more so (yeah, I know that people don’t like the plague, but popular doesn’t always mean that you like it–look it up).

Not all breweries have been announced, but those that are on the list look good, including my chance to expand my BC Beer experience by two BrewPubs I have yet to visit: Moon Under Water and Noble Pig.

So get on over there and buy yourself a ticket. Right away! Schnell! Hell, at $10 each I’m tempted to buy 50 or so to actually create the type of quiet beer enjoyment & reflection from 11 to 12 hinted at by CAMRA.

Written by chuck

March 23rd, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Beer and You

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