Barley Mowat 

Archive for May, 2013

Parallel 49 Hopnotist

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Has it been a year already? It seems like only yesterday that a massively-funded brewing start-up in East Van was setting up shop with dreams of selling metric shittonnes of beer to the world. That brewery, of course, is Parallel 49. Just over a year later they’ve proven all my early concerns about over-production to be bunk, and are producing hit after hit after hit, all of which are welcomed then consumed by a growing fan base of ravenous craft beer devotees. Almost anything Graham With brews is gold, and pretty much everyone out there agrees with me, judging by the increasing stack of trophies and accolades in the corner of the brewery’s tasting room.

To celebrate turning one, they’ve brewed and released that heavy of the craft beer scene, an Imperial IPA. This is big news for a brewery that doesn’t even have a Bitter or a regular IPA in their standard line-up. Their one dalliance with the hoppier side of the fence was Lord of the Hops, and while not a bad beer by any stretch, it just didn’t have enough wow factor seriously challenge the reigning IPA kings of Driftwood Fat Tug, Lighthouse Switchback and Central City IPA.

But Lord of the Hops was not an Imperial. How is their first foray into hops madness? Really fucking awesome, that’s how it is. Hopnotist is everything you could hope for from an Imperial IPA: sticky, hoppy, resiny, citrusy, juicy, wow-in-a-jar awesomeness. Did I mention that, in addition to all this, it’s unfiltered? Yup, this beast pours hazier than my Friday night memories of your mom, and the taste is just as… yeah, not going that far. Let’s just say there’s lots of yeast character in this beer.

In short, this is, in my opinion, the best beer Parallel 49 has brewed to date. It is the best Imperial IPA in BC by far, and that’s a province that has all of: Russell Hop Therapy, Driftwood Twenty Pounder and Central City Imperial IPA. The bitterness of the hops, while present, is balanced out nicely by the huge malt. Just when you think the sugar might be too much, the yeast shows up to give it character, depth and complexity.

I bought three, and I did not buy enough.

Tasting notes:

NOSE Huge citrus flavours, orange, jack fruit, kiwi
APPEARANCE Hazy orange with a lingering tight white head
TASTE Balanced, believe it or not. The high sugar lets the flavours of the hops play rather than let the bitterness dominate
SHOULD I BUY IT? Steal from your mom to buy it. I sure as hell did

Coles notes:

Brewery Parallel 49
From Vancouver
Name Hopnotist
Style Imperial IPA
SOA Now Gold. Wanna make something of it?
SOA Potential Might cellar, but how could you leave it alone that long?
Drink Now.
Indecent dreams I’ve had about this beer in the past week 9. I went back to sleep twice to get more.
Availability Brewery and at select LRS
Cost $6.60 per 650ml bottle at the brewery (resupply this Sunday). Slightly more elsewhere. Holy shit that’s cheap.
Similar BC Beers Russell Hop Therapy, Driftwood Twenty Pounder and Central City Imperial IPA.

Here’s a little gold to go on your trophy shelf.

Written by chuck

May 16th, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Posted in Beers

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Naming Your Brewery

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There’s so many new breweries cropping up in BC that there will be one or two more by the time you’re done reading this article. Screw the recession; craft beer is booming big time in BC. The LDB reports 50% year-over-year growth in sales for breweries of 16,000hl or smaller (about the size of Lighthouse or smaller), and I suspect the only reason that growth wasn’t higher is that we straight up drank all the beer on offer. Seriously, craft breweries in BC are starting to actually run out of beer because they can’t grow fast enough to meet demand.

So, say you’re a homebrewer with delusions of grandeur or, more likely, a savvy marketing guy who just sorta understands what craft beer is thanks to a recent Scout Magazine article written by a clever, yet surprisingly handsome bearded journalist. Before you’ve sourced out some money, a few bits of equipment, and warehouse space to put it in (which can now both be in Vancouver and have a lounge), you will need a name.

Picking a good brewery name is incredibly important. It’s responsible for the first impression of your beer to potential customers. It’s how customers recognize you on the shelf, and it’s how they search for you on the Internet. It is, arguably, more important than how good your beer is. (In response to the thousands of sudden, sharp intakes of breath I just heard: it doesn’t matter how awesome your beer is if no one will drink it because it says “Canned Shit” on the side)

Although, curiously, some alternate spellings of “shit” sell well.

So, here it is: Barley Mowat’s Guide to Naming Your New Brewery. I’ll give you a breakdown of brewery names, from worst to best, and cite examples in BC that meet these criteria.

Worst: Names the LCLB won’t let you use

Nothing is worse than a name you can never register a liquor license with because it violates the LCLB’s 1920’s views about what is right and moral to put on the side of a bottle. This category is such a poor choice for a brewery name, that every example here is fictional.

Examples: Binge Beer, Underage Ales, Get Drunk Now Brewery, Beer is Better Than Wine Brewing Company (this one will likely get you blackballed forever by the wine-myopic LDB)

Pretty bad: Names that lie

Breweries tend to be in fairly boring places, places like industrial parks, or down by the sewage treatment plant. But why let the awful truth stop you from associating your brewery with a place that’s much nicer? Nevermind how much damage will be done to your brand once people find out you straight up lied, that’s a problem for Future You to deal with, and that guy’s a jerk.

Examples: Stanley Park Brewing (Annacis Island), Coal Harbour Brewing (East Van), Deep Cove Brewing (North Van), Barkerville Brewing (Quesnel)

Brewery’s don’t just limit themselves to lies about location, they also dabble lies about their actual existence. Shadow Branding is an all-too common tactic whereby a larger brewery invents a whole persona to go with a new beer because… um… the marketing is… uh… easier, somehow? I actually don’t know why they do this, although the big boys do have a lot to gain from distancing these new “craft” brands from their macro roots. I’ll dig deeper into this in a future post.

Examples: Stanley Park Brewing (Turning Point… yup, they’re a two-fer), Cariboo (Pacific Western), Shaftebury (Sapporo)

This is a common dating site tactic, as well. I mean, he could be a NHL defenceman, right?

Better: Place names

Naming your brewery after the location it is (actually) in is not a bad plan. Many breweries are so named, in fact. The trick is to try and be as specific as possible, because eventually another brewery will open up, and suddenly that Google search for “Vancouver Brewery” turns up a dozen other breweries in addition to your own. Just be sure to draw the line somewhere, though, as “534 Cambie Street, Second Floor Brewing Company” doesn’t have a great ring to it–try “Crosstown Brewing” instead. (Sidenote: Anyone? That’s an awesome building just begging for a nano, and it’s for lease!)

This approach becomes an issue, though, if your brewery grows enough that you need to move. If you think finding a good space is hard, wait until you need to do that AND have that space be on a specific street.

Examples (bad to good): Vancouver Island, Whistler, Powell Street, Yaletown, Townsite

Better still: Named after the brewer

This creates a nice connection between the public and the brewery, unless your name is Smith. There’s something neat about waltzing up to a beer fest booth labeled “Jim’s Brewery” and discovering that you are, in fact, talking to Jim himself.

Examples: Hoyne, Phillips, Russell, R & B

I would be remiss, though, in not pointing out a minor issue with three of these names:

  • Russell is named after founder/brewmaster Mark Russell and his brother Peter who, sadly, is are longer affiliated with the brewery that still bears their name.
  • R&B’s Rick Dellow and Barry Benson, though, can still be found down on 54 East 4th street, but R&B has to be about the worst e-name for a business ever. It’s almost impossible to search for in any online database, and all these fun new apps for rating beer (think or untappd) have to be specifically updated to support the & in the middle, and even then it’s often easier to just search for Red Devil Ale to find their brewery.
  • Hoyne Brewing, named after owner/brewer Sean Hoyne is better, but there is a chance for some confusion since Sean isn’t the only brewer in the Hoyne family. Most recently, brother Paul Hoyne was the brewmaster over at Lighthouse so there isn’t much risk of this right now, but if he were to strike out on his own life could get interesting.

Best: Uncommon or made-up terms

These are probably the best type of name for your new company. Uncommon or completely made-up terms are easily trademark-able, and provide unique search results for potential consumers. This is by far the largest category of brewery names in BC. As a side note, I don’t mean breweries with common, single-word phrases for names. Those are bad, folks:

Bad: Bridge, Ridge, Cannery, Tree, Wolf, Canoe, Swan’s, Storm

If you really want to have a generic term in your brewery name, try slapping a adjective in front of it. Truck Brewing is a terrible name, but Red Truck is less so. Think of all the other breweries that used this tactic:

Good: Big Ridge, Big River, Dead Frog, Noble Pig, Okanagan Spring, Red Truck, Tin Whistle, Steel Toad

Either that or pick a less common noun. “Bridge” or “Tree” are common, every day nouns, but when was the last time you used “Driftwood” in a conversation that wasn’t about beer. Again, while “Driftwood” isn’t awful, it could be a lot better. Here are some from okay to great.

Better: Driftwood, Wheelhouse, Crannog, Brassneck

Lastly, after you’ve picked a few good naming candidates, make sure to take 5 minutes and perform both a Canadian Intellectual Property Office Trademark Database Search and US Patent and Trademark Office Search.

Even if you have no plans to expand into the US, that other brewery down south might not feel the same way about Canada. A bit of effort here to pick a unique name (and register it) could avoid you a potential host of problems down the road.

Written by chuck

May 13th, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Posted in Beer and You

May Beer of the Month

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The more astute of you might have noticed my BOTM not being updated for April. This is for a few reasons, namely:

  1. I was in Bolivia
  2. No beer stood out in April
  3. I plain old forgot

Mostly, though, it was number two there. I always said I’d skip a month if no beer of note was released, and that was the case. Sure, there were a few that piqued my interest slightly, but in the end none of them really fit the bill.

May, though, is a different story. A beer was released in late April, and is still available in stores right now, that is definitely something to think about. It’s Driftwood Clodhopper. Clodhopper is virtually unique amongst beers in BC because it’s brewed with barley grown and malted in BC. Sourcing local barley might seem like a huge chore when there’s a nice website you can just plain old order the stuff from by the pallet-load, but it’s the next big step for breweries to take on the road to making better beer.

The problem is this: sure, it’s nice and easy to order from that catalogue, and you sure do get a consistent product, but you know who else can order from that catalogue? Everyone. Every single brewery in BC can, and does, source barley from one of a handful of possible locations. Barley contributes as much flavour to a beer as yeast and hops do, both of which are carefully considered before being used (yeast is mostly propagated in-house, and hops are increasingly locally sourced, or even home grown in some cases). Barley, though? Give Ed at BarleyWorld a call and get 500kg of the Malt. See if we can’t get some with less rats this time.

But not no rats, though. They help with stirring the mash. And add flavour.

Not Driftwood Clodhopper, though. This is made with barley grown mere minutes from the brewery. Sure, the farm isn’t very big, and the harvest is likewise small, so they’re restricted to this one release, but the demand is there and it’s growing. Unique, malt-forward beers are coming.

Unless, of course, the government doesn’t do anything. You see, one of the main advantages of using all-BC ingredients in your booze is you can then sell the resultant happy-juice tax free from your establishment. The goal here is to create demand for BC-grown ingredients that are traditionally sourced from out of province. Demand equals jobs which equals, let’s face it, votes. Wineries have long enjoyed this little break, and just recently the government opened up the legislation, stared long and hard at the wording, and changed it… to include distilleries. Breweries, on other hand, can just go fuck themselves.

How does this threaten beer made from local malt? I mean, if it’s better, you’ll do it anyway right? You sure would, if the farmer hadn’t already sold it to distillers. Yeah, that locally distilled, high octane, booze, in addition to being awesome, is also made from–you guessed it–barley malt. Sucks to be a brewer wanting to make better beer.

Oh well, enough rambling from me, go out and enjoy this beer, and think about all the political nuances that went into its creation.

Tasting notes:

APPEARANCE Low, almost no, carbonation. Dark red/brown body.
NOSE Some darker fruits (plum, cherry), thick sugar/malt nose, with a hint of spiciness on the end.
TASTE Smooth, lots of blackened caramel, and just a wee bit of Belgian funk
SHOULD I BUY IT? Yes. Buy three. No, four.

Coles notes:

Brewery Driftwood
From Victoria
Name Clodhopper
Style Abbey Dubbel
SOA Now Bronze
SOA Potential Bronze
Drink Now. Might improve with some age, but it’s good right now.
Label Seriously, what an ugly label. What gives, guys?
Availability Widely available at LRS
Cost $7-10 per 650ml bottle.
Similar BC Beers None right now

Written by chuck

May 6th, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Posted in Beers

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