Barley Mowat 

Archive for November, 2013

First Tidbit from the Liquor Policy Review

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The first recommendation from the BC Liquor Review is here, and it kinda sucks. Sure, booze in grocery stores will be swell and all, but the nagging bit is that whole “maintain the current cap on the total number of retail outlets”–a cap which has been frozen for some years now. Go read the whole thing here. Retaining the cap is a dreadful mistake.

What this means is that your local grocery store need not apply for a license to sell liquor. No new licenses will be created. Instead, they will be forced to try and buy an existing LRS, close it, and transfer the license. For those not in the know, LRS licenses tend to be obscenely profitable, because you’re selling liquor in a market that restricts possible competition (see above re: license cap).

That, in turn, means only the biggest chains will have the cash piles to undertake this process, and that means the in-store retail experience will be focused on recouping the massive outlay required to set the damn thing up in the first place… which means selling loads of product… which means macro beer. Yaaaaay.


Pictured: “Selection”

Compounding this focus on mass market appeal and high sales volumes will be a disparity between the major stores and smaller food outlets. While the majors will be able to afford to close down a small LRS to pillage the license, the smaller shops won’t. You’ll start seeing situations where a big chain store will have an awesome “Alcoholz of the Werlds!1! W00t!” section on one side of the street while the smaller retail shop on the other side will just have plain old, stupid, boring food with those lousy “nutrients” the hippies won’t shut up about.

So, we just set up an massive system to reward the big, mainstream shops for being so big and mainstream. Yay us. Sure, in the end, I still think this is a small step forward, but I’m not so sure that the heel past the toe here.

Written by chuck

November 28th, 2013 at 11:47 am

Posted in Beer and You

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Whistler The Chief Chipotle Ale

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It’s been a while since I last reviewed a run-of-the-mill beer off the LDB’s shelves. Coincidentally, it looks like Whistler Brewing Company has a new bomber out there: The Chief Chipotle Red Ale. If you need a refresher, I’ve been rather harsh on WBC in the past, but I’ve also given props where props are due.

I’m nothing if not pragmatic, and realize it can be hard for a company focused on low-to-mid-range beer to break away from the mass consumer market and instead focus on the high end beer geek crowd, but WBC definitely put their toes in the water with Lost Lake, a delightfully unfiltered IPA. Lost Lake represented a brief, welcome break from a line-up focused on sweetened beers best consumed from a jagged hole in the side of a can. Seriously, they have nine different beers listed at the LDB, and fully five of those are sweetened offerings that can only charitably be called “entry level products.”

Where does The Chief fit in here? Let’s start with the name. Aside from ominously stepping on the Squamish-based product naming scheme of Howe Sound Brewing, slapping “The Chief” on a spicy pepper infused Red Ale should promise a big, meaty, high-malt beer with lots of mineral complexity. This beer is none of those things.

Granted, it’s not awful, which is much better than I’d feared. However, a “Chipotle Red Ale” named after the largest chunk of granite on the planet can ill-afford to be boring, and that’s exactly where this beer leaves you. Whistler, you can do better than this.

APPEARANCE Clear, light auburn red with thin, quickly dissipating white lead. Very low carb.
NOSE Slight chipotle–not much else.
TASTE Not overwhelming, dry, chipotle bitterness, but rather unpleasant. Virtually no other flavour.
STATS 5.0% ABV / ?? IBU / Chipotle-infused
SHOULD I BUY IT? Yeah, it’s a skip. You might have $5.75 burning a hole in your pocket but you’d be better off eating the money instead.

Coles notes:

Brewery Whistler
From Whistler
Name The Chief
Style Red Ale
SOA Now n/a
SOA Potential n.a
Drink Your sink should drink it
Number of good beers with chipotle 0 and counting
Availability Most LDBs
Cost $5.75 per 650ml bomber
Similar Beers Rogue Chipotle Ale

Written by chuck

November 27th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Posted in Beers

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Four Winds Saison Brett

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It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a beer. I thought about throwing up something on Driftwood Lustrum, but talking about the cellaring potential and general awesomeness of a beer you could no longer buy just seems cruel (I will update my cellaring page with details, though, so those lucky few who managed to get some can track their investment).

Today, though, I happened upon some Four Winds Saison Brett and figured the world could benefit from my thoughts on this interesting, complex and–perhaps most importantly–still available beer.

Tasting notes:

First, it comes in a cork and wire bottle. That gets some points from me right off the bat. Only three beers have ever been released in BC with corks, and Four Winds has now made two of those. Throw some Brett-infected barrel-aging on the fire and now we’re talking serious potential.

Does it live up to that potential? In a word: Yes. In two words: fuck yes. This is a refined, polished beer that makes nigh perfect use of barrel aging and Brett funk to add complexity to an already great beer. I opened this bottle with very high expectations and Four Winds met them.

This beer is drinking beautifully now, but it will continue to develop intense complexity with cellaring, likely for up to another 2-3 years.

APPEARANCE Cloudy, golden amber with a slight orange tint. Head is frothy, white and long lasting.
NOSE Bread yeast with a strong Brett funk. Slight pepper spiciness.
TASTE Crisp, dry body with a lingering funk from the Brett. Mild apple esters with a slightly bitter, oaky finish.
STATS 7.0% ABV / 28 IBU / Unfiltered / Bottle Conditioned
SHOULD I BUY IT? This is an elegant beauty of a beer, and definitely the best Saison BC has ever seen. So, uh, yeah, buy it.

Where to get it: The following stores purchases some stock of Saison Brett, but may or may not have sold out by now:

Legacy Liquor (rumoured out)
Brewery Creek
Fire Fly
BotteJockey
Darby’s
Hastings Liquor
Westcoast Liquor Kerrisdale
Kitsilano Liquor
Steamworks Liquor
Burrard Liquor
16th St. Liquor
Village Liquor
Hop & Vine
Bainbridge
Big Ridge
Central City
O’Hares
Spinnakers Liquor Stores
Cascadia Liquor Stores
Scotties (Squamish)

Coles notes:

Brewery Four Winds
From Delta
Name Saison Brett
Style Saison
SOA Now Gold
SOA Potential Gold-ier
Drink Now-2015
Improvement the cork makes +20% – I’m shallow, okay?
Availability Small release, major LRSs and brewery only
Cost ~$13 per 750ml bottle
Similar Beers Maybe Upright Seven, or Logsdon Seizoen Bretta–nothing made in BC

 


Gold because of the bar
this has set for BC-brewed beers.

Written by chuck

November 23rd, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Beers

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