Barley Mowat 

Archive for March, 2013

33 Acres Preview

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I had a chance to talk with Josh Michnik, owner of the new 33 Acres Brewery in Mount Pleasant. What follows is Josh’s unedited response to my simple questions (Scout is also running a much more abridged version, only with slicker layout). 33 Acres will be, by the looks of things, brewing their first beers very shortly. Hopefully they will start appearing at pubs around town in a few months or so.

Summary

33 Acres has been one of the biggest and most rewarding challenges of my life. I wanted to build this company on three major elements; hard work, creativity, and developing the highest quality product we can. These three components are my driving force in absolutely every aspect of this brewery. No short-cuts. That goes for not only the beer, but the merch, brand, the furniture, the floors, the walls, everything. My friends, family and random strangers have stepped up to make this happen. If it wasn’t for these people I wouldn’t have been able to pull this off. Everyday I’m overwhelmed with the dedication, love and support they show me.


Glycol chiller being installed on what Josh calls a “roof” and what I call “the best patio in town.”

Questions

1. Why did you decide to start a brewery?
Beer is a big contributor to community. I saw 33 Acres as a way to build a place where the neighbourhood could stop by on the way to work, say hi, help load some grain off a truck, have a cup of coffee, and just hang out. Then on the way home from work do the same but fill up a growler or stay for a pint. I love my friends and meeting new people. It is one of the only reasons I’ve made it as far as I have in this project. I owe each of them so much for helping me as much as they have. My brewmaster, Dave Varga is the man. He was an easy choice for me. He helped me figure out aspects I was unfamiliar with, especially when it came to the technical side of brewing and brewhouse set ups. We both share the same values and are looking forward to collaborating.

2. How big is your brewkit?
Come see and ask me in person. I’ll show you around… just bring me a beer to break the ice.


Chuck: Looks to be just under 10hl, but still drop by. Josh is nice.

3. How many/what types of beers will you launch with?
We’re going to launch with two staple beers. We’re keeping the brands under wraps for a bit longer. We want to nail them, do some test brews and be 100% confident in what we’re putting out there. Details matter, however if ingredients are just throw in there for shock and awe, its not our style. Everything should have a purpose.

4. Where do you forsee yourself taking the brewery once you’re established? eg: barrel-aging, sours, or just sticking to table beers, or flowing with the current?
For future beers, we have several ideas, this is Dave’s niche, so don’t want to spoil any secrets he has. As for the brewery in general. We want to stay small. A tight family. We don’t have major aspirations to build a huge brewery out on a trucking route. Not that we don’t think its impressive for the ones that choose that route, but its just not our style.

5. When can we expect to see your beers in public?
We’re not going to set a date. We’re working hard. I’m here from 7am until around 9pm to get open as fast as possible. But we’re trying to do it right, every step and every thing we build we want it to be perfect. So lets just say sometime this spring.


My attempt at an arty shot showing off the wood ceiling Josh restored by hand.

6. What BC brewery do you admire the most, and why?
I admire all the breweries who are independently ran and operated. I have huge respect for anyone that has the balls to commit to running something because they love it, not because there is a end goal or $ in there eyes.

7. Whats with the beard? (Josh’s own question for himself)
Its my playoff beard. I’m usually very clean cut, my wife enforces this, but since getting my keys to the brewery space I’ve decided the time I would normally take to shave could be better used… welding, wood working or emailing. And plus, I feel like it will be very rewarding to slurp the first frothy beer through my big ass man beard.


Josh, Dave and a bunch of beer potential.

Written by chuck

March 19th, 2013 at 6:10 am

Posted in Breweries

Tagged with

VIB Absolute Darkness

without comments

This will be my last BC Beer Review for a few weeks. Adventure calls, and this time it takes the form of South America. I might live-blog about crappy Bolivian beer from a dirty La Paz warehouse during some downtime after being kidnapped, but I’ll likely save it all up for one big complaint post when I get back.

In the meantime, though, I stumbled upon some VIB Absolute Darkness this weekend and decided to give this more recent entrant in the growing BC CDA category a go. Sure, the label says “India Dark Ale” but “India Dark Ale” and its cousin “Black IPA” are just code words for the more contested “Cascadian Dark Ale.”

However, expect things to get significantly less confusing from here on out since Steamworks has graciously agreed to let everyone use “Cascadian” in a beer’s style name so long as they don’t use it as the name of the beer. Seems fair to me, and hat-tip to Steamworks for doing the right thing. Had the labels for this beer been printed last month instead of in December, it likely would have been properly labelled.

Anyways, enough political background. This is a beer review, and review beer I shall. VIB’s bomber series has had a few hits (Flying Tanker, Iron Plow) and a few misses (Dough head), so where does this guy fit in? Hit or miss? Well, slots in solidly in the miss column.

Slap “CDA” on a bottle and you expect certain things from the beer. Like hops, hops would be nice. Sure, there are some hops there, but not the big PNW aromatics or structured bitterness one expects from this style. The roasted malt of a CDA is also not quite there, as instead of a satisfying toasted oat flavour we get burnt molasses with a solid chemical punch.

Okay, fine, but surely that thick high sugar body that defines a CDA has to be there, for all that roasted molasses to be present? Nope. Somehow they got all that malt into there and still created a thin watery body.

If you ignore the label, and really love burnt malt, then you might enjoy this as a slightly strong (6.5% ABV) stout, but other than that its just a mess. Pick up a Howe Sound Gathering Storm instead. I’m disappointed, but at least VIB seems to be trying. If you don’t produce an off beer once in a while you’re not challenging your brewing team hard enough. Keep trying guys.

Tasting notes:

NOSE Burnt molasses, tobacco and a bit of leather. Capped off with an unpleasant chemically finish.
APPEARANCE Opaque black with a thin, quickly dissipating tan head. (Textbook CDA)
TASTE Roasted, nay burnt, malt. Body is watery and thing. Hops are there, but hidden behind the ash/charcoal of the malt, with no aroma or lingering bitterness to attest to them. Mmm… ash.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Nope. Lots of better CDAs, stouts, or just other beers out there.

Coles notes:

Brewery Vancouver Island
From Victoria
Name Absolute Darkness
Style Cascadian Dark Ale
SOA Now None Awarded
SOA Potential Not a cellaring ale
Drink Don’t.
VIB Bomber Batting Average 0.500 (2/4). Good enough to try #5 on sight.
Availability Widely available at LDB
Cost $5.50 per 650ml bottle.
Similar BC Beers Howe Sound Gathering Storm (out now), GIB Ltd Release CDA (out this summer)

Written by chuck

March 18th, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with

Don’t Drink Green Beer

with 15 comments

Hi everyone,

It just me, your friendly neighbourhood bearded beer snob, here with a Public Service Announcement for everyone ahead of the giant party that is St Patrick’s Day Long Weekend. I know I’ve ranted about this before, and I know your time is valuable, and for every second you spend reading my dribble you could be painting yourself green and drinking irresponsibly, so I’ll keep this short:

If you drink green beer, I will hunt each and every one of you down individually, murder you and, depending on how much green beer you drank, your entire extended family. Okay, fine, I probably won’t go medieval on your collective asses but I will, at an absolute minimum, frown at you while shaking my head. And perhaps express how truly disappointed I am in you.

Truth be told, Green Beer is just plain awful. Bars make beer green in one of two ways: they either pour massive gobs of green colour dye into the thing, or mix in blue curaçao. Neither of these endeavours are renowned for making beer better. In fact, not only do they make the beer much worse, adding a giant bucket of high fructose corn syrup to beer also makes the next morning a sad affair (what, exactly, did you THINK food colouring was made of?).

Additionally, as the base beer moves away from macro shiite towards better craft beer (and therefore darker beer) more of said adjuncts are required, and well, you get the picture. Let’s just say that green food dye was never intended to be consumed in large quantities. Neither, for that matter, was blue curaçao.

As well, augmenting your beer simply for the sake of turning it green is just plain rude to the kind, bearded folk who slaved over hot kettles to produce this beer. They get up regularly at four freaking AM to make the best beer possible for your lazy asses to enjoy at 7pm “after a long day’s work” (while said brewers are STILL at the brewery). Pouring dye in your beer makes brewmasters cry, is what I’m saying, so don’t do it.

Thank you. You may now return to your regularly scheduled spontaneous debauchery. Put on a stupid green hat, get at least partially nekkid, but please drink your beer as the brewer intended. Your taste buds, and your hangover, will thank me.

Best Wishes,

Chuck

Written by chuck

March 15th, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Posted in Beer and You