Barley Mowat 

Archive for the ‘Beer and You’ Category

Three Sexy Stouts to Woo Someone Special

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Valentine’s is fast approaching, so what kind of beer do you need for the ale-loving significant other in your life? Everyone has their individual preferences, but when I think Valentine’s I think Imperial Stout. Imperials pair perfectly with two other great Valentine’s traditions: chocolate and oysters. Combine those two things with a sneakily high alcohol beer and you have the recipe for a perfect evening.

Sure, you probably don’t need to get people drunk to take off their clothes, but face it: it helps. Let’s just say Spring Break without alcohol is a lot more, er, restrained.

Alcohol free parties: a different kind of fun, but it’s still fun right? RIGHT? Aside: Dogs minus red-eye reduction equals CREEPY.

But how to impress that special someone? You can’t just go grab a bottle of any old stout, pour some cheap vodka in it and call it a day. No siree, you have to find something as special as that certain someone, and I’m not talking short-bus special.

Luckily, there are three stouts available right now in BC that are just a bit different to show that you care and, depending on how much you care, there’s one at every price point. More money equals more love; it’s a good rule of thumb that applies equally well to vacations, diamonds, wine and beer. (All prices courtesy of Legacy Liquor Store)

Up first is Lighthouse Belgian Black. I’ve raved about this beer just recently, and even though it’s now all of five days later I still think it’s a great beer. Sure, it’s not a traditional Imperial Stout, but the Belgian twist gives this guy some sex appeal, and isn’t that what we’re all about here?

Price: $8.15 per 650ml, ABV: 9.0%

Next is Parallel 49 Russian Imperial Stout [review]. Now we’re talking. This is a bourbon barrel-aged, wax dipped, monster of flavour. This inky black guy is not only extremely good, but also a conversation piece. Maybe your V-Day date hasn’t heard of barrel-aged beers or wax-dipping of bottles? Well, now they have, and maybe they’re learning that beer can be romantic, too.

Price: $13.75 per 650ml, ABV: 10.9%

Finally, Brooklyn Black Ops. Go big or go home. Not just bourbon barrel aged, but bourbon barrel aged in barrels that used to hold good bourbon (Woodford Reserve). This is quite possibly one of the best Imperial Stouts ever minted by man. In addition to being just a damned sexy beer in a damned sexy bottle, it’s bottle conditioned with champagne yeast, which means pulling the cork out will give a satisfying “pop” whilst the target of your desire coes appreciably from a fur lined bed in his or her best silk lingerie no-see-ums.

Okay fine, I suck at romantic writing; deal with it. Here, instead just look at a picture of Black Ops being all alluring and mysterious.

I’ll be in my bunk.

Now, before you look at that price and exlaim “for a BEER?! NO WAY!” think about how much you’d spend on a bottle of wine for Valentine’s without hesitation, and now you can feel bad. Sure, it’s marked up quite a bit from the $20 you can buy it for in Brooklyn, but so is that bottle of Californian red in your other hand. Put the grape juice down and man up, is what I’m saying here.

Price: $37.25 per 750ml, ABV 10.5%

Written by chuck

February 12th, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Cascadia Update

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So earlier this month Chris from had an opportunity to discuss the whole “Cascadia-gate” issue w/ Walter Cosman, the President of Steamworks. I won’t repeat his article here, but rather suggest that everyone go over to his blog and read it. Seriously, go read it. Chris did all the work here; I’m just reposting his sleuthing like the lazy bum I am.

One thing I would like to highlight, though, is that as part of Chris’ conversation with Walter, Walter stated explicitly that the use of “Cascadia” in a style is fine by Steamworks. Walter upheld this position even when specifically queried about beer names like “Howe Sound Gathering Storm Cascadian Dark Ale.”

Steamworks is still talking about licensing the term for use by third parties, but presumably that would be for use as a brand name. Since no one ever wanted to use Cascadia as a brand name, just as a style name, I guess we’re done here. Steamworks is basically saying “Sorry! We screwed up!” and, you know what, that’s fine. You’re allowed to screw up, and I forgive you. Kudos for doing the right thing, even if it took a few months for you to come around.

Of course, we’ll see how serious Steamworks is about this whole “we’re fine w/ style names” thing when the company producing said style is Granville Island Brewing, whom they seem to have a special kind of hate for. However, if it’s okay for one company to do it, it’s okay for all.

Disclaimer: Please note that I did not talk to Steamworks directly, and all of this is based off of Chris’ work. As such, it should carry all the weight of something you read online in a blog somewhere.

Written by chuck

January 31st, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Dr Jekyll and Mr Brewer

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Let’s completely abandon reality and pretend just for a second that you’re actually good at something. It doesn’t have to be something that you like; heck, let’s just assume you hate this thing. However, doing this something makes you enough money and gives you enough spare time that you are free to pursue another thing that you truly, deeply care about. Would you keep doing the profitable something?

It’s a hard question to answer, but unless the thing in question was a humanity reducing and esteem debasing action like reviewing macro beer, odds are you’d suck it up like a champ and get back to your client in that dirty alley behind the Biltmore.

Pictured: Capital Investment.

This is the dilemma that a number of BC Breweries currently find themselves in, especially the middle-aged ones that grew up in the late 90s. Back then, that boring pale ale you brewed was just about the most exciting beer anyone had ever drunk, and they loved you for it. Problem is, it hasn’t kept up with the times, and definitely stands out as a first-wave micro-brewed product that is now long past its best-by date.

Now comes the curveball: people keep buying it, and not just a little bit here and there, but in huge, massive volumes–everything you brew, in fact. They grew up on this beer and are brand loyal to it in the same way American yahoos will slit your freaking throat for preferring the wrong type of slightly alcoholic malt-water. On top of that, because the ingredients are simple and don’t contain many of those “hops” the kids are all a-ga-ga over these days, it’s cheap to make and profitable as all shit.

So what do you do? You kind of want to produce better beer in volume, but you also kind of like money and keeping the brewery up-and-running. If you went bankrupt, afterall, you wouldn’t be able to produce those limited run beers that the beer geeks actually seem to like.

Which brewery am I talking about? Pretty much all of them, but especially Granville Island and OK Spring. To a lesser extent, though, this is a problem faced by Lighthouse and Russell. Heck, even Central City and Driftwood are facing early versions of this very problem.

In short, no brewery is safe from this. Let’s assume that Seedspitter continues to sell gang busters in 10 years even after the state of the fruit-based beer art has long left it behind. Will Parallel 49 be able to put the cash cow out to pasture and move on? Maybe after one more season… yeah, just this one…

Somehow I think this goes poorly for the goose.

OK fine, use the money from this year to buy new capacity, then use that new capacity to brew better beer. What’s that? The retailers just want more Seedspitter? Well, I guess… I could always buy a new brewkit next year…

I know what you’re thinking: why don’t they just bite the bullet and simply brew better beer? It will sell just as well, and everyone will be happy! Small craft breweries are the largest growing segment in the BC beer market, afterall! This seems like a great idea, but it won’t work.

I had a great conversation a few months back with OK Spring Brewmaster Stefan Tobler about this very concept, in which I espoused that exact sentiment. I even cited that Goliath of great beer, Deschutes, as an example of how you could profitably brew large volumes of critically acclaimed beer*.

The problem, he says, is that the millions of people that religiously drink OK Spring Pale Ale (one of BC’s best selling beers) aren’t the same millions of people that drink Deschutes Inversion IPA. He has a point. (Also, the ones that drink Inversion are rather inconveniently located in the USA, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Can you imagine what would happen if, overnight, OK Pale Ale was replaced by Really Awesome Cascadian IPA? The loyal crowds would freak out, then flock over to GIB Pale Ale, and the meagre few craft beer geeks that could see past the OK Spring label wouldn’t replace even 1% of them. In six months OK Spring would be sold off by Sapporo (well, in reality, the management staff would all lose their jobs long before that).

Or, we can hope, eliminated one by one in an awesome Japanese game show.

You can move the market, but you have to do it very very carefully. Maybe Lighthouse is onto something by sloooowly changing up their six packs. Heck, even GIB has murmured something about relaunching their IPA. If you slowly make the beer better and better, perhaps there won’t be one jump large enough to confuse the brand-followers, and then they’ll find themselves drinking the same beer as bearded guys at the bar. Kind of like boiling a frog… only with beer. Um, I have to go; I just thought of a great recipe.

* I also suspect that Deschutes has their own version of this problem. It’s hard to imagine that the same folk that give us Dissident, Abyss and Stoic get all a-tingle over yet another 100hl batch of Mirror Pond.

Written by chuck

January 22nd, 2013 at 3:31 pm