Barley Mowat 

2014 Beerdies

with 3 comments

Wow. So that happened. I, for one, didn’t see it coming; not even a little. But, rather than getting all picky about who killed whom, let’s just all take a deep breath and learn our lesson. When someone shows up at a party with a frothy container of liquid, it’s very important to not just assume the liquid is barely fermented ale. It’s important to consider that maybe, just maybe, it’s actually an ungodly amount of ayahuasca. That’s a Barley Mowat Pro Tip, right there.

Right, moving on. It’s that time of year again. Time to reflect upon the year that was, and hand out recognition to the few, the proud, the bearded. Yup, it’s time for the 2014 Annual Barley Mowat Excellence in Beer Awards, aka the Beerdies.

Unlike some other blogs out there, I don’t hand out annual awards based on popular votes. No siree. You see, people are fucking morons. Run a poll on your blog for a few weeks and you’ll wind up handing Granville Island Brewing a Gold Medal for the liquid vanilla-in-a-bottle what is Lions Winter Ale. This is proof that democracy just plain doesn’t work.

Well, that plus North Korea being proof of how completely awesome not-democracy can be.

What we have over here at BarleyMowat.com is a classic, functional dictatorship. I try all the beers, tell you about them, then you go buy them, and then you agree with me by telling me how awesome I am. That’s our relationship and frankly I think it’s working for us. So, without further adieu, let’s get to it!

Brewery What Took Most Of My Money: 33 Acres (brewmaster Dave Varga)

Finally someone pushes Driftwood from their reign of terror over my beer expenses. What change did Josh and Dave implement to tip the scales? Sandwiches. Yeah, I know. That’s pretty sad, but it’s the truth. If you want Chuck to consistently wander into your brewery and slap down money, don’t brew good beer. Instead, offer up tasty (and reasonably healthy) sandwiches in a convenient location forty feet from his day job. Damn I loves me some sandwiches.

Hottest Brewery Accessory: Lineups

I don’t mean “hot” as in great. I mean “hot” as in every brewery has one these days. Even recently opened Strange Fellows is getting hard to get into these days, and you might as well forget about Brassneck (I encountered a lineup there at 4pm on a weekday). Where did all these craft beer nerds come from? Half of them don’t even have beards! (edit: I have since been informed that these are “women”)

Best Seasonal Lineup: Not awarded

With all the new breweries opening, the local focus has been on establishing solidly brewed main beer lineups, not seasonals. The few breweries that do have steady seasonal lineups have either stagnated innovation-wise (Driftwood, Granville Island, Four Winds), failed to really hit a winner (Dead Frog), or shat the bed quality-wise (Parallel 49). With the landscape being what it is, I’m taking my ball and going home.

Best New Trend: Barrels Everywhere

You can’t start a brewery these days without a barrel program, end of story. Walk into any of the newer facilities and what do you see? Barrel stacks, and I don’t mean one or two barrels here or there, I mean massive stacks of oak all lined up to make awesome beer. In a couple of years we’ll be wading in sours, people!

Best Nigel Springthorpe: Aaron Jonckheere

I’m going to break from tradition here and not just automatically hand this one out to Nigel. Sure, Nigel’s still the best, but his trophy cabinet is pretty full and I don’t want him to have to buy a new one. That’s floor space he could use for another foeder.

Instead, I’m going to give the nod here to Aaron Jonckheere. He’s half the team behind the just-opened Strange Fellows, but I’ve been talking to Aaron for over a year about his trials, concerns, and hopes. He hasn’t limited his sharing to me but, rather, has engaged everyone he could find as well as sharing his story on his own blog: I’m Starting A Craft Brewery. Sure, there’s a bit of clever marketing going on there, but also a genuine desire to make starting a brewery in BC easier. That’s very Nigel of you, Aaron.

Most Improved Brewery: Turning Point (brewmaster Todd Fowler)

When you’re lying on your back in a ditch, all you can see is stars. What the folks who wrote that aspirational quote failed to mention is that, 99 times out of 100, instead of reaching for the stars you just go out and re-do whatever it was that put you in the ditch in the first place.

Turning Point, on the other hand, has taken that first step towards crawling out of said ditch. They’re wet, sick and covered in composting garbage but, hey, they can almost see the road.

Okay, enough tortured metaphor. What I’m saying is that their beer used to be undrinkably insipid but now it’s almost not bad. Between Wind Storm and their Wit, the beer has improved drastically and the marketing, while still the target of a good chunk of my beer nerd rage, has at least toned down the absurd not-quite-lies that spoke to unscrupulous profit-driven motivations.

Best New Brewery: Yellow Dog (brewmaster Liam Murphy)

Well this one was easy. Not only is Yellow Dog hands-down the best new brewery of 2014, but they’re making a serious run at best brewery in BC, period. Their smoked porter won Best in Show at the BC Beer Awards, and frankly I think their IPA is health-destroyingly great. Combine that with targeted taunts about an upcoming sour and I get all tingly feeling.

Add to that mix what is probably the best tasting room experience in the province and you have a winning combination. Congrats, guys!

And now, the grand prize of the 2014 Beerdies (aka the Golden Beerdie):

Best Beard in BC Beer: Dave Mitchell (Lighthouse)

I was rightly chided for missing Dave during last year’s awards but, let’s face facts: I don’t get over to the island very often and I could be forgiven for forgetting about Dave. Well, Dave met me half way this year. Seriously, his beer now extends most of the way across the straight.

Way to grow hair, Dave!


It’s… it’s…. beautiful.

Written by chuck

January 1st, 2015 at 12:25 pm

3 Responses to '2014 Beerdies'

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  1. I agree people are mostly morons , now we have lame beers advertising blockbuster movies about little hairy people , can’t wait for the craft Donald Duck black IPA to come out , or maybe the Fox TV Wet Hopped Porter ?

    Patrick Knight

    4 Jan 15 at 15:26

  2. I got a kick out of your “poll results” commentary, often this is the case (I mean, no disrespect to Phillips but in no way are they BC’s Best Overall Brewery, not even Vancouver Island’s best brewery). I also think that we are in a serious state of flux when it comes to the local brewery landscape in general. The growler and brewpub culture is strong, but when it comes to bottle sales there is a lot of aged product on the shelves these days.

    Breweries are playing around with their labeling a lot, re-styling beers, doing a lot of marketing while not necessarily making a lot of visible brewing changes beyond the taproom or the odd cask. You’ve got USA brewers rocketing their yeast off to space and back, it’s time for the breweries who have been around 20 plus years to up the creativity if they want to stay relevant (GIB small batches are a good example).

    I think 2015 will be a game changer, with the landscape getting crowded locally and both the brewers who make quality and creative beers will win the craft game.

  3. I will be sure not to buy any of these prestigious award winners as it is a cold hard fact of nature that liquor stores stop carrying beers that I like.

    Coniferous Gloom

    6 Jan 15 at 00:39

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