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Archive for June, 2011

Cascadian Style

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Cascadia, for those not in the know, is a proposed country that would be carved out of the US and Canada in the form of BC, Washington and Oregon. There are a few other proposals, but most of them have these 3 regions on the list. This new country would, in theory, contain people with more in common than Vancouver and Toronto. The Doug Flag (horizontal bands of blue, white and green with a Douglas Fir superimposed) would fly proudly over our hippy-infested patchouli-stenched paradise.

Why am I talking niche politics on a beer blog? It turns out that brewers are more likely than most to be subscribers to this movement. Think I’m joking? Then look at this example from the top of a box of Phillips Phoenix Lager:

They’re the Bloc Quebecois of BC Breweries.

Washington’s Fish Brewing puts a similar declaration on their beers. But it’s not just limited to box art. Check this bad boy out:

Wait, why is West Linn, Oregon the capital?
I don’t get it.

That’s the awesomely screen-printed bottle for Hopworks Urban Brewery’s CDA, not-so-subtley titled Secession. Heck, even CDA itself is a nod to the movement; in other parts of the world CDAs are called dark IPAs, but here they’re Cascadian Dark Ales. A vague term which implies that us Cascadian-types can only imagine one kind of dark ale: one cram-packed with hops. OK, maybe they’ve got us there.

Ack! I’m doing it. I’ve lumped myself in with the separatists! I do suppose that removing that pesky border would make it easier to get Oregonian beer up here and… uh… that’s all I need, actually.

All hail Cascadia!

Written by chuck

June 9th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Posted in Beer and You

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R & B Brewing’s New Ale

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I have some history with R&B. A long time ago, when my hook-up contacts at Russell sold their fortune to settle a new land (Mark & Peter Russell themselves), I started getting my kegs fairly regularly from the tiny two-lettered brewery at Quebec & Fourth. Much like other early craft beer revolution breweries, R&B have a solid, if not terribly imaginative, line-up of ales featuring such stalwarts as IPA, Pale, Cream, and even Wheat. Their beers are decent, but not fantastic. Only one, Raven Cream, really shines, and honestly that’s only in the first few days after tapping (seriously, try it, it is a completely different beer when ├╝ber fresh).

But all that’s fine. For kegs, I’m not looking for the best beer on the planet, but rather a solid session ale intended to keep me (and the uncouth drunken slobs that pass for my friends) out of the hidden fridge that contains the Good Stuff. And in this, R&B perfectly fulfills the role. Plus, they’re a fantastic group of friendly folk, and I do take a little pride from supporting a local business (even if it’s under the table). The fact that they’re the closest keg-selling brewery to my house is also a plus.

About a year ago, this all began to change. While the lineup stayed the same, R&B began fucking around with casks. And not in the “cram a handful of centennial pellets into some decanted IPA” way favoured by certain unnamed brewing companies in Yaletown that I so heavily loathe, but in honest-to-gord attempts to create either fascinating or tongue-splittingly awful beers. We’re talking grapefruit IPAs, bacon stouts, and fermented pineapple ales here, and I absolutely love them for it. A cask from YBC, Central City or Granville Island will likely be interesting, but utterly conventional. A cask from R&B is going to be bat shiate insanity in a barrel.

With that innovation has come something new in their regular beer lineup. Sure, you look at that lineup and figure an ESB will be a nice conventional addition to cover all five points of the Boring Beer Star, but then you taste their new East Side Bitter and wow! Holy shit! This is good. Fantastic, in fact. And now they’re bottling the stuff.

Is it the best ESB in the province? Hard to say, only history will tell–scratch that. Yes, yes it is. Central City, you’ve been served.

Go out and get some now. I grabbed a few bottles at Firefly last weekend, and already I’m looking for more. R&B, please tell me this will be a regular addition to your lineup, and reserve a keg of it for my next pickup!

Written by chuck

June 3rd, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Posted in Beers,Breweries

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June Beer of the Month: Driftwood Spring Rite

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This probably surprises absolutely no one. Driftwood just keeps cranking out the great beers, and I just keep buying them. Although, I have to admit, this is just getting silly. At least slow down a bit guys! My cellar is now basically nothing but Driftwood, and if rumours of a summer kriek release are true, I might have to install another cellar in Sharon’s closet while she’s at work.

Issues with storage aside, this is a great beer. It’s a west coast take on the Trappist Ales of Belgium (in particular, this one was modelled after Orval). The “west coast” part means hops, and I very much think a handful of the second sweetest green bud known to man is a perfect addition to the already complex trappist style. With the addition of brett, this beer will also develop and change over time, and that’s why I grabbed two cases of it at Firefly last week.

I’m not going to expound about the subtle flavours because, at $7/bottle, you should just go buy one and find out yourself. If you want a more in-depth review, Vancouver Beer Blog has an excellent summary here.

In the meantime, Driftwood, please tone it down a bit and stop being quite so awesome. I’d very much like to talk about other breweries from time to time on this blog, and you’re hogging all the limelight.

The label is probably the weakest part of this release, in that it’s just good and not excellent. Oh well, they can’t make every label awesome.

Written by chuck

June 1st, 2011 at 11:14 am

Posted in Beers,Breweries

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