Barley Mowat 

Archive for April, 2013

Blink and You Miss It (VCBW Preview)

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Vancouver Craft Beer Week, that annual celebration of all things awesome and right with this city, is coming back for yet another year. To that end, they launched their website, event listings, and ticket sales all in one fell swoop. Notably improved from last year was both the ticketing partner (Eventbrite) and the timing (noon vs midnight) of the launch.

Ticketing was so vastly improved, in fact, that Hoppapolooza sold out in thirty minutes instead of three hours. Yup, sorry, it’s all gone now. Yes, I got tickets. Thanks for asking! Don’t worry about the other events–they won’t sell out for some time yet. If you’re stuck with too much money and no Hoppapolooza tickets, what should you do? Here’s my guide for VCBW 2013:

1. Hoppapolooza IV. Yeah, I know both sessions sold out, but I have to rub it in a bit more. This is probably the single best beer event in BC. Imagine Nigel Springthorpe (Alibi Room) calling in every favour owed him to put together the most amazing beer list any BC geek has ever seen. That’s Hoppapolooza. Pro Tip: If you didn’t get tickets, try lining up the next day at 5pm to sample the leftovers. Usually Nigel goes a bit nuts, and even the most dedicated crowd of beer geeks can drink all of the awesomeness in one go. Or wait for tickets to show up on Craigslist at a 300% markup.

2. Cicerone vs Sommelier. I always contend that beer can trump wine for food pairings. Not everyone agrees with me, but even most of the naysayers admit it’s close. Wine v Beer dinners are always lots of fun, and this should be no exception.

3. PDX Beer Week. This one won’t be special so much for the awesome beer on hand (perhaps mostly because Portland Craft ALWAYS has awesome PDX beer on tap), but more for the people. The brewmasters of Gigantic (Ben Love), Ninkasi (Jamie Floyd), Upright (Alex Ganum), The Commons (Mike Wright), Alameda (Carston Haney), and Occidental (Ben Engler) will be there. When you cram this much US brewing talent in a small space, I virtually guarantee some Canuck brewers will also turn up.

The rest is your standard mix of festivals, dinners, and general beer-love. While I’m jaded enough to look at the master list and find it a bit boring, 99.9% of the beer drinking public is not me. No matter what tickets you pick up, you’ll find yourself in a room surrounded by beer geeks. You’ll have a great evening, make some new friends, and then want to take a shower to get all that beard hair off. Cuz eewwww.

Written by chuck

April 22nd, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Brewery Lounges

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The hot topic du jour in BC craft brewing circles is the City of Vancouver deciding whether or not to allow local breweries to set up and operate tasting lounges. Well, okay, maybe it’s not the hot topic in all of BC. Municipalities other than Vancouver have no issue with letting breweries sell you their beer. It’s just us lucky folks in No Fun City being told to, well, not have fun.

Paddy over at the VanEast Beer Blog has a great summary of all the details here(CAMRA also has you covered here). You should go read that and then, the next time you see his grinning bald head in public, buy him a Fat Tug. What Paddy is not admitting to online is that a lot of the progress here has been his doing. Sure, local breweries have absolutely been active, and the mayor appears to be on the side of good, but Paddy has been working the political channels non-stop in the interest of getting things done.

So what’s all the fuss about, then? If you didn’t click the link above it all boils down to this: earlier this year the BC Government made changes to the Liquor Act that would allow a brewery to sell, onsite, more than 12 ounces of beer to each client per day (as they are currently limited to). Sounds easy enough to implement, but the City jumped in the way and insisted on the additional requirement of a Liquor Primary License for breweries that want to sell that second tasting glass of beer.

Liquor Primaries, in addition to being notoriously difficult and expensive to obtain, are not allowed in industrial zones in Vancouver which–you guessed it–is where all the breweries are located. And thus a Catch-22 was born: you can either brew the beer or sell a 13th ounce per day, but not both. It should be noted that this is all the City’s rules–the Province indicates that no Liquor Primary is required at all. Since the Province are the ones that make up the rules in the first place, you’d think their opinion would matter, but I guess that’s why we don’t get politics.


It’s mostly just the hug fights during parliament that confuse me.

For what it’s worth, Mayor Gregor Robertson appears to be quite supportive of the latest batch of craft breweries, even going so far as to tweet “Working on new regs to allow tasting lounges + more support for #Vancouver’s #craftbrew industry”. If the story holds, we should seem some progress in May. Of course, I trust politicians about as much as I trust that my $5 handed to the sketchy street guy is really going to food (if anything, he seemed even “hungrier” when he came back 90 minutes later and asked for more).

The one thing that keeps politicians honest, though, is the public eye. So tweet away at Mr. Mayor (@MayorGregor) and let him know that walking into a brewery and being able to try more than half of a single beer is something you’re keen to do in Vancouver.

Written by chuck

April 21st, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Phillips Twisted Oak 2 and Double Dragon

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Another month, and Phillips brings us another couple seasonal releases, and I’m happy because one of those is their next Twisted Oak Stillage release. To recap, Phillips decided to create a series of barrel-aged beers with no names. First was a Scotch Ale that was all about the oak and not so much about the scotch, and now we have a Red Ale. If the first was anything to go on, this one should be good.

Twisted Oak Stillage Red Ale takes normal barrel ageing and adds a twist. This isn’t aged in old wine barrels, or even old whiskey barrels, but rather old rum barrels. Notably, the identity of the rum that was in the barrels previously is not revealed, but the mere fact it was in a barrel at all rules out the lower end mixer varieties.

Tasting notes:

Twisted Oak Stillage Red Ale

Enough speculation, though, is it any damned good? Yes, yes it is. First off, this is a very pleasant red ale. Even though 6.8% strays a bit into Imperial territory, it’s not a harsh or off balance product. Throw on the barrel aging and we get something more complex, and unique.

NOSE Sweet caramel/toffee backed by rum. The rum isn’t over-powering, though. A hint of oak rounds it out.
APPEARANCE Translucent brown with a hint of deep reds; thin white lingering head. A pretty beer for sure.
TASTE The caramel/toffee is definitely first, with the rum perceived more as a faint alcohol burn. The oak is a bit harsh (providing a rough tannic bitterness), but not unpleasant.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Definitely.

Double Dragon Imperial Red Ale

With Twisted Oak comes this year’s Double Dragon Imperial Red, practically begging for the side by side comparison. Yup, they both have “red” in their names, and that’s about where the similarities end. At 8.2% Double Dragon rules out even being brewed from the same recipe as Twisted Oak, and it shows.

NOSE Thin malt, some cereal, bittering hops.
APPEARANCE Deep Auburn; persistent cream head.
TASTE Highly boozey. Decent malt with some roast character. The bittering hops are evenly applied, but in the end it’s struck through with that Phillips metallicness that ruins so many of their beers.
SHOULD I BUY IT? Nope. Buy Twisted Oak instead. Phillips has just managed to cannibalize their own sales.

Coles notes:

Brewery Phillips
From Victoria
Name Twisted Oak Red Ale Double Dragon
Style Red Ale Imperial Red Ale
SOA Now Bronze n/a
SOA Potential n/a; table beer
Drink Now Don’t
Pirate friendly? Yaaaar! Avast!
Availability Most LRSs
Cost $7.00+ per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers (you can buy) None. It’s pretty unique. Lighthouse Siren… if you can find it
Chuck says Moar please. Less please.


Please continue to screw around with barrels.

Written by chuck

April 17th, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Posted in Beers

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