Barley Mowat 

Archive for September, 2014

The Worst Best Of List Ever

with 7 comments

Apologies if the following contains a bit more beer nerd rage and swearing than usual. I usually try and keep it a bit more civil arou–ah, who am I kidding, this kind of shit is what you people come here for.

It’s been an interesting week for local media and craft beer ignorance. First, the Georgia Straight handed out an award to Craft Beer Market for Third Place in the coveted Best Brewpub category. This is quite an accomplishment for a barely 1 year old establishment and doubly so considering they AREN’T A FUCKING BREWPUB.

Sure, I know the Georgia Straight Best in Vancouver is a write-in award but c’mon guys, do at least some basic fact-checking before printing and framing the results. Shit like this is why your awards have basically no meaning. Maybe next year I’ll run a write-in campaign for “Best 100 Foot Golden Statue.”


Also not a brew pub. (but a great club)

However, that pales in comparison to a recent beauty by Vancouver Is Awesome. VIA went out with the aim to call attention to the best craft breweries in town, and came up with a list that just boggles the mind. There are at least five major errors on this list, which is a pretty good batting average for crap considering only 14 entries were published. Let’s go through them, shall we?

1/ Postmark Brewing leads off the piece. Postmark is, without a doubt, the worst brewery within the borders of the City of Vancouver. Their insipid quasi-macro swill might tempt curious Molson drinkers (which is exactly what it is designed to do), but the mere notion of purposefully brewing bad beer is anathema to any craft beer aficionado. Postmark’s deep marketing pockets plus their pole position on this piece cause me to openly wonder if this whole exercise isn’t simply a paid ad on their behalf, with other breweries hastily filled in for some astroturfed legitimacy.

2/ Go down the list a bit and we soon encounter Coal Harbour Brewing. CHB is a curious inclusion on a list designed to direct Vancouverites to the best breweries for “growler fills (and) tastings” considering that they offer neither at their production facility across from Parallel 49. Worry not, though, for the hoards of VIA readers won’t bother the brewers of the pond water that is 311 Lager. You see, VIA helpfully directs people to 1385 W 8th — a simple mistake that the author could have avoided had, you know, HE EVER BEEN TO THE BREWERIES HE WAS RECOMMENDING.

Update: Looks like I miscounted. There are only 12 entries on that list. I am bad at math. Oh well, at least I admit my mistakes. Not like VIA, whoever, who quietly updated their copy to reflect the lack of tastings/fillings at Coal Harbour, and then moved their pin to the correct location.

3/ Where is Storm Brewing? Did you seriously just put together a list of Vancouver breweries and leave out the just-celebrating-their-twentieth-anniversary institution of personified awesome that is Storm Motherfucking Brewing? Seriously, are you an idiot? Do you even drink beer? Do you know anything about it?


Beer Gensistoriums? Ah! Breweries! Yeah, they’re called Breweries! How quaint.

4/ I guess we can give them a pass for skipping the latest hotshots of Dageraad, Four Winds, Steel & Oak and Yellow Dog since they’re strictly limiting the entrants to Vancouver breweri—what? Central City made the list? Fuuuuuuck. Sure, CC makes okay beer, but if we’re going to go past that magic city border we can get way, way better beer without having to go all the way to fucking Surrey.

5/ Powell Street isn’t even open yet. I love David and I love David’s beer, and I’m very excited about the new brewery, but to have two addresses on your list of 14 that are incapable of actually serving beer is inexcusable.

You add all that up, and you have a beer list that tells us a lot of its author. They don’t know good beer when they drink it, and they don’t bother actually going to a place before recommending it. That’s some crack journalism there, Bob.

Written by chuck

September 19th, 2014 at 9:48 am

Posted in Beer and You

Tagged with

Dead Frog Big Stump

with one comment

I’ll admit it: I like Spruce Ales. In much the same way that I’m not partial to White IPAs, I am partial to Spruce Ales. So, you should take this review with a grain of salt. Maybe I’m just gaga over anything with tree bits in it, or maybe I hold Spruce Beers to an even higher standard because of how much I lust after them. I honestly have no idea.

Dead Frog is continuing to try and convince the world that they’ve given up their Lime Lager ways, and the Big Stump Spruce Golden Ale is the next in their “no really, it’s good beer, we swear!” series. Okay, fine, the series doesn’t actually have a name but that’s how they’re coming across. And, while the Lime Lager Days definitely are behind DF, their debt to craft beer in general hasn’t quite been paid off yet.

The press material for this beer is frankly incomplete, only hinting at the origin of Spruce Tip Ale with a frustratingly vague reference to Captain Cook’s NorthWest voyage. Spruce Beer was indeed brewed by Captain Cook, who’s on-board brewery mixed spruce tips in with their ale to combat scurvy. While the exact origins of the practice are not known, it is certainly at least several centuries older than Captain Cook. You can learn more on WikiPedia.


For those of you saying WikiPedia shouldn’t be trusted, I’ve got an article you should read.

Secondly, and minorly, the presser mentions that Dead Frog draws their water from the Fraser River. I will chalk this one up as poetic license, for if they’re pulling that brown “liquid” into their brewery we should all get tested for any number of water born illnesses immediately, but I digress.

How is the beer behind the label? Not bad at all. It’s not an amazing Spruce Ale, but it’s fairly competently done, and a great example of an all-too-rare style. Combine that with a beer that frankly pours an attractive glass, and you have a strong contender for your weekend patio pints.

APPEARANCE Pours opaque orange/light brown with thick tight persistent off-white head. Gorgeous.
NOSE Sweet hops with a piney, citrus undertone.
TASTE Creamy mouthfeel. Integrated hops with a long fresh pine end.
STATS 6.5% ABV / 26 IBU / Golden Ale
SHOULD I BUY IT? Either that or cram some tree bits up your nose.
CHECK IN

Brewery Dead Frog
From Aldergrove
Name Big Stump
Style Golden Ale (Spruce)
SOA Now Bronze
SOA Potential n/a
Drink Now
Does it compare to the first Tofino Spruce Tip IPA? Sigh. No. Nothing ever could.
Availability Wide LDB
Cost $5.50-$7.50 per 650ml
Similar Beers Tofino Spruce Ale

 

 


There ya have it: cram some tree bits in your beer and you get some metal

Written by chuck

September 11th, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with

Whistler Big Sky

with one comment

About a month ago, a local pseudo-brewery sent out a request on Twitter for people to review their new beer. Whistler Brewing (actually a subsidiary brand of the larger NorthAm Group out of Kamloops, which also brews the piss-in-a-can known as Bowen Island Beer) had released a new California Common, titled Big Sky, and wanted local beer snobs to know about it.

It didn’t take long for the kind folk of Twitter land to suggest that perhaps they should send a sample off to me for review. Strangely, no sample arrived. Perhaps they forgot. Or, perhaps they’re even passingly familiar with my blog and/or previous reviews of their “beer”.


Let’s face it: I’m kinda like the Cards Against Humanity of beer reviews.

Whistler could be forgiven for thinking that I have it out for them, but then again I did rather like their Lost Lake Unfiltered IPA. So, you see Whistler Brewing, it’s your beer I dislike intensely, not you. If you brew better beer, I tend to give it good reviews.

See how that works? Weird, right? I know, I know, it truly would be so much easier if I was the kind of beer snob who would hand out praising reviews simply because you’re giving me free beer. Alas, that’s not the case. Also alas, it’s what gives the following review some clout.

First up, the style. I’ve always suspected that the marketers ran the show at NorthAm, and calling this beer an “Uncommon Lager” just reinforces that. The label rambles on providing a decently accurate description of the California Common style, although they completely fail to mention anything about California, or the actually interesting history behind that style.

Why would they invent a style, though? I can’t profess to know, but I suspect their target market might be confused by the California Common term, and its nasty trait of not having the word “Lager” crammed right in it. Perhaps unsophisticated beer drinkers of the sort what comprise Whistler’s demographic like lagers, and generally can’t be counted on to be patient or literate enough to bother reading the beer description. Sure, that’s rampant speculation, but I’m running with it.


To be fair, their target demographic
considers this “selection.”

Is it any damned good, though? Meh. It’s an okay, if not great, Cali Common. When I drink a Cali, I’m looking for a smooth malt body and complex finish. This beer falls short of the mark. Cereal properly comes through up front on the palate, but the finish is dominated by bitter hops without any of the firm, toasted grain backbone typical of the style. If you want a Cali Common, go drink 33 Acres of Life, which is drinking particularly well right now.

APPEARANCE pale red, filtered. Thick tight persistent white head.
NOSE Hints of pilsner malt. Cereal and strong grain. About right.
TASTE Like a strongly hopped light ale. Lacks lager crispness and round mouthfeel, yet despite all this is actually very sweet. Long unpleasant bitter finish.
STATS 5.0% ABV / 36 IBU / California Common
SHOULD I BUY IT? Do you like boring, over hopped beer?
CHECK IN

Brewery Whistler (NorthAm)
From Whistler
Name Big Sky
Style California Common
SOA Now None
SOA Potential n/a
Drink Now
Best use Making 33 Acres Life taste even better
Availability Wide LDB
Cost $4.75-$6.00 per 650ml
Similar Beers 33 Acres of Life, Anchor Steam

 

Written by chuck

September 5th, 2014 at 11:25 am

Posted in Beers,Breweries

Tagged with