Barley Mowat 

2013 Beerdies

with 10 comments

What a night, eh? Wow, that was epic. I have to admit, if you asked me at the start of the evening if I thought I’d be able to get up at 8am to work on the blog I’d have carefully expressed my respectful skepticism. My answer would have morphed from “Unlikely” to “Feeesk yoush… yoush don’t know meee!” right about the time we were saddling that pack of stray dogs, and hanging a cat from a string on a stick.

Okay, fine. I’ll be honest. I wrote this over the weekend and it’s been auto-posted and Twitter-pimped by clever software. I am asleep, or in a ditch, or maybe even asleep in a ditch. You most likely are, too, and might even be beside me, but that’s what cellular data is for.

Last year on New Year’s Day I introduced the “Annual Barley Mowat Excellence in Beer Awards” aka The Beerdies, and I figure there’s no sense in introducing an annual something if you don’t plan on at least doing it every year or so, like clockwork. That’s me: when I make a commitment to give out an award repeatedly, on a set schedule, I come through each and every time. Why are you laughing?

Enough intro, time for the awards! Unlike most Year In Review columns, I’ve waited until the year is actually done, so even newly opened Green Leaf had a chance to be considered. Sure, they didn’t win anything, but they were considered and that’s enough for me.

Brewery What Took Most Of My Money: Driftwood (brewmaster Jason Meyer)

A repeat from 2012, but Driftwood isn’t as far out front here as they have been. This whole “brewery lounge” thing has given a distinct advantage to the newer breweries right by my office, and while Driftwood still won out due to a few great seasonals bought by the caselot, and Fat Tug being my go-to beer in non-beer pubs, Brassneck was not too far behind… and they’ve only been open a few months… I drink a lot after work, is what I’m saying here.


Also before work, but that’s just part of a balanced breakfast.
Hottest Brewery Accessory: Lounges

Tasting rooms were swell, but the ridiculous legal restrictions made them kinda sucky. Lounges, though, turn brewery tasting rooms into de facto bars, but bars that just happen to have direct access to the freshest, tastiest beers around. Chuck likey.

Best Seasonal Lineup: Parallel 49 (brewmaster Graham With)

This was a hard decision to make (see Most Improved for the runner-up), but in the end the sheer number of interesting beers coming out of Triumph Street gave the nod to P49. Sure, they dumped L’il Red on the market like you’d dump an old mattress in an alleyway, but they also released Hopnotist, and about a dozen other great beers.

Best New Trend: Food Trucks at Breweries

Tuesdays have become known as “Pie and Beer Day.” A constantly rotating food truck out front lets the brewery focus on beer, and lets people inside said brewery have an ever-changing rotation of cuisine to choose from. The mix and matching for beer pairings is endless.

Best Nigel Springthorpe: Nigel Springthorpe

Even though Nigel did the unspeakable and shaved away all his beer geek cred in one foolish, marriage-saving move, he still takes home the candy. Nigel’s day-in, day-out commitment to supporting, making, and serving top notch beer has transformed this city into the premier craft beer destination it is today and I, for one, will never stop being grateful.


I can still lament the horrible beard decision, though, right?
Photo credit: Vancouver Sun
Most Improved Brewery: Granville Island (brewmaster Vern Lambourne)

No, I’m not talking about their regular lineup. That’s still dreck. I’m talking about the one-off and seasonal releases that are still brewed on the namesake island/bloated peninsula. Vern’s beers have always been decent, but this year he doubled the special sauce in the ingredient list. They’re better both inside and outside the bottle.

First, I’ve been a champion of differentiating the branding between the Molson-ized 12oz products and Vern’s carefully crafted line of bombers for quite a while, and they finally heeded me (let’s just pretend it was me, okay? It makes me feel important). The bombers don’t lie about where they were made, but neither do they scream Granville Island at you. This increases the chance of their selling on merit, to craft beer types–not the market their mainstream beers are targeted at.

Second, the beers are just plain better than last year. Pucker Meister, Burly Goat, Thirsty Farmer, Mad Dash, Uncle Monty’s–all great. Plus, somehow they made a collaboration IPA with Joey Restaurants that is outstanding (it’s white labeled as “Urban Legend” and getting rare). All round, more good beer, showcasing more of Vern’s talents.

Best New Brewery: Four Winds (brewmaster Brent Mills)

Nothing like an upset, eh? Brassneck doesn’t win Best New Brewery? What gives? Brassneck is producing some mighty fine beer, but Four Winds started off good and has been dialling in their regular line up over the past six months to near perfection. Their IPA is challenging the reigning trifeca of Central City, Driftwood and Lighthouse, and that takes some doing. Then, this fall they went out and released two great barrel-aged beers, and confided in me that a sour release was coming. However, nothing speaks to their potential more than the beer they didn’t release.

Remember that jaw-dropingly awesome Saison Brett? Well, there were two batches of it. Yup, two. Only the first one was released, though, because Brent didn’t feel that batch number two lived up to his quality expectations. That’s a move that takes balls, and shows an unrelenting commitment to great beer, and that’s why they got my nod in this category.

And now, the grand prize of the 2013 Beerdies (aka the Golden Beerdie):

Best Beard in BC Beer: Josh Michnik (33 Acres)

I almost gave this prize to the no-doubt sizeable heap of Conrad’s ex-beard, but I had forgotten that a great BC Beer Beard existed just four blocks to the west. Congrats, Josh!


If you think he looks trepidatious, keep in mind that I just pulled out a camera and asked if I could take his picture “for the internet.”

Written by chuck

January 1st, 2014 at 11:51 am

10 Responses to '2013 Beerdies'

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  1. I was going to shout blasphemy when food trucks were not cast the Hottest Brewery Accessory, but then saw their inclusion two categories down. Amen to that. I happen to live right in behind Brassneck, and the food trucks have become a staple of my day-to-day culinary experiences.

    Four Winds getting best new brewery isn’t an upset for me, as I felt like a movie star moved in next door when their corked saison brett hit the market. Brassneck is producing consistently awesome beer but Four Winds is exploring uncharted territory for BC with some serious gusto.

    2014 is going to be awesome as more local breweries get more and more creative with their experimentation.

    Jason

    1 Jan 14 at 12:15

  2. I feel the best BC beard should go to David Mitchell from beerontherock.com. It is fiery red, flares laterally, almost reaches his nipples and catches more food than a sink drain. Check his Facebook photo for evidence. Thanks for the year of good articles Chuck! Keep it up.

    ian

    1 Jan 14 at 13:16

  3. Ian, Chuck never comes to Island.

    Dave

    1 Jan 14 at 14:07

  4. True Dave. But it is BC beards and he could probably see it from Vancouver.

    ian

    1 Jan 14 at 15:56

  5. Brent Mills refusal to release a batch of beer scoring below his high quality expectation represents craft beer at its finest. Cheers to Brent and all those at Four Winds!

    I wish L’il Red was not released to shelves – where it largely still sits – through the same manner of thought.

    A.

    2 Jan 14 at 00:00

  6. I figure an island visit is long overdue. You guys have some sort of beer week upcoming, right? I might just pop over for some portion of that (and also to gawk at Dave’s beard, which was pretty impressive the last time I saw it but continues to grow).

    chuck

    2 Jan 14 at 08:28

  7. Nice list!

    You know who would get my vote for 2014? The entrepreneur who found a profitable and convenient way to fill growlers from breweries located outside of the lower mainland. Think of it as a growler station, where Driftwood, Powell River, Persephone et al could drop off kegs, and at any given time, there could be 20+ taps filling growlers. I rarely get outside the lower mainland, so having great beer (that never sees bombers or 6-packs) from further-afield BC breweries would be awesome 🙂

    scott

    2 Jan 14 at 10:28

  8. @scott – This is a common thing to see in the US. Heck, even grocery stores have been known to have a craft growler bar featuring beer from local breweries.

    Sadly, though, such a thing is completely illegal in BC. An LRS or restaurant cannot repackage liquor for off-site consumption, which is what filling growlers would be. It’s a ridiculous rule for sure, but is sure is there. CAMRA made a case to John Yap to allow this sort of thing, but I suspect it was sidelined during the review process.

    Slightly related side note: even though you can buy a bottle of wine in a restaurant and take home the unused portion for drinking later, no such courtesy is extended to beer (s42.4.a of BC’s Liquor Control and Licensing Regulation mentions “wine” with no provision for beer). I guess the LCLB just expects beer drinkers to chug their bombers of Imperial Stout prior to driving home.

    chuck

    2 Jan 14 at 10:37

  9. Bellingham. Elizabeth Station. Last Monday (they have Sour Mondays) they had kegs of Cascade Sang Noir, and Mikkeler Spontanpeach.. And do Growler fills of ~10-12 beers all the timr. And you can drink while you peruse there 800+ bottles.

    connor

    4 Jan 14 at 21:24

  10. […] time is the Juxtapose IPA from Four Winds Brewing. Four Winds shocked a few folks by earning my Beerdies nod for Best New Brewery in 2013, especially considering that rival upstart Brassneck was also in […]

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