Barley Mowat 

Archive for March, 2013

Focus on the LDB VI

with 12 comments

Wow. Sometimes you start an unrelenting campaign against a large corporation suspecting that you’ll go to your grave sixty years hence having tweeted at them every day to stop calling their lager an IPA with no effect (seriously, though, keep up the good fight, Lynn).

And sometimes that campaign has an effect and something changes. Or, more likely, something changes for reasons completely unrelated to your blog and its five articles calling out the LDB for never advertising craft beer. Whatever, they have an ad up now and I’m taking credit.

Yup, if you go over to the LDB’s website right this instant and look, you’ll see a big old ad for BC Craft Beer right there in the main rotator, and first in line at that!

Surely, though, this just links through to an 18-pack of Canadian on sale, right? I mean, that’s beer what is crafted in BC, and that’s about as deeply as the LDB considers such things, no? Well, I got news for ya, beer geeks, the linked packs are… well… uh… sorta okay. They’re okay.

M-E-H. Meh.

And that’s something to be happy about, as it represents a huge improvement over previous efforts. Let’s take a look at these puppies:

The “Craft Pack“: Whistler Whiskey Jack Amber, VIB Beachcomber Blonde, Nelson Old Brewery (Pale), Russell Cream and Lighthouse Fisgard 150 Bavarian Lager. Sure, it’s a solid meh on pretty much all accounts, but none of these beers are straight up bad.

UPDATE: See Anthony’s comment for the real contents. Sigh.

What about the “Craft Can Pack“? Tree Thirsty Beaver Amber, Phillips Blue Buck Pale, Fernie Griz Pale, Cannery IPA, Red Racer Pale, and Mt Begbie Kolsh. Whoa. Some good beers in there.

Sure, the LDB put together a description of these beers with such care and attention that they:

  • Omitted three brewery names
  • Omitted four beer styles
  • Misspelt two brewery names
  • Completely forgot one of the bottles

This yields a batting average of 0.333 for overall accuracy (Seriously? “Lighthourse”? “Vanvouver”? Are you paying the web staff in free booze?) but hey, it’s craft beer on the front page, right?

So we’re done here? All is good? Well, no, not even close. Just because the LDB has elected to not completely ignore us, I’m not about to fawn over them, forgetting the months of abuse we’ve endured. Us Craft Beer fans aren’t going to put this one glimmer of semi-respect up on a pedestal and proclaim all is well. Keep it up for six months, though, and we’ll talk.

So where does this put the running total for ad space?


Wine: 3
Beer: 1
Spirits: 1
Corporate: 1
Mixed: 1 (32% Spirits, 47% Wine, 21% Beer)

Running Total:

Liquor: 10 (+1)
Corporate: 12 (+1)
Wine: 27 (+4)
Beer: 2 (I gave ’em some credit for the mixed ad)

Lastly, I know I like to end these articles with a highlight of good beer at the LDB, but I will give them a hat tip here. They’ve done this job for me this time, so go have a gander while it’s up.

I’ll stop permanently when those ad numbers approach even.

Written by chuck

March 13th, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Posted in Beer and You

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Trademark Storm’s A-Brewing

with 6 comments

Here’s something I’ve been pondering recently: what with all the questions around brewery trademarks in the past year, it looks like we might be on a collision course for another round. Two new breweries are opening in BC this year, and both are rather curiously appropriating the names of existing beers produced by other breweries.

The two breweries (and their similarly named beers) are:

1. Beachcomber Brewing, in Gibsons, similar to Vancouver Island Beachcomber Blonde Ale
2. Deep Cove Brewing, in North Vancouver, similar to Bridge Brewing’s Deep Cove IPA (brewed just down the street)

In both cases the new breweries have a bit of an uphill battle, as the established guys have done their homework and registered their trademarks here and here.

To recap, I am absolutely for registering trademarks on brewery and beer names. It’s a little bit of bother that can save you a lot of headache down the line. That we might be seeing a fight between two craft breweries is unfortunate, but it just as easily could have been MolsonCoors coming to town with bright ideas on changing the beer game.

Pictured: Bright idea on changing the beer game. Seriously, it’s shit like this that makes you guys so easy to hate.

What do I think? For starters, this isn’t like that other famous beer trademark case (Cascadia) where the term was no longer used by the TM holder and, what’s more, had come to be widely used in the brewing industry to denote a generic style of beer instead of a specific brand. Both these new terms are very specific to the TM-holding breweries, and are not commonly used in the brewing industry at all.

So here’s my (completely ignorant, lay-person) thoughts on each:

Beachcomber. There are lots of old trademarks for this term in the database, including an abandoned application for a beer name by a now defunct brewery that I only just heard of this instant (Gibson’s Landing Brewing). Curiously, there aren’t any TV related TMs, but maybe the CBC wanted us to use the term for ourselves.

So what do I think of this situation? Does Mark Brand (of Save On Meats, Diamond, Boneta & Portside fame) have a case? I think not. Beachcomber is a broadly produced brand that VIB has used effectively in their product line for almost a year now. Maybe VIB might hand over the name to a start-up but I don’t see why they should have to give up all that investment in artwork and advertising just because a new guy didn’t do his homework–homework that someone like Mark Brand should KNOW to do.

Aside: How awesome would
Relic Brewing be?

Deep Cove. Okay, but what about Deep Cove? In general, I don’t like the too-common practice of using placenames for breweries or beers, since they’re not unique to you or yours. Bridge Brewing isn’t even in Deep Cove, so their claim might be a bit looser should a new brewery open up actually in said town. Luckily for them, this isn’t what happened. Deep Cove Brewing has reportedly secured some space on Dollarton Highway, just down the street from Bridge Brewing, if anything a bit further from Deep Cove than Bridge. If a new guy actually started up in Deep Cove then yeah, I’d have liked to see Bridge hand over the name in a gesture of goodwill but in this case, keep it.

I know what you’re muttering under your breath right now: “Why can’t they just live and let live?” Right? Why can’t both breweries use the name in the friendly spirit of craft brewing? Problem is, trademarks don’t work that way. Should VIB reach a “gentlemen’s agreement” with Beachcomber to “let this one slide” another brewery could use the existence of that agreement to (validly) argue that the TM is defunct and that, therefore, THEY should be able to use the term, and with the TM thrown aside this new guy doesn’t have to play nice and respect VIB’s branding.

Sure, we like to villainize the big guys in these cases (and not without cause), but if you were a small startup why bother building up a brand when you can just use this well-known one VIB has kindly made available free of charge? Sure would save having to run ads of your own. Basically, by allowing anyone else to use the term VIB would be voluntarily giving the TM up and they have no incentive to do so, and lots of incentive to not let that happen.

So what we’re left with is the reality that these two pairs of breweries will need to sit down and have a frank talk sometime soon (assuming they haven’t already) because the trademarks absolutely force them to do so. I just hope it all ends well, and without involving suits.

Psst: Seriously, though: RELIC BREWING! You know you want to!

Written by chuck

March 12th, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Cabin Fever and Black Jackal

with one comment

Sweet mother of all that’s good in this world, can Phillips brewing do anything BUT a seasonal these days? I swear, they’re up to like two a month! Since we’re coming into the lull of seasonal releases what is more commonly called “Spring” expect my review feed to slowly become an all-Phillips show.

So here we go on their latest two releases: Black Jackal Imperial Coffee Stout and Cabin Fever Imperial Cascadian Dark Ale. How are they? Pretty damned good. They both suffer from that unique Phillips metallic tang, but the styles in use here don’t suffer for it quite as much as others. If you can ignore that, each of these beers is a competent execution of Imperial versions of fairly normal styles, and that’s enough to get on my good side.

Tasting notes:

Black Jackal:

Okay, it’s espresso not coffee, and good espresso at that. I love how the quality of the coffee you add to a beer is still perceptible a few months later in the bottle. The espresso used here isn’t as good as in Hoyne Voltage, but the beer itself is better. Between the two, I pick this one. The coffee is quite strong on this beer, but I don’t mind since it’s good espresso and not gord-awful chemicals dumped out of a Folgers tin straight into the conditioning tank (aka “pulling a Donny”).

NOSE Nose is thin alcohol with a strong espresso undertone.
APPEARANCE Opaque black with a persistent medium tan head.
TASTE Coffee, very mild dark fruits, and a lingering finish that blends the malt and the espresso together. Well done.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Definitely.

Cabin Fever:

Yes, I know that Cabin Fever officially says “Imperial Black IPA” on the bottle, but I ain’t playing that game. This is an amped up CDA, plain and simple. The roast is almost overdone on this, but the high booze level (8.5%) cuts that down a bit.

NOSE Whoa. Roasted malt, piney hops, light coffee (from the malt), and a thin booziness waft off this.
APPEARANCE Very deep brown with thin lingering light beige head.
TASTE Sweet malt cut by the booze up front, then the roasted bitterness kicks in and lingers, slowing mixing with a pronounced Phillips’ metallic tang.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Definitely. Buy both at the same time, even.

Coles notes:

Brewery Phillips
From Victoria
Name Black Jackal Cabin Fever
Style Imperial Coffee Stout Imperial CDA
SOA Now Bronze Bronze
SOA Potential n/a; table beer
Drink Now
Best use Avoiding breakfast Avoiding trademark litigation
Availability Most LRSs
Cost $7.00+ per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers (you can buy) Hoyne Voltage Howe Sound Gathering Storm
Chuck says Damned good. Buy ’em on sight to support better seasonals from Phillips.

Seriously guys, fix the metallic finish, and I’ll give you a silver.

Written by chuck

March 8th, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Posted in Beers

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