Barley Mowat 

Archive for February, 2012

A Little Perspective

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As anyone who reads this blog can attest, I like Driftwood Brewery. I like them a lot, in fact. Their regular line up of five ales ranges from good to excellent, and they keep on popping out new and interesting seasonals just because they can. Well, that and they have a large pile of old bourbon barrels just lying around cluttering up the place, and what else are they going to do with those things?


Bet you figured I’d go with planters. In your face, boring blog reader!

In many (most) ways, they’re the current best brewery in BC. Will that last? I hope not. I don’t say that because I hate the guys at Driftwood (anything but), but after meeting them the one thing I do know for sure they won’t suddenly start producing worse beer. And a province in which they’re the 10th best brewery means there’s nine better breweries. I want to live in that province.

That scenario isn’t impossible. The playing field has changed since 2008 when Driftwood opened their doors. Other breweries are taking interesting ale more seriously, like Phillips, Lighthouse and Russell. There’s even been rumours of Vancouver Island getting in on the good beer action. As well, new guys like Tofino have cropped up, and they’re here to play.

But, for now, they’re the best. That must mean they’re one of the best on the continent, right? Well, uh… no. Not even close. Again, don’t get me wrong. I love their beer, and it is very, very good. However, it’s not even cracking the top 50 best breweries in North America.

Take, for instance, this short list:

Three Floyds, Founders, Bells, AleSmith, Cigar City, Stone, Russian River, Surly, Great Divide, Hair of the Dog, Firestone, Bruery, Jolly Pumpkin, Dogfish Head, Cascade, Deschutes, Full Sail, Upright, Goose Island, North Coast, Boulevard, Green Flash, Ballast Point.

And many many more; those listed are just the ones I’ve tasted personally in the past few years. What does that say? Well, for starters it says I might want to reign in the drinking a bit, but it also speaks to the amazing depth and complexity of the US craft beer scene.

So what’s my point? Just that, as awesome as we think we have it, it’s good to pop our heads up once in a while, look around, and realize just how much further we can go.

Written by chuck

February 6th, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Posted in Beer and You,Breweries

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February Beer of the Month

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Wow, this month is hard to do, and for the opposite reason from some of the fall months. Back then, pre-Sartori, there was a dearth of new or interesting beers to be had. This month, the liquor stores are freaking full of great ales. Stupid winter and your stupid non-stop awesome beer releases.

Here’s what’s going through my beer geek brain. Take a gander:

Lighthouse Belgian Black — Perhaps the most interesting (best?) in Lighthouse’s Small Brewery, Big Flavour series, and definitely one of the coolest bottles to come out in a while. I should give the nod to them simply to reward them for taking the series even deeper into beer geek territory, right?

Howe Sound Pothole Filler — HS ales have honestly been a bit hit or miss recently; I chock that up to growing pains. Even this year’s Pothole Filler is not as awesome as I remember it last year, but any Imperial Stout is great, and it’s very nice to have a nightcap ale that won’t evaporate off the shelves like water on the desert floor. Speaking of which…

Driftwood Singularity — Sure, it isn’t out yet, but it is due out in February, and should be a contender right? Will it be as crotch-grabbingly good as last year, or a complete flop? I have no idea but I’m still going to buy lots of it.

Russell/Storm Big Smoke — Putting Storm in a bottle must have taken some convincing, or at the very least getting James too drunk to say no. But this beer has been on the shelves for quite some time now, and I’d hate to be late to the party.

Phillips/Garrison Baltic Porter — Another neglected style, and another collaboration ale. Surprisingly quaffable despite the horrible label. Too many logos makes this bottle look like Microsoft designed it.

So what’s a guy like me to do? Ignore all that and pick a total rookie? Damned straight.

February’s Beer of the Month is (drumroll): Hoyne Beer (all of them)


I know there’s a fourth beer, but I just can’t bring myself to show it knowing how much more awesome it would have been if the LDB hadn’t censored the title.

Hoyne is the new guy on the block, and as such, deserves our support. Even as I write this Sean’s beers are only just getting onto the shelves in the Lower Mainland. If you’ve ever had beers from Swan’s you know the style: simple, quaffable ales of high quality.

As much as I would love to have shone the spotlight on any of the (worthy) contenders above, a new craft brewery is something even better for local beer. So go out and buy, loyal legions!

Written by chuck

February 2nd, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Beer and You,Breweries

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