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Xmas Buying Guide

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It’s gift giving time again, and no matter how strongly folk feel about their non-Christian religious denomination, no one seems to complain too much when the gift in question is beer. Do you have a bearded beer geek in your life? Want to know what sort of hard core or exotic gifts will make even the most cynical BC beer snob quiver in joy? Well, look no further, it’s Barley Mowat’s 2012 Xmas Gift Guide for Beer Geeks*!

Driftwood Old Cellar Dweller Vertical

Hillside Liquor in Victoria is offering up a five-year vertical of OCD. For those keeping track, that’s… all of them. They’ve likely sold out by now, but for those with keen eyes there are the odd 2011 and even 2010 vintages just hanging out on LRS shelves, if you know where to look.

Barley Wine Horizontal

Can’t make it over to Victoria? How about a horizontal of all the current BC Barley Wines? Driftwood has two out, CC released a limited number of Thor’s Hammer, Phillips pushed out Trainwreck, and both GIB and Howe Sound have their own product coming out in the near future. While obviously not as rare as the full vertical of OCD, this sampling of the current state of the BC Barley Wine World is a solid runner up. Just don’t give in to temptation and drink them all in one night.

Or leave them all out for Santa.

CAMRA Membership

No aspiring beer geek should be walking around without a CAMRA card. Not only does membership show your support for local craft beer, it also saves you gobs of cash through discounts at fine CAMRA-friendly establishments and at participating Liquor Retail Stores. I renew every January and usually make my fee back within days (it is no coincidence that Singularity is released shortly thereafter).

Central City Winter Cask Festival Tickets

While your run-of-the-mill beer fests are great and all, hardcore beer geeks like myself are somewhat less enthused. Regular beer fests are often just breweries pouring their production ales for people to sample and try for the first time. The issue is that any good member of the beererati has already had all those beers a few times over so, ultimately, the novelty factor is somewhat lessened.

What about a festival where most every beer is custom brewed just for the occasion? Sold! The leading provider of such festivals is Central City Brewing who, despite being an awesome brewery in their own right, invites everyone over twice a year for a party.

Tickets to this winter’s cask fest are only $30, and can be bought with plenty of time to spare for getting them wrapped and under the tree.


All these are solid suggestions but, let’s face it: the people reading this blog ARE the beer geeks–not the people buying presents FOR beer geeks. So, in a hat tip to reality, let’s wrap up with a couple great BC non-beer suggestions for our tolerant and enabling significant others. You didn’t complain when we converted your walk-in closet to a beer cellar, and you happily let yourself be dragged along to all kinds of crazy cask festivals. So here’s some Not Beer for you (yes, I do wine too).

Painted Rock 2009 Syrah

A wine of rare quality that you can enjoy right now but which will also improve with a bit of ageing. I suggest you buy a case and age it alongside your Barley Wine, so you can justify the inevitable Beer Cellar expansion into the master ensuite. See also, Painted Rock Red Icon, for a slightly pricer but even more ageing-friendly beast.

Osoyoss Larose Le Grand Vin Vertical

The LDB site only lists the ’07 or ’08 as being available, but if you look carefully you can find some as old as the ’06 and as new as the ’09 (and as big as the six litre!). Of course, there’s no telling how these bottles have been kept by the LDB, who seem hell-bent on destroying as much good wine as possible with heat and light. As an added bonus, though, the Larose Le Grand Vin comes in cool 6 bottle wooden crates, which are perfect for wrapping up (and for storing beer in).

UPDATE: Central City Cask Festival link now goes to something that isn’t 12 months out of date!

* Sure, I realized I missed few things, like the recently released Westvleteren 12 gift pack, but I’m staying on theme here, folks: BC. If I didn’t limit this hobby to just BC I’d be drunk far more often, and I’m already drunk all the time, so I’m not sure how that’d play out.

Written by chuck

December 11th, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Dark Macro Showdown

with 3 comments

It’s that time of year again. You know, when you get to hang out with your co-workers en mass at some shitty restaurant, eat okay food, drink okay booze and make awkward small talk with their spouses, all the while waiting to see which of the interns gets inappropriately drunk and hits on the boss first.

(Aside: Except my office–my office’s Christmas party was epic, perhaps because my work is better than yours. And no, this comment has nothing to do with an increase in readers coming from my work IP.)

Usually these functions trot out some variant of “red or white?” for liquor offerings, but sometimes they go the extra mile and cram a bunch of beer in a bucket full of ice. Often these beers are things with words like “Christmas” or “Winter” in them, but not the good stuff since it’s both too expensive, and comes in confusingly large bottles. (Another aside: When confronted by a 650ml bottle of beer, the masses will often open it and drink it like they do a regular beer bottle. I have seen this first hand.)

Nope, we’re talking the likes of OK Spring’s Mild Winter Ale and Granville Island’s Lions Winter Ale here*. So what do you do? Do you pull a Chuck and move on to wine and/or hard liquor? Well, I’m a hard core beer geek, and I can’t expect y’all to have such a snobbish demenour in less-than-ideal situations, so I’ve done everyone a favour: I’ve done a side-by-side comparison of these two popular winter beers to see which one wins.

Despite what you might initially think, picking a clear winner is not as easy as it sounds. Also, there are waaaaaaay more pictures of hilariously ugly dogs on the Internet then I would have guessed.

First, let’s get one thing straight: neither is a good beer. Comparing them to an actual winter ale is like getting a five-year old to draw elephant. You’ll get some of the coarser aspects, and you certainly will recognise it as a cruel caricature of such, but you won’t, for one second, expect it to stand up and start pouring water over itself with its trunk.

Now on to the notes:

Brewery Granville Island OK Spring
Name Lions Winter Ale Mild Winter Ale
Visual Clear amber, good (too good?) carbonation Clear, slightly darker. Decent carb
Nose Vanilla. Barest hint of hops. No malt. Roasted Malt and spice, slight hint caramel
Mouthfeel Fairly creamy. Lots of sugar in this puppy. Like a cream ale. Decent, but not too viscous.
Taste VANILLA and sugar. Fairly astringent. Mild roasted malt, fairly empty, but has that… OK Spring finish (macro-esque, maybe their hops blend?)

Detailed notes on GIB: Gah. I mean, I like vanilla extract and all, but must you guys cram my beer full of it? Did more subtle levels of “sugary vanilla” just flop out in market testing? You know that the kind of people that will agree to taste beer for free at 2pm on a work day aren’t exactly beer connoisseurs, right?

Detailed notes on OK Spring: I’m confused by the name. Is this a milder take on winter ales or an ale for a mild winter? Regardless, I wouldn’t consider this a great execution of either of those things. This is a boring, boring beer, to be brutally honest, and it says great things about OK Spring’s current line-up that this is probably the best thing they’re brewing right now.

Picking a Best Beer between the two is like stapling wings to a dog and a cat and throwing them off your roof to see which one flies farthest. You’re judging two contestants based on criteria that neither possesses. These beers aren’t meant to be savoured by craft beer geeks; they’re meant to be consumed en masse by people wearing backwards baseball caps and who likely bump chests as a means of celebration.

If pressed to make a call, I guess the cat flew a bit further before splattering, because it wasn’t ladden down with a sickly dose of vanilla. Despite being a boring, boring beer, the OK Spring Mild Winter Ale was the least offensive of these two, and that’s a victory of sorts… I guess.

* Yeah, yeah, neither is technically a macro, I know, but that title is awesome. What do you want? “Regional Breweries with Annual Production Exceeding 100,000hl but not 300,000hl Dark Beer Kumatai?”

Written by chuck

December 8th, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Posted in Beers

Tagged with ,

Friday Fun

with one comment

I’ll just leave this here without comment.


Should probably link to their site: Elbowskin.

Written by chuck

December 7th, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Posted in Beer and You